Apr 232022
 
 April 23, 2022  Posted by at 8:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Jackson Pollock Number 31 1949

 

Does Paul Craig Roberts like Genocide? (Orlov)
Zelensky Gets John F. Kennedy Award For Defending Democracy (AP)
Daddies in Mommie-land (Kunstler)
Migratory Birds Of Mass Destruction (IPL)
Xi Echoes Putin in Proposal for New ‘Global Security Initiative’ (ET)
Biden Proposes $500 Million In Aid For Ukrainian Government (Hill)
Turkey Says Some NATO Members Want Longer Ukraine War to Hurt Russia (Antiwar)
Russia Warns Greece of Complete Breakdown in Relations (GR)
FDA and Pfizer Knew COVID Shot Caused Immunosuppression (Mercola)
Patients Report A Rebound Of Covid-19 Symptoms After Taking Paxlovid (BGlobe)
The IMF and the Law of Unintended Consequences (CTH)
Staring Into the Abyss (CHS)
Woke Elitists Are Too Stupid To See Elon Musk Is Saving Twitter (Smith)
The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water (GCW)

 

 

Gonzalo Lira

 

 

A different view.

 

 

Attacking PCR without even linking to what you’re citing is not great.

But Orlov’s view of the future is interesting.

Does Paul Craig Roberts like Genocide? (Orlov)

3. Russia has a great and prosperous future as a wealthy, well-educated, civilized, vast and resource-rich country, but this future has nothing to do with Europe or the rest of the West, which are going to collapse. The fact that Russia has been rather tightly integrated with the West ever since Peter the Great moved the capital to St. Petersburg has complicated its transition away from the West and its turn eastward. Western sanctions, rampant Russophobia and the application of cancel culture to Russian culture has made this transition inevitable in the eyes of most Russians, but the process takes time. It would not be helpful if tensions with the West decreased prematurely or if anti-Russian sanctions were removed before they are made completely irrelevant. Also, the West’s unwillingness to buy Russian energy, metals, fertilizer and other essentials speeds up its collapse timeline and that, for Russia, is also a positive.

4. Immediately after Russia commenced its Special Operation in the Ukraine, much of Russia’s remaining fifth-columnists departed for other lands. They already had no impact on Russian politics, but they still exerted some amount of influence in culture and education, and their departure has been most welcome. Given the absolutely overwhelming public support for the Special Operation in Russia, those liberals who have spoken out against it have thereby excused themselves from Russian public life, making room for new talent and new blood. This is also a process that needs to run its course and should not be rushed.

5. The Special Operation has allowed Russia to demonstrate the overwhelming superiority of its armed forces vis-à-vis NATO. All of the weapons that the West has managed to infiltrate into the Ukraine are either being destroyed by rocket attacks or are accumulating in stockpiles after being abandoned by retreating or surrendering Ukrainian troops. None of the obsolete Stingers, Javelins or other military junk has made much of a difference at all. There is very little of any significance that the West can do to hurt Russia’s careful and measured progress in the Ukraine. Once more, time is on Russia’s side: it will take another few months for it to register in the West that all those billions spent on aid to the Ukraine have gone into a black hole with nothing to show for it.

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We all know what award he’ll be heavily nominated for. That’s how crazy this has all become.

Zelensky Gets John F. Kennedy Award For Defending Democracy (AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is among five people named Thursday as recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for acting to protect democracy. Zelensky was chosen because of the way he has “marshaled the spirit, patriotism and untiring sacrifice of the Ukrainian people in a life-or-death fight for their country,” as Russia pours in troops and assaults cities and towns, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said. The foundation said four U.S. officials were chosen for standing up for free and fair elections, as the system is challenged in ways it has never been before. They are: Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Fulton County, Georgia, elections worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss.


Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present the awards May 22 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The award was created by the family of the late president to honor public figures who risk their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good, and is named after Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” “There is no more important issue facing our country, and the world, today than the fight for democracy,” Kennedy said in a statement. “The war in Ukraine has shown the world that we can’t take freedom for granted, and the courage of our elected officials in the U.S. reminds us that as citizens we each have a responsibility to protect our democracy and exercise our fundamental right to vote.”

