Mar 112021
 


Edgar Degas Danseuse au Tutu Vert 1887

 

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

 

 


 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Scientists Accuse CDC Of Misinterpreting Their Research (F.)

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

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

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

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

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This is scarier than the virus.

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

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

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

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

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Oh sure.

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

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

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

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

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Odd mix of anti-vaxxers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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It’s not just Twitter.

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

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

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

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

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These suits are a decade (too) late.

Facebook Seeks Dismissal Of Antitrust Lawsuits (F.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Santorini bird’s eye

 

 

 

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Mar 042021
 


Francisco Goya The Dog 1819-23

 

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)
16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)
The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)
Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)
Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)
Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)
34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)
Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)
Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)
Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)
Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)
How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)
Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)
Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)
New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)
Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)
Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

 

 

A bit overloaded today, so two separate Rattles. For all non-Covid news, check Debt Rattle March 4 2021.

 

 

 

 

He should perhaps try and keep the country together….

Biden Slams “Neanderthal-Thinking” Over Texas, Mississippi COVID Policy (ZH)

President Biden has slammed Texas and Mississippi for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, calling it “Neanderthal thinking.” “I think it’s a big mistake…It’s critical, critical, critical that they follow the science…” said Biden.
Newly minted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky wants residents of Texas and Mississippi to continue wearing face masks despite the governors there lifting COVID-19 restrictions amid a decline in cases. “I think we, the CDC, have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” said Walensky during a White House pandemic briefing in response to a question about reopening Texas. “Every individual is empowered to do the right thing here, regardless of what states decide.”


On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott enraged the left after announcing that the state would lift its mask mandate and reopen businesses next week, while also banning counties from fining or jailing people who disregard local measures. Effective March 10, all businesses will be allowed to open at 100% of capacity, Abbott said during a media briefing in Lubbock on Tuesday. His executive order allows county judges to reinstate anti-virus rules should hospitalizations surge. “Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities; too many small-business owners have struggled to pay their bills,” the Republican governor said. “It is now time to open Texas 100%.”

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…because people see things in different ways:

16 States Are Now Following The Science (Schachtel)

It took an entire year, but lockdowns and mask mandates are officially incredibly unpopular with half of the country, to the point that governors are rapidly making sweeping changes to their year-long COVID-19 policies. Jumping onto the coattails of pro-individual freedom leaders like governors Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), the governors of Mississippi and Texas decided Tuesday to announce an end to business restrictions and statewide mask mandates. Both Tate Reeves (R-MS) and Greg Abbott (R-TX), who had long taken a nanny state approach to the COVID-19 crisis, acted almost simultaneously to announce the end of statewide restrictions. The centrally planned solutions to COVID-19 have failed spectacularly, and the American people have taken notice of this reality.

Hundreds of millions have now been through a full year of government-imposed tyranny on both a federal and state level. Whether it was a travel ban, an endless series of lockdowns, mask mandates, countless emergency orders, business closures, and the like, not a single top-down order from the federal or state level did anything productive for the wellbeing of Americans. None of it worked. All of it served as a net negative. The people have noticed. Now that their constituents have had enough, politicians on the Right are fast departing from the COVID tyranny, and attempting to secure what is left of their political aspirations. Abbott and Reeves are not the only GOP governors moving fast in ending the restrictions, several other governors have recently acted to roll them back.

On February 12, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte lifted his statewide mask mandate. On February 8, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds lifted Iowa’s statewide mask mandate along with several other restrictions. On February 22, North Dakota took it a step further. Its legislative body took the bold step in voting to make mask mandates illegal. As of March 2, there are now 16 states that no longer have statewide mask orders. However, across the political divide, there remains no end in sight to the corona madness. Much of the Left continues to embrace and root on endless COVID-19 restrictions, and the hijacking of individual rights in the name of a virus. Governor Gavin Newsom of California took to Twitter in describing the end of restrictions as “absolutely reckless.” It took long enough, but it’s now official: Governors who continue to impose lockdowns and mask mandates are fast becoming as popular as Red Sox fans in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, at least in half of the country.

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Vit. D, ivermectin, HCQ get heavily censored on social media.

The War on ‘Misinformation’ Claims Two Victims (Pfeiffer)

The effort to manage COVID treatment information has its roots, in part, in a sad chapter in American science and journalism: The Trump endorsement last spring of hydroxychloroquine. In an instant, early treatment was turned into a right-wing myth of interest only to Fox News. The rest of the press was merciless in repeating assertions that a reliable pharmaceutical workhorse used for several diseases was dangerous for COVID. Multiple studies have since refuted that and shown effectiveness in early illness, something most people do not know. Dr. Mobeen Syed was among the first last March to explore HCQ’s potential in a YouTube video that went viral and landed him in a love-it/hate-it, right/left firestorm. “I started getting so many threats,” he said, prompting him to take the piece down himself.

After that, however, YouTube itself decided what the 250,000 subscribers to Drbeen Medical Lectures should see, removing videos willy-nilly, it seemed, on Vitamin D, remdesivir and, what others said was frequently censored, ivermectin. Among other examples of this new censorship trend: On Jan. 31, Facebook removed a page called Ivermectin for MDs Team, with 10,200 members from more than 100 countries. The last straw was a post on the Slovak Ministry of Health’s decision to allow use of ivermectin, which Facebook censors “believe is harmful to physical integrity,” the administrator wrote. Facebook also ruled that news of ivermectin approval by a southern state in Brazil violated its standards. Put another way, the social media giant did not like two independent government decisions and thought it knew better.

On Jan. 12, Twitter ruled a tweet by the Brazilian Ministry of Health — 1.2 million followers — was “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.” Why? It urged people with COVID symptoms to “go to a Health Unit and request early treatment.” More egregious, YouTube recently expunged two videos posted by a U.S. Senate committee on Dr. Kory’s ivermectin testimony. Further, it purged a video in which a scientist discussed his review of ivermectin as part of a project for a World Health Organization-hosted agency called Unitaid. YouTube even removed a video on its censorship of ivermectin. In a hint at how vast the censorship is, Facebook asserted proudly in a Feb. 8 website post that it had “removed more than 12 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram containing misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.”

Seven of my posts, on an article I wrote with multiple links to the science of ivermectin, were stricken with that label. (I got off on a 14-hour posting ban.) My efforts were fruitless to get Facebook, Twitter or Google, which owns YouTube, to explain the methodology it uses to censor. In a public post, YouTube says it disallows information that “contradicts local health authorities” and the World Health Organization. Twitter maintains it culls “content that is demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm.” But who actually decides on a video or post? Are algorithms by technicians making the decisions or scientists and doctors? Should government guidelines be the ultimate yardstick when these are evolving — and sometimes wrong?

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“This is about the world. It’s global.”

Brazil’s Covid Outbreak Is Global Threat, Opens Door To Lethal Variants (G.)

Brazil’s rampant coronavirus outbreak has become a global threat that risks spawning new and even more lethal variants, one of the South American country’s top scientists has warned as it suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic. Speaking to the Guardian, Miguel Nicolelis, a Duke University neuroscientist who is tracking the crisis, urged the international community to challenge the Brazilian government over its failure to contain an epidemic that has killed more than a quarter of a million Brazilians – about 10% of the global total. “The world must vehemently speak out over the risks Brazil is posing to the fight against the pandemic,” said Nicolelis, who has spent most of the last year confined to his flat on the westside of São Paulo. “What’s the point in sorting the pandemic out in Europe or the United States, if Brazil continues to be a breeding ground for this virus?”

Nicolelis said the problem was not simply Brazil – whose far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has repeatedly spurned efforts to combat a disease he calls a “little flu” – being “the worst country in the world in its handling of the pandemic”. “It’s that if you allow the virus to proliferate at the levels it is currently proliferating here, you open the door to the occurrence of new mutations and the appearance of even more lethal variants.” Already, one particularly worrying variant (P1) has been traced to Manaus, the largest city in the Brazilian Amazon, which suffered a devastating healthcare breakdown in January after a surge in infections. Six cases of that variant have so far been detected in the UK. “Brazil is an open-air laboratory for the virus to proliferate and eventually create more lethal mutations,” warned Nicolelis. “This is about the world. It’s global.”

The alert came as Brazil hurtled into the most deadly chapter of its year-long Covid crisis, with hospitals around the country collapsing or on the verge of collapse and the average weekly death toll hitting new heights. A record 1,726 fatalities were reported on Tuesday, the highest number since the pandemic began. “It’s a battlefield,” a doctor in the southern city of Porto Alegre told local television after his hospital’s intensive care unit and mortuary ran out of space. Nicolelis said Bolsonaro’s failure to halt the outbreak and launch an adequate vaccination campaign had created a domestic tragedy from which Latin America’s most populous nation was unlikely to emerge until late 2022.

“We’ve now gone past 250,000 deaths and my expectation is that if nothing is done we could have lost 500,000 people here in Brazil by next March. It’s a horrifying and tragic prospect but at this point it’s perfectly possible,” he said, predicting a traumatic month as public and private hospitals buckled. “My forecast is that if the world was appalled by what happened in Bergamo in Italy and what happened in Manaus a few weeks ago, it’s going to be even more shocked by the rest of Brazil if nothing is done.”

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What does that even mean when the first ones were never properly tested?

Vaccines Tweaked For Covid Variants Fast-Tracked Safely – UK Regulator (G.)

Coronavirus vaccines tweaked to deal with variants will be fast-tracked without compromising on safety or effectiveness, the UK’s regulator has said. The approach will be similar to the regulatory process for the modified flu vaccine, to deal with new strains each year, with a brand new approval not required. Scientists have previously said a Covid-19 variant resistant to the current crop of vaccines is likely to emerge at some point, but vaccines can be adapted quickly. The guidance states coronavirus vaccine manufacturers will need to provide robust evidence that the modified jab produces an immune response. However, lengthy clinical studies are deemed not to add to the regulatory understanding of their safety, quality or effectiveness and will not be needed.


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said researchers are in a better position to measure protection by looking at antibodies in the blood after vaccination, reducing the need to wait and see whether people in a trial become infected with the virus. It said this will “significantly reduce” the length of time it takes for the modified vaccine to be ready. The guidance from the Access Consortium – a group made up of regulatory authorities from the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Switzerland – requires that, as well as evidence on immune response, the modified vaccines must be shown to be safe and of the expected quality. It says data from the original clinical trials and ongoing studies on real-world use in millions of people could be used to support any decision by the regulators.

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Harmless?

Injuries Reported to CDC After COVID Vaccines Climb by 4,000 in One Week (CHD)

The latest data made public by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) on deaths and injuries reported after COVID vaccines are in line with trends that have been emerging since the first data were released in December. Between Dec. 14, 2020 and Feb. 18, 2021, 19,907 reports of adverse events have been reported to VAERS, including 1,095 deaths and 3,767 serious injuries. About a third of the deaths reported occurred within 48 hours of vaccination, and 48% of the people who died became ill within 48 hours of being vaccinated. About 21% of the deaths were cardiac-related. As The Defender reported last month, Dr. J. Patrick Whelan, a pediatric rheumatologist, warned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December that mRNA vaccines like those developed by Pfizer and Moderna could cause inflammation of the brain and heart, and other injuries in ways not assessed in safety trials.

Of the reported deaths, 966 were reported in the U.S. and 129 outside the U.S. The average age of the deceased was 77.8, the youngest was 23. Of those who died, 53% were male, 46% female and 1% of the reports did not include gender. Of those who died, 56% received the Pfizer vaccine, and 43% got the Moderna vaccine. The number of serious adverse events reports increased by 641 this week, to a total of 3,767 between Dec. 14, 2020, and Feb. 18. Adverse reaction reports from the latest CDC data include: • 160 reports of adverse reactions affecting pregnancy, including 47 miscarriages/preterm births • 1,135 anaphylactic reactions, 64% of which were reported after a Pfizer vaccine and 35% after the Moderna vaccine • 257 reports of Bell’s palsy (Pfizer 71%; Moderna: 29%)


By comparison, during the same time period — Dec. 14, 2020 – Feb. 18, 2021 — VAERS received reports of 83 deaths following flu vaccines. According to the VAERS website, “it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established … VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.” VAERS is the primary mechanism in the U.S. for reporting adverse vaccine reactions. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a determination can be made as to whether the reported adverse event was directly or indirectly caused by the vaccine.

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Or not harmless?

34 Spontaneous Miscarriages, Stillbirths After COVID-19 Vaccination (ET)

Thirty-four cases of pregnant women experiencing spontaneous miscarriages or stillbirths after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine have been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is a passive reporting system that allows people to submit a report of an adverse event after vaccination and is run by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research funded by the CDC has shown that fewer than 1 percent of reactions from vaccinations are being reported on VAERS. Reports made to VAERS do not necessarily mean that a vaccine may have caused the event or reaction. Miscarriages are labeled as spontaneous abortions or abortions in the reporting system.

Many cases of spontaneous miscarriages occurred in the first trimester, or the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, with 25 occurrences after being immunized with a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. While the four cases of stillborns occurred in either the second (weeks 13-27) or third trimester (weeks 28-40). According to Verywell Health, an online resource on health-related issues: “Research suggests that between 10% and 20% of women with a medically confirmed pregnancy will end in miscarriage. Eighty percent of these will occur during the first trimester.”

[..] Dr. Shelley Cole, MD, an OB-GYN and a member of America’s Frontline Doctors, says it’s concerning that a vaccine still in an experimental phase is being recommended to pregnant and lactating women and that science is no longer protecting them. “As an obstetrician-gynecologist, it is a concern,” Cole told The Epoch Times. “We’re [now] throwing science and the scientific medicine method out the window and jeopardizing pregnancies and future pregnancies.” “It concerns me that the CDC says that there are no studies, but it’s okay to get it and you don’t even need to discuss it with your doctor,” Cole added. “I mean this is the opposite of everything that the scientific models and methods, and standard of care has been for a century.”

[..] The politicization of the drug continues to overshadow studies that show hydroxychloroquine is safe and effective in treating COVID-19. According to c19study.com that tracks clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine around the world, all 27 hydroxychloroquine studies on early treatment reported a “positive effect and an estimated reduction of 65 percent in the effect measured (death, hospitalization, etc.)” However, the drug is “not effective when used very late with high doses over a long period.”

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They all go out of their way to claim there is no proof of a direct link between deaths, and “other adverse reactions”, and vaccines. But it’s a bit much.

Danger of mRNA Vaccines To Elderly: 16 Deaths In Switzerland (GT)

The deaths of 16 elderly people in Switzerland after being inoculated with Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines underscore the potential danger of mRNA vaccines to the age group, Chinese vaccine experts said, further calling for caution. At least 16 people died after receiving vaccines in Switzerland, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) was quoted as saying by Sputnik in a report on Saturday. The agency said it had obtained about 364 suspected adverse drug reactions, with 199 incidents linked to the vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and 154 to Moderna’s drug, said the report. Swissmedic said the average age of the deaths was 86 and most of them had pre-existing diseases, adding there was no evidence to suggest that the vaccines were the cause of death.


Chinese experts said the incidents should be assessed cautiously to understand whether the deaths were caused by the vaccines or other preexisting conditions in these individuals. Previously, Norway reported 23 deaths in connection with vaccinations, all of whom were over 80 years old. The COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTec/Pfizer and Moderna were used in Norway. A Chinese immunologist who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the large-scale use of mRNA vaccines carries the risk of causing abnormal immune dysfunction, allergy or even death, especially among the elderly and people with underlying diseases. The immunologist suggested individuals with preexisting conditions, the elderly and those with vulnerable immunity not be given vaccines.

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And neither do those in Germany and Switzerland.

Half Of French Care Home Workers Don’t Trust Vaccine (R.)

Around half of health workers in French care homes do not want to be vaccinated, according to the group of experts guiding the state’s vaccine rollout – compared to only 20% of the residents who have not been inoculated. If significant numbers of care home workers do not get the jab, they could transmit the disease to residents who are not vaccinated and at high risk of serious illness, say advocates for the elderly. One reason for the scepticism is that those recommending the vaccine are the same people – the French state – whom care home workers blame for their low pay and tough working conditions, said Malika Belarbi, a care worker and trade union official. “There’s a complete loss of trust,” she said. The issue is not unique to France. In Germany, care home operator BeneVit Group surveyed staff in November and found only 30% wanted to get vaccinated.


Peter Burri, head of ProSenectute, Switzerland’s biggest advocacy group for seniors, said at most half of nursing staff in the medical sector were willing to get inoculated. [..] Regulators around the world have repeatedly said speed will not compromise safety and vaccine developers have said they will not cut corners in testing for safety and efficacy. The quicker results have stemmed from conducting in parallel trials that are usually done in sequence and can take years. Trials for the shots developed by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have shown only temporary side-effects. France’s state drug safety watchdog has said the procedure for approving the vaccines ensures they are safe and that it monitors side-effects and has seen nothing to warrant stopping their use.

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Google translate

“It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime.”

10 micrograms= 400 IU. Useless.

Dutch Health Council: “Too Early” For Advice On Vitamin D Against Corona (AD)

Based on the current state of science, according to the Health Council, it is “impossible to assess” whether taking vitamin D can contribute to the prevention of corona. “There is still too little useful research available on this,” said the government’s advisory body. According to the advisory board, sufficient research is available into the prevention of other acute respiratory infections. The chance of respiratory infections is about 10 percent lower if you take vitamin D. But the Health Council sees no reason in this to adjust the existing advice for taking vitamin D. Children up to four years old, women over 50 and men over 70 and pregnant women are already advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

This also applies to people who produce too little vitamin D in the skin because they get little sunlight or have dark skin. According to the Health Council, many people are not aware of the advice to these groups to take vitamin D. The council wants more attention to be paid to this. In October, several professors of immunology, scientists and doctors called on everyone via this site to take vitamin D. According to those experts, the chance that you will contract a corona infection is smaller and if you do become ill, the disease can be less serious. As a result of this attention to a possible role of vitamin D in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport has asked the Health Council for advice.

However, according to the Health Council, it is “still too early” for an opinion, because there is still too little research of sufficient quality. The scientists are aiming at studies in which vitamin D has been compared with a placebo. At least six such studies are currently underway, the first results of which are expected this spring. Sufficient research is available on vitamin D and the prevention of other acute respiratory infections not related to covid-19. There is some evidence that vitamin D supplements can help prevent these types of respiratory infections, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 16. But the council sees insufficient reason to advise everyone to take preventive vitamin D.

A large group of renowned experts expressed all their anger in December about the government’s wait-and-see attitude about vitamin D. More and more studies show, they say that vitamin D can reduce the chance of getting corona and that the infection is milder. . The wait-and-see attitude of governments goes down the wrong way with scientists. It “frustrates”, for example, professor of immunology at Wageningen University Huub Savelkoul. “There are more and more studies showing the benefit of vitamin D. I think it’s a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You should be careful with that comment, but that’s where my frustration is. “”

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Moral standards.

Drug Lobby Asks Biden To Punish Countries Pushing For Low-Cost Vaccines (IC)

President Joe Biden’s administration is being asked to punish Hungary, Colombia, Chile, and other countries for seeking to ramp up the production of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics without express permission from pharmaceutical companies. The sanctions are being urged by the drug industry, which has filed hundreds of pages of documents to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative outlining the alleged threat posed by any effort to challenge “basic intellectual property protections” in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The drug industry has sharply criticized any attempt to share vaccine patents or the technological knowledge needed to manufacture them, despite global need.

According to one estimate, wealthy countries representing just 16 percent of the world’s population have already secured more than half of all Covid-19 vaccine contracts. And current projections show that much of the middle-income and developing world will not achieve widespread vaccinations for years. Some projections predict that low-income countries such as Mali, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe may not achieve significant levels of vaccination until early 2024. The delay will undoubtedly cost countless lives and risk future, potentially dangerous mutations of the Covid-19 virus. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, initial tests showed, is far less effective against the Covid-19 variant that has spread rapidly through South Africa, for example. A prolonged pandemic will also threaten to extend and exacerbate a global economic downturn.

In response, governments around the world are considering a temporary exemption to traditional intellectual property rights in order to rapidly produce coronavirus treatments at low cost, a demand intensely opposed by American lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry. The push by foreign governments to unilaterally set the price and pace of production of coronavirus vaccines, drug lobbyists with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, or BIO, argued, will place “American jobs and the workers who rely on them at risk, and impede scientific advances from reaching society.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, another drug lobby group, requested that the Biden administration “pursue a variety of enforcement initiatives” and “use all available tools and leverage to ensure America’s trading partners” do not suspend traditional intellectual property rights in the fight against the coronavirus. BIO and PhRMA represent the largest drug firms in the world, including Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, and Johnson & Johnson. The two groups collectively spent more than $38 million lobbying federal officials last year, and member companies maintain extensive ties to prominent think tanks, lawmakers, and academics active in shaping the policy response to the pandemic.

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“The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.”

How the NATO Alliance Is Fighting Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (Helmer)

When the organ claiming to be the world’s leading financial newspaper conceals the large price subsidy for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines manufactured by the NATO allies, in order to accuse Russia of price gouging the poor, you can be sure you are watching an information warfare attack. And when the concealment of the vaccine subsidy operation run by GAVI and COVAX hides the fact that the UK, US, and the Bill Gates (lead image, right) and Melinda Gates Foundation are paying 92% of the $10 billion scheme, then you realise that Covid-19 vaccines are a weapon of war. A war, not only against Russia, but also against China.

GAVI stands for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Originally established with $750 million from the Gates Foundation in 1999, it is based in Geneva and Washngton, DC, and directed by an epidemiologist, Seth Berkley (lead image, centre). He’s an American doctor whose previous jobs were also funded by Gates and several NATO governments, and before that by the Rockefeller Foundation.COVAX is an acronym, created by GAVI, to stand for a multinational scheme of financing Covid-19 vaccine development in Europe and the US; then funding sale and distribution of these vaccines to low-income countries around the world. GAVI claims the scheme “is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.” Read more of GAVI’s version here.

Think of COVAX as a bank created by GAVI from money deposited by the NATO governments and either granted or loaned to client government which meet the bank’s eligibility criteria. GAVI’s website publishes a weekly update on what it calls the “Covid-19 vaccine race”. The best known of the 11 vaccines on the GAVI list and marked as medically approved are Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson (US); AstraZeneca (UK); Pfizer (Germany); Sinovac (China); and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V (Russia). The American and British vaccines are being promoted and funded by the GAVI-COVAX scheme; the Chinese and Russian vaccines are not.

Last Thursday, on February 25, the Financial Times, a Japanese-owned, London-based, and Lebanese-edited publication, claimed the cost price of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to the poorest of African Union (AU) country members was “three times more than the price of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to people familiar with the procurement process.” The anonymous familiarity formula is a standard practice for anti-Russian fabrications by FT reporters; Bloomberg and Reuters too.

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“The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development..”

“And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago – But.. (Jac.)

We felt it was our duty to start developing this type of alternative,” says professor Kalle Saksela, chair of the Department of Virology at the University of Helsinki. “Back in the spring, I still thought that surely some public entity will get involved and start pushing it forward. Turns out that no situation is urgent enough to compel the state to start actively pursuing something like this.” Saksela’s team has had a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine ready since May 2020, which they dubbed “the Linux of vaccines” in a nod to the famous open-source operating system that also originated from Finland. The work is based on publicly available research data and predicated on the principle of sharing all new findings in peer-reviewed journals.

The research team includes some of Finland’s scientific heavyweights, such as Academy professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala of the A. I. Virtanen Institute, a former president of the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, and academician Kari Alitalo, a foreign associated member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. They believe their nasal spray, built on well-established technology and know-how, is safe and highly effective. “It’s a finished product, in the sense that the formulation will no longer change in any way with further testing,” Saksela says. “With what we have, we could inoculate the whole population of Finland tomorrow.” But instead of exploring the potential of intellectual property–free research, Finland, like other Western countries, has continued to follow the default policy of the last several decades: to lean fully on Big Pharma.

In the mainstream narrative, the first-generation COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca are typically presented as an illustration of how markets incentivize and accelerate vital innovation. In reality, the fact that the profit motive is the overriding force shaping medical research has been devastating — particularly in a global pandemic. The Finnish vaccine provides a striking case study of the many ways in which the contemporary patent-based funding model has slowed down vaccine development, and how it currently hampers the possibility of conducting effective mass-inoculation campaigns. [..] “Different biotech firms would slap the spike protein onto some type of delivery mechanism, whether it was RNA technology or something else,” Saksela explains. “And typically, the choice is based on what applications they have a patent on, whether it’s the best option or not.”

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” It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.”

Covid-19 Virus Origin: The Mojiang Miners (SPR)

Virologist Jonathan Latham and geneticist Allison Wilson have proposed a new hypothesis for the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been known since February that a bat virus called RaTG13, collected by the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in 2013, is the closest known relative of SARS-CoV-2. It has been known since May (to some) that RaTG13, previously known as BtCoV/4991, was found in bat feces in a mineshaft near Mojiang in southwest China, after six miners fell ill with Covid19-like pneumonia and three of them eventually died. The WIV itself didn’t disclose this link, however. On the contrary, in a March 2020 interview the famous WIV “bat woman” Shi Zhengli falsely claimed “a fungus” had caused the miners’ illness.

It is also known that RaTG13, despite its 96% similarity, cannot be the direct ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, as natural mutations in the environment would have taken at least several decades. But it has been shown computationally that RaTG13 can already infect human lung cells to some extent. Finally, it is known that the sick Mojiang miners, exhibiting severe Covid19-like pneumonia, were hospitalized for up to four months before being either discharged or dying back in 2012. Latham and Wilson now propose that the Mojiang miners were originally infected by RaTG13 and/or similar coronaviruses during their up to two week stay in the mineshaft inhaling aerosols from bat feces. RaTG13 then turned into SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor virus) through mutations and/or recombinations in the lungs of the miners during their up to four month stay in the hospital.

Thus the infected lungs of the miners may have served as a ‘human incubator’ enabling RaTG13 to adapt to both the human ACE2 cell receptor and the human immune system in just four months instead of several decades as would have been expected in a natural (animal) environment. The Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2012/2013 received tissue and blood samples of the surviving or dead miners that may already have included SARS-CoV-2 (or a precursor). WIV virologists may then have been waiting five more years, until the completion of their BSL-4 (high security) lab in 2017/2018, before beginning to do research on what is now known as SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 may then have escaped, in autumn 2019, from the WIV lab, perhaps through an infected lab worker or animal cadaver, initiating what is now a global coronavirus pandemic.

This, in short, is the Latham-Wilson Mojiang Miners Passage (MMP) hypothesis. It can explain most or all of the unusual properties of SARS-CoV-2, including its very strong binding to human ACE2 cell receptors and its rather low mutation rate, even without having to assume “gain of function” research (i.e. genetic engineering) — although the hypothesis doesn’t exclude this, either.

