Aug 162021
 
 August 16, 2021  Posted by at 9:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  93 Responses »


Roy Lichtenstein Hopeless 1963

 

Ultrapotent Antibodies vs Diverse & Highly Transmissible Covid19 Variants (Sc.)
Vaccine Inventor Dr. Robert Malone Ruined “His Chances For A Nobel Prize” (TSU)
Shedding of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 Despite Vaccination with Delta (Mx)
Here Comes Nosocomial DISASTER (Denninger)
A Message From France (TBP)
French Covid Permit Scheme Extended To Paris Department Stores (G.)
UAE Covid-19 Death Toll Exceeds 2,000 For First Time, 1,189 New Cases (AlA)
Biden Offers Cash To Florida Schools That Defy Gov. Ron DeSantis (NYP)
China, the WHO and the Powergrab That Fuelled A Pandemic (Times)
The Clocks Are Wrong or Biden’s Camp David Photo Was Taken Months Ago (GP)
White House Twitter Account Apparently ‘Outs’ Intel Officials, Locations (RT)
CNN Praises Taliban For Wearing Masks During Attack (BBee)

 

 

Biden “may talk in a few days”, Kamala is AWOL, and Jen Psaki is gone until August 22.

What do you think when you’re in Hong Kong, or Taiwan, Ukraine, Lithuania? That America’s got your back?

This damage is forever. The US gave itself all away in 24 hours.

 

 

 

 

10% have had 3rd vaxx. Israeli PM Bennett is a confused man.

 

 

 

 

“Our study demonstrates that convalescent subjects previously infected with ancestral variant SARS-CoV-2 produce antibodies that cross-neutralize emerging VOCs with high potency.”

Ultrapotent Antibodies vs Diverse & Highly Transmissible Covid19 Variants (Sc.)

Our key defense against the COVID-19 pandemic is neutralizing antibodies against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus elicited by natural infection or vaccination. Recent emerging viral variants have raised concern because of their potential to escape antibody neutralization. Wang et al. identified four antibodies from early-outbreak convalescent donors that are potent against 23 variants, including variants of concern, and characterized their binding to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Yuan et al. examined the impact of emerging mutations in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein on binding to the host receptor ACE2 and to a range of antibodies. These studies may be helpful for developing more broadly effective vaccines and therapeutic antibodies.

Blood from 22 convalescent subjects who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 WA-1 infection was screened for neutralizing and binding activity, and four subjects with high reactivity against the WA-1 variant were selected for antibody isolation. SARS-CoV-2 spike (S)–reactive antibodies were identified through B cell sorting with S protein–based probes. WA-1 live-virus neutralization assays identified four RBD-targeting antibodies with high potency [half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) 2.1 to 4.8 ng/ml], two of which were derived from the same IGHV1-58 germline but from different donors. Antigen-binding fragments (Fabs) of these antibodies exhibited nanomolar affinity to S (2.3 to 7.3 nM).

Competition assays and electron microscopy indicated that two of the most potent antibodies blocked angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and bound open conformation RBD, whereas the other two bound both up and down conformations of RBD and blocked ACE2 binding. Binding and lentivirus neutralization assays against 13 circulating VOCs or variants of interest—including B.1.1.7, B.1.351, B.1.427, B.1.429, B.1.526, P.1, P.2, B.1.617.1, and B.1.617.2—indicated that these antibodies were highly potent against VOCs despite being isolated from subjects infected with early ancestral SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Cryo-EM studies of the two most potent antibodies in complex with S revealed that these antibodies target a site of vulnerability on RBD but have minimal contacts with mutational hotspots, defining the structural basis for their high effectiveness against the emerging VOCs and further delineating an IGHV1-58 antibody supersite.

To investigate potential mechanisms of escape, we applied antibody selection pressure to replication-competent vesicular stomatitis virus (rcVSV) expressing the WA-1 SARS-CoV-2 S (rcVSV-SARS2) and identified S mutations that conferred in vitro resistance. We evaluated these antibodies individually or in combinations for their capacity to prevent rcVSV-SARS2 escape and discovered that antibody combinations with complementary modes of recognition to the RBD lowered the risk of resistance. [..] Our study demonstrates that convalescent subjects previously infected with ancestral variant SARS-CoV-2 produce antibodies that cross-neutralize emerging VOCs with high potency. Structural and functional analyses reveal that antibody breadth is mediated by targeting a site of vulnerability at the RBD tip offset from major mutational hotspots in VOCs. Selective boosting of immune responses targeting specific RBD epitopes, such as the sites defined by these antibodies, may induce breadth against current and future VOCs.


Isolation and characterization of convalescent donor antibodies that effectively neutralize emerging SARS-CoV-2 VOCs.

Antibodies isolated from donors infected with ancestral SARS-CoV-2 viruses showed ultrapotent neutralization of emerging VOCs. The two most potent antibodies shared usage of the IGHV1-58 gene and targeted the RBD with minimal contact to VOC mutational hotspots. Cocktails of antibodies with complementary binding modes suppressed antibody escape.

Read more …

“This was a conscious decision to take risk.”