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“..a shell of a man who, in his prime, lived just to work his official positions for millions in grift.”

Daddies in Mommie-land (Kunstler)

If the USA and its NATO allies actually cared about Ukraine, we would have just left the place alone to slowly settle into the de-industrialized agricultural backwater it was becoming. And if we wanted to prevent widespread devastation once Operation Z got underway, we would have promoted peace talks, with an emphasis on our previous declaration that Ukraine would not be a candidate to join NATO. Instead, we set up Ukraine as a launching pad for annoying Russia (while also using Ukraine as a money laundromat for public officials and arms-makers). America is a drama queen, like the Queen Bee in one of those Real Housewives shows on cable TV, whose entire purpose in life is creating colorful conflicts within her circle of sisters. Daddy is not needed around that house, except offstage maybe as the wide-receiver for a multi-million-dollar paycheck courtesy of the NFL (a rival entertainment).

When one of America’s drama queen stunts goes wrong, the Queen Bee melts into a puddle of tears — boo hoo — tripping the empathy toggle.The sisters cluster around her, beating their wings. Somebody, please, help her feel better… fetch her a glass of pino grigio or a Xanax! Drama Queen Bee America does not like how the Ukraine drama is playing out. The mean old Daddy Putin is rocking the joint, cleaning out the place like Gary Cooper in some Long Branch Saloon of the Eurasian steppe — heaving all those Azov Nazis through the swinging doors out into the dusty street. The other sisters in the NATO circle were induced to acting as cheerleaders for the Azov boys, and now Mr. Putin has gone and turned off Europe’s gas. Western Civ is about to be sent to bed without dinner — the ultimate daddy trick. Now the sisters are all going boo hoo. Nothing is working for the sisterhood.

America’s president, “Joe Biden,” suits the current national script perfectly. He’s a mere prop for the drama queens. No one mistakes him for “Daddy.” He’s the old, impotent, intemperate, often confused “Grampy,” a figure of bathos and derision, a shell of a man who, in his prime, lived just to work his official positions for millions in grift. How, otherwise, do you account for his fortune? The Ukraine money laundromat was one of his favorite stops, managed carefully by cheerleaders Victoria Nuland, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and NSC official Fiona Hill, America’s foreign policy establishment there back in the day. But who, exactly, is managing Grampy now backstage in the White House? My guess would be Susan Rice because you never hear anything about Susan Rice or her role there: Director of the Domestic Policy Council of the United States. Wow! Sounds weighty. When was the last time you saw her name in The New York Times or cable TV news? You’d think they’d be interested in her doings.

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“But the cover-up was only partially successful. Indeed, Russia is in possession of highly incriminating evidence.”

Migratory Birds Of Mass Destruction (IPL)

The UN Security Council held an extraordinary event on April 6 under the rubric Arria Formula Meeting on Biological Security regarding the biological activities in countries including Ukraine. Predictably, the US and UK representatives didn’t show up at the event and the western media also blacked out the proceedings. But that does not detract from the profound significance of what transpired. The highlight of the Security Council proceedings lasting over two hours was the disclosure by General Igor Kirillov, chief of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, that Washington is creating biological laboratories in different countries and connecting them to a unified system.

He said the US has spent more than $5 billion on military biological programs since 2005 and detailed that in territories bordering Russia and China alone, about 60 facilities have been modernised during this period. The Ukrainian network of laboratories is designed to conduct research and monitor the biological situation consisting of 30 facilities in 14 populated locations. Highly sensitive materials from the Ukrainian biological laboratories were exported to the US in early February just before the Russian special operation began, and the rest were ordered to be destroyed lest they fell into Russian hands. But the cover-up was only partially successful. Indeed, Russia is in possession of highly incriminating evidence.

Previously also, Russia had released a number of documents related to the biological military activities of the Pentagon, which pointed toward a worldwide project to set up biological laboratories in rival countries with the goal of developing targeted viral weapons against those countries. The proceedings of the Security Council conference on April 6 are in the public domain and are accessible. Russia has made specific allegations, pointing finger at:
• Pentagon funding for the bio-labs in Ukraine;
• Location of these bio-labs (not only in Ukraine but in 36 countries around the world);
• Diseases and epidemics on which research work is going on, focusing on the means for their release, the countries where they are being tested (even without the knowledge of the governments of these countries); and, of course,
• Experiments relating to coronavirus (and bats used to transmit this virus).