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The “Excelsior Pass”… Whenever you see things like this, remember:

“..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.”

New York Rolls Out ‘Covid Passport’ At Event Venues (RT)

New York has launched a new Covid-19 ‘passport’ program at major event venues, with spectators asked to use a phone app to prove they’ve been vaccinated, as mandated under state guidelines, or else be barred entry. The “Excelsior Pass” was tested for a second time at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday during a New York Rangers game, functioning like a mobile boarding pass that conveys attendees’ vaccine and testing status. While it made its debut at the Barclays Center late last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the project in an announcement this week, insisting the data on the pass would be kept “completely confidential.”

“The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal,” he said, stressing that participation is “voluntary” for now. As an alternative to the mobile app, residents can also present a paper version of the pass to gain entry to events, both using a QR code linked to their health information. The code does not pass any sensitive medical data to event venues, but merely alerts when a pass is invalid. While it has only been tried at two locations, the state government hopes to expand the program further after the testing period.

As of February 23, New York’s pandemic restrictions require venues with more than 10,000 seats to ensure all staff and spectators receive either a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of an event, or to prove they’ve been fully vaccinated against the illness. The guidelines also force organizers to “collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts,” though that is done separately from the new Excelsior Pass.

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Maybe you should question the way education is organized in the first place.

Giving Kids A Break Is The Best Way For Them To ‘Catch Up’ (G.)

Across the UK schools are again preparing for a phased or full return of pupils to the classroom. Most weary parents, compassionate teachers and lonely kids will be delighted to see this day come, but concerns remain about the effect that protracted school closures have had on our children and young people. Much of the debate has focused on how to help pupils “catch up” on their “lost learning”. This narrative is profoundly unhelpful and potentially damaging, due to the psychological pressure it places on children and young people. It’s our national obsession with summative assessment that makes children feel that they have “fallen behind” if they haven’t learned certain things at certain times. But in every year group, pupils are at various stages of cognitive, physical and emotional development.

There is no such thing as “behind”, there is only where children are at. Besides, if we truly believe that everyone can be a lifelong learner, then a few months of parents struggling to teach phonics is a brief bump on their educational journey. When I read recently of measures being planned to help children make up for lost school time through extended school days, tutoring and summer schools, my first instinct was that we should do the exact opposite. Pre-Covid research from the US has been referenced in support of extending school days, but studies have not provided evidence of positive impact on attainment. Research by the Education Endowment Foundation has highlighted limited evidence of small group tutoring benefiting learners who are “falling behind” and some small benefits of summer schools.

Whether the small gains seen in these studies could be replicated on a larger scale post-pandemic is as yet untested, and open to debate. Given limited time and resources, rather than hoping for a slight boost in standardised attainment scores, educators and government should focus instead on addressing the immediate impact of the crisis, with an eye to what interventions will help children most in the long term. Emotional wellbeing is fundamental and foundational for academic attainment. A stressed, anxious child will have difficulty learning anything. On the flip side, promoting wellbeing can boost academic outcomes. A meta-analysis of 213 school-based, social and emotional learning programmes demonstrated an 11% boost in results in standardised achievement tests.

The impact of lockdown on child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing is clear from research on previous school closures, within the health service, and in our own experiences as parents. Social isolation has exacerbated disadvantage and pre-existing vulnerability. It’s vital that long-term planning includes improving the availability and accessibility of therapeutic support for those who need it. Right now, we need to emotionally regulate before we educate.

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Is it the school closures, or is it banning them from meeting?

Self Harm Claims Among US Teenagers Increased 99% During Pandemic (F.)

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the mental health of teenagers in the United States, according to an analysis of medical records and insurance claims conducted by non-profit FAIR Health, which found that overdoses, intentional self-harm claims, substance use disorders and claims for depression and anxiety disorders all increased substantially in 2020 compared to the prior year. FAIR Health analyzed data from over 32 billion private healthcare claim records, tracking month-by-month changes from January to November 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019. The most significant spikes were discovered early on in the pandemic, as the overall number of insurance claims for mental health issues among young people aged 13-18 in March and April of 2020, as a percentage of all medical claim procedures, was nearly double compared to the prior year.

Specifically, claims related to overdoses among that age group jumped up 119% in April 2020 versus April 2019, while claim reports for generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders rose 94% and 84%, respectively. Claims for intentional self-harm as a percentage of all medical claim rpeorts in the 13-18 age group increased 99.8% during that time frame. According to the study, these claims remained elevated through November. “We know that teenagers already have high rates of mental illness,” Dr. Jess Shatkin of the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center told MedPage Today. “Now [with the pandemic], their parents are starting to struggle, with relationships, jobs, food security. It just ups the ante. We already see vulnerability, and this just makes them more vulnerable.”

While confirmed cases of Covid-19 and related fatalities can clearly be tracked, the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of human beings is not as easily quantifiable. The FAIR Health study’s authors cite infection-related fears, grief, economic instability, and social isolation as contributing factors that have triggered and intensified mental health issues. The numbers in the study align with previously reported data on this subject. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released last summer found that the prevalence of depression in June 2020 was approximately four times higher than in the second quarter of 2019, with anxiety about three times higher as well. Several other studies have also shown that young people have been particularly vulnerable to mental health issues due in large part to school closures, which have left them isolated from friends and teachers.

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Feb 132021
 
 February 13, 2021  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


James Karales Selma to Montgomery March Alabama 1965

 

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)
South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)
The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)
Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)
NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)
Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)
Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)
Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)
Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)
MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)
Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)
Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)
The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

 

 

When you open Pandora’s box, things tend to come out.

@AceSix4
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360063639894507520

 

 

One of the stranger arguments. But sure, let’s inject some controversy.

 

 

 

 

Russia to the rescue.

Sputnik V Developers Work On Vaccine For Several COVID19 Strains At Once (RT)

The Gamaleya Institute behind Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine said it’s working on a technology that will lead to an effective jab against several coronavirus variants and which could also be swiftly updated to tackle new mutations.
The multiplying variants of Covid-19, which could turn out to be resistant to current vaccines and prolong the pandemic even further, have recently become a source of major concern for governments and medics around the globe. But the solution to the problem may be just around the corner, as the Gamaleya Institute’s director, Alexander Gintsburg, revealed that the Moscow-based research body “has developed a technology that allows to quickly and efficiently create vaccine agents that will include antigens not from one, but two, three, four or five different coronavirus variants.”


Such a vaccine should be able to provide immunity from all coronavirus strains that could threaten a population at any given time, Gintsburg said, in an interview with the Rossiya 24 channel. So far, all of the known mutations appear to be covered by the vaccines, but that may well change as RNA viruses like Covid-19 are the most rapidly changing objects in the world, he pointed out. The Russian multi-variant vaccine is currently in its research phase, with clinical trials scheduled to begin by the end of the year. The finished drug will likely be made available to customers in 2022, Gintsburg estimated. Numerous strains of coronavirus have been already discovered by scientists, but three of them are causing the most worries at the moment. The so-called UK, South Africa and Brazil variants have shown multiple changes in their spike protein, through which the virus attaches itself to human cells.

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“substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19..”

South Africans Being Infected With COVID19 Variant Again After Recovering (RT)

Some people in South Africa have been re-infected with variants of Covid-19 after they had already recovered from the virus, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said on Friday.
“We are now getting reports of people getting re-infected with the new variant of the virus, and there have been some initial reports from South Africa suggesting that people who have had prior infection could get infected again,” she told a WHO news briefing. Swaminathan did not specify the number of people re-infected in South Africa, but said that ongoing scientific studies are looking at how long antibodies protect people after they have contracted the virus.

The scientist did say that a recent UK study of health workers found that 85 percent of the cohort had developed protection against being re-infected with Covid-19 six to eight months after they first caught the virus. One study from South Africa published in pre-print format last month found the country’s indigenous mutation, 501Y.V2, showed “substantial or complete escape” from the human body’s neutralizing antibodies that target Covid-19. “These data highlight the prospect of re-infection” and may “foreshadow reduced efficacy” of vaccines, according to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Another larger, more generalized study of 43,000 people with Covid-19 antibodies in Qatar concluded that re-infection is “rare,” and that natural infection elicited strong protection against the virus for at least seven months. The South African variant features more genetic mutations than previous forms of the virus, including the E484K mutation, which appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response, potentially increasing the likelihood of re-infection. It accounts for more than 80 percent of cases in South Africa, and has spread to at least 32 countries worldwide.

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“This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work.”

The Bombhole Era (Matt Taibbi)

News in the Trump years became a narrative drama, with each day advancing a tale of worsening political emergency, driven by subplots involving familiar casts of characters, in the manner of episodic television. It worked, but news directors and editors hit a stumbling block. If you cover everything like there’s no tomorrow, what happens when there is, in fact, a tomorrow? The innovation was to use banner headlines to saturate news cycles, often to the exclusion of nearly any other news, before moving to the next controversy so quickly that mistakes, errors, or rhetorical letdowns were memory-holed. The American Napoleon generated controversies at such a fantastic rate that stations like CNN and MSNBC (and Fox too) were able to keep ratings high by moving from mania to mania, hyping stories on the way up but not always following them down.

The moment the narrative premise of any bombshell started to fray, the next story in line was bumped to the front. News outlets paid off old editorial promises with new headlines: Ponzi journalism. This technique of using the next bombshell story to push the last one down a memory-hole — call it Bombholing — needed a polarized audience to work. As surveys by organizations like the Pew Center showed, the different target demographics in Trump’s America increasingly did not communicate with one another. Democrats by 2020 were 91 percent of the New York Times audience and 95 percent of MSNBC’s, while Republicans were 93 percent of Fox viewers. When outlets overreached factually, it was possible, if not likely, that the original target audience would never learn the difference.

This reduced the incentive to be careful. Audiences devoured bombshells even when aware on a subconscious level that they might not hold up to scrutiny. If a story turned out to be incorrect, that was okay. News was now more about underlying narratives audiences felt were true and important. For conservatives, Trump was saving America from a conspiracy of elites. For “liberal” audiences, Trump was trying to assume dictatorial power, and the defenders of democracy were trying to stop him. A symbiosis developed. Where audiences once punished media companies for mistakes, now they rewarded them for serving up the pure heroin of shaky, first-draft-like blockbusters. They wanted to be in the trenches of information discovery. Audiences were choosing powerful highs over lasting ones.

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View from the left.

Cuomo And The Lincoln Project Are Media-Created Monsters (DP)

In the chaos of 2020, the national press corps used all of its magical mythmaking and storytelling powers to conjure two towering political heroes for a country in crisis. From the maw of the media machine, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Lincoln Project emerged as our alleged sentinels bravely battling a deadly pandemic and an authoritarian president — and supposedly leading us with principles and morality into a new era of accountability and integrity. For millions of credulous liberals already binging on West Wing reruns, the twin tales conjured some more of that good old-fashioned hope-and-change nostalgia, and seemed to serve as a cheeky reminder that not all heroes wear capes.


But in the last 24 hours, the entire façade has collapsed, revealing that those bravely trying to sound the alarm for months were right all along — and those benefiting from the media-driven fraud were attempting to evade accountability and self-servingly cover up a grotesquerie of mismanagement, corruption, and abuse. Will the wrongdoers face any consequences or accountability? Or will they be treated like the purveyors of previous frauds, like the Iraq War and the financial crisis, and continue to be platformed and valorized by the press corps? And will our media overlords engage in any self-reflection about the monsters they manufactured? The details of the two tales vary, but the narrative arcs are eerily similar. That they crescendoed in the same single news cycle makes their cautionary tales all the more poignant.

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About a year too late.

NY Dems Want To Strip Cuomo Of Coronavirus Emergency Powers (JTN)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was reprimanded on Friday by a group of New York Democrats who are demanding that the governor be stripped of his emergency powers that he has exercised in response to the coronavirus pandemic in New York state. The reprimand came in a statement from 14 lawmakers who were acting following the news that Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had admitted during a video conference call with Democratic leaders that the administration covered up the true extent of nursing home deaths in 2020 because they were concerned about a possible federal investigation by the Trump administration. The New York Post broke the story of DeRosa’s confession to the group of Democratic lawmakers who were thought to be put in a difficult situation as result of the coverup.


“While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state — and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments,” the prepared statement from the 14 Democratic state senators said — “it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate.” “While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”

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Very toxic. Tucker’s take is dead on.

Inside the Lincoln Project’s ‘Toxic’ Workplace (19th)

The Lincoln Project’s founders were some of the highest-profile players in Republican politics before they rejected Trump and became apostates within their own party. There was George Conway, a high-profile conservative lawyer who is married to Kellyanne Conway, who was a top adviser to Trump. Weaver worked on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaigns, as did Galen and Schmidt. Mike Madrid is a strategist specializing in Latinx voting trends. Jennifer Horn is a former GOP chair in New Hampshire. Wilson worked on Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral and Senate campaigns. Ron Steslow started his own consulting firm after working at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Conway was the first to leave in August, citing family obligations. Weaver took medical leave around the same time.

A three-person board — Galen, Madrid and Steslow — was created without input from some of the other co-founders. Eventually, disputes over that board, and its scope, led to bitter infighting that involved individual co-founders lawyering up and threatening one another with “oppo” research, Washington speak for the type of negative information amassed by a political campaign or organization to use against a rival. In late 2020, Conway stepped in to help mediate what was quickly becoming a civil war within the organization. Madrid and Steslow departed in December after signing nondisclosure agreements and receiving separation packages that those familiar with the negotiations describe as lucrative.

On December 21, the Lincoln Project paid Madrid’s firm, Grassroots Lab, two round sum payments of $1.1 million and $300,000. On the same date, it paid Steslow’s firm, TUSK Digital, $900,000. All of the payments were described as for “political strategy consulting” on campaign finance filings. The Lincoln Project was organized as a super PAC, meaning it could raise and spend unlimited sums of money but had to disclose only basic details about where the money was going. The firms that some of the co-founders brought with them to the Lincoln Project’s work became a source of internal frustration, as more than half of the nearly $90 million raised by the project flowed to firms controlled by its various founders. Once it was there, there was usually no way to track how they spent or kept it.

As of late January, Galen’s firm, Summit Strategic Communications, had received roughly $27.5 million from the Lincoln Project, with the bulk of that going to “independent expenditures” such as television or Internet advertisements and nearly $7 million to consulting. Steslow’s firm, TUSK, received $22.4 million, with $7.1 million for consulting. Schmidt’s firm, SES Strategies, received $1.5 million for consulting, but he told the Chicago Tribune he returned it. Madrid’s Grassroots Lab received nearly $2.2 million for consulting services. The Lincoln Project paid Horn directly in amounts of $5,000 or $10,000 per month, campaign finance filings show. In the fall, she began receiving additional payments from LPTV, but in all, her annual compensation was approximately $150,000, sources familiar with the situation said.

Tucker Lincoln Project
https://twitter.com/i/status/1360413135144771585

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George Conway. Strange player in all this.

Lincoln Project Accused by its Own Co-Founder of Likely Criminality (Greenwald)

The group of life-long Republican Party consultants who, under the name “The Lincoln Project,” got very rich in 2020 with anti-Trump online messaging has spent weeks responding to numerous scandals on multiple fronts. Despite the gravity of those scandals, its conduct on Thursday night was in a whole new category of sleaze. It not only infuriated their long-time allies, but also constituted the abuse of Twitter’s platform to commit likely illegal acts. That the primary effect of the Lincoln Project was to personally enrich its key operatives by cynically exploiting the fears of U.S. liberals has long been obvious. Reporting throughout 2020 conclusively demonstrated that the vast majority of the tens of millions of dollars raised by the group was going to firms controlled by its founders.


One of its most prominent founders — GOP consultant Rick Wilson — personally collected $65,000 from liberals through GoFundMe for an anti-Trump film he kept promising but which never came; to this date, he refuses to explain what he did with that money. A study conducted after the 2020 election found that the group’s effect on the election’s outcome was trivial to non-existent — not surprising given its penchant for spending money on ads that aired in electorally irrelevant places such as Washington, D.C. or which circulated almost exclusively in liberal cable news and social media venues, and thus had no purpose other than to enable its consultants to take large commissions from the ad spending. They were producing ads solely for liberals, with the overriding intent not of defeating Trump but inflating their net worth. And it worked: until they were no longer needed.

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Do they ever.

Lincoln Project Faces Questions Over The Spending And Compensation (Turley)

The Lincoln Project has had a rough couple of weeks. One of its co-founders, John Weaver, was accused of sexual harassment of young men and the Project attacked him as a sexual predator. As co-founders like George Conway denied any real familiarity or interaction with Weaver, others accused of the Project of turning a blind eye to his conduct. Then one of its other co-founders, Jennifer Horn, resigned in protest only to be attacked by other Project members as allegedly trying to get more money out of the organization. Now, the Lincoln Project is having serious questions raised over its compensation for co-founders and an accounting for tens of millions of dollars that may have gone to them or their own firms. Lincoln famously declared “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” but the Lincoln Project is accused of malice towards many but charity for a few.

[..] The latest controversy comes after an Associated Press story that the Project was able to raise over $90 million but only spent a third of that ($27 million) on advertisements during the 2020 campaign. The AP noted “That leaves tens of millions of dollars that went toward expenses like production costs, overhead — and exorbitant consulting fees collected by members of the group.” It also suggested that the Project was using tactics to hide the money trial and spending decisions. Reporters Steve Peoples and Brian Slodysko said that “[t]he vast majority of the cash was split among consulting firms controlled by its founders, including about $27 million paid to a small firm controlled by Galen and another $21 million paid to a boutique firm run by former Lincoln Project member Ron Steslow, campaign finance disclosures show.”

I have been critical of some of the Lincoln Project commercials and advertisements. However, my main objection was its role in harassing and even doxxing lawyers who represented the Trump campaign or the Republican party. That effort was funded by thousands of lawyers as well as Democratic donors. At first, I thought the Lincoln Project could serve a useful role in establishing a Republican opposition base to Trump and add greater diversity in the party. Instead, it adopted increasingly juvenile and vicious ads that seemed to pander to the lowest common denominator in politics. This week the Lincoln Project ad features a chicken and taunts Trump for declining to testify despite the fact that presidents traditionally have not testified and such a decision should not be treated as evidence of guilt.

Yet, such commercials play well to donors and bring in more money. The question is whether the windfall of money was the byproduct or the purpose of the Project’s founding. The AP story suggests that the Project has used accounting systems that make it difficult to track payments. The Project can easily make this all transparent. While no one is going to run ads showing the founders juxtaposed with chickens, a few donors may want to know if the founders enriched themselves and their firms as part of the 2020 campaign.

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Pandora’s box.

Trump Lawyers Argue His Jan. 6 Rhetoric Is ‘Protected’ Free Speech (JTN)

Attorney David Schoen argued the impeachment managers relied heavily on media reports to make their case against Trump rather than actual evidence. He said people get more “due process” fighting a parking ticket than Trump did in this trial. Schoen also questioned why the House managers held the “never-before-seen” Capitol security footage and did not release it to the public or Trump himself ahead of the trial. Schoen also argued that the House impeachment managers “manipulated” Trump’s words when playing a clip of him saying there were “fine people on both sides” after the Charlottesville protest. The full remarks included Trump denouncing white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

The House impeachment managers focused heavily on Trump’s “fight like hell” comment during his Jan. 6 speech. Schoen showed video clips of Democrats using rhetoric that could be interpreted as violent. His video montage included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Democrats have to learn how to “throw a punch” and former Vice President Joe Biden saying he would “beat the hell” out of Trump in high school. He also played clips of Democrats like then-Sen. Kamala Harris saying Democrats have to “fight” in the Trump era. “We like a good fight,” Harris said.

House impeachment managers argued that Trump’s “stop the steal” message was unprecedented. To respond to that argument, Schoen showed video of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton saying that you could be a major political party’s presidential nominee and have the election “stolen” from you. He also played Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown saying Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial election was “stolen” from her. Van der Veen played additional video of “robust” rhetoric from Democrats about punching Trump in the face and said the First Amendment should be applied “evenly.” “All robust speech should be protected and it should be protected evenly for all of us,” he said. “The Senate cannot ignore the First Amendment.”

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“..when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off.”

MSM’s Narrative About The Murderous Capitol Mob Has Collapsed (Cox)

As their dishonest narrative collapses around them, mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians are trying to hold together their latest bid to destroy Donald Trump, but some of the lies are getting too big to shrug off. I’m reminded of the media-speak popularized during the Trump era – lightly used words or phrases that became ubiquitous in the talking points, like “violating norms” – especially the term “debunked.” In the eyes of MSM and their controllers, Trump was a president who needed to be debunked thousands of times. Whether it was about the size of his Inauguration Day crowd, the animal-like savagery of MS-13 gang-bangers or the fact that Haiti is “a s**thole”, any Trump claim had to be debunked, false or not.

When an obnoxious loudmouth constantly blurts out things that lift the skirt on the ruling class’ treachery, his voice must be discredited. And even if just part of his story can be attacked, the rest will be forgotten. It’s like a Jenga game where all the pieces automatically fall down when one is removed. But the same standard doesn’t apply to the media’s own story lines. No matter how many times MSM and establishment politicians are exposed as liars — from the MLK bust in the Oval Office to the Russia collusion hoax — the people are supposed to keep believing the gist of their arguments. The Jenga tower can be levitating with entire floors missing, but the con artists insist that it’s still standing. We’re seeing it again in Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial. Giant holes have been blown in the MSM-DNC narrative about the January 6 “insurrection” at the US Capitol, but that’s not supposed to matter.

For instance, when lead House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) got caught lying on Wednesday about the content of an alleged telephone call between Trump and a Republican senator during the Capitol riot, he admitted that his claim was false and shrugged it off. “This is much ado about nothing because it’s not critical in any way to our case,” he said. Never mind that the point was apparently considered important enough to submit as evidence. Raskin was essentially allowed to wriggle out as if he said, “The fact that we’re lying about this doesn’t reflect whatsoever on the veracity of anything else we’re telling you.” A far bigger and more central piece of the impeachment Jenga tower shouldn’t be sloughed off so easily. In fact, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick is so central to the narrative that his cremated remains were displayed in honor at the Capitol Rotunda to remind everyone of the viciousness of the alleged Trump domestic-terrorism army.

The tale of the brutal Trump mob is always punctuated with the fact that five people were “killed” during the riot, er, “white-supremacist insurrection.” One of those people was Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters, who was fatally shot by a law enforcement officer. Three others were election-fraud protesters who died from health crises – a heart attack, a stroke and an unidentified medical emergency – during the January 6 demonstration and riot. The talking heads who wish Trump supporters dead in every other case are counting Trump supporters in the death toll from an incident perpetrated primarily by Trump supporters. It’s as if they’re leading a story on a hostage crisis by saying that 30 people were killed without mentioning that 25 of those were hostage takers, including 22 who died of food poisoning.

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hypothetical

Hillary Clinton Could Be Charged Under Precedent Set In Trump Trial (RT)

A lawyer for former president Donald Trump said the current impeachment drive is a partisan effort that could backfire on Democrats if they lose leverage, suggesting ex-secretary of state Hillary Clinton could also be impeached. Responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) during Friday’s impeachment hearing, Trump attorney Michael van der Veen argued that the Obama-era secretary could face similar impeachment proceedings sometime in the future. “Is it not true that under this new precedent, a future House – facing partisan pressure to ‘lock her up’ – could impeach a former secretary of state, and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify her from any future office?” Rubio asked.

“If you see it their way, yes,” van der Veen said, referring to the Democratic impeachment managers. “If you do this the way they want it done, that could happen to the example there – a former secretary of state – but it could happen to a lot of people. And that’s not the way this is supposed to work.” The lead impeachment manager in the House, Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), pushed back, however, insisting Rubio’s hypothetical had “no bearing on this case,” as Clinton “was not impeached in office for conduct while in office.” At Friday’s hearing, the Trump lawyer also argued that the ex-president’s statements leading up to the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill – which he is accused of “inciting” as the basis of the impeachment effort – were “virtually indistinguishable” from rhetoric used by American politicians for “hundreds of years.”

“Countless politicians have spoken of ‘fighting for our principles.’ Joe Biden’s campaign slogan was ‘Battle for the Soul of America.’ No human being seriously believes that the use of such metaphorical terminology is incitement to political violence,” van der Veen said. He added that while Trump at no point engaged in “language of incitement,” many Democrats in Washington have themselves resorted to “profoundly reckless, dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric in recent years,” singling out Clinton, who he said “ridiculously declared the [2016] election [was] stolen by Russia.”

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“Do you understand what you have done?”

Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” (Luongo)

Did you happen to catch the most important political speech of the last six years? It would have been easy to miss given everything going on. In fact, I almost did, and this speech sits at the intersection of nearly all of my areas of intense study. The annual World Economic Forum took place last week via teleconference, what I’m calling Virtual Davos, and at this year’s event, of course, the signature topic was their project called the Great Reset. But if the WEF was so intent on presenting the best face for the Great Reset to the world it wouldn’t have invited either Chinese Premier Xi Jinping or, more importantly, Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it was Putin’s speech that brought down the house of cards that is the agenda of the WEF.

The last time someone walked into a major international forum and issued such a scathing critique of the current geopolitical landscape was Putin’s speech to the United Nations on September 29th, 2015, two days before he sent a small contingency of Russian air support to Syria. There he excoriated not only the U.N. by name but most importantly the U.S. and its NATO allies by inference asking the most salient question, “Do you understand what you have done?” having unleashed chaos in an already chaotic part of the world? As important as that speech was it was Putin’s actions after that which defined the current era of geopolitical chess across the Eurasian continent. Syria became the nexus around which the resistance to the “ISIS is invincible” narrative unraveled

And the mystery of who was behind ISIS, namely the Obama administration, was revealed to anyone paying attention. President Trump may have taken credit for beating ISIS, but it was mostly Putin and Russia’s forces retaking the Western part of Syria which allowed that to happen, while our globalist generals, like James Mattis, did as much damage to Syria itself and as little to ISIS as possible, hoping to use them again another day. And regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the U.S.’s policy in Syria, which I most definitely do not, it is hard to argue that Russia’s intervention there fundamentally changed the regional politics and conflicts for the foreseeable future.

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Jim needs some time to re-focus.