Vaccine Inventor Dr. Robert Malone Ruined “His Chances For A Nobel Prize” (TSU)

This afternoon, The Atlantic wrote a fair piece titled, “The Vaccine Scientist Spreading Vaccine Misinformation.” The article started out with the author, Tom Bartlett, asking: “Robert Malone claims to have invented mRNA technology. Why is he trying so hard to undermine its use?” Again, we think the article is fair and objective. Unlike Logically.AI, which categorically said Dr. Malone was not the original inventor of the vaccine, Mr. Bartlett credited Dr. Malone for being the first person to “demonstrate how RNA could be delivered into cells using lipids.” Below is how Mr. Bartlett describes Dr. Malone’s body of work:

“The abridged version is that when Malone was a graduate student in biology in the late 1980s at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, he injected genetic material—DNA and RNA—into the cells of mice in hopes of creating a new kind of vaccine. He was the first author on a 1989 paper demonstrating how RNA could be delivered into cells using lipids, which are basically tiny globules of fat, and a co-author on a 1990 Science paper showing that if you inject pure RNA or DNA into mouse muscle cells, it can lead to the transcription of new proteins. If the same approach worked for human cells, the latter paper said in its conclusion, this technology “may provide alternative approaches to vaccine development.””

Mr. Bartlett’s piece is not really the purpose of this article. The question is, what did Dr. Malone say or do to jeopardize his chances of winning a Nobel Prize? To answer this question, we need to go back to his TV appearance on June 23. During the interview, Dr. Malone stated that he was not discouraging the use of the vaccine that the government is not being transparent with us about what those risks are. “[O]ne of my concerns are that the government is not being transparent with us about what those risks are. And so, I’m of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept a vaccine or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines,” Dr. Malone said, pointing to the fact the vaccines are not formally approved but instead being administered under Emergency Use Authorization.

Dr. Malone added: “This is a fundamental right having to do with clinical research ethics,” he said. “And so, my concern is that I know that there are risks. But we don’t have access to the data, and the data haven’t been captured rigorously enough so that we can accurately assess those risks — and therefore … we don’t really have the information that we need to make a reasonable decision.” Immediately after the interview, the news about what he said quickly travel across the mainstream media, News York Times, Washington Post, and now, The Atlantic. Since then, Dr. Malone has been under attack. About a month later, Logically.Ai wrote a piece claiming that Dr. Robert Malone did NOT invent mRNA vaccines. Just as Mr. Bartlett said in the Atlantic story, “Whether Malone really came up with mRNA vaccines is a question probably best left to Swedish prize committees, but you could make a case for his involvement.”

Which leads us to Dr. Malone’s chances of getting a Nobel prize. In a tweet this afternoon, Dr. Malone shared a statement from a cellular immunologist Stan Gromkowski who did work on mRNA vaccines in the early 1990s. According to the tweet, Gromkowski said this about Dr. Malone: “He’s fucking up his chances for a Nobel Prize.” In the same tweet, Dr. Malone added that he was well aware of the potential impact on a possible Nobel. “I made a choice,” he wrote. That’s not all. In a follow-up tweet, Dr. Malone said he was “very aware of this risk and discussed it with Bret and Steve right before the infamous Dark Horse podcast, indicating that the stakes were too high to worry about a Prize when trying to save the lives and health of our children. This was a conscious decision to take risk.”

Read more …

“68% of individuals infected despite vaccination tested positive with Ct <25, including at least 8 who were asymptomatic at the time of testing.”

Shedding of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 Despite Vaccination with Delta (Mx)

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant and its sublineages (B.1.617.2, AY.1, AY.2, AY.3; [1]) can cause high viral loads, are highly transmissible, and contain mutations that confer partial immune escape [2,3]. Using PCR threshold cycle (Ct) data from a single large contract laboratory, we show that individuals in Wisconsin, USA had similar viral loads in nasal swabs, irrespective of vaccine status, during a time of high and increasing prevalence of the Delta variant. Infectious SARS-CoV-2 was isolated from 51 of 55 specimens (93%) with Ct <25 from both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons, indicating that most individuals with Ct values in this range (Wilson 95% CI 83%-97%) shed infectious virus regardless of vaccine status.

Notably, 68% of individuals infected despite vaccination tested positive with Ct <25, including at least 8 who were asymptomatic at the time of testing. Our data substantiate the idea that vaccinated individuals who become infected with the Delta variant may have the potential to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others. Vaccinated individuals should continue to wear face coverings in indoor and congregate settings, while also being tested for SARS-CoV-2 if they are exposed or experience COVID-like symptoms.

Read more …

“Viral loads of breakthrough Delta variant infection cases were 251 times higher than those of cases infected with old strains detected between March-April 2020.”

Here Comes Nosocomial DISASTER (Denninger)

“Methods: We studied breakthrough infections among healthcare workers of a major infectious diseases hospital in Vietnam. We collected demographics, vaccination history and results of PCR diagnosis alongside clinical data. We measured SARS-CoV-2 (neutralizing) antibodies at diagnosis, and at week 1, 2 and 3 after diagnosis. We sequenced the viruses using ARTIC protocol.

Findings: Between 11th–25th June 2021 (week 7–8 after dose 2), 69 healthcare workers were tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. 62 participated in the clinical study. 49 were (pre)symptomatic with one requiring oxygen supplementation. All recovered uneventfully. 23 complete-genome sequences were obtained. They all belonged to the Delta variant, and were phylogenetically distinct from the contemporary Delta variant sequences obtained from community transmission cases, suggestive of ongoing transmission between the workers. Viral loads of breakthrough Delta variant infection cases were 251 times higher than those of cases infected with old strains detected between March-April 2020. Time from diagnosis to PCR negative was 8–33 days (median: 21). Neutralizing antibody levels after vaccination and at diagnosis of the cases were lower than those in the matched uninfected controls. There was no correlation between vaccine-induced neutralizing antibody levels and viral loads or the development of symptoms.”