However, the US has so far point-blank refused to accept any supervision and verification of such incriminatory evidences and has stonewalled the demand for a verification mechanism. It is unlikely that the US will permit an international verification process that holds the potential to expose it as indulging in crimes against humanity — although there are appropriate frameworks in place including the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the UN, to hear the clarifications from the relevant country in a fair and impartial manner.

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Xi doesn’t echo anyone.

Xi Echoes Putin in Proposal for New ‘Global Security Initiative’ (ET)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on April 21 took several veiled swipes at Washington and allies’ sanctions on Russia, while proposing what he called a new China-led “global security initiative.” Xi said the new initiative takes “legitimate security concerns of all” and upholds “the principle of indivisibility of security,” key concepts that Russia has used to justify its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its current assault on Ukraine. The “indivisibility of security” broadly refers to the idea that the security of one state is inseparable from that of other countries in the region, and thus no state should enhance its security at the expense of another’s. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in justifying his invasion of Ukraine, had argued that NATO’s strategy breached this principle.

The Chinese leader’s remarks, made during a video speech to the annual Boao Asia Forum, came as Beijing continues to strengthen its ties with Moscow even after Putin’s invasion. Earlier this week, a top Chinese diplomat pledged to deepen links with the aggressor state during a meeting with Russia’s envoy to China in Beijing. Since the war, the Chinese regime has repeatedly criticized Western sanctions and refused to condemn Moscow. It has also echoed Moscow’s propaganda claim that the United States and NATO instigated the conflict. During his speech, the Chinese leader said the security initiative would uphold “non-interference in internal affairs” and respect “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” slogans consistently used by Beijing to justify and deflect criticism of its aggression towards Taiwan. Beijing views the self-ruled island as its own territory to be taken by force if necessary.

The Chinese leader also reiterated Beijing’s opposition to “long-arm jurisdiction” and “unilateral sanctions,” without directly naming any country. Last month, Western officials warned that Beijing had signaled a willingness to provide Moscow with economic and military aid for its war effort. This prompted President Joe Biden to warn Chinese leader Xi Jinping during a March 18 video call of unspecified “consequences” should the regime materially support Moscow.

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It will all land in the pockets of the oligarchs.

Zelensky wants $7 billion per year.

Biden Proposes $500 Million In Aid For Ukrainian Government (Hill)

The Biden administration is seeking to send Ukraine $500 million to help keep its government services running as the war with Russia stretches into its third month, the Treasury Department announced Thursday. The administration will ask Congress to approve $500 million to cover the cost of Ukraine’s basic government services, including pensions, salaries and aid programs, the Treasury Department said. The aid package would be in addition to another $800 million in military support proposed by Biden on Thursday, which would also require approval from Congress. Biden said Thursday the U.S. has almost exhausted the $13.6 billion in Ukraine aid approved in a March government funding bill. Any new federal spending must be approved by the House and Senate before the president can sign the bill and send out the money.


“This is money the government can help use to stabilize their economy, to support communities that have been devastated by the Russian onslaught and pay the brave workers that continue to provide essential services to the people of Ukraine,” Biden said in remarks from the White House Thursday morning. Both Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met separately Thursday with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Wasington, D.C. Yellen and Shmyhal were joined by Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko. The U.S. and its allies have provided tens of billions of dollars in military and economic support to Ukraine as it attempts to fend off the Russian invasion. Mass emigration, compulsory military service for working-age men, the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the upended wheat planting season have derailed the Ukrainian economy, exacerbating the deep humanitarian costs of war.

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“The [Washington Post] report said: “For some in NATO, it’s better for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and dying, than to achieve a peace that comes too early or at too high a cost to Kyiv and the rest of Europe.”