The Trials of Wokery (Kunstler)

How do you like the party you supposedly voted into power so far? Or is it perhaps too much to say they were actually voted into anything? And if so — if there was something, let’s say, a little irregular with the ballot tabulation, maybe even more than a little — have they not succeeded splendidly in pissing-off more than half the people across the land? And then attempted to rub that half’s faces into the squishy, fetid loam of the DC Swamp? I’d say that every move they make, every breath they take, seems calculated to spark a new civil war. Yesterday’s spiteful exercise in cognitive dissonance was a humdinger: Mr. Biden threatened to cut off travel to Florida for flouting his regime’s policy on Covid-19 lockdowns, while over in Texas (and several other states), he ordered a general unlocking-down of the border with Mexico, permitting the unchecked illegal ingress of thousands of possible Covid-19 carriers a day. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, responded, saying — if I may paraphrase — see you in court, asshole.

Meanwhile, the cancellation reign-of-terror among the regime’s self-appointed guardians of Wokeness rages on. In the name of diversity and inclusion, no one in the USA is allowed to publicly question the Woke narrative of the moment, or else be deprived of your livelihood. The New York Times fired forty-year veteran science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr., for using the freighted word “n*gg*r” while answering a student’s question about the history of the word’s usage, just as I am explaining his use of it in the incident at issue — that is, academically.

Though Mr. McNeil’s intent was incontrovertibly innocent as viewed by persons not insane — including, only briefly, the paper’s executive editor Dean Baquet — the decision to not sack Mr. McNeil provoked a reflexive uproar among the Times’s staff, as something in the wind might provoke a flight of grasshoppers transforming into a swarm of locusts, and Mr. Baquet reversed himself, forcing Mr. McNeil to choose demotion or resignation. Then, to make matters worse, the Times’s publisher, AG Sulzberger, spiked a column by nominally “conservative” op-ed writer Bret Stephens that attempted to argue some legalistic points about intent in the conduct of a witch hunt, an apparent affront to the Times’s witch-hunters, who seem to prefer their witch-hunting as a straight-up blood sport.

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“If you survive until tomorrow, it could mean that either a) you are more likely to be immortal or b) that you are closer to death.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan

 

 

 

 

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Feb 112021
 
 February 11, 2021  Posted by at 10:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Ansel Adams Evening at McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park 1942

 

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)
CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)
Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)
Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)
Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)
‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)
The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)
New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)
Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)
Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)
Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)
Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)
Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)
In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

 

 

 

 

COVID numbers in the UK and US crashed at the exact same moment. How is that possible?

 

 

“About Thatcher’s death: Let’s privatise her funeral. Put it out on competitive tender and accept the cheapest bid. That’s what she would have wanted.”
– Ken Loach

 

 

What are your plans until 2022? Forget them.

AstraZeneca Says Vaccine Against New Covid Variant May Take 6-9 Months (G.)

AstraZeneca has said that it could take between six and nine months to produce Covid-19 vaccines that are effective against new variants of the coronavirus. The company’s vaccine, developed jointly with scientists at the University of Oxford, remains effective on at least one variant of the virus first discovered in Kent, England, but preliminary findings in a small-scale trial prompted South Africa to limit its use while it ascertains its efficacy. However, a six-month turnaround for an updated vaccine would represent a vast improvement over traditional vaccine development timelines. The vaccine is particularly important for poorer countries, because the company – unlike some of its rivals such as Pfizer – has pledged to sell it at cost price.


The vaccine also does not require very low temperatures during transport, making it cheaper to deliver. Announcing its financial results for 2020 on Thursday, AstraZeneca said: “In collaboration with the University of Oxford, AstraZeneca is focused on adapting C19VAZ to new disease strains if required and hopes to reduce the time needed to reach production at scale to between six to nine months, by utilising existing clinical data and optimising its established supply chain.” AstraZeneca will not incorporate revenues from the vaccine into its financial results, but it said that 2020 performance in its main profit-making business remained strong.

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Pfizer says they don’t know if their vaccine protects you from infections, or those around you. But the CDC now knows better? Or is this true only when wearing 3 masks?

CDC: Fully Vaccinated People Don’t Need To Quarantine If Exposed To Covid (NBC)

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday in updated guidance on its website. Quarantine is typically recommended for healthy people who have been exposed to the virus. During quarantine, people are asked to isolate from others for one to two weeks to see whether they develop symptoms of Covid-19. By not exposing others, quarantining can help stop the spread of the disease. In the updated guidance, the CDC said such quarantining is not necessary for fully vaccinated people within three months of having received their last doses as long as they do not develop any symptoms.

“Fully vaccinated” means that at least two weeks have passed since a person has received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Other recommendations remain in place for fully vaccinated people. They include wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. The guidance says the risk that fully vaccinated people could spread the coronavirus, to others is “still uncertain.” However, “vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic Covid-19; symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission than purely asymptomatic transmission,” according to the CDC.

The CDC already recommends that people who have had Covid-19 and recovered do not need to quarantine for 90 days after the illness, if newly exposed to someone who is infected; the new guidance for vaccinated people aligns with the earlier recommendations. The guidance “makes sense,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, although he said he was curious about what evidence the CDC was using. Early data from AstraZeneca and Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trials have suggested that vaccines may slow transmission of the virus, although more work is needed to confirm the findings.

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2 days after 14 infections among fully vaccinated in pensioners’ home in Germany.

Deaths of Elderly Who Recovered From COVID, but Died After Vaccine (Attkisson)

Two small clusters of deaths after COVID-19 vaccination have been reported among nursing homes in Kentucky and Arkansas. In Kentucky, four seniors died the same day of their vaccination on Dec. 30, 2020. Three of the four who passed away reportedly already had had coronavirus prior to getting vaccinated. In Arkansas, four seniors died at a long term care facility about a week after their vaccination. All tested positive for COVID-19 after vaccination. The deaths are reported in a federal database called VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Deaths after vaccination don’t necessarily mean the vaccine is to blame. Of those receiving coronavirus vaccines, many are elderly and frail, or already suffering from serious illnesses. That makes it difficult to know whether there’s a connection.

According to VAERS reports, the Kentucky deaths occurred on Dec. 30 after vaccinations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. An ill 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” was given the Pfizer-BioNTech shot while she was “unresponsive in [her] room.” She died within an hour and a half (914961-1). An 88-year-old who was “15 days post covid” got the shot, was monitored for 15 minutes afterward, and passed away within 90 minutes (914994-1). A third report says an 88-year-old woman who was “14 + days post covid” vomited four minutes after receiving her shot, became short of breath, and passed away that night (915562-1). And an 85-year-old woman vaccinated at 5 p.m. was “found unresponsive” less than two hours later and died shortly after (915682-1). In response to questions about the Kentucky cluster, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said its experts noted “no pattern … among the [Kentucky] cases that would indicate a concern for the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Scientists differ on whether people who have had coronavirus, like the Kentucky patients, should receive the COVID-19 vaccination at all. The CDC insists it’s safe for people who have recovered from COVID-19 to get vaccinated and that there’s no minimum interval recommended between infection and vaccination. “Vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] infection,” it states. But other scientists say vaccinating people who are already considered immune after a natural COVID-19 infection wastes valuable doses of vaccines when there are shortages. And neither Pfizer’s nor Moderna’s studies showed any benefit to vaccinating previously infected patients.

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“No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech..”

Dershowitz Destroys Democrats’ Impeachment In Under 2 Minutes (WND)

Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was on President Trump’ defense team during the first impeachment trial one year ago. And while he’s not a member of the team this time, he’s offering a quick, two-minute argument he says should close the case. “You don’t have to listen to me. Listen to James Madison, who’s the father of the Constitution,” Dershowitz said on “The Charlie Kirk Show” podcast. “He said that impeachment is only for somebody who’s still sitting in office. He said it quite clearly in the Federalist Papers,” Dershowitz said of Madison. “There’s no way around that.” The Harvard professor insisted the text of the Constitution is clear as well.

“It says impeachment is for purposes of removing a president. Once a president is removed you can also vote to disqualify him but disqualification doesn’t stand alone as a remedy,” he said. “If it did, then the Congress would have a roving commission to go through the entire United States and decide who to impeach and who not to impeach, and who to prevent from running for office,” said Dershowitz. “Say the Republicans come up with a young vibrant candidate to run against Biden four years from now. All the Democrats would have to do is impeach him, even though he’s never held office, and just disqualify him from running for office. Or find someone … who had a smaller officer earlier, and they can impeach him,” Dershowitz said.

“That’s not what the Framers had in mind. What the Framers had in mind is not allowing the Senate to put people on trial. That’s called a bill of attainder and a bill of attainder is specifically prohibited by the Constitution.” Dershowitz said there are “so many things wrong with this impeachment.” “No. 1 they have no jurisdiction. No.2 it’s a bill of attainder, No. 3 they’re impeaching him for constitutionally protected speech,” he said. Dershowitz said the impeachment itself “is doing a tremendous amount of damage to our Constitution.”

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“This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it…”

Dershowitz: Trump Defense Must Avoid ‘Trap’ Of Debating Election Fraud (JTN)

Key legal allies of former President Trump say his defense team must avoid the “trap” of debating election fraud during his Senate impeachment trial. House impeachment managers Tuesday cited Trump statements challenging the integrity of the 2020 election in arguing that the former president engaged in a “months-long effort to incite” an “insurrection” which culminated on Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob forced its way past police lines into the U.S. Capitol. House Democrats’ move to frame Trump’s electoral fraud claims as incitement in their impeachment narrative created an opening for Trump’s defense to, in effect, put the 2020 election itself on trial before a nationwide viewing audience, as many of his supporters have urged.

Some Trump allies say his electoral fraud case has never received a full public airing due to legal challenges being tossed out on grounds of standing, timeliness and other technical issues rather than on merit. But former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who helped lead the successful defense that gained Trump’s acquittal in the 2020 impeachment trial, said this move would be “a terrible mistake” for Trump. “It’s a trap that the Democrats are trying to set for the Trump lawyers,” Dershowitz told Just the News in an interview Wednesday. “It’s a trap to have them talk about electoral fraud, because if they do, they’ll lose [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and other senators.” The “absolute trap,” Dershowitz said, “was being set by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is leading the Democrats’ impeachment case. Raskin studied law under Dershowitz, who called his former student “a smart guy.”

[..] Attorney Phill Kline, a Trump supporter and director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, has litigated many cases involving claims of electoral fraud during the 2020 election. He told Just the News that while he thinks a national conversation about electoral fraud should continue, he doesn’t believe that the impeachment forum is ideal. “This is not the forum in which any evidence of election fraud is going to be seriously considered,” Kline said. “They have no interest in it. They refuse to acknowledge clear facts. And so it’s the wrong audience and the wrong time.” Kline said the Trump defense team should focus on the former president’s First Amendment right to speak openly and raise questions about election fraud. “They have been trying to criminalize thought for some time now,” Kline said. “This is just the fruit of their belief that if you do not think as they do, you’re a threat to the nation.”

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It’s become quite theatrical.

‘Feel Our Pain,’ Politicians Demand (Tracey)

Congress is increasingly not a place where the average member partakes in what’s generally understood as legislative activity, but rather engages in a variety of elaborate self-promotional exercises. The diminishment in the power of average House Members (as opposed to Party leaders who run their respective caucuses like fiefdoms) has been amply documented. One consequence of this trend is that “comms” has become far more of an all-consuming focus for a certain type of Member, particularly those who are most adept at social media. One “comms” strategy that appears highly effective at the moment in generating outsized public attention is extreme, heavily-personalized emotional exuberance.

With the “trauma” of the MAGA goofball mob intrusion still apparently dominating their psyches, members of Congress have taken it as a solemn duty to claim “space” for the “sharing” of their “lived experience” relating to this event. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a true pioneer in importing the rhetoric of therapeutic trauma jargon, already the lingua franca of an ascendant activism-minded cultural and media cohort, into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. At her direction, it will only become more ubiquitous. And given that such rhetoric deliberately inverts the normal epistemology of contested political claims — it’s deemed incumbent on the listener not to critically evaluate the veracity of such claims, but instead uncritically believe them — the new mode of public argument she’s popularizing is likely to prove highly effective, as it inherently forecloses the prospect of any argument at all.

Per this framework, arguments are replaced with subjective assertions that must be presumptively accepted, lest one be guilty of “minimizing” or “belittling” the elected official’s experiences and thus compounding their trauma. Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, took a page from this playbook during the opening presentation of Donald Trump’s trial Monday, breaking down in tears at one point as he wove a narrative about the terror of January 6 with his own personal turmoil. Raskin’s son died on December 31, and the pain he felt from that experience was integrated seamlessly with the pain that he posited all members of Congress must have felt during the goofball riot.

Of course, everyone who’s not a psychopath would sympathize with Raskin for having lost a son to suicide. But to invoke this tragedy in the context of an impeachment trial has an obvious political intent. The intent was to heighten the emotional resonance of the prosecution’s case for convicting Trump, as according to Raskin, he feared that his daughter might also face untimely death because she happened to be in the Capitol with him on January 6. The more intense the “pain” that can be conveyed to the juror-senators, the more likely they are to vote to convict Trump — or so the calculation seemingly goes.

Fellow impeachment manager David Cicilline charged that every single member of Congress nearly avoided being slaughtered in a mass execution-style attack that day — “They could have killed all of us,” he said — although no real evidence has ever been presented to substantiate this dramatic theory, which seems only to be professed by partisan Democrats. A number of basic facts stemming from the Capitol intrusion which could provide clarity are still mysteriously absent from the public record, such as whether any of the rioters brandished or discharged firearms. You’d think this would be helpful information to know before proclaiming, as Cicilline did, that what occurred was an “armed insurrection.” It would be a very curious “armed insurrection” for no firearms to have been deployed over the course of the “insurrection.”

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“The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the [Obama] moratorium then in effect.”

The Disarticulation of Pandemic War Propaganda (MPN)

A now-deleted fact sheet published by the U.S. State Department on January 15, 2021, claimed that for over a year, “the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin.” The official release of that fact sheet focuses on the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV); a controversial research lab in the Hubei province of China which has been the target of well-earned suspicions over its work on bat-borne zoonotic diseases like SARS-CoV-2, better known as the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Missing from the State Department’s missive is the intimate bond that this particular laboratory has to American scientific institutions and to a tight-knit group of individuals with direct links to the U.S. intelligence apparatus and the biodefense establishment. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci’s funding of gain-of-function (GoF) research in 2014 at the Chinese lab is just one example. The highly polarizing GoF studies, which entail turbo-charging a pathogen’s virulence through the “generation of viruses with properties that do not exist in nature” present considerable biosafety hazards, which led the Obama administration to issue a federal moratorium on GoF research. The study Fauci funded at the WIV in 2014 was done so in contravention to the moratorium then in effect.

Deeper and more disturbing ties to outfits like USAID-funded Ecohealth Alliance have been covered by independent journalists like Same Husseini and others, revealing the WIV’s close relationship to people like David R. Franz – former commander of Fort Detrick, the pre-eminent biowarfare and biodefense facility in the U.S. and the source of the anthrax spores used in the infamous 2001 anthrax attacks. In July 2020, this author carried out an investigation into the nexus between the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), USAID and zoonotic disease research in Asia.

Recently, some of these facts have seeped into mainstream news outlets as the “lab-leak” hypothesis, which suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen escaped from a laboratory in China. Careful to avoid drawing attention to links between American scientific institutions and their Chinese counterparts, a narrative is gathering momentum as the idea of a ‘cover-up’ by Chinese authorities is promulgated on prime time television news magazine shows like “60 Minutes,” which ran an expose the promoted the idea that China is “weaponizing” the pandemic. The narrative is not new and has been lingering in the background since the pandemic was declared.

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“this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces..”

New US Military Base in Northeast Syria Latest of Biden’s Warlike Moves (MPN)

The U.S.-government funded outlet Voice of America has confirmed rumors that a new military base is being built in northeastern Syria. A convoy of 40 troop carriers and other vehicles arrived and began setting up shop in the city of Hasakah near the Turkish and Iraqi borders over the weekend. “The U.S. flag is now raised over a building,” said journalist Jindar Berekat, a native of the city, “it is not clear how many American soldiers will be stationed at this location, but their armored military vehicles are here and it looks like they are still constructing parts of it.”

“Many here believe that the building of a U.S. base inside Hasakah could be a response to the growing Russian presence in the city,” a local reporter told Voice of America, “this new center [is being built] with the aim of observing Russian forces in Hasakah.” Russian military units have been present in Syria since 2015, intervening on behalf of the government of Bashar al-Assad. The two foreign superpowers have come close to armed confrontation in Syria many times, including in 2017, when President Trump ordered the bombing of a Russian airbase near the Lebanese border. Already, the American presence has prevented the Russian military from carrying out patrols in northeastern Syria.

While the United States has presented its role in Syria as a counter terrorism operation, Assad’s government has accused it of plundering its resources, “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration.” Around 500 American troops have been guarding the country’s oilfields for months, and last summer, Senator Lindsay Graham confirmed that the U.S. had indeed signed a deal with the SDF to “modernize” the country’s oil industry. Damascus considers the agreement “null and void.”

The new base at Hasakah is the latest in a string of actions that suggest the United States wishes to bolster or expand its presence in the war-torn country. Last month, American forces reinforced another base along the M4 highway, which runs from the city of Aleppo through the north of the country and towards the Iraqi border in the east. At the same time, its ally Israel was conducting a series of major airstrikes across the east of the country, reportedly targeting Iranian or pro-Iranian forces.

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Only the good stuff?!

Facebook New Algorithm Will ‘Reduce Political Content’ On News Feeds (JTN)

Facebook announced on Wednesday the social media platform will in the coming weeks start limiting the amount of political content viewers see on their news feeds. The company is aware that “people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed,” Product Management Director Aastha Gupta wrote in a blog post on the site. The change will begin with Facebook temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week. Gupta said the process will begin in the U.S. in the coming weeks.


The initial rollout will allow the company to explore different methods of ranking political content prior to its deciding on a permanent solution. Facebook has in recent months and years attempted to reducing political content, include no new political ads in the final week of the 2020 presidential campaign. However, the company and other social media giants have meanwhile faced growing scrutiny of what third-party content they choose to censure or block. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed,” Gupta said.

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They’ve lost their party. Might as well start another one.

Former Republican Officials In Talks To Form Anti-Trump Third Party (R.)

Dozens of former Republican officials, who view the party as unwilling to stand up to former President Donald Trump and his attempts to undermine U.S. democracy, are in talks to form a center-right breakaway party, four people involved in the discussions told Reuters. The early stage discussions include former elected Republicans, former officials in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump, ex-Republican ambassadors and Republican strategists, the people involved say. More than 120 of them held a Zoom call last Friday to discuss the breakaway group, which would run on a platform of “principled conservatism,” including adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law – ideas those involved say have been trashed by Trump.

The plan would be to run candidates in some races but also to endorse center-right candidates in others, be they Republicans, independents or Democrats, the people say. Evan McMullin, who was chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election, told Reuters that he co-hosted the Zoom call with former officials concerned about Trump’s grip on Republicans and the nativist turn the party has taken. [..] Call participants said they were particularly dismayed by the fact that more than half of the Republicans in Congress – eight senators and 139 House representatives – voted to block certification of Biden’s election victory just hours after the Capitol siege.

Most Republican senators have also indicated they will not support the conviction of Trump in this week’s Senate impeachment trial. “Large portions of the Republican Party are radicalizing and threatening American democracy,” McMullin told Reuters. “The party needs to recommit to truth, reason and founding ideals or there clearly needs to be something new.”

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Why is the idea of surrendering control of parts of the US to Facebook, Google etc. not shot down on sight?

Will Corporation-Owned Smart Cities Come To Nevada? (AN)

With plans reportedly still moving forward for Blockchains, LLC, to break ground on a Tom Wiscombe Architecture and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects (EYRC)-designed smart city in Nevada in 2022, Governor Steve Sisolak is looking to give it, and similar developments across the state, the power to form their own governments. According to documents acquired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sisolak has floated a draft proposal to create “Innovation Zones” across the state in a bid to draw technology companies, and giving them the power to set up their own governments. In exchange for this autonomy, the Nevada state government would forgo the tax abatement or incentive packages typically used to encourage big businesses to relocate.

Sisolak first mentioned the idea during his January 19 State of the State address but later confirmed that a draft bill was in the works on February 4 via Twitter. According to the text reviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (subject to change before a final bill is submitted), such an “alternative form of local government” is needed to entice big tech companies, and that over time, the administration of those zones would gradually take over governmental duties from their respective counties. Each zone would be overseen by a three-person board of supervisors, with the company behind the development having the majority of the say in who gets appointed.

It should be noted that the governor’s proposal only extends to companies doing “innovative” work; relating to blockchains, healthcare, robotics, renewable energy research, biometrics, autonomous vehicles, and similar cutting-edge research. Any company applying to set up an Innovation Zone through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development would need to own and be intent on developing at least 50,000 acres not already part of a city or town, $250 million on hand, and a plan to invest at least $1 billion in the area over the next 10 years.


Tom Wiscombe Architecture and EYRC revealed their design for the Blockchains city in 2018, and now the project’s developer may get the power to form its own government there. (Courtesy EYRC Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture)

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No. What Yellen eyes is control.

Yellen Eyes Innovation To Battle Misuse Of Cryptocurrencies (R.)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday warned about an “explosion of risk” from digital markets, including the misuse of cryptocurrencies, but said new financial technologies could also help fight crime and reduce inequality. In remarks to a financial sector innovation roundtable, Yellen said such technologies could be used to stem the flow of dark money from organized crime and fight back against hackers, but also to reduce digital gaps in the United States. She said passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in December would allow the Treasury Department to rework a framework for combating illicit finance that has been largely unchanged since the 1970s.


“The update couldn’t have come at a better time,” Yellen told policymakers, regulators and private sector experts. “We’re living amidst an explosion of risk related to fraud, money laundering, terrorist financing, and data privacy.” The COVID-19 pandemic had triggered more – and more sophisticated – cyberattacks aimed at hospitals, schools, banks, and the government itself, she said. Cryptocurrencies and virtual assets offered promise, but they had also been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers and to finance terrorism. Innovation in the sector could help address these problems while giving millions of people access to the financial system, she said.

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“..the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom..”

Assange Prosecution Will Continue Under Biden (Gosztola)

The Justice Department under President Joe Biden plans to continue the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that was launched under President Donald Trump. “We continue to seek his extradition,” Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi told Reuters, days before February 12, the deadline for the United States government to submit its “grounds for appeal.” The statement represents a departure from President Barack Obama’s administration, which declined to prosecute Assange. Justice Department officials were reportedly concerned about the threat it would pose to press freedom.

On January 4, British district judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. government’s extradition request and concluded Assange’s mental condition was “such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.” She accepted that Assange would likely be imprisoned at a supermax prison in the U.S. under special administrative measures (SAMs) and would find a way to commit suicide. “I am satisfied that, in these harsh conditions, Mr. Assange’s mental health would deteriorate causing him to commit suicide with the ‘single minded determination’ of his autism spectrum disorder.” However, the Biden Justice Department plans to contest the judge’s conclusion that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide.

[..] During Biden’s first foreign policy speech on February 4, he proclaimed, “We believe a free press isn’t an adversary; rather, it’s essential. A free press is essential to the health of a democracy.” However, in Trump’s last year in office, he signed a counterintelligence strategy document that lumped in “leaktivists” and “public disclosure organizations,” like WikiLeaks, with Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and terrorist groups, which U.S. security agencies view as “significant threats.” That strategy document, which covers 2020-2022, sharply conflicts with Biden’s assertion that the U.S. government believes the free press is not an adversary. Indeed, it shows U.S. security agencies believe they should monitor, neutralize, and even target dissident media organizations that may employ practices pioneered by WikiLeaks.

While the tone of the new administration may sound more polite toward elite journalists, by refusing to abandon this dangerous political case, the Biden Justice Department is effectively signaling his administration is not all that serious about press freedom and what officials have to say are empty platitudes that should not pacify people aware of what is at stake if Assange is brought to the U.S. and put on trial.

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“The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.”

In Mail-In Impeachment Vote, Senate Convicts Trump 8275 To 3 (BBee)

In a historic move, the U.S. Senate decided to switch to voting by mail for Trump’s second impeachment trial. After all the votes were counted by an intern in a back room with no cameras, the Senate ruled to convict President Trump of incitement to violence by a vote of 8275 to 3. “Our holy democracy has spoken,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “Do not ask any questions or you are a blasphemer against the sacred sacredness of our vote. Everyone can go home now!” A couple of troublemaking Senators attempted to overthrow the Constitution by bringing up the point that there are only 100 Senators, making it impossible to arrive at a tally of 8275 to 3, but they were quickly removed from the Senate Chambers and condemned for “attempting to suppress the votes of people of color.” The Senate then moved on to other business, passing universal healthcare by a margin of 320,000 to 4.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 092021
 


Horacio Coppola Avenida de Mayo entre Bolívar y Perú, Buenos Aires 1936

 

Five Ways The Government Could Have Avoided 100,000 Covid Deaths (G.)
14 Nursing Home Residents Test Positive For B117 Despite Vaccination (DF)
Israel and Greece Sign Deal To Allow Vaccinated Tourists To Travel (EN)
Why Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments To Canada Have Been Delayed (Star)
Cuba’s COVID-19 Vaccines Serve the People, Not Profits (CP)
A Very Dangerous Variant Of The Global Virus Is Spreading Again (Bilbo)
Is This The Biggest Financial Bubble Ever? Hell Yes It Is (John Rubino)
House Democrats Reject Push To Lower Income Threshold For Stimulus Checks (F.)
Yellen: US At Full Employment Next Year If Congress Passes Stimulus (CNBC)
Europe’s Debt Cancellation Would Mean Recognition of Insolvency (Lacalle)
No US Combat Deaths in Afghanistan Over Past Year (Antiwar)
As Trump Impeachment Trial Starts, Democrat Agenda Crashes Into Reality (JTN)
It Cost Taxpayers $483 Million To Send National Guard Troops To DC (F.)
Assange Supporters Urge Joe Biden To Drop Prosecution (Ind.)
The -New Normal- War on Domestic Terror (CJ Hopkins)

 

 

All suspended accounts are on the right.

 

 

U.S. COVID update: Lowest number of new cases since Oct.

 

 

NOTE: Don’t miss John Day MD’s guide for COVID prevention and treatment that I published earlier yesterday: Treat Your Own COVID.

It could save your life.

 

 

Look, Prof Devi Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, and he doesn’t manage one word on the government failing to boost their citizens’ immune systems. It’s all about masks and gloves and testing and borders and messaging. You know, the stuff that attracts attention AFTER people have been infected.

Nobody has a chance in the face of all this myopia.

Five Ways The Government Could Have Avoided 100,000 Covid Deaths (G.)