Reasonable conclusions drawn from this data:
• The vaccines do not prevent health care workers from getting infected; the antibodies are ineffective.
• When health care workers get infected post-vaccination with Delta they are not becoming infected from the community; they are passing it among each other.
• Their viral loads and thus infectiousness are extremely high; in other words they become a reservoir of extreme infection risk to other employees in the facility and, it must be assumed to the patients in their care.
• A reasonable hypothesis (but not proved) is that the vaccines are in fact potentiating viral replication via ADE-type effects, specifically given the paper I pointed to yesterday. That is the act of encouraging or even forcing medical workers to take the jabs is leading to higher viral loads and thus greater infectiousness — that is, greater risk to patients rather than less.

Congratulations folks — you just turned hospitals into death traps for anyone who is medically compromised, particularly if they were either unable to be vaccinated themselves for medical reasons or, far worse, they were vaccinated but due to immune compromise failed to build an effective response. PS: Want to know why this sort of study hasn’t — and won’t — be done here? Because the instantaneous freak-out factor, never mind the nasty words “malpractice” or even “depraved indifference” — would start getting thrown around immediately, that’s why.

Read more …

A message of hope. Everything comes to a standstill. Tons of pics of empty cafes and restaurants.

In the US, tens of millions soon’t can’t fly. Will that make the airlines happy?

A Message From France (TBP)

Here in France it has gone to the extreme with the “Health” Pass. Last week on the 21st ALL restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and any leisure activities like sporting events, theaters, cinemas, museums, were closed to anyone without “the pass” and all staff at these places are mandated to get the jab to keep their job. It is now a 6 Month prison sentence if you are caught inside any of these places without the pass (the man who slapped the president in the face got only 3 months prison time). Business owners will get a fine of 45,000 euros and 1 year prison sentence if they do not comply with the use of “the pass” and force all their employees to get the jab. (If you know France, you can commit murder and have less of a sentence)

So the result? All the low paid employees quit, they can make more on welfare here (for now). We can still technically “get take out food” but I just tried last night and every restaurant in our town (that is dine in with take out) has closed their doors due to the lack of staff. As of last week ALL doctors, nurses and health industry workers have been mandated to get the jab or lose their license, practice, job, business etc. (ALL health care here is Govt paid positions and there are no private health care Doctors or Hospitals etc.) Since the Health care system is state run and funded, it has been run into the ground. All the good doctors left France 5 Years ago, all the hospitals look like they are 3rd world hospitals since there is no money to repair them, half of the equipment doesn’t work and not every hospital is stocked with supplies needed for daily needs (masks, gels, disposable gowns etc).

For 5 years Nurses have been understaffed and doing double the work because the Health care system is nearly bankrupt…. So add to this the mandatory jab. So the result? Well they took to the streets by the millions and now all the hospitals just lost another 50% of staff capacity. My doctor just went into early retirement (a.k.a. he quit) and I have yet to find a replacement. As of Aug 1st ALL large malls, retail stores and grocery store owners and their staff need to be jabbed and the health pass is required to enter for employees and customers. This would be the equivalent to closing ALL Targets, Walmarts, Costcos, Home Depots, and all major grocery stores. (basically any building over 20,000 squre meters) to those without “the pass”. Result.?? Aug 15th Truckers will be going on strike nation wide; Blocking all access roads in and out of Paris.

Yesterday an entire airport in Northern France closed due to the majority of staff quitting. As of Sept 15th All public areas and access will be off limits. No farmers markets, no parks, no national parks, lakes, rivers, beaches, recreation areas, campsites etc. and no gathering over 100 people, no churches, no weddings, etc. As of Oct 1st ALL small vendors such as, delis, pizza trucks, sandwich shops, butchers, bakers, vegetable stands etc. So as of Oct 1st I will only be able to purchase food by internet and pick up (if allowed). Food shortages, Truckers strike, hospitals and airports shutting down unemployment going through the roof. Its going to be a bumpy ride folks. Is it me or does all this seem a bit extreme for a “pass” that isn’t exactly working? America, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, you’d better wake up.

Read more …

Close those too.

French Covid Permit Scheme Extended To Paris Department Stores (G.)

France’s pass sanitaire health permit system will be extended to more than 120 major department stores and shopping centres on Monday in areas where levels of Covid infection are causing concern, including Paris and the Mediterranean coast. The decision to extend the measure restricting entry to customers who can prove they have been vaccinated, have had a negative Covid test or have recovered from coronavirus was made by local officials. The pass will be required for shoppers entering Paris department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, BHV, Le Mon Marché and La Samaritaine, and others mainly in the south of the country.


Several large shopping centres around the Channel ports popular with British tourists had feared being included but were given a reprieve as the local Covid infection rates are lower than the national average. Local prefects are imposing the pass on large stores and shopping malls in areas where the infection rate is above 200 per 100,000 people. Although Paris has not reached this level, officials are concerned about the high number of cases especially among young people in the neighbouring areas of Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. The worst-hit areas are in departments along the Mediterranean coast. In the Bouches-du-Rhône, which includes the popular holiday areas of Provence, the Côte d’Azur, Marseille, Arles and Aix-en-Provence, the rate has reached 693 per 100,000.s

The French bring their own chairs, table, food. No pass required.

Read more …

Most vaccinated country on earth. They work great. UAE=9.7 million people.

UAE Covid-19 Death Toll Exceeds 2,000 For First Time, 1,189 New Cases (AlA)

The United Arab Emirates on Sunday recorded 1,189 new coronavirus infections, 1,419 recoveries and four deaths in 24 hours, the country’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) reported. Health authorities conducted 218,163 COVID-19 tests to determine Sunday’s numbers which indicated another daily decline in infections from Saturday’s 1,206. The UAE’S COVID-19 death toll now sits at 2,001, while total recoveries increased to 679,760, according to NCEMA. The country has recorded a total of 701,776 coronavirus cases since the pandemic’s onset. There are currently 20,015 active cases within the country. As of yet, over 81 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose and around 72 percent have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.