Turkey Says Some NATO Members Want Longer Ukraine War to Hurt Russia (Antiwar)

In an interview on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said some NATO member states want the war in Ukraine to last longer as a way to hurt Russia. “There are countries within NATO who want the war to continue,” Cavusoglu told CNN Turk. “They want Russia to become weaker.” According to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, Cavusoglu did not think the war would last long after Russia and Ukraine held peace talks in Istanbul last month. But following a NATO foreign ministers meeting, he was given the impression that some alliance members don’t want the war to end.


Since Russia invaded on February 24, the US and many of its NATO allies have abandoned diplomacy with Russia. Instead of seeking a diplomatic solution, the Western powers are pouring weapons into Ukraine and waging an economic sanctions campaign against Russia. The view among some NATO members on the war was summarized by a recent report from The Washington Post. The report said: “For some in NATO, it’s better for the Ukrainians to keep fighting, and dying, than to achieve a peace that comes too early or at too high a cost to Kyiv and the rest of Europe.”

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“this happened despite the fact that we share the same faith with the Greeks, the same traditions, and were always there to help our Greek friends.”

Russia Warns Greece of Complete Breakdown in Relations (GR)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Greece on Friday that the relations between the two nations that “share the same faith” have been “reduced to almost nothing.” Maria Zakharova, director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, warned in a statement released on social media that the “historical parallels” between Greece and Russia were in danger of becoming “a solid double line between us.” The Russian official focused on Greece’s decision to declare 12 Russian officials “personae non-gratae,” on April 6 joining other European states that had taken similar steps in response to accusations of atrocities committed by Russian forces against civilians in Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry said the decision was made in line with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963.

Russia’s embassy in Athens condemned Greece’s decision and warned of consequences. “We have strongly protested against this unjustified and hostile step which aims to further destroy our bilateral relations,” the Russian embassy announced in a statement. “We made clear that this action will not remain without consequences,” it further said. In her social media post, Zakharova lamented the breakdown of relations between Russia and Greece and delved in the historic ties between the two countries. “There was a time when Russia helped Greece achieve independence and restore its statehood, and its first head was previously Russia’s foreign minister, but now this country’s diplomatic relations with Russia have been reduced to almost nothing,” Zakharova warned.

She added that “this happened despite the fact that we share the same faith with the Greeks, the same traditions, and were always there to help our Greek friends. “This is not so much an issue of Euro-Atlantic solidarity erasing the past, since it is a sovereign choice for every nation to decide whom to honor. Even worse, this deprives people and nations of their future, independence and the right to make sovereign choices,” Zakharova concluded.

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“Pfizer’s own consent form clearly states: “Although not seen to date, it cannot yet be ruled out that the studied vaccine can make a later COVID-19 illness more severe.“

FDA and Pfizer Knew COVID Shot Caused Immunosuppression (Mercola)

With another batch of 11,000 Pfizer documents, released April 1, 2022, old suspicions have gained fresh support. As reported by “Rising” cohost Kim Iversen (video), the first bombshell revelation is that natural immunity works, and Pfizer has known it all along. The clinical trial data showed there was no difference in outcomes between those with previous COVID infection and those who got the shot. Neither group experienced severe infection. Natural immunity was also statistically identical to the shot in terms of the risk of infection. The second revelation is that side effects from the shots were more severe in younger people, aged 18 to 55, than those aged 55 and older. (The risk of side effects also increased with additional doses, so the risk was higher after the second dose than the first.)

As many of us have said all along, the risk of severe COVID is dramatically lower in younger people than those over 60, which makes an elevated risk of side effects unacceptable. As noted by The Naked Emperor on Substack,[1] “with a vaccine that is producing more frequent and more severe reactions and adverse events in younger individuals, the vaccine should have been restricted to those who were actually at risk of severe COVID-19.” Interestingly, Pfizer’s documentation also includes medical information that mainstream media and fact checkers have labeled as misinformation or disinformation. A pediatric consent form lists several possible side effects, including a myocarditis rate of 10 in 100,000 — far greater than the 1 in 50,000 (i.e., 2 in 100,000) rate previously reported.