First, the UK had no border policies in place for months. [..] The second fatal flaw in the UK’s response happened on 12 March, when the government made the fatal decision to stop community testing [..] Third, the government made another harmful decision in March when it delayed the first lockdown. [..] The fourth error was the lack of appropriate personal protective equipment for many health and social workers [..] Finally, the UK has continually lacked both clear leadership and messaging, which are vital in a pandemic. Rather than leading from the front, the government seems to only follow public opinion and polling.

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The Pfizer vaccine. Google translate.

14 Nursing Home Residents Test Positive For B117 Despite Vaccination (DF)

In an old people’s and nursing home in Belm in the Osnabrück district, there was an outbreak of the British Corona variant despite the vaccination. In 14 seniors the virus is B.1.1.7. – although all residents had been vaccinated for the second time on January 25, the district announced. The home, all employees and their families have been quarantined. The board of directors of the German Foundation for Patient Protection, Brysch, called on the Ministry of Health to closely monitor nursing homes after the second vaccination. Otherwise there would be no reliable data on the danger the mutation posed for the high-risk group. So far there have only been asymptomatic or mild courses of the disease in the residents, which could be a positive effect of the vaccination, said the press spokesman for the Osnabrück district.

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Again: no vaccine has been approved yet, just emergency authorized. But this is based on vaccination passports. Let’s have a legal expert explain it.

Israel and Greece Sign Deal To Allow Vaccinated Tourists To Travel (EN)

Israel and Greece agreed on Monday to pave the way for vaccinated tourists to travel between their two countries in an effort to boost their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the agreement in Jerusalem on Monday. The deal is designed to allow tourists with vaccination certificates to move between the countries “without any limitations, no self-isolation, nothing,” Netanyahu said at a press conference.


Both economies have large sectors devoted to tourism, an industry devastated by travel restrictions during the 11-month pandemic. The announcement comes at a time of tough new travel restrictions elsewhere around the world as governments grapple with variants of the virus. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation says international arrivals fell 74% last year, wiping out $1.3 trillion (€1 trillion) in revenue and putting up to 120 million jobs at risk. A UNWTO expert panel had a mixed outlook for 2021, with 45% expecting a better year, 25% no change and 30% a worse one.

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No proper research, emergency authorization, of course you’re going to run into gigantic problems. We haven’t seen nothing yet.

Why Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments To Canada Have Been Delayed (Star)

Moderna’s delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada has hit delays because the company has encountered problems with its European supply chain and restrictions on exports of vaccine supplies, the Star has learned. A senior federal source with knowledge of the file told the Star that Moderna is trying to source the material needed to produce its vaccine, and to meet demand for materials needed to package the vaccines. The source said the company’s own supply for materials has been affected by the European Union’s attempt to control how much material is exported before its member states are supplied with vaccine. In a written statement to the Star, Moderna’s country manager for Canada, Patricia Gauthier, confirmed the company’s effort to scale up production in Switzerland is a factor in delayed deliveries to countries outside of the United States.


The statement said Moderna has provided revised short-term delivery guidance “outside of the U.S., including to the government of Canada based on the ramp up trajectory of drug substance manufacturing in Switzerland.” It also suggested no problems are occurring with its packaging process. “Fill and finish activities continue as planned,” the statement said. “Moderna remains focused on operating at the highest level of quality to ensure the safety of the vaccine.” Moderna also confirmed its contract with Canada specifies “delivery volumes per quarter,” and said it will “meet its contractual commitments for the first quarter and the following quarters in order to deliver 40 million doses by the end of the third quarter.” It said its strategic collaboration with Lonza in Switzerland — which started mass production of Moderna vaccines this year — aims to manufacture up to 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine per year.

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Cuba has a hard time getting the ingedients for its vaccines. Embargo, don’t you know.

Cuba’s COVID-19 Vaccines Serve the People, Not Profits (CP)

Cuba’s socialist approach to developing vaccines against COVID-19 differs strikingly from that of capitalist nations of the world. Cuba’s production of four vaccines is grounded in science and dedicated to saving the lives of all Cubans, and to international solidarity. The New York Times’s running report on the world’s vaccine programs shows 67 vaccines having advanced to human trials; 20 of them are in the final phase of trials or have completed them. The United States, China, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and India have each produced many vaccines; most vaccine-manufacturing countries are offering one or two vaccines. Cuba is the only vaccine manufacturer in Latin America; there are none in Africa. The only state-owned entities producing the leading vaccines are those of Cuba and Russia.

Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute has produced two COVID-19 vaccines. Trials for one of them, called Sovereign I, focus on protecting people previously infected with COVID-19. The antibody levels of some of them turned out to be low, and the vaccine might provide a boost. The other vaccine, Sovereign II, is about to enter final human trials. For verifying protection, these trials require tens of thousands of subjects, one half receiving the vaccine and the other half, a placebo vaccine. Cuba’s population is relatively small, 11 million people, too small to yield enough infected people in the short time required to test the vaccine’s protective effect. That’s why Sovereign II will be tested in Iran.

100 million doses of Sovereign II are being prepared, enough to immunize all 11 million Cubans, beginning in March or April. The 70 million remaining doses will go to Vietnam, Iran, Pakistan, India, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. Sovereign II “will be the vaccine of ALBA,” explained Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, referring to the solidarity alliance established in 2004 by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. “Cuba’s strategy in commercializing the vaccine represents a combination of what’s good for humankind and the impact on world health. We are not a multinational where a financial objective comes first,” says Vicente Vérez Bencomo, director of Cuba’s Finlay Vaccine Institute. Income generated by vaccine sales abroad will pay for health care, education, and pensions in Cuba just as happens with exports of medical services and medicines.

Cuba’s Center for Genetic and Biotechnological Engineering is developing two other COVID-19 vaccines; One, named “Mambisa” (signifying a female combatant in wars of liberation from Spain), is administered via the nasal route, just as is Cuba’s hepatitis B vaccine. The other vaccine, named “Abdala” (a character in a Jose Marti poem) is administered intramuscularly. The two vaccines are involved in early trials.

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Austerity is that variant.

A Very Dangerous Variant Of The Global Virus Is Spreading Again (Bilbo)

There is a new variant of the global virus spreading again after being subdued throughout 2020. This is a very dangerous variant and if it takes hold will guarantee massive human suffering, and, a further, substantial shift in national income towards the top-end-of-town. I refer to the creeping infestation that is starting to pop up claiming that austerity will be required to pay for all the “profligacy” associated with government approach to the pandemic. I have seen this virus in the wild and it is creepy and being spread by those who seem to want to gain attention as time passes them by. Overheating threats, austerity threats – it is all part of the economics establishment trying to remain relevant. A vaccine will not work. They need to be permanently isolated.

The Prospect Magazine article (January, 26, 2021) – In defence of austerity – written by a “former head of Treasury” The sub-title begins the twisted framing: “Free money is in vogue—but there’s no such thing” – the only cost of the Bank of England buying all the debt being issued by H.M. Treasury is the wear and tear on the computer keyboards that type in the numbers. The pandemic has exposed to an increasing number of people that there is ‘free money’. They are realising that numbers just appear in bank accounts. Perhaps this former official should watch the recent speech and subsequent Q&A from the Reserve Bank of Australia governor, Philip Lowe to the National Press Club in Canberra (February 3, 2020).

He was asked by a journalist in the Q&A: Could you please explain in the simplest terms, perhaps keeping in mind your audience outside of this room, when the RBA decides to purchase government bonds, as it’s doing, where does the RBA get that money from? Is it simply a matter of printing new money? How does it work? The Governor replied:

“Well, it’s not printing money. People think of it as printing money, because once upon a time if the central bank bought an asset, it might pay for that asset by giving you notes, you know, bank notes. I’d have to run my printing presses to do it. We don’t operate that way anymore, obviously because we live in an electronic world. When we buy a bond from a bank, the way we pay for that is credit. The banks, we’ll use Westpac, who’s the sponsor of today’s event as an example. If we bought a bond from Westpac, we would credit Westpac’s account at the Reserve Bank, and that creates the money electronically. That’s how a modern system works. And then Westpac could use that money hopefully to make some loans to some of its customers. But we can create money electronically, and that’s what we do these days …”

Read more …

John takes a trip through all the bubbles. Read.

Is This The Biggest Financial Bubble Ever? Hell Yes It Is (John Rubino)

If you’re over 40 you’ve lived through at least three epic financial bubbles: junk bonds in the 1980s, tech stocks in the 1990s, and housing in the 2000s. Each was spectacular in its own way, and each threatened to take down the whole financial system when it burst. But they pale next to what’s happening today. Where those past bubbles were sector-specific, which is to say the mania and resulting carnage occurred mostly within one asset class, today’s bubble is spread across, well, pretty much everything – hence the term “everything bubble.” When this one pops there won’t be a lot of hiding places.


Most bubbles start when an influx of outside cash sends the price of something up dramatically. This captures the imagination of the broader investing public and the process takes on a life of its own, culminating in an orgy of bad decisions and eventually a wipe-out of the easy fortunes made on the way up. So to understand the everything bubble, let’s start at the beginning with that influx of outside money. This time it’s coming from the Federal Reserve in what can only be described as the mother of all print runs. M2, a medium-broad measure of the US money supply, has more than tripled so far in this century, and lately the arc has gone vertical, rising by nearly a third in just the past year.

All this extra money has to go somewhere, so no surprise that it’s flowing in lots of different directions. Among the recipients: The bond and money markets, made up of instruments that pay interest, are in the aggregate far bigger than the world’s stock markets. And they’ve been booming, with interest rates falling steadily for four straight decades. Since bond prices are the reciprocal of bond yields, the next chart can be read as an epic bull market in bonds, one which has gained steam in the past year as massive currency creation has forced fixed income investors (who have to invest new cash somehow) to buy bonds regardless of what they yield.

Read more …

Good Lord: “Democrats anticipate that the final package will be passed by both houses of Congress by mid-March.”

House Democrats Reject Push To Lower Income Threshold For Stimulus Checks (F.)

After days of infighting, House Democrats on Monday night released details of proposed coronavirus relief measures that would put the ceiling for full $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans at the same income levels as previous payouts, rejecting calls from more centrist Democrats to lower the threshold. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Ma.) released a draft version of the bill Monday night proposing $1,400 stimulus checks for single earners making up to $75,000 and for joint filers earning up to $150,000. Some centrist Democrats had called for lowering the threshold to $50,000 per year for individuals and $100,000 per year for joint filers, causing outrage from progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-Ny). Child and adult dependents will now be eligible, unlike the previous rounds of stimulus payments.


Responding to concerns that wealthy people would receive checks, the stimulus payments will phase out quicker, zeroing out when individual income reaches $100,000 and at $200,000 for households. Democrats last week passed a budget reconciliation measure, which allows them to pass a stimulus plan with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. As a result, the final bill will likely be subject to intense jockeying between Democrats because the party can’t afford to lose a single vote in the Senate without Republican support. The measure still has to pass the rest of the House and the Senate, where it meets resistance from centrist Joe Manchin (D-W.Va), who has been leading the charge to lower the income threshold. Democrats anticipate that the final package will be passed by both houses of Congress by mid-March.

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Let’s do the opposite of everything she proposes, then we should be good.

Yellen: US At Full Employment Next Year If Congress Passes Stimulus (CNBC)

The U.S. could return to full employment in 2022 if President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package is passed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday. “There’s absolutely no reason why we should suffer through a long slow recovery,” Yellen said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I would expect that if this package is passed that we would get back to full employment next year.” Long-term unemployment is nearing a historical peak nearly a year since the pandemic began. Nearly 40% of unemployed workers have been out of work for six months, the Bureau of of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, with nearly 9 million fewer Americans working now than last February. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January.

The pandemic-fueled unemployment rate will remain elevated for years to come without more federal support, Yellen said, citing an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Without additional stimulus, it could take until 2025 to send the unemployment rate back down to 4%. Yellen also said that former Obama economic adviser Larry Summer’s concerns over Biden’s stimulus plan posing risks to inflation are small compared to economic damage from failing to provide enough economic support during the pandemic. The U.S. has “the tools to deal with” the risk of inflation, Yellen said.

Democrats in Congress have moved to pass the stimulus plan within two weeks without GOP support, using a parliamentary procedure known as reconciliation. The plan is the first of two major spending initiatives Biden will seek and includes provisions like direct payments to Americans, weekly jobless benefits through September and funding for vaccines and testing. The second bill will focus on infrastructure reform, climate change and racial equity, among other things. “We have people suffering … through absolutely no fault of their own,” Yellen said. “We have to get them to the other side and make sure that this doesn’t take a permanent toll on their lives.”

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Everything left is dangerous.

Europe’s Debt Cancellation Would Mean Recognition of Insolvency (Lacalle)

More than 100 economists, led by French economist Thomas Piketty, creator of some of the most absurd proposals embraced by the extreme left, on Feb. 5 published an open letter in which they called for a cancellation of government debt in the hands of the ECB “in exchange for greater public investment”—which, by the way, would be paid with more issuance of public debt. Fascinating. Luís de Guindos, vice president of the ECB, has settled the controversy with two pieces of evidence. “The cancellation of debt [on the ECB balance sheet] is illegal … [and] does not make any economic or financial sense at all,” he explained in a speech, according to Europa Press. The first part is obvious. It is prohibited by the bylaws of the ECB. I will explain the lack of economic logic here.

A debt write-off or cancellation is evidence of the issuer’s insolvency. If, as the economists repeat, the solvency and credit credibility of the eurozone is not at stake, why ask for a cancellation? If, in addition, as Piketty and other defenders of massive state indebtedness maintain, deficits are not a problem and increasing debt is not a concern because it creates reserves, why cancel it? Let’s not forget that many of the parties that have embraced Piketty’s idea in Europe—Podemos, Syriza, and other European radical parties—filed a proposal to exit the euro in 2015 that they have never subsequently withdrawn or rejected. Podemos MEPs presented a resolution in Strasbourg for the European Union to prepare the mechanisms for the “orderly dissolution of the euro zone.” They also proposed to establish “the mechanisms that would allow a country integrated in the single currency to abandon it to adopt another currency,” according to Spanish newspaper Crónica Global.

So basically, radical parties in Europe demand that the ECB forgives their debt and prints more while keeping the option of leaving the euro. Call that baking the cake and eating it. Most eurozone states finance themselves today at negative rates or extremely low yields. It would be a mistake to think that these low interest yields are the consequence of good government fiscal policy. If the eurozone has low interest rates and low yields it’s because European taxpayers keep it solvent—mostly thanks to Germany’s financial solvency. European taxpayers uphold the credibility of the euro as a currency, and with this the ECB can carry out expansionary policies.

Piketty and colleagues open a dangerous option: direct monetization of all and any government spending Argentina-style. And do so ignoring that the euro is the only global reserve currency with redenomination risk, and that its credibility is maintained only because of the widespread confidence in the euro area’s commitment to repay its debts. A euro bond is an asset for many investors globally only because it’s supposed to be of the lowest risk. Opening the Pandora’s box of cancellations means its status as an asset disappears.

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And then Biden wants to go break the deal that made that possible.

No US Combat Deaths in Afghanistan Over Past Year (Antiwar)

For the first time since the US war in Afghanistan started in 2001, no US troops died in combat in the country for an entire year. The last US combat death took place on February 8th, 2020, when two US Army soldiers were killed in a firefight. This means since the US and Taliban signed a peace deal in late February of last year, no US troops have been killed by the group. But with the withdrawal deadline approaching, the Taliban is vowing to again turn their weapons on US soldiers if they stay in Afghanistan past May 1st. While the Biden administration has yet to make a formal announcement, the chances of a US withdrawal by May 1st seem slim. Last week, a congressionally mandated report was released that warned against the May 1st deadline, which could be all the excuse the US needs to stay.


Pentagon officials have said the deadline is uncertain and insist troops levels in Afghanistan remain “conditions-based.” US officials have been complaining about the amount of violence between the Taliban and the US-backed government. On Monday, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, said the level of violence is “too high” and that the Biden administration is taking “a close look at the way forward in accordance with the February 2020 peace agreement.” Since the US is not the only country with troops in Afghanistan, the US-Taliban deal paved the way for all foreign and NATO forces to leave the country. While the alliance has also not made a formal announcement, NATO officials told reporters that NATO troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond May 1st.

Read more …

Get out the popcorn.

As Trump Impeachment Trial Starts, Democrat Agenda Crashes Into Reality (JTN)

[..] And the emotionally charged case that Trump incited the Capitol riot with his Jan. 6 speech, has developed deep cracks. Less than a half dozen Republicans have shown any interest in conviction as the facts increasingly show the riot was not spontaneous but rather planned for days and weeks with fund-raising, training, and combat threats. Even the former Capitol Police chief has weighed in with a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the attacks exhibited a “high level of coordination,” undercutting the Democrats’ spontaneous incitement narrative even further. The likelihood of Trump’s conviction has waned as the premeditation evidence mounts, and now Democrats once gleeful they could end the 45th president’s ability to ever hold office again are now pressing to get the trial over quickly as acquittal seems assured.

“It’s not clear to me that there is any evidence that will change anyone’s mind,” Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz told Politico. Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, often an opponent of Trump, acknowledged the obvious, observing, “Both sides would kind of like to wrap it up fairly quickly.” The Senate trial will start Tuesday with a debate over whether the event is even constitutional with Chief Justice John Roberts refusing to preside, Trump already out of office, and a legitimate debate over whether Trump’s speech was protected “free speech” as Democratic law professor John Turley has argued. Once a dream of Democrats, the trial is feeling more like a burden to them as other elements pose obstacles and challenges to the Biden agenda.

Even Biden himself has little interest in watching the trial, his chief spokeswoman said Monday. “I think it’s clear from his schedule and from his intention that he will not spend too much time watching the proceedings,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

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Expensive theater.

It Cost Taxpayers $483 Million To Send National Guard Troops To DC (F.)

The federal government is projected to spend $483 million to keep National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., until mid-March, amid fears that former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial may draw more violence. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday the price of sending National Guard troops to protect the area around the Capitol from January 6 to March 15 will total $483 million, $284 million for personnel and $199 million for operations. 5,000 troops are slated to remain in the city until March 15 as Trump’s Senate impeachment trial poses security concerns, Politico reported, including “mass demonstrations,” but it’s unclear if there is a specific threat. In the aftermath of the Capitol riots, 25,000 National Guard troops flooded Washington, D.C., for Biden’s inauguration in an effort to prevent further violence.


The majority of troops remaining in the city will do so voluntarily, according to Politico. Republican lawmakers have questioned the need for National Guard troops around the Capitol Hill complex. “We still have National Guardsmen out there, away from their families, away from their jobs, supplementing the police, and yet we can’t get a briefing on what is this dire threat that requires so many people. We still don’t have answers,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) told Fox News. Security forces were largely unprepared for the pro-Trump mob that breached the Capitol last month. National Guard troops were only called in after rioters stormed the building, and members of both parties are calling for investigations into security lapses surrounding the attack. But keeping thousands of troops in the city has been rocky: nearly 200 have contracted Covid-19, according to the Military Times.

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Bit of a campaign going on, even the New York Times chimes in. 10 years too late.

Assange Supporters Urge Joe Biden To Drop Prosecution (Ind.)

Media freedom groups and supporters of Julian Assange have asked the Biden administration to drop the US’s pursuit of the WikiLeaks’ founder, saying Donald Trump was opposed to the idea of a “free press”. In their first appeal to the US government since Joe Biden became president less than three weeks ago, more than 20 groups working to promote human right and a free media, wrote to the department of justice, asking it to drop the case against Mr Assange, saying they were fearful “the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged”.

“The indictment of Mr Assange threatens press freedom because much of the conduct described in the indictment is conduct that journalists engage in routinely — and that they must engage in in order to do the work the public needs them to do,” said the letter, signed by groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “Journalists at major news publications regularly speak with sources, ask for clarification or more documentation, and receive and publish documents the government considers secret. In our view, such a precedent in this case could effectively criminalise these common journalistic practices.” There was no immediate response from the White House. But in a short statement released on Monday evening, a spokesperson for the department of justice, said: “We are continuing our efforts to seek the extradition of Julian Assange.”

[..] In their letter, the activists point out the Obama administration, of which Mr Biden was a key part, decided not to pursue the prosecution of Mr Assange. “The Trump administration positioned itself as an antagonist to the institution of a free and unfettered press in numerous ways. Its abuse of its prosecutorial powers was among the most disturbing,” the letter says. “We are deeply concerned about the way that a precedent created by prosecuting Assange could be leveraged—perhaps by a future administration—against publishers and journalists of all stripes.” The New York Times said the department had a deadline of Friday to file a brief in the British court if it wanted to continue to pursue the matter. The department is currently headed by a caretaker official, Monty Wilkinson, the acting attorney general. The letter was addressed to him.

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War on Domestic Terror goes global.

The -New Normal- War on Domestic Terror (CJ Hopkins)

If you enjoyed the Global War on Terror, you’re going to love the new War on Domestic Terror! It’s just like the original Global War on Terror, except that this time the “Terrorists” are all “Domestic Violent Extremists” (“DVEs”), “Homegrown Violent Extremists” (“HVEs”), “Violent Conspiracy-Theorist Extremists” (“VCTEs”), “Violent Reality Denialist Extremists” (VRDEs”), “Insurrectionary Micro-Aggressionist Extremists” (“IMAEs”), “People Who Make Liberals Feel Uncomfortable” (“PWMLFUs”), and anyone else the Department of Homeland Security wants to label an “extremist” and slap a ridiculous acronym on. According to a “National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin” issued by the DHS on January 27, these DCEs, HVEs, VCTEs, VRDEs, IMAEs, and PWMLFUs are “ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority [and] perceived grievances fueled by false narratives.”

They are believed to be “motivated by a range of issues, including anger over Covid-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, police use of force,” and other dangerous “false narratives” (e.g., the existence of the “deep state,” “herd immunity,” “biological sex,” “God,” and so on). “Inspired by foreign terrorist groups” and “emboldened by the breach of the US Capitol Building,” this diabolical network of “domestic terrorists” is “plotting attacks against government facilities,” “threatening violence against critical infrastructure” and actively “citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19.” For all we know, they might be huddled in the “Wolf’s Lair” at Mar-a-Lago right now, plotting a devastating terrorist attack with those WMDs we never found in Iraq, or generating population-adjusted death-rate charts going back 20 years, or posting pictures of “extremist frogs” on the Internet.

The Department of Homeland Security is “concerned,” as are its counterparts throughout the global capitalist empire. The (New Normal) War on Domestic Terror isn’t just a war on American “domestic terror.” The “domestic terror” threat is international. France has just passed a “Global Security Law” banning citizens from filming the police beating the living snot out of people (among other “anti-terrorist” provisions). In Germany, the government is preparing to install an anti-terror moat around the Reichstag. In the Netherlands, the police are cracking down on the VCTEs, VRDEs, and other “angry citizens who hate the system,” who have been protesting over nightly curfews.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 082021
 


Claude Monet Houses of Parliament, Sunset 1904

 

South Africa Halts AstraZeneca Vaccinations Over Variant Data (R.)
New Israeli Drug Cured 29 Of 30 Moderate/Serious Covid Cases In Days (ToI)
In Corzano 10% Of Population Positive For English Variant (ANSA)
Even ‘Scientist’ Models Now Forecast COVID Scourge Ending By Summer (ZH)
WaPo Says COVID Lab Accident “Plausible”, “Must Be Investigated” (ZH)
UK Vaccine Minister Says Gov’t Is Not Planning Covid Vaccine Passport (RT)
The World Welcomes Biden But Hedges Its Bets (Feffer)
US Moves To Rejoin UN Human Rights Council (AP)
The Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows (Greenwald)
The Coming “Monetary Hurricane” Is A White Swan (Bassman)
“This Is For You, Dad”: Interview With An Anonymous GameStop Investor (Taibbi)
Shark Deaths Have Left a ‘Gaping Hole’ in Ocean Life (SA)

 

 

NOTE: Don’t miss John Day MD’s guide for COVID prevention and treatment that I published earlier today: Treat Your Own COVID.

It could save your life.

 

 

What happens when you bet everythig on red under emergency authorizations.

..preliminary data showed efficacy dropped to 22% against the South African variant..

South Africa Halts AstraZeneca Vaccinations Over Variant Data (R.)

South Africa will put on hold use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in its vaccination programme, after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild-to-moderate infection caused by the country’s dominant coronavirus variant. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday that the government would await advice from scientists on how best to proceed, after a trial showed the AstraZeneca vaccine did not significantly reduce the risk of mild or moderate COVID-19 from the 501Y.V2 variant that caused a second wave of infections starting late last year. Prior to widespread circulation of the more contagious variant, the vaccine was showing efficacy of around 75%, researchers said.

In a later analysis based mostly on infections by the new variant, there was only a 22% lower risk of developing mild-to-moderate COVID-19 versus those given a placebo. Although researchers said the figure was not statistically significant, due to trial design, it is well below the benchmark of at least 50% regulators have set for vaccines to be considered effective against the virus. The study did not assess whether the vaccine helped prevent severe COVID-19 because it involved mostly relatively young adults not considered to be at high risk for serious illness. AstraZeneca said on Saturday that it believed its vaccine could protect against severe disease and that it had already started adapting it against the 501Y.V2 variant.

Still, professor Shabir Madhi, lead investigator on the AstraZeneca trial in South Africa, said data on the vaccine were a reality check and that it was time to “recalibrate our expectations of COVID-19 vaccines”.

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EXO-CD24

New Israeli Drug Cured 29 Of 30 Moderate/Serious Covid Cases In Days (ToI)

A new coronavirus treatment being developed at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center has successfully completed phase 1 trials and appears to have helped numerous moderate-to-serious cases of COVID-19 quickly recover from the disease, the hospital said Friday. Hailing a “huge breakthrough,” the hospital said Prof. Nadir Arber’s EXO-CD24 substance had been administered to 30 patients whose conditions were moderate or worse, and all 30 recovered — 29 of them within three to five days. The medicine fights the cytokine storm — a potentially lethal immune overreaction to the coronavirus infection that is believed to be responsible for much of the deaths associated with the disease.

It uses exosomes — tiny carrier sacs that shuttle materials between cells — to deliver a protein called CD24 to the lungs, which Arber has spent decades researching. “This protein is located on the surface of cells and has a well known and important role in regulating the immune system,” said researcher Shiran Shapira of Arber’s lab. The protein helps calm down the immune system and curb the storm. “The preparation is inhaled once a day for a few minutes, for five days,” Arber said. “The preparation is directed straight to the heart of the storm — the lungs — so unlike other formulas… which selectively restrain a certain cytokine, or operate widely but cause many serious side effects, EXO-CD24 is administered locally, works broadly and without side effects.”