Read more …

They love hurting DeSantis for 2024.

Biden Offers Cash To Florida Schools That Defy Gov. Ron DeSantis (NYP)

The Biden administration is offering cash to Florida school districts that defy Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask ban as COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations rose in the state. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Friday sent a letter to DeSantis and the Florida education commissioner saying school districts can at their “sole and complete discretion” use federal funds to pay the salaries of administrators and board members withheld by the state for defying the order. “We are eager to partner with [the Florida Department of Education] on any efforts to further our shared goals of protecting the health and safety of students and educators,” Cardona wrote. “If FLDOE does not wish to pursue such an approach, the Department will continue to work directly with the school districts and educators that serve Florida’s students.”


A DeSantis spokeswoman blasted the Biden administration for wanting to spend federal funds “on the salaries of superintendents and elected politicians, who don’t believe that parents have a right to choose what’s best for their children, than on Florida’s students, which is what these funds should be used for.” The Republican governor last month signed an executive order banning school districts from making face masks mandatory for students and staff defending “parents’ freedom to choose.” The order came days after the CDC recommended all students and staff wear masks when they return this fall. On Monday, the governor’s office threatened to withhold the salaries of school board members and superintendents who did not comply with the ban. DeSantis has also threatened to withhold state funding from districts as well.

Read more …

“Beijing had been instrumental in installing Tedros as the £170,000-a-year head of the agency by pulling strings and calling in favours during the 2017 election for the job.”

China, the WHO and the Powergrab That Fuelled A Pandemic (Times)

Barely eight months after taking charge, the director-general of the WHO gave a speech that would prove extraordinarily prophetic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that all nations were facing the ever-present threat that a new respiratory illness, such as the Spanish flu, might emerge and spread across the globe in weeks or months, killing millions. It was why, the Ethiopian told the audience at his keynote speech in Dubai in February 2018, he had made it his daily priority since becoming the WHO’s chief to make sure he was up to date on the thousands of reports the health body received every month that might flag up signs of an outbreak The WHO, a Geneva-based United Nations agency with a £5 billion budget from 194 member states, was on a war footing.

Tedros said it would act fast and decisively, because ignoring the signs of an outbreak could “be the difference between global spread of a deadly disease and rapid interruption of transmission”. So far this “new tighter focus” was working, he added. So when the first alert of a mysterious respiratory illness in China, exactly as Tedros had described, was reported by health monitors in Taiwan at the end of December 2019, the health agency should have been prepared and ready for action. In fact the WHO would receive considerable criticism for failing to help stop the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in the opening weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only did the organisation fail to act but it also promulgated misinformation about the virus originating from China and even discouraged other nations from taking steps that might have contained the spread.

For all his foresight, Tedros would be accused of being ineffective when the big test came. The world paid a heavy price for the WHO’s inaction. As Tedros predicted, the virus has killed more than four million people, and there will be many more. The body that is charged with looking after the world’s health seriously malfunctioned in those opening weeks, when humanity most needed it to come to the rescue. Why? Our investigation reveals today how a concerted campaign over many years by Beijing to grab power inside the WHO appears to have fatally compromised its ability to respond to the crisis. It raises serious concerns about the extent of Beijing’s influence over the WHO and its director-general, and how this undermined the organisation’s capacity — and willingness — to take the steps necessary to avert a global pandemic.

Its leadership put China’s economic interests before public health concerns. The results have been nothing short of catastrophic. It is a story that stretches back many years before the Covid-19 crisis. After being strongly criticised by the health agency for attempting to cover up the 2003 Sars crisis, China set out to increase its influence over the WHO. By applying financial and diplomatic leverage over some of the world’s poorest nations, Beijing won a global power struggle to get its favoured candidates installed at the very top of the organisation. As a result, years later, a body that was set up with the lofty goal of “attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health” has been co-opted into aiding the Chinese state’s campaign for global economic dominance.

Its leadership began to speak differently, espousing statements and pursuing policies that were markedly convenient to China — even praising Beijing’s questionable allies such as North Korea, despite its appalling health and human rights record. Beijing had been instrumental in installing Tedros as the £170,000-a-year head of the agency by pulling strings and calling in favours during the 2017 election for the job.

Read more …

Or months into the future?

The Clocks Are Wrong or Biden’s Camp David Photo Was Taken Months Ago (GP)

Either the clocks in Camp David are wrong or the photo taken of Joe Biden as Kabul fell to the Taliban is several months old. Former Fox News producer Kyle Becker noticed the time errors and pointed them out in a tweet late Sunday evening. “Recent White House photos show a 3-hour time diff. b/w London & Moscow. There are a few good explanations for this. Either Camp David’s clocks are wrong or the photos are from before March 28, when London went ahead on Daylight Savings Time, but Moscow didn’t. This is *fine,*” Becker wrote. “Also, Tehran is an hour and a half difference from Moscow currently, which is why I circled it when I was checking it out. (And yes, that half-hour difference is right; India has a time zone with a half-hour difference as well.)” — Kyle Becker (@kylenabecker) August 16, 2021

“Also, Tehran is an hour and a half difference from Moscow currently, which is why I circled it when I was checking it out. (And yes, that half-hour difference is right; India has a time zone with a half-hour difference as well.)” Becker added. “This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul. — The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 15, 2021

The photo discrepancy is particularly odd as Biden has been MIA and did not address the nation as the chaos unfolded. Instead, it was reported that he will do so “in the next couple of days.” Additionally, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will be taking the entire next week off. Questions sent to Psaki are being met with an autoreply saying that she will be out of the office through August 22. “I will be out of the office from August 15th-August 22nd,” the auto reply email being sent to reporters reads.