We also know that myocarditis is far more frequent in young males, so for them, the risk is significantly higher than 10 in 100,000, as they make up the bulk of these injuries. Many who have warned about the possibility of mRNA shots causing antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) — a situation in which you end up being more susceptible to serious infection than you would have been otherwise — have been smeared and demonized by media and labeled as disinformation spreaders. Yet Pfizer’s own consent form clearly states: “Although not seen to date, it cannot yet be ruled out that the studied vaccine can make a later COVID-19 illness more severe.” As noted by Iversen, if ADE truly was of no concern at all, the consent form would not include it. Yet there it is.

Vaccine-associated enhanced disease (VAED) is also listed as an “Important Potential Risk” in Table 5 on page 11 of a document called “5.3.6 Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports.”As of February 28, 2021, Pfizer had 138 cases of suspected VAED, 75 of which were severe, resulting in hospitalization, disability, life-threatening consequences or death; a total of 38 cases turned out to be lethal and 65 remained unresolved. Moreover, as noted by the Daily Expose, “Phase 3 clinical trials are designed to uncover frequent or severe side effects before a vaccine is approved for use, including ADE. But herein lies the problem, [because] none of the COVID-19 vaccines have completed Phase 3 trials.”

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Anyone surprised?

Patients Report A Rebound Of Covid-19 Symptoms After Taking Paxlovid (BGlobe)

When it first hit the market in December, the COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Paxlovid, was hailed as a game-changer, an effective medicine that kept at-risk people out of the hospital. But now some patients are reporting on social media an unusual and unnerving phenomenon: their COVID symptoms appear to rebound after taking the medication. And it’s not just their symptoms that reappear. Many report that after finishing their five-day course of treatment, feeling better, and testing negative on an at-home rapid test, they then test positive again a few days later. The issue has captured the attention of at least two teams of Boston-area scientists, who are trying to understand what might be fueling the problem. Resistance to the drug? Patients being quickly reinfected?

Or maybe some people just need to take the medicine longer to mount a more effective immune response. Twitter and Reddit have been filled with patients and doctors sharing their experiences and hypotheses over the past few days, including John Donoghue, a 71-year-old emeritus physics professor in Amherst. “We had three cases in the house with the same pattern,” Donoghue said, in an interview. He, his wife, and her 95-year-old mother all were infected with COVID in the last month. All three received Paxlovid, felt better, and tested negative on rapid tests for four or five days. Then their symptoms returned and each one tested positive again.

“The symptoms the second time were milder,” Donoghue said. “In some ways, we feel that Paxlovid did its job. It took away the extreme symptoms of the first round and reduced them very quickly in all three cases.” Paxlovid, granted an emergency use authorization by federal regulators in late December, is an at-home treatment prescribed at the first sign of infection to patients at high risk of serious COVID complications. The treatment consists of a series of three pills taken twice a day for five days. In its clinical trial, Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Paxlovid, reported an 89 percent reduction in COVID-related hospitalization or death from any cause in patients who received Paxlovid within three days of symptoms, compared with patients who received a placebo.

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“Now, the world is facing massive inflation, economic contraction, looming hunger, widespread famine and a pending global financial collapse.”

The IMF and the Law of Unintended Consequences (CTH)

It’s not exactly a confidence builder when the Director of the International Monetary Fund answers the question about forward priorities by saying, “Perhaps we need to pay attention to the law of unintended consequences.” You had one job Kristalina, one job. During an International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring debate and discussion segment, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, outlined her perspective against the backdrop of massive inflation caused by the global financial institutions telling government to spend money and they will print it, during COVID. [The video is prompted to 01:04:50].


The discussion included EU Central Bank President Lagarde, US Fed Chair Powell, Indonesian Finance Minister Mulvani – when IMF Director Kristalina Georgieva admitted they channeled their COVID fear and emotions by unsustainably printing money without pausing to think through the consequences. Now, the world is facing massive inflation, economic contraction, looming hunger, widespread famine and a pending global financial collapse. Their response? “Whoops.” Not to worry, they’ll have a little wine and chocolate and figure things out. Swear.

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“..the Fed has exacerbated socially fatal neofeudal inequality..”