The medicine will now move on to further trial phases, but hospital officials were already hailing it as a possible game-changer in fighting serious COVID-19 illness. Ichilov director Roni Gamzu, the former coronavirus czar, said the research “is advanced and sophisticated and may save coronavirus patients. The results of the phase 1 trial are excellent and give us all confidence in the method [Arber] has been researching in his lab for many years.” He added: “I am proud that at Ichilov we are… possibly bringing a blue and white remedy to a terrible global pandemic.”

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Through Google Translate.

10% of the village of Corzano Flag of Italy has the #B117 variant—10% of all residents! 60% of cases are kids from kindergarten and primary school, other 40% are their parents.

In Corzano 10% Of Population Positive For English Variant (ANSA)

10% of the population of Corzano, a town of 1400 people in the province of Brescia, is positive for covid. “We have 140 positives and 60% are elementary and kindergarten students who in turn infected their families”, the mayor of the town Giovanni Benzoni, also positive, explained to ANSA. “Three out of four have covid at home,” he said. According to the analyzes of Ats Brescia, the population is infected by the English variant of Covid. The mayor has closed schools until February 8. “But the ordinance will be extended – he specified – because the recall swabs begin today and therefore we will have to wait for the results”. The authorities would be considering the possibility of closing the country in and out. “I didn’t know anything, but I can say that in the last few hours we have had only one more case. All the families are in solitary confinement and we expect the curve to go down again,” commented the mayor.

Read more …

How much of the good news is due to adjusting PCR testing cycles?

Even ‘Scientist’ Models Now Forecast COVID Scourge Ending By Summer (ZH)

The covid pandemic was front and center today in economic news, when its impact was felt throughout the January payrolls report (if not to the same extent as December payrolls), whose disappointing +49k reading could be easily explained by continued job losses in the Leisure & Hospitality sector due to COVID-19 outbreaks and associated lockdown measures and restrictions. However, as BofA’s Hans Mikkelsen writes, “given that the US COVID-19 situation is improving rapidly – for example the number of people hospitalized is down one-third over the past month – and restrictions are lifted in many large states like California, it is straightforward to expect much stronger payrolls going forward.” Indeed, the latest Covid data shows that absent any major shocks – such as a mutant strain that is fully immune to any existing vaccines – the pandemic should be a thing of the past relatively soon.


Here are the latest facts: the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US has declined dramatically to 88,668, or 43,806 – one-third – off the peak which occurred on January 5th (Figure 4) – a rapid turn in the crisis (Figure 5). The decrease is broad-based (48 states+DC, except for AK, MT and VT that saw minimal 1, 1 and 7 person increases over the past week, respectively).

The weekly percentage change in US COVID-19 hospitalized is consistent with the largest declines seen during the Coronavirus crisis (Figure 6). Moreover the 7-day test positivity rate has declined to 7.6% from the 13.6% peak on January 8th (Figure 7).

Since hospitalizations are lagged relative to time of infection the US Corona outbreaks peaked back in the second half of December. Finally, the vaccine rollout continues in the US at a rapid pace of around 1mn doses per day and a cumulative 35.2mn doses administered through February 2rd.

Read more …

And now we’ll never know.

WaPo Says COVID Lab Accident “Plausible”, “Must Be Investigated” (ZH)

Exactly one year ago today, Zero Hedge was ‘enjoying’ our suspension by Twitter after we pointed out that scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been experimenting on bat coronaviruses, and that investigators trying to determine the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak might want to have a word with them. We later reported that the same scientists had been using ‘gain-of-function’ research to make bat coronaviruses more transmissible to human beings – for which they were roundly criticized in 2015. Thus, it seemed only logical that the possibility of a lab escape at ‘ground zero’ was at least non-zero, and should be investigated alongside the ‘natural origin’ theory which posits that the virus jumped from bats to an intermediary species, which then infected a cluster of people at a Wuhan wet market.

According to a study published in The Lancet, 66% of patients admitted to Wuhan hospitals (27 out of 41) as of January 2nd, 2020 had been exposed to the Huanan seafood market. Since then, the lab leak hypothesis has gained traction – and has been elevated to let’s at least investigate status by legitimate bodies. Three weeks ago, the US State Department announced that while they haven’t determined whether the COVID-19 pandemic “began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the US government “has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

And in late January, A World Health Organization (WHO) adviser who previously worked under President Clinton and then-Senator Joe Biden said that COVID-19 was most likely an accidental lab leak. Which brings us to the Washington Post, whose editorial board on Sunday suggested that the lab leak hypothesis was “plausible” and “must be investigated.” “Many scientists have speculated that the virus leaped from animals, such as bats, to humans, perhaps with an intermediate stop in another animal. This kind of zoonotic spillover has occurred before, such as in the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014. But there is another pathway, also plausible, that must be investigated. That is the possibility of a laboratory accident or leak. It could have involved a virus that was improperly disposed of or perhaps infected a laboratory worker who then passed it to others.”

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I would like to see them try, and then get stiffed in court.

UK Vaccine Minister Says Gov’t Is Not Planning Covid Vaccine Passport (RT)

Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi denied claims that the UK government is planning to introduce a “vaccine passport” detailing which Brits have been vaccinated and which haven’t, calling the idea “discriminatory.” Asked during an interview with Sky News on Sunday whether the government is looking at the possibility of creating a vaccine passport, as has been speculated, Zahawi said, “No we are not.” The minister explained that those who receive their first dose of the vaccine get “a card from the NHS with their name on it,” the date they received their first dose, and the date of the second dose, and that this is all the government is currently supporting.

Zahawi said the major reasons why the government is not planning a vaccine passport is because “we don’t know the impact of the vaccines on transmission,” with vaccinated Brits currently being warned that they could still carry the virus, and that the practice “would be discriminatory.” “I think the right thing to do is to make sure that people come forward and be vaccinated because they want to, rather than it being made in some way mandatory through a passport. If other countries demand proof of vaccination for entry, he added, “then you can ask your GP, because your GP will hold the record.” Zahawi did acknowledge that technology companies have received funding from UK Research and Innovation to look at the creation of vaccine passport apps, but concluded, “We are not planning to have a passport in the UK.”

“I just want to repeat that because I’ve had a lot of it on my social media,” he explained, adding, “We are certainly not looking to introduce this as part of the vaccine deployment program.” A petition calling for the UK government to commit against rolling out a vaccine passport received nearly 60,000 signatures after reports indicated that it was looking at such a system to allow Brits to go abroad. The concept of a vaccine passport has become extremely controversial in the UK and elsewhere, with figures like former Prime Minister Tony Blair in support, but others arguing it would turn those who have not been vaccinated into ‘second-class’ citizens and essentially strongarm them into getting vaccinated against their wishes.

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Nothing changes. Other than the window dressing.

The World Welcomes Biden But Hedges Its Bets (Feffer)

The nightmare is over. The vanquished beast has crawled back to Mar-a-Lago to lick his wounds. The heroes are hard at work repairing the damage. As America returns to the international stage, the world heaves a collective sigh of relief. That, at least, is the story the incoming Biden administration is telling. “America is back, multilateralism is back, diplomacy is back,” as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the administration’s nominee for U.N. ambassador, put it shortly after the election. According to this narrative of redemption, the globe’s Atlas shrugged off its burden during the four years of Donald Trump’s tenure but is now ready to reassume its global leadership responsibilities.

Don’t believe it, though. Much of the rest of the world seems visibly queasy at the prospect of sitting on America’s shoulders, since who’s to say that Atlas won’t shrug again? And perhaps Atlas wasn’t such a responsible fellow in the first place.

Over the last several decades, the United States has displayed all the hallmarks of a country suffering from a serious personality disorder characterized by mood swings of gargantuan proportions. From the compromised multilateralism of the Bill Clinton years, the United States pivoted to the aggressive armed unilateralism of George W. Bush. Then, after boomeranging back to the centrist (if still over-armed) internationalism of Barack Obama, it took the wildest of detours into MAGA-land with Donald Trump. In the latest case of foreign-policy whiplash, Joe Biden is now preparing to return the country to a “new and improved” version of Obama’s global liberalism (with a dash of anti-Chinese fervor thrown in). Americans are by now remarkably familiar with such side effects of twenty-first-century democracy. We’ve skimmed the fine print on the label more than once and become reasonably inured to the adverse consequences of our civic religion.

Much of the world, however, is not accustomed to such volatility. The Kim family has ruled North Korea from day one, while Paul Biya has run Cameroon since 1982. Over the last 30 years, China has settled into its predictable version of market Leninism. Putatively democratic countries like Russia and Turkey have had the same leadership for two decades, while a genuinely democratic country like Germany has had the same chancellor for 15 years. The rest of Western Europe has seen numerous changes in those who hold the reins of power, but oscillations in governance have generally stayed within a relatively narrow political spectrum. European Union policies have similarly remained on a remarkably even keel, despite disruptions like Brexit. These days, however, democrats and dictators alike are unsure, from one day to the next, whether the United States will be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde.

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“Neither Obama nor Trump were able to reform this fundamentally broken UN agency that institutionally legitimizes human rights abusers. Biden must not only confront the Council’s systemic antisemitism, but its complicity in China’s human rights abuses.”

US Moves To Rejoin UN Human Rights Council (AP)

The Biden administration is set to announce this week that it will reengage with the much-maligned U.N. Human Rights Council that former President Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago, U.S. officials said Sunday. The decision reverses another Trump-era move away from multilateral organizations and agreements. U..S. officials say Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a senior U.S. diplomat in Geneva will announce on Monday that Washington will return to the Geneva-based body as an observer with an eye toward seeking election as a full member. The decision is likely to draw criticism from conservative lawmakers and many in the pro-Israel community.

Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel, which has received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country, as well as the number of authoritarian countries among its members and because it failed to meet an extensive list of reforms demanded by then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. In addition to the council’s persistent focus on Israel, the Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

One senior U.S. official said the Biden administration believed the council must still reform but that the best way to promote change is to “engage with it in a principled fashion.” The official said it can be “an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world” and the U.S. presence intends to “ensure it can live up to that potential.”

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Cancel Culture.

The Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows (Greenwald)

A new and rapidly growing journalistic “beat” has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance. It is half adolescent and half malevolent. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power. Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.

I’ve written before about one particularly toxic strain of this authoritarian “reporting.” Teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets — CNN’s “media reporters” (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s “disinformation space unit” (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) — devote the bulk of their “journalism” to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated, flagging them, and then pleading that punitive action be taken (banning, censorship, content regulation, after-school detention). These hall-monitor reporters are a major factor explaining why tech monopolies, which (for reasons of self-interest and ideology) never wanted the responsibility to censor, now do so with abandon and seemingly arbitrary blunt force: they are shamed by the world’s loudest media companies when they do not.

Just as the NSA is obsessed with ensuring there be no place on earth where humans can communicate free of their spying eyes and ears, these journalistic hall monitors cannot abide the idea that there can be any place on the internet where people are free to speak in ways they do not approve. Like some creepy informant for a state security apparatus, they spend their days trolling the depths of chat rooms and 4Chan bulletin boards and sub-Reddit threads and private communications apps to find anyone — influential or obscure — who is saying something they believe should be forbidden, and then use the corporate megaphones they did not build and could not have built but have been handed in order to silence and destroy anyone who dissents from the orthodoxies of their corporate managers or challenges their information hegemony.

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Harley Bassman, creator of the MOVE index, aka the “VIX for bonds”.

The Coming “Monetary Hurricane” Is A White Swan (Bassman)

When one hears hoof beats, look for horses not zebras. There is no reason to ruminate over exotic possibilities when the problems we face are quite clear. Once again, ignore the merits of the public policy response – what is important is that there is wide support from both the Democrats and Republicans to offer significant Fiscal relief supported by massive Monetary expansion. Will this be inflationary – Yes; but it is unclear how soon. I made the case in my December 2, 2020 commentary, ”The Wages of Fear”, that demographics will set ablaze the dry kindling of printed money sometime between 2023 to 2025; and nothing has occurred to change that prediction. What is clear is that a financial bubble is being inflated, and there is risk on both sides of the distribution.

Ordinarily the bloviating pundits advise one to sell assets, or perhaps execute some sort of hedge such as buying puts or selling covered calls. They are looking in the wrong direction. While I am not a stomping bull, the approaching monetary hurricane could well make the “surprise” a further rally in equities. Printed money should elevate stocks; either via a continued flow into assets, or into the pockets of consumers who will spend it and thus increase corporate profits. (Yes, higher taxes could be an offset, but let’s save that for another Commentary.) As noted, inflation is an eventual certainty, so one should own real assets; and over the longest run stocks will hold their real value. Notwithstanding the Robinhood day traders, stock equity is an ownership right in a real company.

Weimar Germany is the nightmare scenario for inflation; but contrary to expectations, stockholders were protected. While the German Papiermark vs. USD exchange rate exploded (4.2 Trillion per USD), the German Stock Index, currency adjusted into USD, held its value. As such, when faced with nominal inflation – Do not sell call options.

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Great interview. Must read.

“This Is For You, Dad”: Interview With An Anonymous GameStop Investor (Taibbi)

Thursday, January 21st was a critical day in the story of the video game chain GameStop (ticker name: GME). Retail investors, including many subscribers to a Reddit forum called wallstreetbets, pushed the company’s stock from $6 to $43.03, but experts said playtime was over. It was time for the big shots to clean up. According to Citron Research, one of many funds that had bet on the brick-and-mortar store to fail, those investing in GME were “the suckers at this poker game,” and would soon be sorry when the stock went “back to $20 fast.” They were wrong. Instead of amateurs being shoved aside by hedge funds, it was the pros who had their backs broken, as GME soared to $65.05, beginning a steep ascent that would become an international news phenomenon.

It was the “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” moment for Wall Street. The pros had been sloppy. By late 2020, shares in GameStop were well over 100% short. A sudden rise in value would force shorts to pay exorbitant prices just to get out of the trade. By the afternoon of the 21st, all the “suckers” on Reddit had to do to beat them was nothing, and they did just that, behind the rallying cry “diamond hands,” signifying a determination to hold at all costs. Why hold? One of the millions of subscribers to wallstreetbets posted a note, explaining what the trade meant to him:

This is for you, Dad

I remember when the housing collapse sent a torpedo through my family. My father’s concrete company collapsed almost overnight. My father lost his home. My uncle lost his home. I remember my brother helping my father count pocket change on our kitchen table. That was all the money he had left in the world. While this was happening in my home, I saw hedge funders literally drinking champagne as they looked down on the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I will never forget that. My father never recovered from that blow. He fell deeper and deeper into alcoholism and exists now as a shell of his former self, waiting for death. This is all the money I have and I’d rather lose it all than give them what they need to destroy me. Taking money from me won’t hurt me, because I don’t value it at all. I’ll burn it down just to spite them. This is for you, Dad.

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Don’t count on them bouncing back.

Shark Deaths Have Left a ‘Gaping Hole’ in Ocean Life (SA)

Overfishing has wiped out over 70 percent of some shark and ray populations in the last half-century, leaving a “gaping, growing hole” in ocean life, according to a new study. Researchers found alarming declines in species ranging from hammerhead sharks to manta rays. Among the worst affected is the oceanic whitetip, a powerful shark often described as particularly dangerous to man, which now hovers on the edge of extinction because of human activity. Targeted for their fins, oceanic whitetips are caught up by indiscriminate fishing techniques. Their global population has dropped 98 percent in the last 60 years, said Nick Dulvy, the study’s senior author and a professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU).

“That’s a worse decline than most large terrestrial mammal populations, and getting up there or as bad as the blue whale decline,” he told AFP. Dulvy and a team of scientists spent years collecting and analysing information from scientific studies and fisheries data to build up a picture of the global state of 31 species of sharks and rays. They found three-quarters of the species examined were so depleted that they face extinction. These are “the most wide-ranging species in the largest, most remote habitats on the earth, which are often assumed to be protected from human influence”, the study’s lead author Nathan Pacoureau told AFP. “We knew the situation was bad in a lot of places but that information came from different studies and reports, so it was difficult to have an idea of the global situation,” added Pacoureau, a post-doctoral fellow at SFU’s department of biological science.

[..] For 18 species where more data was available, the researchers concluded global populations had fallen over 70 percent since 1970. Dulvy said the figure was likely to be similar, or even worse, for other oceanic sharks and rays, but gaps in data made it difficult to draw conclusions. The results were a shock even for experts, Pacoureau said, describing specialists at a meeting on shark conservation being “stunned into silence” when confronted with the figures.

Read more …

 

 

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Feb 072021
 


Russell Lee Sign Along the Road Near Capulin New Mexico 1939

 

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)
Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)
Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)
Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)
UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)
Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)
There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (RT)
How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)
Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)
Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

 

 

 

 

Let’s be a bit contrarian this Sunday, shall we?

Zero Covid Is A Mirage – The Virus Is Here To Stay (Jonathan Sumption)

Coronavirus has divided society. A chasm of mutual misunderstanding and resentment has opened up. On one side are people who want to be allowed to make their own judgments about risk, in the light of their own vulnerabilities and those of the people around them. On the other side are people who think their safety depends on coercing their fellow citizens into accepting the judgment of Government Ministers. Despite the optimism created by the vaccines, powerful voices are still exploiting public fears to keep us locked up for longer and impose distancing rules indefinitely in pursuit of the mirage of zero Covid. There is concern that medical scientists are moving the goalposts, changing their objectives in a way that would keep us locked up for longer, perhaps indefinitely.

Those of us who point to the staggering collateral cost of such policies are drowned out by outbursts of emotion and abuse from people who behave as if nothing matters except reducing the Covid death toll. As a society, we have been urged to suppress the most basic instinct of the human spirit – our interaction with each other. In the process, we turned a public health crisis into something much worse: a public health crisis AND an economic, social and educational crisis. Our economy is being laid waste, with small businesses snuffed out and job prospects destroyed for a generation of young people. Yet no society ever reduced deaths by making itself poorer. We have shut down our cities and crippled a once-flourishing musical, artistic and sporting culture.

We have created an acute crisis of mental health among the young. We are depriving children of their education, perhaps the most important benefit that the state can give them, at untold cost for their future. We are locking the elderly into islands of loneliness and wretchedness, depriving them of the stimulus of human contact. Dementia – a bigger killer than Covid-19 – is hitting unprecedented levels. None of this is the result of the disease. It is all due to the lockdown. To escape this situation, we need to understand how we got into it. Covid-19 is serious, but it is no worse than the scenario for which governments have planned for years. A pandemic caused by a new respiratory disease has topped the National Risk Register since 2008. In 2017, it assumed that a new pathogen might cause 750,000 deaths.

The principles of any response were set out in a 2011 Department of Health strategy. They were designed to ensure the minimum of disruption. The aim was to shield the sick and the vulnerable, not isolate the healthy and economically active. It was to ‘encourage those who are well to carry on with their normal lives for as long and as far as that is possible’. The Government would not close borders or stop mass gatherings. Lockdown was not even an option. Minutes of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that the same policies were the basis of its advice to Ministers right up to the moment last March when the first lockdown was decided.

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One of many problems with reliance on hasty vaccines.

Oxford Covid Jab Less Effective Against South African Variant (R.)

British drugmaker AstraZeneca said on Saturday that its vaccine developed with the University of Oxford appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant of Covid-19, based on early data from a trial. The study from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University showed the vaccine had significantly reduced efficacy against the South African variant, according to a Financial Times report published earlier in the day. Among coronavirus variants now most concerning for scientists and public health experts are the so-called British, South African and Brazilian variants, which appear to spread more swiftly than others.


“In this small phase I/II trial, early data has shown limited efficacy against mild disease primarily due to the B.1.351 South African variant,” an AstraZeneca spokesperson said in response to the FT report. The newspaper said none of the more than 2,000 trial participants had been hospitalised or died. “However, we have not been able to properly ascertain its effect against severe disease and hospitalisation given that subjects were predominantly young healthy adults,” the AstraZeneca spokesperson said. The company said it believed its vaccine could protect against severe disease, given that the neutralising antibody activity was equivalent to that of other Covid-19 vaccines that have demonstrated protection against severe disease.

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A splintered court.

Supreme Court Lifts California Worship Bans Prompted By Coronavirus (Pol.)

A splintered U.S. Supreme Court blocked California from enforcing coronavirus-related bans on indoor worship services, but declined to upset other state rules banning singing and chanting and limiting the number of worshipers. The ruling issued just before 11 p.m. ET Friday produced four separate statements by the justices, as well as a convoluted description of what relief various justices would have granted to churches objecting to the limits. However, a majority of the court was only willing to lift the ban California has applied on all indoor worship in Tier 1 counties — those most challenged by Covid-19. The other restrictions remain undisturbed, for now.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Friday night ruling: new Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose conservative Catholic views drew suspicion from many liberals in advance of her confirmation last year, declined to grant the churches the most sweeping relief favored by her most conservative colleagues. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have granted all the churches’ requests, lifting the singing and chanting bans and barred California from enforcing a 25 percent capacity limit that applies to many indoor facilities. Justice Samuel Alito would have had such a ban kick in 30 days from now if the state didn’t make certain showings in court.

“Even if a full congregation singing hymns is too risky, California does not explain why even a single masked cantor cannot lead worship behind a mask and a plexiglass shield. Or why even a lone muezzin may not sing the call to prayer from a remote location inside a mosque as worshippers file in,” Gorsuch wrote. Barrett opted for a middle-ground position with Justice Brett Kavanaugh that did not go as far as Gorsuch, Thomas or Alito. “The applicants bore the burden of establishing their entitlement to relief from the singing ban. In my view, they did not carry that burden—at least not on this record,” she wrote in a brief opinion.

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“It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth..”

Long-Term Unemployment Is Close To A Great Recession Record (CNBC)

Long-term unemployment is edging toward a historical peak, almost a year into the pandemic-fueled downturn. Workers are deemed to be “long-term unemployed” when their jobless spell is longer than six months. It’s an especially dangerous period of unemployment, according to labor economists. For one, household income may drop significantly. But the dynamic also makes finding a new job more difficult, scars workers’ long-term earnings potential and raises the odds of losing a job (if they find one) down the road, economists said. Almost 40% of jobless workers in January were long-term unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The share has grown steadily since the spring and is approaching the record set in April 2010, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. At that time, nearly 46% of the unemployed were out of work at least six months. “I think that is one of the many concerning things we see in this report,” Nick Bunker, economic research director at job site Indeed, said of January’s uptick in long-term unemployment. “I think it’s even more concerning when you see job gains continue to slow down.” The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The economy shed 227,000 jobs in December, the first drop since the rebound began in the spring. Meanwhile, there are about 10 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.


It would take approximately 29 years to get back to get back to pre-recession levels at the current pace of job growth, according to Heidi Shierholz, director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. (Her analysis uses the average growth over the past three months.) “There’s a massive hole to fill,” said Shierholz, a former chief economist at the Department of Labor.

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That’s a lot.

UK Exports To EU Slashed By 68% Since Brexit (G.)

The volume of exports going through British ports to the EU fell by a staggering 68% last month compared with January last year, mostly as a result of problems caused by Brexit, the Observer can reveal. The dramatic drop in the volume of traffic carried on ferries and through the Channel tunnel has been reported to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove by the Road Haulage Association after a survey of its international members. In a letter to Gove dated 1 February, the RHA’s chief executive, Richard Burnett, also told the minister he and his officials had repeatedly warned over several months of problems and called for measures to lessen difficulties – but had been largely ignored.

In particular he had made clear throughout last year there was an urgent need to increase the number of customs agents to help firms with mountains of extra paperwork. The number now, around 10,000, is still about a fifth of what the RHA says is required to handle the massive increase in paperwork facing exporters. Burnett told the Observer that in addition to the 68% fall-off in exports, about 65%-75% of vehicles that had come over from the EU were going back empty because there were no goods for them to return with, due to hold-ups on the UK side, and because some UK companies had either temporarily or permanently halted exports to the EU. “I find it deeply frustrating and annoying that ministers have chosen not to listen to the industry and experts,” he said.

Contact with Gove had been limited and had achieved little over recent months. “Michael Gove is the master of extracting information from you and giving nothing back,” he said. “He responds on WhatsApp and says he got the letter but no written response comes. Pretty much every time we have written over the last six months he has not responded in writing. He tends to get officials to start working on things. But the responses are a complete waste of time because they don’t listen to what the issues were that we raised in the first place.” According to the House of Commons library, UK exports to the EU were £294bn in 2019 (43% of all UK exports) while UK imports from the EU were £374bn (52% of the total). The overwhelming majority of exports to the EU from the UK go through ports rather than by air.

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And now go global.

Google Reverses Course, Opens Paid Platform For (Some) Australian News (ZH)

The Australian government has possibly obtained a rare, partial victory in its standoff with Google. The US-based tech giant has appeared to reverse course as Australia holds hearings aimed at enacting legislation that would effectively force Google to pay local sources for news it links to and features in its search engine. Google last month threatened to pull its search engine off the continent altogether, with Canberra counter-threatening that they won’t budge. But on Thursday Google made the following official announcement: “To meet growing reader and publisher needs, last year we increased our investment in news partnerships and launched Google News Showcase.”

The ‘Showcase’ app is the result of the company negotiating to pay some Australian news producers who sign up for the program. It’s an attempt to undercut legislation being proposed to require the company to pay for all such content. It’s not likely to stop the new legislation, however, but Google is offering it as an ‘alternative’. The move shows that the tech giant is arguably feeling the pressure and is looking to compromise. The Google announcement continued, “Today we are happy to announce we are rolling out an initial version of the product to benefit users and publishers in Australia, with a keen focus on leading regional and independent publishers given the importance of local information and the role it plays in people’s everyday lives.”

“News Showcase is designed to bring value to both publishers and readers by providing a licensing program that pays publishers to curate content for story panels across Google services, and gives readers more insights into the stories that matter,” it said. While the details have yet to be revealed, for example just which publishers will eventually be enabled to join the platform, it’s being reported as a significant compromise which is likely to first reward major national Australian outlets, as Reuters details: With the legislation now before a parliamentary inquiry, Friday’s launch of News Showcase in Australia will see it pay seven domestic outlets, including the Canberra Times, to use their content.

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About the Time article.

There Was A Color Revolution In The US After All (Malic)

The 2020 US presidential elections wasn’t “rigged,” oh no, but “fortified” by a conspiracy of activists united in saving “Our Democracy” from the Bad Orange Man, now proud to share their story in a friendly tell-all piece in TIME.“There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes,” writes Molly Ball – a biographer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by the way – in TIME magazine this week, describing it as a “vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election – an extraordinary shadow effort.” Ball’s article reveals a lot, from why there were no street riots by Democrats either on November 4 or on January 6 – the organizers of this “conspiracy” stopped them – to who was behind the push to alter election rules in key states and set up mail-in voting, who organized “information” campaigns about the results of the election, and who even threatened election officials into making the “right” decision to certify the vote.