Read more …

What an incredible mess. There should be awards for this.

White House Twitter Account Apparently ‘Outs’ Intel Officials, Locations (RT)

A White House tweet showing President Joe Biden appearing to be on top of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan may also have inadvertently revealed the faces and locations of intelligence agents. The official White House Twitter account posted a photo on Sunday of Biden meeting by video conference with intelligence officials to hear updates on the drawdown of civilian personnel, “the ongoing security situation in Kabul,” and evacuations of Afghan allies, including interpreters who helped US and NATO forces during the 20-year war. The picture showed other meeting participants on a large screen, including CIA officials and three men at the “Doha Station.” Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence in the Trump administration, called out the apparent blunder, tweeting, “Who took this picture outing intel officials? Dear God.”

One Twitter user quipped, “Umm, is the public supposed to see the faces of the CIA agents? Are we supposed to know there is a Doha Station?” The White House tweet may have been meant to portray Biden as actively involved in the evacuation from Afghanistan amid criticism that he was silent and on vacation while the Taliban was recapturing the country and triggering a rushed evacuation of Americans and allied Afghans from Kabul. Supporters of the president used the photo to brush off the criticism, insisting it shows that Biden is preoccupied with the crisis. Some eagle-eyed commentators suggested that the photo might not even be recent, pointing to the time difference between London and Moscow on the clocks in the conference room. The current difference is two hours, while the clocks above the conference screen show a three-hour difference. This would have been possible before March 28, when the clocks in the UK were moved forward by one hour.

The planned US withdrawal from Afghanistan has turned into a disaster for the Biden administration after the Taliban overran 26 provincial capitals out of 34 in the weeks after last US troops left Bagram’s airfield, their main military base in Afghanistan. Biden has faced backlash for apparently gravely underestimating the Taliban and overestimating the ability of the US-trained Afghan forces to withstand the assault. In July, Biden predicted that the Taliban wouldn’t overrun the country and that the evacuation would be nothing like the fall of Saigon in 1975, when US embassy staffers had to be plucked from the rooftop to escape North Vietnamese forces. On Sunday, two CH-47 Chinook helicopters were seen evacuating US embassy staff in Kabul as Taliban fighters entered the city and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The White House video conference tweet became more fodder for mockery. Biden supporters argued that identities of the people who appeared on the video-conference screen weren’t necessarily secret, but other observers said the existence of the Doha Station was not publicly known. “Heck of a job, White House communications shop,” National Review contributor Jim Geraghty said. “I figure you would want to crop out the teleconference screens labeled CIA and Doha Station – you panicking, amateur idiots.”

Read more …

Not sure we should be laughing.

CNN Praises Taliban For Wearing Masks During Attack (BBee)

Approximately twelve minutes after U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have completely taken over the entire country. “Woah, that’s a bummer,” said the Biden Administration’s foreign policy team. “We didn’t see that one coming.” As the Taliban began its campaign of shooting and killing, as is their time-honored tradition, CNN anchors gushed with praise after noticing all the Taliban fighters were responsibly wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID. “Wow! In the midst of the battle and bloodshed, these noble desert knights of Islamic superiority are wearing masks! Bravo!” said Brian Stelter.


TV anchor and world-renown polemicist Don Lemon was also quick to weigh in. “All things considered, we ought to be praising the COVID-safe masks these majestic mujahideen warriors are wearing,” he said. “They are showing all of us the proper way to behave during a pandemic—something those horrible idiot Trump supporters don’t seem to get.” Inspired by their example, the Biden Administration has invited the Taliban to the White House to record TikTok videos in hopes of convincing Trump supporters to get vaccinated.

Read more …

 

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Sep 062018
 


Vincent van Gogh Night Cafe (Place Lamartine in Arles) 1888

 

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration (NYT)
Who Wrote The Anti-Trump Op-Ed? (MW)
Trump May Declassify the 20 FISA Docs Congress Wants (Sara Carter)
Trump Accuses Social Media Firms Of Interfering In 2016, 2018 Elections (CNBC)
Jack Dorsey Tops Sheryl Sandberg As Tech’s DC Rep (R.)
Sheryl Sandberg Misled Congress About Facebook’s Conscience (IC)
Only 17% Expect A Good Brexit Deal For Britain, Just 40% Back Leave (ES)
Chequers Plan Is Dead,’ Says MP, Who Reported Rejection By Barnier (G.)
Kim Jong Un Wants To Denuclearize During Trump’s First Term (R.)
BOJ Board Member Urges More Stimulus, ‘No Room For Complacency’ (R.)
Huge Surplus Draws Germany Back Into Trump’s Trade War Line Of Fire (R.)
Here’s Another Headache For Beaten-Up Auto Stocks (MW)
Tunisian Fishermen Await Trial In Italy After ‘Saving 100s Of Migrants’ (G.)
The Impossible Photo (Craig Murray)

 

 

Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with democracy. Trump was elected, not some faceless group around him.

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration (NYT)

President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader. It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall. The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them. To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office. The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making. Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people.