Staring Into the Abyss (CHS)

The global economy is perched on the edge of an abyss, and averting our gaze doesn’t actually lessen the risk, it increases it because problems which aren’t faced directly and addressed directly fester and rot the system from within. This is why we’re collectively staring into the abyss: all the big problems have been dismissed, ignored or papered over with PR-happy-talk “solutions” that only make the problem worse. There are three basic techniques that our “leadership” (public and private) have used to avoid dealing directly with our pressing problems: 1. Appear to address the problems by doing more of what’s failed spectacularly. 2. Propose magical-thinking happy-happy technological “solutions” that are appealing but impractical. 3. Keep the status quo glued together to maximize quick-buck gains for the elite while guaranteeing long-term catastrophe for the entire society / economy.

Doing more of what’s failed spectacularly is one of the phrases you’ve seen here over the years. This generates an illusion of control because the tried-and-true Band-Aid makes it look like the problem is being addressed. Since doing more of what’s failed spectacularly doesn’t break the system immediately, everyone incorrectly assumes it’s benign or actually helping. The Federal Reserve’s blowing of serial speculative credit-asset bubbles is a good example. With the bogus goal of generating a “wealth effect” that only rewards the already-rich, the Fed has exacerbated socially fatal neofeudal inequality and created guaranteed-to-pop bubbles that each collapsed with devastating consequences for the credulous who believed the Fed’s poisonous assurances that a) this isn’t a bubble and b) bubbles never pop.

The Fed’s “solution”–blowing an even bigger bubble to paper over the catastrophic losses when the previous bubble popped–has finally reached the endgame: three bubbles and you’re out (2000, 2008-09 and 2021-22). Sorry to disappoint the beneficiaries of the three Fed bubbles, but there won’t be a fourth bubble. Bubbles don’t inflate at the bottom of the abyss.

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Does woke Twitter have a future?

Woke Elitists Are Too Stupid To See Elon Musk Is Saving Twitter (Smith)

In the past year Big Tech and Big Media are learning a valuable lesson – That “Get Woke, Go Broke” is not just a mantra, it’s a rule. We’ve just seen companies like Netflix take a massive market beating because of their hubris and their presumption that they can simply dictate the path of our culture from on high through leftist propaganda. CNN just shut down their premium “+” service after a single month because no one trusts them enough to pay them pocket change for content. And Disney is about to lose their municipal charter in Florida because they thought they were in charge of the state and its laws, when in fact they are not. Woke corporations are slowly but surely dying and leftists don’t seem to grasp the situation.

They’ll never admit openly that the reason these companies are seeing declines is because of their cult-like political stance that justifies the forced indoctrination of everyone, including children. They’ll say it was covid, they’ll say it was inflation, they’ll say it was bigotry, but in reality it was always them. No one likes them, and people are finally realizing they don’t have to spend money buying products from insane leftists they don’t like. In this regard Twitter is a bit of an enigma. The social media company has gone from a relatively innocuous space for people to market online businesses and for politicians and celebrities to engage with their followers or detractors, to a vicious battleground overrun with leftist zealots hellbent on using the platform as a weapon to silence dissent and destroy the lives of people that disagree with them. The platform went from average social media outlet to becoming a birthplace for evil behavior.

If I was to describe what Twitter really stands for today, I would say it is an attempt to build a global hive mind; a place where everyone is coerced into conformity with establishment ideals through peer pressure and mob aggression. That is to say, Twitter is the antithesis to a free speech society; a beta test for the future of authoritarianism where you THINK you are allowed to speak your mind but only the “correct” opinions are allowed to pass. How this happened is hard to say. Some theorize that leftist cultists scrambled like rats from the sinking ship of Tumblr and found their way over to Twitter to take up residency. I would argue that maybe Twitter was always intended to become what it now is. Just take a look at the monster’s gallery of its largest shareholders.

If Elon Musks Takes Over, He’ll Expose Twitter

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The water wars will not be pretty. Promise.

The Coming Removal of the Mandate of Heaven, Part 2: Water (GCW)

In order to understand the grave danger China is facing, we need to understand water usage and thresholds below which the population begins to face some level of danger. For that, we’re going to turn to Reuters for an overview. At a minimum, a civilization requires 1,700 cubic meters of water per person per year to be considered water secure. This amounts to 373,947 gallons of water per person, with a minimum of 4,156 gallons of water per year to ensure good health. Freshwater is used for everything from industry to agriculture to power generation, and our infrastructure is rated for a minimum level of water moving through the pipes. If that water falls below that level, pressure drops and the water can become unsafe.