While everyone – myself included – was focused on the summer riots as a possible “color revolution,” they turned out to be misdirection. According to TIME, the real action was taking place behind the scenes, as Democrat activists and unions joined forces with NeverTrump Republicans, Chamber of Commerce, corporations, and Big Tech to make sure the 2020 election turns out the way they wanted. They call this a victory of democracy and the will of the people, of course, for no one is ever a villain in their own story. “Their work touched every aspect of the election,” Ball writes, from getting states to “change voting system laws” and fending off “voter-suppression lawsuits,” to recruiting “armies” of poll workers and pressuring social media companies to “take a harder line against disinformation.”

Then, after Election Day, “they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result.” Alarmed yet? Maybe you should be. So who are these shadowy saviors of Our Democracy? One of them is union organizer Mike Podhorzer of AFL-CIO, a traditional Democrat powerhouse. Another is Ian Bassin, associate White House counsel in Barack Obama’s first administration. The roster of his “nonpartisan, rule-of-law” outfit called Protect Democracy includes a lot of Obama lawyers, a John McCain campaign aide, an editor from the defunct neocon Weekly Standard, and someone from SPLC, while among their advisers is the NeverTrump failed presidential candidate and ex-CIA spy Evan McMullin.

Bear that in mind when you read Bassin’s quote that “Every attempt to interfere with the proper outcome of the election was defeated,” but “it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.” Chilling words.

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Trojan horse.

How Ecuador’s US-backed ‘Ecosocialist’ Candidate Aids The Right-Wing (GZ)

Ecuador’s historic February 7 election could bring a popular revolutionary movement back from the dead and help fuel a new wave of socialist governments in Latin America. The contrast between the two main presidential candidates could hardly be more stark: On one side is a conservative banker backed by Ecuadorian elites and the United States, Guillermo Lasso; and on the other is a youthful left-wing economist, Andrés Arauz, who follows in the footsteps of socialist former President Rafael Correa and wants to return to his Citizens’ Revolution. But a third candidate who has stayed in the race until the end, despite all polls showing him significantly behind, has helped to divide Ecuador’s left-wing vote by running what has been marketed as a progressive environmentalist campaign.

Yaku Pérez Guartambel, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador’s party Pachakutik, purports to be the true left-wing option in the election. But his political record suggests he is a Trojan Horse for the left’s most bitter enemies. Pérez supported right-wing US-backed coups targeting Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, demonizing the countries’ socialist governments as “racist.” His political views fuse ultra-leftist, anarchistic critiques of existing left-wing states with an objectively right-wing political agenda. And his opposition to state power is deeply opportunistic. While Pérez harshly criticizes China, he has simultaneously pronounced he “would not think twice” about signing a trade deal with the United States. Pérez’s ostensibly progressive ideology is filled with contradictions. While the Correista candidate Arauz has proposed giving $1000 checks to one million working-class Ecuadorian families, Pérez has attacked the plan on the grounds that poor citizens would spend all the money on beer in one day.

The party of Pérez, Pachakutik, identifies as “ecosocialist” and claims to represent Ecuador’s Indigenous communities. But like the candidate that leads it, it employs left-wing rhetoric to paper over regressive goals. Pachakutik is closely linked to NGOs funded by Washington and EU member states. The party’s leaders have been trained by the US government-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), a CIA cutout that operates under the auspices of the National Endowment for Democracy. In the past, Pérez and Pachakutik helped lead protests against Ecuador’s former President Correa, forming an unspoken alliance with the country’s right-wing oligarchs in a bid to destabilize and overthrow the socialist president. In fact, Pachakutik played a significant role in a US-backed 2010 coup attempt that came close to undemocratically removing Correa from power.

Pachakutik’s ties to Washington are extensive. One of its most prominent former members is Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian journalist who spearheaded a disinformation campaign targeting journalist Julian Assange, peddling discredited but deeply damaging claims about the Wikileaks publisher through the neoliberal British newspaper The Guardian. Villavicencio’s anti-Correa activism also appears to have been funded by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy.

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“Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.”

Pentagon Goes Rooting For ‘Extremists’ Among Its 3.6mn Trained Killers (RT)

The US military is making a big show of cleansing its ranks of ‘extremism’ – because nothing says tolerance like raining fiery death on innocent strangers at the command of a guy who just stepped down from Raytheon’s board. With “domestic extremists” now officially the enemy du jour in Washington, the top order of business has become finding some. On Wednesday, newly-anointed secretary of defense (and former Raytheon board member) Lloyd Austin ordered a two-month stand-down so that commanders could engage in “needed discussions” with their subordinates on the issue. Did we mention they have a lot of subordinates? There are 3.6 million service members in the most expensive military in the world, and evaluating every single one of them for a characteristic that lacks even a universally-agreed-upon definition is certain to be both time-consuming and frustrating.

It’s also quite likely to backfire. Being spuriously accused of “domestic extremism” is the sort of thing that might turn an ‘ordinary’ soldier into an anti-government ‘extremist.’ After all, what sort of gratitude is rewarding a person who just signed up to die for their country with the ideological equivalent of a prostate exam? The FBI, DHS and other security agencies have, at various times, declared almost every American to be some sort of anti-government extremist or other, from “conspiracy theorists” to, well, veterans, depending on that season’s trend in fear. But even the most ambitious diversity consultant can’t just lock up millions of Americans for thoughtcrime – yet.

It takes extreme conditioning indeed to abandon one’s humanity and learn to kill on command – “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t just a religious commandment. Former military personnel describing the process through which they were transformed from “normal” people into killing machines talk about a radicalization process quite unlike anything ever posted to 4chan or wherever 21st-century “radicals” are supposed to be born from. Yet anti-extremism nonprofits wring their hands when confronted with the seemingly disproportionate number of Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Bois, and other militia and quasi-militia groups that have served in the military. Do they expect veterans to simply forget their entire training upon returning to civilian life?

Indeed, what’s denounced as extremism “back home” is very likely to be praised as bravery “over there.” Such doublethink makes it difficult for many returning veterans to readjust to civilian life – and the government – and it doesn’t help that Washington basically washes its hands of them once they remove their uniforms. What good is all that college money they dangle in front of young recruits’ faces if all that “life experience” leaves you a dysfunctional PTSD-stricken shell of a person, incapable of forming meaningful relationships or even sleeping through the night? Not every service member sees conflict, of course, but those who do are irrevocably changed by it.

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“a personal book about his own personal journey..”

Hunter Biden Memoir #1 In ‘Chinese Biography Bestsellers’ On Amazon (RT)

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter briefly hit bestseller status in Amazon’s ‘Chinese biography’ section for a new memoir, for which he was reportedly paid $2 million by the same publisher who scrapped GOP Sen. Josh Hawley’s book. The ‘Chinese biography’ listing was first reported on Friday by the New York Post, the same newspaper censored on social media in the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election over a story about Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China. After a few hours at the top of the section, however, Amazon scrubbed the ranking, relocating Biden’s memoir to the number-one spot in its ‘Lawyer & Judge biographies’ category. Biden was reportedly paid a $2 million advance for the book, titled ‘Beautiful Things’ and said to contain an account of his struggle with drug abuse, among other things.


News of the contract – reportedly signed secretly in late 2019 – was only announced on Thursday. The memoir is scheduled to be published in early April by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster – the very same publisher who canceled Hawley’s ‘Tyranny of Big Tech’ after the January 6 unrest at the US Capitol. Asked about the memoir on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called it “a personal book about his own personal journey.” Psaki also quoted a statement “in their personal capacity as parents” from Joe and Jill Biden, who said they “admire our son Hunter’s strength and courage to talk openly about his addiction so that others might see themselves in his journey and find hope.”

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Feb 052021
 


Winslow Homer Mending the nets 1881

 

Atlantic Council Anonymous Expose Calls for Regime Change in China (MPN)
Macron: EU Shouldn’t Gang Up On China With US (Pol.eu)
Hunger Games (Ben Hunt)
US Covid Hospitalizations Drop To Lowest Level Since Before Thanksgiving (F.)
No Special Freedoms For The Vaccinated In Germany (DW)
Trump Rejects Dems’ Request To Testify At Impeachment Trial (AP)
Incitement Is Not A Real Crime (McMaken)
Smartmatic Files $2.7 Billion Lawsuit vs Fox News, Giuliani, Powell (CNN)
Biden Withdraws Judy Shelton’s Fed Nomination (Hill)
Largest US Mall Landlord Sent Jingle Mail to Deutsche Bank (WS)
Dominant Capital Is Much More Powerful Than You Think (RWER)
Dems Are Lucy, The Football Is $2,000 (DP)
Lies, Damn Lies, And Fact Checking (DP)
The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election (Time)

 

 

Here’s what will determine US politics in the next 4 years. Lack of clickbait. War would be good for ratings.

 

 

Warmongers “R” Us. Any thoughts on Russia?

Atlantic Council Anonymous Expose Calls for Regime Change in China (MPN)

Influential D.C. think tank the Atlantic Council has printed a 26,000-word report laying out its strategy for combating China. Published anonymously, the report states that “the single most important challenge facing the United States” in the twenty-first century is China’s growth to rival their own power. To do so, the report states that the U.S. must use “the power of its military,” the dollar’s role as the global reserve currency, and American control over technology and communication to suffocate the nation of 1.4 billion people. It advises President Biden to draw a number of “red lines” past which the U.S. would directly intervene (presumably militarily). These include Chinese attempts to expand into the South China Sea, an attack on the disputed Senkaku Islands, or moves against Taiwan’s independence.

A North Korean strike on any of its neighbors would also necessitate an American response against China, the report insists, because “China must fully own responsibility for the behavior of its North Korean ally.” Any backing down from this stance, the council states, would result in national “humiliation” for the United States. Perhaps most notably, however, the report also envisages what a successful American China policy would look like by 2050: “the United States and its major allies continue to dominate the regional and global balance of power across all the major indices of power;” and that head of state Xi Jinping “has been replaced by a more moderate party leadership; and that the Chinese people themselves have come to question and challenge the Communist Party’s century-long proposition that China’s ancient civilization is forever destined to an authoritarian future.” In other words, that China has been broken and that some sort of regime change has occurred.

The Atlantic Council is a NATO-offshoot organization funded by the U.S. and other allied governments, including the Gulf dictatorships. Among its largest corporate sponsors include weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. Its board of directors is full of high statespeople like Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice as well as senior military figures such as retired generals Wesley Clark, David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Lt. General Brent Scowcroft and Admiral James Stavridis. At least seven former CIA directors are also on the board. Thus, the council could be said to represent the consensus opinion of the national security state.

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“..during a discussion broadcast by Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council..”

Macron: EU Shouldn’t Gang Up On China With US (Pol.eu)

The EU shouldn’t gang up on China with the U.S. even if it stands closer to Washington by virtue of shared values, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. “A situation to join all together against China, this is a scenario of the highest possible conflictuality. This one, for me, is counterproductive,” Macron said, speaking in English, during a discussion broadcast by Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council on Thursday. This kind of common front against China — as other European leaders have advocated given the new Biden administration’s revived openness to traditional alliances — risks pushing Beijing to lower its cooperation on issues like combatting climate change, and exacerbating its aggressive behavior in Asia, including in the South China Sea, according to the French president.


Macron also said “the coming semesters will be very critical for Chinese leaders and China,” given the Biden administration’s reengagement in multilateral frameworks like the World Health Organization. “As the U.S. is reengaging itself, what will be the behavior of China?” Macron asked. He pitched, once again, holding a summit of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, the U.S., U.K. and Russia. He had tried to hold such a summit in 2020 but it had fallen prey to Sino-American tensions and never materialized. Macron was answering questions from a handful of U.S. think-tankers, professors and former officials via video link in a 90-minute session recorded at the Elysée on Wednesday afternoon.

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“You have been told that by banding together and acting as one, you can “democratize” the stock market.”

Hunger Games (Ben Hunt)

You have been told that investing in the stock market is like betting on a sports game. You have been told that you are a SPECTATOR in the game of markets, that you are WATCHING a game being played out in front of you by lots of different companies. You have been told that you should make ‘bets’ on those companies based on how well you think those companies can play the game that you are watching. The companies will play the game and they will keep score by ‘beating’ or ‘missing’ on revenues and earnings and the like, and then that score will determine whether or not your bets pay off. You have been told that the better you are at ‘analyzing’ the teams playing this game, the more ‘due diligence’ you put into studying the teams playing this game, the more money you will make with your bets.

You have been told that everyone can win with their bets, that this is how you, too, can achieve the wealth that you deserve. You have been told that the odds are ever in your favor. You have been told this for your entire life. More and more, you suspect this is a lie. But if it is a lie … what then? What meaning exists in the stock market if this is a lie? Over the past few weeks you have been told a new story. A brave story. A story of heroes. A story of meaning. You have been told that by banding together and acting as one, you can “democratize” the stock market. You have been told that you can slough off your market oppressors who “want companies to fail”.

You have been told that you can be a PARTICIPANT in the game of markets, that you can storm the playing field of companies, that you can take matters into your own hands and rescue a promising company under unfair attack. And, yes, make some good money in the process. Why not? Seems only fair. Today, as you see the collapsing stock prices of the companies you supported, you suspect that this was a lie, as well. And you’d be right. Neither story is true. Neither story has EVER been true. Both of these stories are narratives for our very own Hunger Games, a spectacle that chews up the participants in the arena while delivering enormous profits to the networks (media, financial and political) that put them on. Media networks count their profits in eyeballs, in the attention the Games garner.

Financial networks count their profits the old-fashioned way, in the sheer volume of dollar-generating order flow the Games produce. As for politicians, they get their most valuable coin of the modern realm – an issue. The wackos on the left get to propose insane transaction taxes. The wackos on the right get to tell us how much liBeRtY we are enjoying by giving Ken Griffin all of our money. The very serious centrists get to tell us about how we need “a national conversation” about the T+2 settlement issues raised here. And what about the rest of us? What about all of us reading story after story about the “Reddit Revolution” and what it means for us? What do WE get out of the Hunger Games?

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And then come the variants.

US Covid Hospitalizations Drop To Lowest Level Since Before Thanksgiving (F.)

Coronavirus hospitalizations in the U.S. are down to their lowest level since Nov. 24, according to The COVID Tracking Project, as signs of improvement in the pandemic appear evident across essentially the entire United States. On Thursday, there were 88,668 Covid-19 patients in U.S. hospitals, which remains well above the height of the spring and summer surges of 2020 but a significant drop from the record high of 132,474 hospitalized on Jan. 6. The rate of new cases in the U.S. has been declining for weeks, and is now averaging just under 120,000 a day for the first time since Nov. 5, according to Johns Hopkins University. Deaths, which lag behind increases in other metrics and have been at record levels, appear to finally be on the decline.

The 7-day rolling average for deaths has dropped every day during February, and is now below 3,000 a day, according to The COVID Tracking Project. Health officials are warning against complacency, especially with new strains of Covid that seem much more contagious, like the U.K. and South African varieties, that are spreading in the United States. “Now is not the time to let our guard down. Keep taking steps to protect each other,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing Wednesday.


Vaccination efforts are continuing to ramp up in the United States. As of Thursday evening, around 36.7 million Covid shots had been administered around the U.S., according to a Bloomberg tracker, with estimated 2.3% of the population fully vaccinated with two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna shots. And more help is likely on the way. On Thursday evening, Johnson & Johnson applied for emergency use authorization with the FDA for its vaccine, which only requires a single dose. Dr. Anthony Fauci said he expects approval to come “within a week or so,” and the company appears on track for a March rollout.

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Vaccinated with a non-approved and hardly tested vaccin. Take ’em to court.

No Special Freedoms For The Vaccinated In Germany (DW)

The German Ethics Council on Thursday spoke out against lifting restrictions for individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Germany has been in partial lockdown since November. Bars, restaurants and cultural and sporting facilities are closed. Schools and non-essential shops were added to the list in mid-December, with rules on mask-wearing and working from home tightened in January amid concerns over new virus variants. Vaccinations started at the end of December with people over 80 and their carers front of the line. There is currently a shortage of vaccines in Germany, and it will take several months for a majority of people to be immunized and become eligible for the lifting of restrictions.

Over the past few weeks tourism agencies, event managers and some politicians had suggested allowing those who have been vaccinated to travel, eat in restaurants, attend concerts and other events which would involve close contact with a high number of other people. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was the first high-profile politician to speak out in favor of lifting restrictions. “Someone who cannot fall seriously ill with the coronavirus anymore will not need intensive care and burden the health care system. He should no longer have to suffer restrictions to his basic rights and freedoms,” he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in January. Such proposals have been met with criticism, for example from Left party chairwoman Katja Kipping, who urged adherence to freedom and equality stipulations in the German constitution.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also ruled out special regulations this Monday. The COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory in Germany. Distinguishing between the vaccinated and those not vaccinated would be the same as a mandatory vaccination,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer had warned. The ethics council on Thursday pointed out that it had to be clarified first whether vaccinated people might still be able to transmit the virus. Only if that were ruled out could any exemption from rules such as wearing masks in public places be considered. “At the present time, withdrawing state restrictions on freedoms for vaccinated people should not take place as it is not yet possible to reliably assess infectiousness,” Ethics Council head Alena Buyx told a news conference in Berlin on Thursday.

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For entertainment purposes only.

Trump Rejects Dems’ Request To Testify At Impeachment Trial (AP)

House Democrats on Thursday asked Donald Trump to testify under oath for his Senate impeachment trial, challenging him to respond to their charge that he incited a violent mob to storm the Capitol. A Trump adviser said the former president won’t testify. Although Democrats might not have the power to force Trump’s testimony, the request from House impeachment managers is part of their overall effort to put the violent events of Jan. 6 on the record for history and hold him accountable for his words. Democrats will look to use his refusal to testify against him as they argue that the ex-president has avoided responsibility for his actions.

Hours after the Democrats’ request was revealed, Trump adviser Jason Miller dismissed the trial as “an unconstitutional proceeding” and said the former president would not testify. Separately, Trump’s lawyers denounced the request as a “public relations stunt.” The impeachment trial starts Feb. 9. Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is charged with inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6, when a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol to interrupt the electoral vote count. Five people died. Before the riot, Trump had told his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his election defeat. Democrats have said a trial is necessary to provide a final measure of accountability for the attack. If Trump is convicted, the Senate could hold a second vote to disqualify him from seeking office again.

In the letter to the former president and his attorneys, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, one of the impeachment managers, asked that Trump explain why he and his team have disputed key factual allegations at the center of their case. He asked that Trump provide testimony about his conduct “either before or during the Senate impeachment trial,” and under cross-examination, as early as Monday, Feb. 8, and not later than Thursday, Feb. 11. The request from Raskin cites the words of Trump’s own attorneys, who in a legal brief earlier this week not only denied that Trump had incited the riot but also asserted that he had “performed admirably in his role as president, at all times doing what he thought was in the best interests of the American people.”

With that argument, Raskin said, Trump had questioned critical facts in the case “notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense.” He said Trump should be able to testify now that he is no longer president. Trump attorneys Bruce Castor and David Schoen responded hours later that the letter proves that Democrats “cannot prove your allegations” and that an impeachment trial is too serious “to try to play these games.”

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Not a new issue.

Incitement Is Not A Real Crime (McMaken)

[..] in an essay written for a small newspaper in the late 1960s, Rothbard explains the problem with claiming incitement is a real crime: “Suppose that Mr. A tells Mr. B: “Go out and shoot the mayor.” Suppose, then, that Mr. B, pondering this suggestion, decides it’s a darn good idea and goes out and shoots the mayor. Now obviously B is responsible for the shooting. But in what sense can A be held responsible? A did not do the shooting, and didn’t take part, we will assume, in any of the planning or executing of the act itself. The very fact that he made that suggestion cannot really mean that A should be held responsible. For does not B have free will? Is he not a free agent? And if he is, then B and B alone is responsible for the shooting.

If we attribute any responsibility at all to A, we have fallen into the trap of determinism. We are then assuming that B has no will of his own, that he is then only a tool in some way manipulated by A. Now, if Person A participated in the planning of a riot or a murder, then Person A is guilty of conspiracy, not incitement. But Person A is not guilty of anything for have merely suggested to Person B that he shoot the mayor. Person B, after all, is responsible for his own actions. [..] if the will is free, then no man is determined by another; then just because somebody shouts “burn, baby, burn,” no one hearing this advice is thereby compelled or determined to go and carry the suggestion out. Anybody who does carry out the advice is responsible for his own actions, and solely responsible.

Therefore, the “inciter” cannot be held in any way responsible. In the nature of man and morality, there is no such crime as “incitement to riot,” and therefore the very concept of such a “crime” should be stricken from the statute books.” [..] Cracking down on “incitement to riot,” then, is simply and purely cracking down on one’s natural and crucial right to freedom of speech. Speech is not a crime. And hence the injustice, not only of the crime of incitement, but also of such other “crimes” as “criminal sedition” (sharp criticism of the government), or “conspiracy to advocate overthrow of the government”—in other words, planning someday to exercise one’s basic and natural right to freedom of speech and advocacy.

A decade later, Rothbard emphasized the importance of rejecting the notion of incitement as a crime in his book For a New Liberty. Under the section titled “Freedom of Speech,” he writes: “What, for example, of “incitement to riot,” in which the speaker is held guilty of a crime for whipping up a mob, which then riots and commits various actions and crimes against person and property? In our view, “incitement” can only be considered a crime if we deny every man’s freedom of will and of choice, and assume that if A tells B and C: “You and him go ahead and riot!” that somehow B and C are then helplessly determined to proceed and commit the wrongful act. But the libertarian, who believes in freedom of the will, must insist that while it might be immoral or unfortunate for A to advocate a riot, that this is strictly in the realm of advocacy and should not be subject to legal penalty.”

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Maybe you can indict them for incitement.

Smartmatic Files $2.7 Billion Lawsuit vs Fox News, Giuliani, Powell (CNN)

A voting technology company swept up in baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election filed a monster $2.7 billion lawsuit on Thursday against Fox News, some of the network’s star hosts, and pro-Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging the parties worked in concert to wage a “disinformation campaign” that has jeopardized its very survival. “We have no choice,” Antonio Mugica, the chief executive and founder of Smartmatic, told CNN Business in an interview about the company’s decision to file the lawsuit. “The disinformation campaign that was launched against us is an obliterating one. For us, this is existential, and we have to take action.”

The lawsuit, filed in New York state court, accused Fox, Giuliani, Powell and hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro of intentionally lying about Smartmatic in an effort to mislead the public into the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. “They needed a villain,” the lawsuit said. “They needed someone to blame. They needed someone whom they could get others to hate. A story of good versus evil, the type that would incite an angry mob, only works if the storyteller provides the audience with someone who personifies evil.” “Without any true villain, defendants invented one,” the lawsuit added. “Defendants decided to make Smartmatic the villain in their story.”

In a statement on behalf of the network and the named hosts issued after the lawsuit was filed, a Fox News spokesperson said, “FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.” Asked for comment, Powell said in a statement, “I have not received notice or a copy of this alleged lawsuit. However, your characterization of the claims shows that this is just another political maneuver motivated by the radical left that has no basis in fact or law.” In a statement of his own, Giuliani said, “The Smartmatic lawsuit presents another golden opportunity for discovery. I look forward to litigating with them.”

Giuliani and Powell have also been sued by another voting technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, for promoting their voter fraud conspiracies. Giuliani called Dominion’s lawsuit against him an “act of intimidation” to “censor the exercise of free speech” and Powell called Dominion’s lawsuit against her “baseless.”

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Danielle DiMartino Booth: “Suggesting administration should have sway over Fed policy was error in judgment. But let’s face it, since Volcker departed, each successive administration’s influence increased. Judy just gave voice to the truth. In the end, the establishment won the war..”

Biden Withdraws Judy Shelton’s Fed Nomination (Hill)

President Biden on Thursday formally withdrew Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board, closing the book on her quest to join the central bank. Shelton’s nomination was withdrawn with more than two dozen other officials nominated by former President Trump in January shortly before he left office. The Democratic takeover of the Senate in January effectively ended Shelton’s chances of confirmation, and Biden’s withdrawal of her nomination does little more than clear the way for his eventual pick to fill the final vacant spot on the Fed board. Biden has not yet indicated who he would nominate in Shelton’s place.


Trump announced in 2019 that he would nominate Shelton, a former campaign adviser, to the Fed board after Senate Republicans rejected four of his previous picks. She was formally nominated in early 2020 and narrowly approved for a confirmation vote by the Senate Banking Committee last July despite GOP concerns about her criticism of Fed independence, past support for the gold standard and inconsistent views on monetary policy. Shelton came remarkably close to confirmation in December, but coronavirus-related absences and the opposition of three Republican senators blocked her from joining the Fed. Trump renominated Shelton in January after the new Congress convened, but Republicans were unable to confirm her before losing their Senate majority.

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“Simon Property Group has washed its hands off it, letting the CMBS holders eat the losses. And the new owners, Deutsche Bank and holders of CMBS, will now get to manage the mall.”

Largest US Mall Landlord Sent Jingle Mail to Deutsche Bank (WS)

Deutsche Bank this week foreclosed on a $177.5 million mall mortgage. The mortgage had been securitized and spread over two commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) in 2012. The collateral is 560,000 square feet of retail space at the 1.2 million square-foot Town Center at Cobb, in Kennesaw, Cobb County, Georgia. The regional mall has over 170 stores, including a Macy’s, a JCPenney, and a Belk (just filed for bankruptcy). The mall was owned by Simon Property Group, the largest mall landlord and mall REIT [SPG] in America, which, in one of its acts of jingle mail, had returned the mall to the lenders. “Jingle mail” was engraved into the American lexicon during the housing bust, when homeowners voluntarily turned their homes over to lenders, presumably by mailing them the house keys.

Most home mortgages are recourse loans, and banks can drag the homeowner to court over any deficiency after the foreclosure sale – except in the 12 “non-recourse” states. But commercial real estate mortgages are non-recourse; all the lender gets is the collateral, and the owner walks away. At the time of securitization in 2012, the collateral for the loan was valued at $322 million, according to Trepp, a data firm that tracks CMBS. And everything was hunky-dory. In October 2020, the value was slashed by 60% to $130.4 million. The legal notice by Deutsche Bank of the foreclosure sale, reported by the Marietta Daily Journal on January 27, specified that the mall would be sold on February 2 “at public outcry to the highest bidder for cash before the Courthouse door of Cobb County.” The opening bid would be $130.4 million.