At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright. In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic. Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more. But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

Read more …

“Our job is to publish op-eds that further the public’s understanding of what the hell is going on, and I think this piece makes a significant contribution.”
Jim Bennett, New York Times editorial page editor

Who Wrote The Anti-Trump Op-Ed? (MW)

So who wrote it? From newsrooms to coffee-house chatter to the White House itself, that was the big question on everyone’s mind Wednesday night after the New York Times published an anonymous, bombshell anti-Trump op-ed written by a “senior administration official.” The article, which described an “amoral” and “reckless” President Donald Trump being covertly held in check by the “adults in the room” to preserve the country’s democratic principles, sent Trump into a rage, the Washington Post reported. Trump said the author was gutless, and tweeted “TREASON?” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the author was “pathetic” and should resign. But the author remained a mystery.

The White House was in “total meltdown” Wednesday night, a source told Politico. “It’s like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house,” another source told the Post. Some criticized the Times for running an anonymous opinion piece, but editorial page editor Jim Bennett told Vanity Fair that the newspaper had a responsibility to run it. “The question for us was, does making this unusual grant, is it merited by the significance of the piece? We feel that it was,” Bennett said. So who was it? That’s the million-dollar question. Literally, since the author could very well receive a book deal once his or her identity is revealed.

The Times, at least, isn’t telling. In an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Times op-ed editor Jim Dao said the official reached out through an intermediary several days ago. He said the Times did speak to the author directly. “We were simply trying to abide by the standard that the Times in general would use when referring to someone who’s not named,” Dao told CNN. Only a “very small number of people within the Times who know this person’s identity,” Dao said, and the Times used “special precautions” to protect their identity.

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As I said in The Shape of Trump to Come, declassifying is the way to go. But some will resist it, for sure.

Trump May Declassify the 20 FISA Docs Congress Wants (Sara Carter)

President Trump is expected to declassify the redacted 20 pages of documents from the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that have still not been made public, which allowed the FBI to spy on short-term campaign volunteer Carter Page, numerous sources told SaraACarter.com. This comes after nearly a year of stonewalling by the Department of Justice at the demand of lawmakers, who claim that the 20 redacted pages will reveal explosive information about the FBI’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation, according to sources.

However, President Trump, who has been under pressure from some DOJ officials not to release the classified documents, “could always change his mind and it’s not a guarantee that it will happen, but the indications are that it more than likely will possibly be before the end of this week,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

In July, the Justice Department released over 400 previously top-secret documents connected to the Page warrant. However, more than 20 pages of the FISA document remained highly classified and have only been viewed by a select group of Congressional members and investigators. The lawmakers are now asking that those documents be made public. Behind the scenes, the battle between Justice Department officials and senior members of Congress intensified over the past year, leading lawmakers to call on President Trump to intervene and declassify the documents.

In a 38 minute interview with the Daily Caller Tuesday, President Trump said the White House is “looking at it very seriously right now because the things that have gone on are so bad, so bad. I mean they were surveilling my campaign. If that happened on the other foot, they would’ve considered that treasonous. They would’ve considered that spying at the highest level. Can you imagine if we were doing that to Obama instead of Obama and his people doing that to us? Everybody would’ve been in jail for the next 500 years. OK? Can you believe it, where they paid this guy millions of dollars, it turned out? If you look at all of the things that are happening.”

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Only one way out: make it impossible. But that means giving them a different status.

Trump Accuses Social Media Firms Of Interfering In 2016, 2018 Elections (CNBC)

President Donald Trump accused social networks of interfering in the 2016 presidential election and November’s midterm elections. Trump told online conservative publication The Daily Caller he thinks big tech firms “already have” intervened in the midterms, and said Facebook and Google intervened in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. “I mean the true interference in the last election was that — if you look at all, virtually all of those companies are super liberal companies in favor of Hillary Clinton,” Trump said, according to the outlet.

“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter and I’m good at social media, but the truth is they were all on Hillary Clinton’s side, and if you look at what was going on with Facebook and with Google and all of it, they were very much on her side.” The president also warned tech firms not to continue with alleged bias against conservatives. Trump accused Google last week of rigging search results to prioritize negative coverage and left-leaning news outlets. He warned the issue “will be addressed,” suggesting regulatory consequences for social media companies. Trump then mentioned rivals Facebook and Twitter by name, saying all three companies were “treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.” Google, Twitter and Facebook have denied political bias in the algorithmic tailoring of news content.

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“In an afternoon House hearing, Dorsey said if you sat down with a cup of coffee and read Twitter’s rules, you would not be able to understand them.”

Jack Dorsey Tops Sheryl Sandberg As Tech’s DC Rep (R.)

Jack Dorsey surprisingly topped Sheryl Sandberg as Big Tech’s best Washington representative. Twitter’s usually dry chief executive seemed more genuine than the polished Facebook No. 2 in his first congressional hearing. In Wednesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Dorsey said he is a man of “few words.” It was a stark contrast to Sandberg, who is more at ease speaking in public; her Washington experience as Larry Summers’ chief of staff at Treasury two decades ago also showed through. But she sounded more like a politician, repeatedly saying “we can do better” and using jargon like “inauthentic accounts.”

Dorsey gave a more honest analysis of the existential dilemma facing his $25 billion micro-blogging site and other social-media platforms – from toxic interactions between users, to promulgation of actual fake news to election meddling. Yet inflammatory content often produces more user engagement, leading to growth and advertising revenue. Nonetheless, Dorsey told lawmakers he is taking a fundamental look at Twitter’s business model and user incentives. For example, the company is examining whether it’s right to entice a user to gather more followers by putting that figure in a noticeable font. The same goes for retweets. Dorsey said those metrics should not be a proxy for how much a user contributes to healthy dialogue on Twitter, one of the goals of the platform.

[..] The companies brought the scrutiny on themselves, partly by acting too slowly. But Dorsey sounded humbled and acknowledged reality while Sandberg seemed to think Facebook can manage lawmakers by outtalking them. In an afternoon House hearing, Dorsey said if you sat down with a cup of coffee and read Twitter’s rules, you would not be able to understand them. In the Senate, Sandberg sounded defensive when asked about Facebook’s terms of service.

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That’s some pretty brazen lies.

Sheryl Sandberg Misled Congress About Facebook’s Conscience (IC)

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg draped herself in the star-spangled banner of American principles before today’s Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on social media. Sandberg proclaimed that democratic values of free expression were integral to the company’s conscience. “We would only operate in a country where we could do so in keeping with our values,” she went on. Either this was a lie told under oath, or Facebook has some pretty lousy values. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., questioned Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey about the fact that they are both ostensibly American companies, but also firms with users around the world — including in countries with legal systems and values that differ drastically from the United States.

Rubio cited various governments that crack down on, say, pro-democracy activism and that criminalize such speech. How can a company like Facebook claim that it’s committed to free expression as a global value while maintaining its adherence to rule of law on a local level? When it comes to democratic values, Rubio asked, “Do you support them only in the United States or are these principles that you feel obligated to support around the world?” Sandberg, as always, didn’t miss a beat: “We support these principles around the world.” Shortly thereafter she made the claim that Facebook simply would not do business in a country where these values couldn’t be maintained. Based on the information Facebook itself makes available, this is false.

In its latest publicly available “transparency report,” Facebook says it helps block free expression as a matter of policy — so long as it’s technically legal in a given market. For instance, in the United Arab Emirates, a country that Human Rights Watch says “arbitrarily detains and in some cases forcibly disappears individuals who criticize the authorities,” Facebook does its part to help.

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if only the UK had functioning media.

Only 17% Expect A Good Brexit Deal For Britain, Just 40% Back Leave (ES)

Fewer than one in five voters now expect Britain to secure a good Brexit deal as Theresa May’s plans remain under fire, according to damning new research. The proportion of people expecting a good deal has slumped dramatically from 33% in February last year to just 17% in June 2018, the survey showed. The data was conducted and shared ahead of the publication of the Prime Minister’s heavily criticised Chequers plan for the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Some 57% of voters now predict Britain will end talks with a bad deal, up from 37% since February 2017. That’s according to the survey for NatCen Social Research. Just over 50% now expect the UK’s economy to be worse of as a result of Brexit, while just 38% said Britain’s departure would mean lower immigration.

According to the new figurers, only 13% said the Government had handled negotiations well so far. That’s down from 29% in February last year. Some 64% said it had handled talks badly. There was also very little support for the EU’s approach to negotiations, with 57% saying Brussels had handled them badly. Only 16% said it had handled them well. The report, by polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University, found that 59% of members of a NatCen panel now say they would vote Remain in a second referendum. Just 41% were backing Leave. However, the researchers cautioned that this apparently comfortable lead for Remain may be skewed by the fact those responding reported voting against Brexit by a margin of 53-47% in the 2016 referendum.

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Chequers is all May has.

Chequers Plan Is Dead,’ Says MP, Who Reported Rejection By Barnier (G.)

Theresa May’s Brexit plan was left mired in uncertainty after reports that the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told British MPs that “les propositions sont mortes” in a Brussels meeting. The Labour MP Stephen Kinnock revealed that in talks this week Barnier had declared the Chequers proposals “dead” and suggested that there was a fundamental misunderstanding in the UK about how the single market worked. “I can tell you absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt that Chequers is dead in the water. Michel Barnier made it crystal clear that Chequers is completely unacceptable to the EU,” Kinnock said.

The senior remainer urged the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, and the prime minister’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins, appearing before the European scrutiny committee on Wednesday, to accept that Brussels was not simply “sabre rattling” as a negotiating tactic. May faces a concerted campaign to “chuck Chequers” from disgruntled Tory MPs, led by the former ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis. There are also deep-rooted concerns in Brussels over her facilitated customs arrangement and common rulebook proposals. Bill Cash, the veteran Tory Eurosceptic, told the committee that Chequers should be “put out of its misery” as the plan satisfied “virtually no one” while the former Brexit minister David Jones asked why the government was “flogging this dead horse”.

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Only thing to do for the US is to get out of the way, let Kim and Moon do what their people want them to: make peace, reunite. Trump understands this, Pompeo does not.

Kim Jong Un Wants To Denuclearize During Trump’s First Term (R.)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he wants to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during U.S. President Donald Trump’s first term, as he agreed to hold a third summit with his South Korean counterpart this month in Pyongyang, Seoul officials said on Thursday. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in the North Korean capital on Sept. 18-20, during which they will discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization, the South’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told reporters a day after meeting Kim in Pyongyang.

Kim told the South Korean officials that his faith in Trump remains “unchanged” and he wanted to denuclearize and end long-standing hostile relations between North Korea and the United States during Trump’s first term ending early 2021, Chung said. Kim’s remarks to South Korean officials mark the first time that the North Korean leader has offered a potential timeline for dismantling his country’s nuclear weapons programme. Kim “reaffirmed his determination to completely denuclearize” the peninsula, and expressed his willingness for close cooperation with South Korea and the United States in that regard, Chung said.

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For years, Abenomics was all about stimulus will create inflation. Double or nothing!

BOJ Board Member Urges More Stimulus, ‘No Room For Complacency’ (R.)