And this is what happened on February 2, according to the Marietta Daily Journal: “[Attorney Matthew Norton of the law firm Polsinelli] “read the legal notice in full on the southern steps of the county’s justice center, a recitation that took over half an hour to complete. The bargain hunters who attended the morning’s residential foreclosure auctions left hours before, leaving Norton to conduct the “public outcry” on the courthouse steps across the street from an empty Flournoy Park.” And there were no bids. So Deutsche Bank and other CMBS holders are now the proud owners of the mall. Simon Property Group has washed its hands off it, letting the CMBS holders eat the losses. And the new owners, Deutsche Bank and holders of CMBS, will now get to manage the mall.

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“In capitalism, capital is power, and to accumulate it differentially – i.e., relative to others – is to fortify and augment one’s organized power over others.”

Dominant Capital Is Much More Powerful Than You Think (RWER)

According to the theory of capital as power (CasP), capitalists and corporations are driven not to maximize profit, but to ‘beat the average’. Their yardstick is not an unmeasurable theoretical abstraction, but the readily observable performance of others. Their aim is not to increase their ‘material gain’, counted in fictitious utils or socially necessary abstract labour time, but to earn more money than everyone else. And the reason, we argue, has to do with power. In capitalism, capital is power, and to accumulate it differentially – i.e., relative to others – is to fortify and augment one’s organized power over others. Following Kepler’s modern notion of force, CasP sees capitalized power not as a stand-alone qualitative entity, but as a quantitative relationship between entities.

First, capitalized power is not absolute, but relational. It’s not a ‘battery’ or ‘energy’ that some entities possess and use to impose their will over others. Instead, it is the actual structure of differential relationships among capitalist owners and organizations as well as between those owners and organization and others who are subjugated to them and resist their domination. Second, capitalized power is a pure quantity. The actual institutions, structures and processes of capitalist power – from production, to finance, to government, religion, ideology, international relations, crime and what not – vary greatly. They are qualitatively different from each other and, in that sense, hard if not impossible to compare and aggregate. But in capitalism, these qualitative differences all get reduced to pure numbers: they are converted to the universal quantities of differential profit, investors’ hype and risk perceptions – and from there they get discounted to the universal quantity of differential capitalization.

The ongoing quest to beat the average and accumulate differentially goes hand in hand with CasP’s notion of ‘dominant capital’. All capitalists try to beat the average, but only some succeed and only a minority succeeds systematically, at least over a certain period. In time, this minority percolates up the hierarchies of power to formulate the cluster we call dominant capital. This cluster comprises the largest government-backed corporate coalitions at the centre of any given sector, a particular society, a group of countries and, ultimate, the capitalist world as a whole. The constituent entities of dominant capital change over time – the Alphabets and Apples of today have substituted the U.S. Steels and AT&Ts of a century ago and will likely be replaced by others in the future. But topologically, as a ruling entity, dominant capital is ubiquitous. There is hardly a capitalist setting without it.

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Why would anyone ever vote again?

Dems Are Lucy, The Football Is $2,000 (DP)

The image of Lucy and the football is a good way to understand Democrats and the promised $2,000 checks — the party promised the checks immediately, but now seems intent on pulling the ball away at the last minute, expecting Charlie Brown to laugh. But millions of struggling middle-class families who were deceived probably won’t find it funny. The Washington Post, HuffPost and Bloomberg are reporting that Democrats may limit full $1,400 survival checks to individuals earning less than $50,000 and couples earning less than $100,000. A bipartisan group of senators is also now pushing an amendment to “ensure upper-income taxpayers are not eligible” for checks. At least one Democratic senator, Ron Wyden of Oregon, has said he opposes the new proposed income limits.


Biden’s original proposal would send full checks to individuals earning up to $75,000 and married couples earning up to $150,000 — the same income limits Congress has used for previous rounds of checks. The proposed changes, which are being discussed in the name of “targeting” payments to those who need it, could affect checks for millions of people who have previously received COVID economic impact payments. Under the new terms being debated, about four in ten Americans could be excluded or receive partial checks, according to census data. Roughly 36 percent of U.S. households earn more than $100,000 — and some of the 29 percent of American households earning between $50,000 and $100,000 are single households.

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Bezos will have more time for his hobbies soon.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Fact Checking (DP)

Jeff Bezos this week announced that he is stepping down from his job running Amazon in order to focus more on his other assets, including the Washington Post. Less than 24 hours later, his newspaper’s chief “fact checker” Glenn Kessler published a screed attacking Bezos’s highest-profile political opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, for mentioning that Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law benefited rich people and large corporations. This might seem like a simple example of a pundit knowing exactly who pays his salary, but in this case, the pundit in question has his own axe to grind. Kessler is the scion of a fossil fuel baron, which means he has an interest in defending tax cuts that were a particularly big financial windfall for oil companies, including the one linked to his family, according to Kessler’s own newspaper.

At a time when Americans’ trust in media has plummeted, Kessler is a perfect illustration of how the cottage industry of fact checking has turned itself into a system of Orwellian misinformation — one that uses fact-o-meters and Pinocchios to insist that war is peace and ignorance is strength. Rather than clarifying reality, fact checking is routinely used to hide the truth and shield the powerful from accountability — it has helped politicians hide their votes to cut Social Security; let health care industry lobbyists distort statistics about medical bankruptcies and Medicare for All; and abetted Wall Street’s efforts to downplay bank bailouts. Now, comes the crescendo: The newspaper owned by a man worth $180 billion is deploying fact checking to try to revise the entire history of the tax cuts that enriched his retail conglomerate.

And what a coincidence — the revision is happening just as the tax policy may be revisited by a new Democratic president. Not surprisingly, this particular broadside is being directed at Sanders, arguably the most prominent critic of Bezos and Amazon in all of American politics. He introduced legislation to shame the company for its labor practices, he successfully pressured the company to raise its workers’ wages and has championed legislation to tax billionaires. Bezos’s company has responded by attacking the Vermont senator — and now his newspaper is trying to reinforce those attacks under the deceptive guise of fact checking, all as it warns readers on every story that democracy dies in darkness.

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A curious celebration.

The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election (Time)

A weird thing happened right after the Nov. 3 election: nothing. The nation was braced for chaos. Liberal groups had vowed to take to the streets, planning hundreds of protests across the country. Right-wing militias were girding for battle. In a poll before Election Day, 75% of Americans voiced concern about violence. Instead, an eerie quiet descended. As President Trump refused to concede, the response was not mass action but crickets. When media organizations called the race for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, jubilation broke out instead, as people thronged cities across the U.S. to celebrate the democratic process that resulted in Trump’s ouster.

A second odd thing happened amid Trump’s attempts to reverse the result: corporate America turned on him. Hundreds of major business leaders, many of whom had backed Trump’s candidacy and supported his policies, called on him to concede. To the President, something felt amiss. “It was all very, very strange,” Trump said on Dec. 2. “Within days after the election, we witnessed an orchestrated effort to anoint the winner, even while many key states were still being counted.” In a way, Trump was right. There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. The pact was formalized in a terse, little-noticed joint statement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO published on Election Day. Both sides would come to see it as a sort of implicit bargain–inspired by the summer’s massive, sometimes destructive racial-justice protests–in which the forces of labor came together with the forces of capital to keep the peace and oppose Trump’s assault on democracy.

The handshake between business and labor was just one component of a vast, cross-partisan campaign to protect the election–an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but to ensuring it would be free and fair, credible and uncorrupted. For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors. The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.

Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears. They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction. After Election Day, they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result. “The untold story of the election is the thousands of people of both parties who accomplished the triumph of American democracy at its very foundation,” says Norm Eisen, a prominent lawyer and former Obama Administration official who recruited Republicans and Democrats to the board of the Voter Protection Program.

Read more …

 

 

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That is one scary image…

 

 

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Jan 202021
 


Jean-Léon Gérôme Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind, 1896

 

Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus? (Spiegel)
New COVID Strain Reportedly Emerging Within Brazilian Amazon (ZH)
The New Domestic War On Terror Is Coming (Glenn Greenwald)
Comey Calls For the Republican Party To Be “Burned Down” (Turley)
Baghdad On The Potomac – Welcome To The Blue Zone (Escobar)
Media Cheers DC Under Military Occupation (Tracey)
Biden’s DHS Pick To “Study” Whether To Keep Trump’s Border Wall (PFW) /span>
US Bombs Somalia After Troop Withdrawal (Antiwar)
Pension Funds Plot Move On China’s $16 Trillion Sovereign Bond Market (R.)
Taming The Social Media Monster (K.)
Liberals Traumatized by Agreeing with Mitch McConnell (Borowitz)

 

 

Feeling numb this morning, as I’m sure many of you do. Not only because Trump failed to pardon Julian Assange, though that is a major letdown, but also because it’s more obvious than ever that nothing has changed. The same cabal is either still in power or is returning to it. And now they’re going to clean the US from everyone who rejected them and supported Trump. For clickbait, power and revenge. And I’m a bit tired of reading it all.

 

 

 

 

Tucker Carlson: Mitch McConnell “sent word over to the White House: if you pardon Julian Assange, we are much more likely to convict you in an impeachment trial.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1351353063433408515

 

 

@KimDotcom
Julian Assange will get his freedom back this year, pardon or not.

 

 

A mutation a week.

Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus? (Spiegel)

Three different new mutants of the novel coronavirus have begun spreading at break-neck speed around the world. They have two things in common: a very specific mutation – and they are far more effective at infecting people than previous versions, with the new variants likely up to 56 percent more infectious. There are also worries that they could prove less susceptible to some vaccines and that people who have already had COVID-19 could get infected again. The cases that have been imported into the country so far demonstrate that it’s likely impossible to seal Germany off from the new variants. It’s probably just a matter of time before the super viruses begin spreading in Germany and Europe. And it’s quite possible that this has already happened.

For a long time, it seemed as if the world knew its enemy – a coronavirus that could be compared with its ancestor SARS and other coronaviruses like MERS. In small steps, we became more familiar with how the disease spreads and what we can do to best protect ourselves. We got to know the virus right down to the last molecule – so well that researchers were able to develop vaccines in record time, promising to help humanity out of the permanent lockdown. We would, it seemed, bring SARS-CoV-2 under control in 2021. Now, though, the virus is mutating – unfortunately in a direction that is likely to lead to many more victims. [..] German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, as a physicist, has an in-depth understanding of numerical models, is deeply concerned about the current developments.

In recent days, she has been calling ministers, scientists and experts she trusts, asking for suggestions about what to do if the new virus mutants also spread in Germany. She doesn’t share the hope of some that the current lockdown can drive the numbers down any time soon. “Germany is facing eight to 10 very tough weeks,” Merkel said last Tuesday. The next day, during a meeting of her cabinet, Merkel discussed what would have happened had France not barred people from entering the country from Ireland. She said it might have become necessary for Germany to set up controls at the border with France.

[..] But the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa and the B.1.1.248 mutant found in Brazil and Japan are no less harmful than their British cousin. On the contrary. They contain another mutation in their genetic material – E484K – which could prove to be very dangerous. It’s likely that it weakens the human immune response – and could even render some of the newly developed vaccines less effective. Pharmaceutical companies are currently testing the efficacy of their vaccines against the new mutants. The mutation N501Y that is common to the new variants is located at a central position of the pathogen: on the spikes that are the source of the coronavirus’ name.

SARS-CoV-2 uses the spike protein’s receptor binding domain to latch on to the host cell and invade it. Scientists believe the mutation makes it easier for the virus to latch on to host cells. Once the new variants have infected the host, the disease proceeds just as it has in previous variants: They aren’t more lethal than the original coronaviruses. That, though, is hardly reassuring: Because the mutants are able to infect so many more people, they are capable of causing more fatalities than would a mutant that made people sicker but which was less contagious.

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“..more infectious, and deadlier..”

New COVID Strain Reportedly Emerging Within Brazilian Amazon (ZH)

As warnings about the hyper-infectious COVID strains first isolated in the UK and South Africa ring out across the US, Europe and, well, the rest of the world, too, at this point, authorities in Brazil fear they may have a new strain on their hands that’s more infectious, and deadlier, than anything the world has seen previously. According to a report published by Brazilian outlet Universo Online, a surge in cases and deaths, particularly among younger patients, in the hard-hit Amazonian city of Manaus (situated in northwestern Brazil, on the banks of the River Negro) has drawn the attention of health professionals working on the front lines of the pandemic in the hard-hit Latin American powerhouse.

Several officials with direct knowledge of the situation told UOL that a new “variant” – a mutated strain of the virus – may be responsible for harsher symptoms, and quicker onset times. But the most alarming shift has been a surge in deaths among younger people, who are dying now in greater numbers than in earlier waves of the outbreak in Manaus, which has long struggled with overburdened health-care resources. According to Manaus death records from the past 30 days cited by ULO, four out of ten deaths during that time involved patients under the age of 60 in the state.

The UOL analyzed the latest data Transparency Portal of the registry offices. There were 710 deaths in the state (since it may still increase), of which 285 were people under 60 years old – or 40.1% of the total. Before that period, this percentage was 36.5%. “Without a doubt many more young people are dying. We are not just talking about a risk group: this is in all age groups, affecting babies, children, teenagers even without comorbidity”, points out the infectologist Silvia Leopoldina, who also works in the state public networks and municipal of Manaus. The doctor says there were changes in the behavior of the disease in the state. “Before, the first symptoms of severity appeared around the tenth day onwards. Now there are patients who, with seven, eight days, are involved in 75% of both lungs.”.

One researcher told ULO that, while he couldn’t say for certain what it is, “something very different” is happening in Manaus right now. “Something very different is happening in Manaus. I don’t know if it is a new strain or if it is something different. But those on the front line are seeing an increase in the severity of the cases,” says infectologist and researcher Noaldo Lucena, who works in popular clinic, home care and public hospitals. The new infection and death numbers are so severe, he says, they go beyond the already known greater contagiousness of the new variant of the virus. “Clearly, we are facing an invisible being that is much more pathogenic and transmissible. Today whole families arrive with the symptoms at the same time, before it was one at a time.”

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Clickbait dreams.

The New Domestic War On Terror Is Coming (Glenn Greenwald)

The last two weeks have ushered in a wave of new domestic police powers and rhetoric in the name of fighting “terrorism” that are carbon copies of many of the worst excesses of the first War on Terror that began nearly twenty years ago. This trend shows no sign of receding as we move farther from the January 6 Capitol riot. The opposite is true: it is intensifying. We have witnessed an orgy of censorship from Silicon Valley monopolies with calls for far more aggressive speech policing, a visibly militarized Washington, D.C. featuring a non-ironically named “Green Zone,” vows from the incoming president and his key allies for a new anti-domestic terrorism bill, and frequent accusations of “sedition,” “treason,” and “terrorism” against members of Congress and citizens.

This is all driven by a radical expansion of the meaning of “incitement to violence.” It is accompanied by viral-on-social-media pleas that one work with the FBI to turn in one’s fellow citizens (See Something, Say Something!) and demands for a new system of domestic surveillance. Underlying all of this are immediate insinuations that anyone questioning any of this must, by virtue of these doubts, harbor sympathy for the Terrorists and their neo-Nazi, white supremacist ideology. Liberals have spent so many years now in a tight alliance with neocons and the CIA that they are making the 2002 version of John Ashcroft look like the President of the (old-school) ACLU. The more honest proponents of this new domestic War on Terror are explicitly admitting that they want to model it on the first one.

A New York Times reporter noted on Monday that a “former intelligence official on PBS NewsHour” said “that the US should think about a ‘9/11 Commission’ for domestic extremism and consider applying some of the lessons from the fight against Al Qaeda here at home.” More amazingly, Gen. Stanley McChrystal — for years head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and the commander of the war in Afghanistan — explicitly compared that war to this new one, speaking to Yahoo News: “I did see a similar dynamic in the evolution of al-Qaida in Iraq, where a whole generation of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects followed a powerful leader who promised to take them back in time to a better place, and he led them to embrace an ideology that justified their violence. This is now happening in America….I think we’re much further along in this radicalization process, and facing a much deeper problem as a country, than most Americans realize.”

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75 million voters. Burn them all down?

Comey Calls For the Republican Party To Be “Burned Down” (Turley)

There is an interesting interview this week with former FBI Director James Comey. He states that he now believes that the infamous alleged “pee tape” may be real and makes other surprising statements while pitching his new book. One statement, however, stood out: “The Republican party needs to be burned down … It’s just not a healthy political organization.” Since the Republican National Committee was targeted with a pipe bomb in the recent riots, some could argue that this is incitement to arson or violence. I would not. I would call it free speech and hyperbole. The question is where the line is drawn given the impeachment of Donald Trump based on his speech and the allegations that others who used such hyperbolic language are actually guilty of incitement.

As I have previously stated, I condemned Trump’s speech in a series of tweets while it was being given and I called for a bipartisan vote of censure over his responsibility in the riots. However, I opposed the use of a snap impeachment by the House and raised concerns over the framing of the article of impeachment as an “incitement to insurrection.” Despite the chorus of legal experts insisting that the speech would constitute a strong case for criminal incitement (and the DC Attorney General said he may charge Trump), I believe such a prosecution would eventually collapse on free speech grounds if based solely on this speech and Trump’s other public statements.

Comey is not alone in the use of such rhetoric in today’s super-heated political environment. We previously discussed how conservatives have pointed to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) calling for people to confront Republican leaders in restaurants; Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) insisted during 2020’s violent protests that “there needs to be unrest in the streets,” while then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said “protesters should not let up” even as many protests were turning violent. They can all legitimately argue that their rhetoric was not meant to be a call for violence, but this is a standard fraught with subjectivity.

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“Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram.”

Baghdad On The Potomac – Welcome To The Blue Zone (Escobar)

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues. We knew then that blowback would be inevitable. But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards. That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle. Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone. Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves. And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force. Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments. Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”. Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”. This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief. And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

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“..everyone with a brain by now should be able to recognize that the government was never at a greater than 0% risk of being overthrown that day..”

Media Cheers DC Under Military Occupation (Tracey)

Downtown Washington, DC is currently under what essentially amounts to military occupation. Streets are locked down, guarded by Army vehicles and blocked off by huge, garish checkpoints. Vehicular traffic is limited to motorists who can show papers demonstrating that, as one Guardsman told me, they are conducting “legitimate business.” (Apparently this includes Uber drivers and food delivery workers.) According to official estimates, 25,000 military personnel are now deployed to the area — on top of countless federal, state, and local law enforcement agents. Troops roam around carrying rifles with no ammo loaded. If you can manage to navigate on foot to the perimeter of the National Mall, you encounter an enormous fencing apparatus, complete with barbed wire.

Question: does anyone with a media job find this situation to be worthy of some further inquiry? Or in other words, worthy of questioning the premise of why such an extravagantly intensive military presence is allegedly necessary? Is it proportionate to the scale of the purported threat? Has the nature of the threat itself — whatever that might be, exactly — been adequately probed to determine whether it is grounded in reality? Already a bunch of purported threats initially trumpeted across the media with the usual five-alarm-five hysteria have dissipated in short order, so there is perhaps some reason for doubt in that regard. Instead of applying a modicum of skepticism to this gigantic show of military force, much of which appears to be “security theater” in its purest form, our vaunted media is doing little other than cheering it on.

And of course, inflating the threats being cited as justification for it. They can repeat over and over again that what occurred on January 6 at the Capitol was an “attempted coup,” and therefore everything and anything is justified to retaliate, but everyone with a brain by now should be able to recognize that the government was never at a greater than 0% risk of being overthrown that day. Fear-inducing terms like “insurrection,” “domestic terrorism,” “seditious conspiracy,” “armed rebellion,” and others have been marshaled intentionally to inure the public to extreme actions such as the swiftly-executed corporate censorship purge and now, the transformation of the country’s capital into a military fortress.

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Caravans are on their way, programs installed for large scale pardons. In a pandemic.

Biden’s DHS Pick To “Study” Whether To Keep Trump’s Border Wall (PFW) /span>

On the same day Trump extended an emergency declaration at the southern border, Biden’s pick for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, says that he will “study” whether the border wall constructed under the Trump administration will remain in place. “President-elect Biden has committed to stop construction of the border wall. It would be my responsibility to execute on that and I have not looked at the question of what we do with respect to the wall that has already been built,” Mayorkas said Tuesday during his Senate confirmation hearing. “I look forward to studying that question, understanding the costs and benefits of doing so, being open and transparent with you and all members of this committee, sharing my thoughts and considerations and working cooperative with you toward a solution,” he said.

The incoming DHS Sec. says that he plans to work on “harnessing innovation and technology” for future border security as he believes a border wall may not be the most effective way to stop people from entering the country. President-elect Biden has stated that he would not construct “another foot” of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico when he assumes office. “There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration, No. 1,” Biden said in August. “I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it. And at the ports of entry — that’s where all the bad stuff is happening,”

As we highlighted earlier, President Donald Trump on Tuesday extended his declared emergency at the southern border to be in effect until February 2022. The order set in motion funding for the now 453 miles in length southern border wall after congress had folded on devoting money to the project in 2019.

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Back to normal.

US Bombs Somalia After Troop Withdrawal (Antiwar)

After announcing that the troop withdrawal from Somalia was completed on Sunday, the US carried out multiple airstrikes in the African country on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) said it launched an airstrike on a compound belonging to al-Shabab and did not report any casualties. On Tuesday, AFRICOM said it carried out two airstrikes in the vicinities of Jamaame and Deb Scinnele, Somalia, that killed three al-Shabab “operatives” with no other reported casualties. AFRICOM usually claims no civilians are killed in its Somalia airstrikes, but whenever journalists or human rights groups make it to the scene of a US airstrike in the country, they tell a much different story.


The airstrikes were likely a message to al-Shabab that despite the troop withdrawal, the US can still carry out airstrikes in Somalia. About 700 US troops were pulled out of Somalia, with many of them being shuffled around East African to neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, where the US drones are based that bomb al-Shabab. President Trump started sending troops to Somalia in 2017 and significantly escalated the drone war by loosening the rules of engagement. In 2020 alone, Trump bombed Somalia more than George W Bush and Barack Obama combined.

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Unintended consequences of ultra-low rates?! Dutch 10-year bond yields are -0.4%, Chinese 3%.

Under these circumstances, how much newly minted stimulus money will disappear into China?

Pension Funds Plot Move On China’s $16 Trillion Sovereign Bond Market (R.)

China’s $16 trillion sovereign debt market is the proverbial elephant in the investment room. But it’s becoming too big to ignore, even for the most risk-averse Western investors. A large, A+ rated market that pays 3% yields, with minimal volatility? It’s looking increasingly alluring for European pension funds swimming in sub-zero bond yields as aging populations stretch their finances. For some, the benefits are beginning to outweigh the political risks, and they are upping allocations to China, or considering doing so, according to Reuters’ interviews with half a dozen firms that advise and manage money for pension funds.


“Not all our clients invest in China’s bond market, but they are all looking into it,” said Sandor Steverink, head of Treasuries at APG, which manages a third of the assets of the 1.5-trillion-euro ($1.8 trillion) Dutch pension industry. Dutch 10-year bond yields are languishing at around -0.4%, spelling losses for any investor who holds them to maturity, a picture reflected across Europe. Such fund interest is a boon for Beijing, which is seeking to internationalize its financial markets and lure big-ticket overseas investors as its once-mighty trade surpluses dwindle. Europe’s pension industry alone is worth $4 trillion. China’s sovereign debt market is the world’s second-largest after the United States. Yet while foreigners own a third of the U.S. Treasury market, they hold just 9.7% of China’s sovereign debt, according to government data.

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“But doesn’t the problem run deeper than that? Does it not lie with the social media firms’ business model, which seeks to monopolize users’ attention to the benefit of their clients who advertise on their platform?”

Taming The Social Media Monster (K.)

Western democracies must win back control of the boundaries of public debate from social media giants, Marietje Schaake suggests in an exclusive interview with Kathimerini. Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament, is now international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. She spoke to Kathimerini about outgoing US President Donald Trump, the digital footprint of the European Union, and how public policy can tame the monster that social media has turned into. Trump’s social media ban, Schaake tells the newspaper, “made many people realize the actual power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms.” The companies’ decision raises “many questions,” she says.

“Why, for example, did they ban the American president but not other international leaders that post very controversial or harmful content?” However, Schaake says, “the real question is not whether this was a good or bad decision, but why we allow privatized governance of our democratic debate.” How can the public sphere reassert control over this debate? “We must first of all demand that these firms be much more transparent with the policies on which their decisions are based. These [policies] cannot be a response to pressure or to outcry coming from their own employees. These policies must hinge on international or European standards regarding the freedom of speech and its limitations; and there must be independent monitoring that will certify the degree to which these companies fulfill their commitments.

“I was struck by the fact that Twitter has since January 8 deactivated more than 70,000 accounts associated with the QAnon [far-right conspiracy] – and that this happened after QAnon had been banned.” According to Schaake, this shows how hard it is to monitor a platform’s content on a rolling basis, as offshoots of banned groups keep coming into being. “The governments of democratic states must have a strong say in this,” says Schaake. “They must clarify what the rule of law means in the digital world and make sure that there are mechanisms in place to enforce it,” she says. She says authorities must have access to algorithmic methodologies and decide on clear sanctions against firms that fail to comply. “Regulatory authorities must have the knowledge, the staff and the resources they need to deal with the armies of lawyers that the companies bring to the table,” she says.

But doesn’t the problem run deeper than that? Does it not lie with the social media firms’ business model, which seeks to monopolize users’ attention to the benefit of their clients who advertise on their platform? Schaake does not challenge the claim. However, she stresses that if the situation has spun out of control, it is “due to a long period of basic inaction on the part of democratic governments, particularly in the US.” Bringing the anarchic landscape under control, she says, presupposes immediate action on a series of fronts: anti-trust policy, protection of privacy, personal data, and so on.

Read more …

“..a temporary condition..”

Liberals Traumatized by Agreeing with Mitch McConnell (Borowitz)

Millions of liberals were traumatized on Tuesday when they found themselves in agreement with Mitch McConnell, liberals are reporting. From Santa Monica, California, to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, liberals sought emergency counselling, complaining of a range of symptoms after realizing that they were on the same side as the senator from Kentucky. Carol Foyler, a liberal from Austin, Texas, said that she experienced lightheadedness and nausea after liking a Facebook post that detailed McConnell’s remarks in the Senate. “The room started spinning,” she said. Dr. Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota Medical School said that liberals who are traumatized by agreeing with McConnell should “not be concerned” and should recognize that it is a temporary condition. “They’re not going to wake up tomorrow and start agreeing with Devin Nunes,” he said.

Read more …

 

 

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Jan 122021
 


Alfred Wertheimer Elvis 1956

 

New Covid “Super Strain” is a Game-Changer for Schools and More (Parramore)
WHO Warns Of ‘Highly Problematic’ New Covid-19 Variants (F.)
An Epidemic of COVID Positive Tests (John Hunt)
Lockdown ‘Ineffective’ Against Spread Of Covid-19, May Even Increase Risk (RT)
French Government “Shocked” at Twitter Banning of Trump (SN)
Twitter Has Suspended More Than 70,000 Accounts Since Friday (ZH)
The Big Tech Backfire (Miller)
We Need a New Media System (Taibbi)
Insurrection Versus Insurrection (Kunstler)
The Rise and Fall of the ‘Steele Dossier’ (Maté)
Assange Is Still In Prison. And America’s Principles Are Still At Stake. (NBC)
50 Countries Commit To Protection Of 30% of Earth’s Land and Oceans (G.)
Economic Failures of the IPCC Process (Steve Keen)
Dutch Officials Seize Ham Sandwiches From British Drivers (G.)
‘Let’s All Remain Peaceful,’ Says Trump In Clear Incitement To Violence (BBee)

 

 

The B.1.1.7 COVID variant is starting to look as scary as the social media giant censorship.

 

 

A call on the US to close its borders to the UK. At present, dozens of flights arrive from London every day.

“I’ve never seen an epi curve like this. The B.1.1.7 variant is spreading like wildfire in the UK and Ireland. If it spreads here, it will make an already-bad situation even worse.”

 

 

Lynn Parramore taks to Phillip Alvelda, a former NASA & DARPA technologist.

New Covid “Super Strain” is a Game-Changer for Schools and More (Parramore)

LP: New, fast-spreading “super strains” are raising a lot of concerns, such as more infection among young people. You’ve been studying the U.K. variant, which has shown up in the United States. What do we need to know?

PA: We saw the U.K. strain coming for some time. All of a sudden there began to be dramatic upticks in infection rates, even without material changes in individual behavior en masse or the abatement measures enacted and observed. England has not been the most Johnny-on-the-spot responder to the coronavirus, and there has been a lot of confusion about what abatement measures should be observed, in which areas, etc. Of the developed nations, the U.S. and the U.K. have struggled the most as societies to communicate, plan and observe reasonable measures that other countries have more successfully applied. The U.K. variant, which has now spread across Europe and into several U.S. states, has what appear to be a couple of important mutations in the spike protein, which allows the virus to attach to the receptors in the lungs. Apparently, the new variant is stickier – better at binding to the receptors. That means that it takes less of the virus to get you sick, or the same viral load gets you sicker.

A big change is that the U.K. variant appears be somewhere between 40 and 70% more infectious. For a person who has this variant, they’re likely to infect 40% to 70% more people. If you think about what we have done to reduce the effectiveness of transmission, getting people to wear masks has been a successful campaign. But some masks are better at protecting people than others. A well-fitted N95 and KN95 masks will filter 95% of the virus particles from coming into your lungs, but there are also terrible masks that don’t protect people much at all. If you average mask-wearing over the population, it seems that the mask mandates reduce the infectiousness of the virus by about 40 to 50%. To put the U.K. variant in perspective, with its faster spread, we are effectively put back to where we once were without masks — even when we’re now wearing masks!

LP: The idea of young people under 20 getting infected at high rates is alarming, though there have been conflicting reports as to why those numbers are higher, such as behavior patterns. What’s your take?

PA: There is no doubt that the U.K. strain is infecting more young people than any prior variants. I think the conflicting reports may have more to do with where that variant is prevalent and where it is not. It would not be true to say that all of the hospitals in the U.K. are being overrun by younger patients. But in those regions where the new variant is prevalent, the hospitalization and case data now show that more than ever before, young people are having almost as many cases and hospitalizations as the older people. That is a substantial change. With older variants, symptoms were usually not bad enough to even bring the kids in to test — and we know there were a lot of asymptomatic carriers that were never tested or acknowledged.

With the new variant, symptoms are bad enough that kids need the testing and they’re being hospitalized. It’s probably premature to speculate on the lethality. There is some hope, for example, that the U.K. variant could be more infectious but less lethal. But we just don’t know. It’s likely going to be weeks before the case trend that is now beginning to translate into the hospitalization trend will translate into the mortality trend. Unfortunately, given what we’ve seen in the past from the virus, it’s our expectation that if the case data is showing more young people infected, and the hospitalization data is showing more of them hospitalized, in a matter of weeks we will see more deaths.

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They’re talking again about “immunity” provided by vaccines. But have we seen any proof of that?

WHO Warns Of ‘Highly Problematic’ New Covid-19 Variants (F.)

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday issued a dire warning about the new variants of Covid-19 that are emerging across the globe, noting that because those variants can be more contagious, the surge in cases they’re likely to cause could further stress hospitals and health workers already stretched to the brink. During a press briefing Monday, Ghebreyesus said that more contagious variants of the coronavirus “can drive a surge of cases and hospitalizations, which is highly problematic for health workers and hospitals already close to the breaking point.” The added strain on hospitals puts other essential health services at risk, he added, meaning that critical surgeries or procedures may become more difficult because hospital resources are more limited.

While these variants have been found to be more contagious, experts say they don’t appear to cause more severe sickness or increase the risk of death. Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned last week that the U.S. is “close to a worst-case scenario” because of the rapid spread of a new, highly contagious strain of Covid-19. New variants of Covid-19 have been found in the United Kingdom, the United States (where 63 cases have been detected), Canada, South Africa, and Nigeria, among other countries, the CDC says. Japan’s health authorities announced over the weekend that they had detected a new variant of the virus in four travelers from Brazil, Reuters reported.

Scientists are keeping track of new mutations as they emerge and studying how they will impact the effectiveness of vaccines. “I’m quite optimistic that even with these mutations, immunity is not going to suddenly fail on us,” Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told the healthcare publication STAT. “It might be gradually eroded, but it’s not going to fail on us, at least in the short term.” A recent study from the University of Texas and pharma giant Pfizer found that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine is still effective in protecting against new variants of the virus.

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Excellent analysis: “The more it is used wrongly, the more misinformation ensues.”

An Epidemic of COVID Positive Tests (John Hunt)

How does this same 95% sensitive/95% specific test work in this screening setting? The good news is that this test will likely identify the 5 people out of every 1000 with Relevant Infectious COVID! Yay! The bad news is that, out of every 1000 people, it will also falsely label 50 people as COVID-positive who don’t have Relevant Infectious COVID. Out of 55 people with positive tests in each group of 1000 people, 5 actually have the disease. 50 of the tests are false positives. With a Positive Predictive Value of only 9%, one could say that’s a pretty lousy test. It’s far lousier if you test only people with no symptoms (such as screening a school, jobsite, or college), in whom the up-front likelihood of having Relevant Infectious COVID Disease is substantially lower.

The very same test that is pretty good when testing people who are actually ill or at risk is lousy when screening people who aren’t. In the first scenario (with symptoms), the test is being used correctly for diagnosis. In the second scenario (no symptoms), the test is being used wrongly for screening. A diagnostic test is used to diagnose a patient the doctor thinks has a reasonable chance of having the disease (having symptoms like fever, cough, a snotty nose, and shortness of breath during a viral season). A screening test is used to check for the presence of a disease in a person without symptoms and no heightened risk of having the disease.

A screening test may be appropriate to use when it has very high specificity (99% or more), when the prevalence of the disease in the population is pretty high, and when there is something we can do about the disease if we identify it. However, if the prevalence of a disease is low (as is the case for Relevant Infectious COVID) and the test isn’t adequately specific (as is the case with PCR and rapid antigen tests for the COVID virus), then using such a test as a screening measure in healthy people is forcing the test to be lousy. The more it is used wrongly, the more misinformation ensues. Our health authorities are recommending more testing of asymptomatic people. In other words, they are encouraging the wrong and lousy application of these tests.

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“The proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher” under tough restrictions “rather than under less restrictive measures.”

Lockdown ‘Ineffective’ Against Spread Of Covid-19, May Even Increase Risk (RT)

A Stanford University study claims mandatory stay-at-home orders and business closures have “no clear, significant beneficial effect” on Covid-19 case growth and may even lead to more frequent infections in nursing homes. Researchers at Stanford University in California aimed to assess how tough lockdowns influence the growth in infections as compared to less restrictive measures. They used data from England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US, collected during the initial stages of the pandemic in the spring 2020. They compared the data from Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not introduce tough lockdowns at that time, with that from the other eight countries.

They found that introducing any restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions’ (NPIs) such as reduced working hours, working from home and social distancing helped curb the rise of infections in nine out of 10 study countries, except for Spain, where the effect was “non-significant.” However, when they compared epidemic spreads in places that implemented less restrictive measures with those opting for a full-blown lockdown they found “no clear, significant beneficial effect” of the latter on the number of cases in any country. The research goes on to suggest that empirical data from the later wave of infections shows that restrictive measures fail to protect vulnerable populations. “The proportion of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in nursing homes was often higher” under tough restrictions “rather than under less restrictive measures.”

It also says that there’s evidence suggesting that “sometimes under more restrictive measures, infections may be more frequent in settings where vulnerable populations reside relative to the general population.” The research admits that lockdowns in early 2020 were justified because the disease was spreading rapidly and overwhelming health systems, and scientists or medics did not know what the mortality data of the virus was. However, it points at the potential harmful health effects of tough restrictions, such as hunger, health services becoming unavailable for non-Covid diseases, domestic abuse and mental health issues, and the effects of these on the economy mean that the benefits of the tough restrictions might be overrated and need to be studied carefully.

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“..social media giants shouldn’t have the power to decide who has the right to free speech…”

French Government “Shocked” at Twitter Banning of Trump (SN)

The French government has echoed Angela Merkel’s sentiment in saying it is “shocked” at Twitter’s banning of President Trump, asserting that Big Tech is a threat to democracy. Junior Minister for European Union Affairs Clement Beaune said the decision to silence Trump proved the need for Big Tech platforms to be tightly regulated. “This should be decided by citizens, not by a CEO,” he told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “There needs to be public regulation of big online platforms.” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also said that “the digital oligarchy” was “one of the threats” to democracy and should be reigned in by the state. As we highlighted earlier, the German government also warned that Big Tech’s deplatforming of Trump set a very dangerous precedent.

Communicating via a spokesman, Chancellor Angela Merkel called the move “problematic,” adding that social media giants shouldn’t have the power to decide who has the right to free speech.

“This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,” said the statement. While Republicans were completely toothless in their efforts to control Big Tech during Trump’s administration, Poland could be set to pass a law that would fine social media companies $2.2 million a pop for censoring lawful free speech. “In the event of removal or blockage, a complaint can be sent to the platform, which will have 24 hours to consider it. Within 48 hours of the decision, the user will be able to file a petition to the court for the return of access. The court will consider complaints within seven days of receipt and the entire process is to be electronic,” reported Poland In.

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Anyone setting up a better alternative will be crushed.

Twitter Has Suspended More Than 70,000 Accounts Since Friday (ZH)

In a Monday night blog post, Twitter lays out all the latest details of a historic purge that started with the suspension of president Trump and has escalated into the ban of tens of thousands of conservative voices, or as Twitter puts it, “steps taken to protect the conversation on our service from attempts to incite violence, organize attacks, and share deliberately misleading information about the election outcome.” Odd how none of those considerations emerged during the summer when US cities were literally burning as a result of countless violent protests and frequent riots, but we digress. In any case, In twitter’s own delightfully ironic words, “It’s important to be transparent about all of this work as the US Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021, approaches.” Which is a probably a good idea in the aftermath of the biggest censorship purge in twitter history, one which sent Twitter stock tumbling. So this is what how twitter justifies “the purge”:


We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon. And with tens of thousands of accounts suspended (most of them permanently), banned, or merely disappeared, it will hardly be a surprise that according to Tiwtter, “more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended”. What is the justification? “These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.”

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“Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant as a way of fighting radicalization.”

The Big Tech Backfire (Miller)

Some are excusing Big Tech’s foray into massive censorship by arguing that these are private companies and can choose who they provide service to. Anyone who has a problem with their behavior, they reason, should just create their own platforms. But that is exactly what Parler did, and it was subsequently crushed. Unfortunately, because Big Tech companies have grown so large and monopolistic, the only real way to have a viable competitor is to create an entirely new internet. Amazon’s hypocritical justification for banning Parler shows that these companies will do basically anything in order to destroy the competition. Amazon claimed that Parler is responsible for the content that it allowed users to publish, which is the exact same argument made by people who wish to remove Section 230 protections for social media companies.

Amazon thus introduced a moral and legal standard for a potential competitor that it would resist tooth and nail if applied to itself. The company notably used Section 230 as a defense in a recent court case to try to avoid liability for selling defective products. It’s worth noting that many conservatives do not believe that social-media companies should do away with all content moderation. The problem is that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and now Amazon, do not enforce their policies equally. After suspending Trump, Twitter was still hosting virulent anti-Semites, Chinese Communist party propaganda, vaccine conspiracists and antifa glorification accounts like the New York Times. If these companies only enforce policies against accounts with certain political leanings, it will radicalize a base of the population even more.

The people who are targeted online by Twitter and Facebook’s increasingly wide nets will simply find deeper and darker holes to communicate. Sunlight has always been the best disinfectant as a way of fighting radicalization. Deleting the account of someone with a radical opinion does not stop that person from holding that opinion; in fact, it may cause them to dig in even deeper in retaliation. Meanwhile, people who are unfairly targeted by social media platforms may start to sympathize with the radicals.

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“Drifting apart into two separate tribes, with a separate set of facts and separate realities, with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.”

We Need a New Media System (Taibbi)

The moment a group of people stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday, news companies began the process of sorting and commoditizing information that long ago became standard in American media. Media firms work backward. They first ask, “How does our target demographic want to understand what’s just unfolded?” Then they pick both the words and the facts they want to emphasize. It’s why Fox News uses the term, “Pro-Trump protesters,” while New York and The Atlantic use “Insurrectionists.” It’s why conservative media today is stressing how Apple, Google, and Amazon shut down the “Free Speech” platform Parler over the weekend, while mainstream outlets are emphasizing a new round of potentially armed protests reportedly planned for January 19th or 20th.

What happened last Wednesday was the apotheosis of the Hate Inc. era, when this audience-first model became the primary means of communicating facts to the population. For a hundred reasons dating back to the mid-eighties, from the advent of the Internet to the development of the 24-hour news cycle to the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the Fox-led discovery that news can be sold as character-driven, episodic TV in the manner of soap operas, the concept of a “Just the facts” newscast designed to be consumed by everyone died out. News companies now clean world events like whalers, using every part of the animal, funneling different facts to different consumers based upon calculations about what will bring back the biggest engagement kick.

The Migrant Caravan? Fox slices off comments from a Homeland Security official describing most of the border-crossers as single adults coming for “economic reasons.” The New York Times counters by running a story about how the caravan was deployed as a political issue by a Trump White House staring at poor results in midterm elections. Repeat this info-sifting process a few billion times and this is how we became, as none other than Mitch McConnell put it last week, a country: “Drifting apart into two separate tribes, with a separate set of facts and separate realities, with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.”

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Jim holds on to the last straws.

Insurrection Versus Insurrection (Kunstler)

Mr. Trump is still president, and you’ve probably noticed he has been president for four years to date, which ought to suggest that he holds a great deal of accumulated information about the seditionists who have been playing games with him through all those years. So, two questions might be: how much of that information describes criminal acts by his adversaries — most recently, a deeply suspicious national election based on hackable vote-tabulation computers — and what’s within the president’s power to do something about it? I guess we’ll find out. Or, to state it a little differently, it is impossible that the president does not have barge-loads of information about the people who strove mightily to take him down for four years.

At least two pillars of the Intel Community — the CIA and the FBI — have been actively and visibly working to undermine and gaslight him, but you can be sure that the president knows where the gas has been coming from, and these agencies are not the only sources of dark information in this world. Also consider that not all the employees at these agencies are on the side of sedition. By its work this weekend, starring Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Zuck (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon and The WashPo), you know exactly what you would be getting with The Resistance taking power in the White House and Congress: unvarnished tyranny. No free speech for you!

They will not permit opposing voices to be heard, especially about the janky election that elevated America’s booby-prize, Joe Biden, to the highest office in the land. Now there’s a charismatic, charming, dynamic, in-charge guy! He’s already doing such a swell job “healing America.” For instance, his declaration Tuesday to give $30-billion to businesses run by “black, brown, and Native American entrepreneurs” (WashPo). Uh, white folks need not apply? Since when are federal disbursements explicitly race-based? What and who, exactly, comprise the committee set up to operate Joe Biden, the hypothetical, holographic President?

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If anything calls for a Special Counsel, it’s Russiagate. But with the Dems back in power, the chances are zero.

The Rise and Fall of the ‘Steele Dossier’ (Maté)

On January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed News published the “Steele dossier,” the collection of DNC-funded reports alleging a high-level conspiracy between Trump and Moscow. The catalyst had come four days earlier, when then–FBI Director Jim Comey personally briefed Trump on the dossier’s existence. Their meeting was then promptly leaked to the media, giving BuzzFeed the news hook to publish the Steele material in full. Despite its outlandish assertions and partisan provenance, Steele’s work product somehow became a road map for Democratic leaders, media outlets, and, most egregiously, intelligence officials carrying out the Russia investigation.

According to Steele, Trump and the Kremlin engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation.” Russia had, Steele alleged, been “cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years,” dating back to the time when Trump was merely the host of The Apprentice. Russia, Steele claimed, handed Trump “a regular flow of intelligence,” including on “political rivals.” The conspiracy supposedly escalated during the 2016 campaign, when then–Trump lawyer Michael Cohen slipped into Prague for “secret discussions with Kremlin representatives and associated operators/hackers.”

This purported plot was not just based on mutual nefarious interests but, worse, outright coercion. To keep their asset in line, Steele alleged, the Russians had videotaped Trump hiring and watching prostitutes “perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show,” in a Moscow Ritz-Carlton hotel room. This “kompromat” meant that the leader of the free world was not only a traitor but also a blackmail victim of his Kremlin handlers. If the Steele dossier’s far-fetched claims were not enough reason to dismiss it with ridicule, another obvious marker should have set off alarms. Reading the Steele dossier chronologically, a glaring pattern emerges: Steele has no advance knowledge of anything that later proved to be true, and, just as tellingly, many of his most explosive claims appear only after some approximate prediction has come out in public form.

Despite his supposed high-level sources inside the Kremlin, it was only after Wikileaks published the DNC e-mails in July 2016 that Steele first mentioned them. When Steele made the headline-consuming claim that “the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue” in exchange for Russian help, he did so only after a meaningless Ukraine-related platform change at the RNC was reported (and mischaracterized) in The Washington Post. When Steele claimed that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was offered up to a 19 percent stake in the state-owned Russian oil company Rosneft if he could get Trump to lift Western sanctions, it was only after the media had reported Page’s visit to Moscow.

In short, far from having access to high-level intelligence, Steele and his “sources” only had access to news outlets and their own imaginations.

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Support that comes way too late.

Assange Is Still In Prison. And America’s Principles Are Still At Stake. (NBC)

The Justice Department’s case against Assange raised serious press freedom concerns from the outset. This is partly because so much of the indictment is devoted to describing activity that journalists engage in routinely — like cultivating government sources, communicating with them confidentially, protecting their identities and publishing classified secrets. In defending the indictment, Justice Department spokespeople have insisted that the case does not implicate press freedom because Assange himself is not a journalist and because WikiLeaks, which Assange founded, is not a media organization. But this defense misses the point. The point is that Assange is being prosecuted for activities that national security journalists engage in every day — and that they need to engage in if they are to serve as a meaningful check on government power.

Of particular concern are three counts in the indictment that charge Assange with having violated the Espionage Act merely by publishing classified information. As the Justice Department knows, publishing government secrets is an important part of what American news organizations do. The Washington Post disclosed classified information when it revealed the CIA’s network of black sites. The New York Times disclosed classified information when it exposed the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. The truth is that there is no way that American news organizations could report responsibly about war, foreign relations or national security without sometimes disclosing classified information. Max Frankel of The New York Times famously made this point in an affidavit filed 50 years ago in the Pentagon Papers case, and the point is even more true today.

The ruling issued in London on Monday by Judge Vanessa Baraitser will forestall the Justice Department, at least for now, from pursuing Assange’s prosecution in U.S. courts. This is a significant thing. While the indictment certainly has a chilling effect on national security journalism, a successful prosecution of Assange under the Espionage Act would be even more oppressive — indeed, it would likely compel U.S. news organizations to radically curtail some of the most important work they do. The problem with Baraitser’s ruling, from the perspective of press freedom, is that it rejected the extradition request only because of concerns relating to Assange’s mental health and the conditions in which he would be imprisoned were he handed over to the United States. This aspect of Baraitser’s ruling appears to be well supported by the evidence, but, significantly, its protection does not extend beyond Assange.

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Really? The UK goverment will protect the planet? And Prince Charles makes a cameo? Fool me once, shame on you.

50 Countries Commit To Protection Of 30% of Earth’s Land and Oceans (G.)

A coalition of 50 countries has committed to protect almost a third of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife. The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People, which includes the UK and countries from six continents, made the pledge to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans before the One Planet summit in Paris on Monday, hosted by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.
Scientists have said human activities are driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, and agricultural production, mining and pollution are threatening the healthy functioning of life-sustaining ecosystems crucial to human civilisation.

In the announcement, the HAC said protecting at least 30% of the planet for nature by the end of the decade was crucial to preventing mass extinctions of plants and animals, and ensuring the natural production of clean air and water. The commitment is likely to be the headline target of the “Paris agreement for nature” that will be negotiated at Cop15 in Kunming, China later this year. The HAC said it hoped early commitments from countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Pakistan and Canada would ensure it formed the basis of the UN agreement. The UK environment minister Zac Goldsmith said: “We know there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in our efforts to protect and restore nature.

“So as co-host of the next Climate Cop, the UK is absolutely committed to leading the global fight against biodiversity loss and we are proud to act as co-chair of the High Ambition Coalition. “We have an enormous opportunity at this year’s biodiversity conference in China to forge an agreement to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. I am hopeful our joint ambition will curb the global decline of the natural environment, so vital to the survival of our planet.”

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A feature not a bug?!

Economic Failures of the IPCC Process (Steve Keen)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the premier international body collating the scientific assessment of climate change, and proposals for mitigation. A joint creation of the United Nations agencies the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), it brings together scientists from myriad disciplines to assess and summarize the current research on climate change, collating knowledge that is then used to inform governments and politicians. The scientists work on a volunteer basis. The IPCC relies upon its member governments and “Observers Organizations” to nominate its volunteer authors. This means that, subject to their willingness to volunteer, the most prestigious individuals specialising in climate change in each discipline become the authors of the relevant IPCC chapter for their discipline.


They then undertake a review of the peer-reviewed literature in their field (and some non-peer-reviewed work, such as government reports) to distil the current state of knowledge about climate change in their discipline. A laborious review process is also followed, so the draft reports of the volunteer experts is reviewed by other experts in each field, to ensure conformity of the report with the discipline’s current perception of climate change. The emphasis upon producing reports which reflect the consensus within a discipline has resulted in numerous charges that the IPCC’s warnings are inherently too conservative. But the main weaknesses with the IPCC’s methodology are firstly that, in economics, it exclusively selects Neoclassical economists, and secondly, because there is no built-in review of one discipline’s findings by another, the conclusions of these Neoclassical economists about the dangers of climate change are reviewed only by other Neoclassical economists. The economic sections of IPCC reports are therefore unchallenged by other disciplines who also contribute to the IPCC’s reports.

Given the extent to which economists dominate the formation of most government policies in almost all fields, and not just strictly economic policy, the otherwise acceptable process by which the IPCC collates human knowledge on climate change has critically weakened, rather than strengthened, human society’s response to climate change. This is because, commencing with “Nobel Laureate” William Nordhaus, the economists who specialise on climate change have falsely trivialized the dangers that climate change poses to human civilization. In his 2018 Nobel Prize lecture, William Nordhaus described a trajectory that would lead to global temperatures peaking at 4°C above pre-industrial levels in 2145 as “optimal” because, according to his calculations, the damages from climate change over time, plus the abatement costs over time, are minimised on this trajectory.


He estimated the discounted cost of the economic damages from unabated climate change — which would see temperatures approach 6°C above pre-industrial levels by 2150 — at $24 trillion, whereas the 4°C trajectory had damages of about $15 trillion and abatement costs of about $3 trillion. Trajectories with lower peak temperatures had higher abatement costs that overwhelmed the benefits. In a subsequent paper, Nordhaus claimed that even a 6°C increase would only reduce global income by only 7.9%, compared to what it would be in the complete absence of global warming.

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“Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”

Dutch Officials Seize Ham Sandwiches From British Drivers (G.)

Dutch TV news has aired footage of customs officers confiscating ham sandwiches from drivers arriving by ferry from the UK under post-Brexit rules banning personal imports of meat and dairy products into the EU. Officials wearing high-visibility jackets are shown explaining to startled car and lorry drivers at the Hook of Holland ferry terminal that since Brexit, “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.” To a bemused driver with several sandwiches wrapped in tin foil who asked if he could maybe surrender the meat and keep just the bread, one customs officer replied: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”

The ban came into force on New Year’s Day as the Brexit transition period came to an end, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) saying travellers should “use, consume, or dispose of” prohibited items at or before the border. “From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU,” the Defra guidance for commercial drivers states. The European commission says the ban is necessary because meat and dairy products can contain pathogens causing animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth or swine fever and “continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the union”.

Dutch customs also posted a photograph of foodstuffs ranging from breakfast cereals to oranges that officials had confiscated in the ferry terminal, adding: “Since 1 January, you can’t just bring more food from the UK.” The customs service added: “So prepare yourself if you travel to the Netherlands from the UK and spread the word. This is how we prevent food waste and together ensure that the controls are speeded up.”

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“Let’s all remain peaceful,” he said, which clearly meant, “Go burn down the Capitol Building.”

‘Let’s All Remain Peaceful,’ Says Trump In Clear Incitement To Violence (BBee)

A review of Trump’s statements last week made it clear that he was inciting violence, as he very clearly told people to “remain peaceful” and not carry out any violence. The dangerous cult leader encouraged his followers to protest at the Capitol, but to remain peaceful, which is an obvious instance of inciting violence, according to leading language experts and journalists. “Let’s all remain peaceful,” he said, which clearly meant, “Go burn down the Capitol Building.” “No violence!” added the deranged lunatic, which, according to the New York Times, was a dog whistle for “Minions, attack!” “Go home,” he added, which meant, “Keep pressing the attack! We will not be defeated! Blow stuff up!” At publishing time, Trump had said, “I’ve always encouraged peaceful protesting,” which meant he wanted his followers to go ransack an Arby’s.

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