Bank of Japan (BOJ) board member Goushi Kataoka criticized on Thursday the central bank’s decision in July to make its policy framework more sustainable, arguing that it should have instead ramped up stimulus to hasten the achievement of its elusive price target. He also warned that escalating trade frictions could weigh on Japan’s export-reliant economy by slowing global economic expansion next year. “Global trade frictions are intensifying and there’s no room for complacency,” Kataoka said in a speech to business leaders in Yokohama, a city near Tokyo. Kataoka, who opposed the BOJ’s decision in July to take steps to address the rising costs of prolonged easing, said it was counter-productive to allow long-term yields to rise at a time inflation remained low.

“There’s no need to allow long-term interest rates to move in a wider range at a time when the BOJ is cutting its inflation forecasts,” he said. “Allowing long-term rates to rise at a time inflation and inflation expectations aren’t heightening much could delay achievement of the BOJ’s price target,” Kataoka said, adding that the BOJ must instead take additional easing measures to fire up inflation. Under its yield curve control policy, the central bank guides short-term interest rates at minus 0.1 percent and the 10-year government bond yield around zero percent.

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Germany’s surplus inside the EU is the bigger problem.

Huge Surplus Draws Germany Back Into Trump’s Trade War Line Of Fire (R.)

German trade figures later this week will serve as a reminder to global economy watchers, especially the primary occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., of the chasm between countries that run huge current account surpluses and deficits. U.S. president Donald Trump last week renewed his attack on Germany and Europe for, in his view, manipulating the euro lower to boost exports and trade in their favour at the expense of U.S. companies. “Almost as bad as China, just smaller,” Trump told Bloomberg News. In fact, when it comes to trade surpluses vis-à-vis the United States and more broadly, Germany is bigger than China. If that U.S.-German chasm is allowed to go unchecked and stretch further, the snapback could trigger a surge in currency market volatility – currently near historic lows – and maybe even pose a threat to global financial stability.

Euro/dollar is the world’s most liquid and important exchange rate, accounting for almost a quarter of all FX trades, or around $1 trillion a day. It is so stable precisely because it is so deep and liquid. But there’s no guarantee it will remain an oasis of calm. Developed markets have been largely untouched by the volatility tearing through large parts of emerging markets right now, but no corner of world markets would be spared from turbulence, stress or rapid moves in the euro/dollar exchange rate. Germany had a larger trade surplus with the United States than any other country in the first half of this year, worth some 24.4 billion euros ($28.5 billion) which contributed to a global trade surplus of 121.5 billion euros.

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Intereting development.

Here’s Another Headache For Beaten-Up Auto Stocks (MW)

Americans are falling out of love with their cars — at least when it comes to the daily commute. Wolf Richter, of the Wolf Street financial blog, cites this growing challenge for the auto market, in our call of the day. “Driving, while still by far the top way of getting to work in America, has lost some ground,” Richter writes. “For auto makers, this is not a propitious trend.” Richter has created the chart below that’s based on recent Gallup polling. It shows a jump in the percentage of American workers who don’t use a car in their commute. That figure climbed to 16% this year, up from 9% in 2007. Instead of driving themselves or carpooling, these folks are taking public transportation, telecommuting, biking, walking or doing “something else” (maybe going by boat or scooter?). “This shift is real,” Richter says. “While the annual increments are small, spread over time they will further impact the dynamics of the auto industry.”

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The people who save lives are arrested by those who don’t. But in the end the value you attach to another person’s life is the one you attach to your own.

Tunisian Fishermen Await Trial In Italy After ‘Saving 100s Of Migrants’ (G.)

Friends and colleagues have rallied to the defence of six Tunisian men awaiting trial in Italy on people smuggling charges, saying they are fishermen who have saved hundreds of migrants and refugees over the years who risked drowning in the Mediterranean. The men were arrested at sea at the weekend after their trawler released a small vessel it had been towing with 14 migrants onboard, 24 miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italian authorities said an aeroplane crew from the European border agency Frontex had first located the trawler almost 80 nautical miles from Lampedusa and decided to monitor the situation.They alerted the Italian police after the migrant vessel was released, who then arrested all crew members at sea.

According to their lawyers, the Tunisians maintain that they saw a migrant vessel in distress and a common decision was made to tow it to safety in Italian waters. They claim they called the Italian coastguard so it could intervene and take them to shore. Prosecutors have accused the men of illegally escorting the boat into Italian waters and say they have no evidence of an SOS sent by either the migrant boat or by the fishermen’s vessel. Among those arrested were 45-year-old Chamseddine Ben Alì Bourassine, who is known in his native city, Zarzis, which lies close to the Libyan border, for saving migrants and bringing human remains caught in his nets back to shore to give the often anonymous dead a dignified burial.

[..] Giulia Bertoluzzi, an Italian filmmaker and journalist who directed the documentary Strange Fish, about Bourassine, said the men were well known in their home town. “In Zarzis, Bourassine and his crew are known as anonymous heroes”, Bertoluzzi told the Guardian. “Some time ago a petition was circulated to nominate him for the Nobel peace prize. He saved thousands of lives since.”

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The Skripal story has been a stinker from the get-go, but come on, now you have Aunt Millie photoshopping pics?

The Impossible Photo (Craig Murray)

Russia has developed an astonishing new technology enabling its secret agents to occupy precisely the same space at precisely the same time. These CCTV images released by Scotland yard today allegedly show Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov both occupying exactly the same space at Gatwick airport at precisely the same second. 16.22.43 on 2 March 2018. Note neither photo shows the other following less than a second behind. There is no physically possible explanation for this. You can see ten yards behind each of them, and neither has anybody behind for at least ten yards. Yet they were both photographed in the same spot at the same second. The only possible explanations are:
1) One of the two is travelling faster than Usain Bolt can sprint 2) Scotland Yard has issued doctored CCTV images/timeline. I am going with the Met issuing doctored images.

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