This starts to become a problem at 1,000 cubic meters per person per year, and reaches a threat level at 500 cubic meters per person per year. Beijing is currently sitting at 100 cubic meters of fresh water per person per year. Barely seven times the necessary minimum for a person to remain healthy, with the rest stretched thin and endlessly recycled as it eventually becomes useless for any purpose which brings it into contact with humans in any way. When examining the water situation in a given country, the first place to look is always the groundwater situation. Which, in China’s case, isn’t very positive. Over 80% of the groundwater in China is unsafe, according to publicly available data attained from a Chinese government survey. Information which is normally a closely held secret.

Same with the fact that 47% of the groundwater in China is so badly polluted it can’t even be used for industrial purposes. Note, Beijing gets almost a third of their water from groundwater sources, which must be thoroughly treated at massive cost in man-hours, materials, and energy before it can be used by the general public. This has resulted in Beijing sinking at a rate of 11 cm per year as the depleted aquifer results in subsidence. Assuming its even at a level which can be affordably treated. Which 47% of the groundwater can’t be. This situation is even worse in the cities, where 90% of the groundwater is unusable for purposes which would bring it into contact with people. And, ironically, although the groundwater pollution is worse in the cities, rural areas are more heavily affected due to the fact most rural communities lack the resources to treat either the water they take in for normal usage or the waste water they release back into the wild.

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Brand

 

 

 

 

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Nov 062021
 
 November 6, 2021  Posted by at 9:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Baigneuses 1918

 

Drastic Drop In Covid Vaccine Effectiveness (RT)
Dramatic Decline In Effectiveness Of All Three Covid-19 Vaccines Over Time (LAT)
Pfizer Shares Surge After Release Of ‘Miracle’ COVID Pill (ZH)
Woke Gets Whacked — But Hold the Victory Lap (Kunstler)
No, It’s Not Legal (Denninger)
Unvaccinated Troops Now Threatened With Losing All Their Veterans Benefits (ZH)
UKHSA Efficacy Stats Death Watch: Week 44 (eugyppius)
De Blasio To Pay Kids $100 To Get The Covid-19 Vaccine (Fox)
Florida Court Reinstates Governor’s Ban on Masking in Schools (ET)
A Review and Autopsy of Two COVID Immunity Studies (Kulldorff)
NFL Star Aaron Rodgers Responds To ‘Fake’ Vaccine Controversy (RT)
The Man Who Called Bullshit on Uber (MJ)
“The Fed Is Our Master And ‘We The People’, Its Puppet” – G. Edward Griffin (ZH)

 

 

Doshi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1456482148089794560

 

 

Door-to-Door vaxxinations in QLD!
https://twitter.com/i/status/1456552719188176900

 

 

 

 

In a normal world, this would be the nail in the coffin. This is not a normal world.

Drastic Drop In Covid Vaccine Effectiveness (RT)

Three different coronavirus shots – those mainly available in the US and Europe – have shown a dramatic decline in efficacy over time, a study of nearly 800,000 Americans reveals. Covid-19 vaccine effectiveness against both infection and death was studied in three US approved jabs – the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA shots, and the Janssen viral vector vaccine. Having analyzed data from 780,225 US veterans of different ages and sexes between February and October, researchers came to a disturbing conclusion. Vaccine protection against Covid-19 infection dropped from 89.2% at its highest to a low of 13.1%, according to a joint study by the Public Health Institute, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the University of Texas Health Science Center, published in the Science journal on Thursday.

While effectiveness against infection in March was 89.2% for Moderna, 86.9% for Pfizer, and 86.4% for Janssen, by September there were massive declines to 58%, 43%, and 13% respectively. The emergence and dominance of the Delta strain of the virus during the time of the study may have played a role, researchers said, adding that vaccine protection waned across all studied age groups. More than 26,000 positive PCR tests occurred in some 498,000 fully vaccinated veterans. The authors said the pattern of breakthrough infections shows a “worrisome temporal trend.” While the analysis covers 2.7 percent of the US population, other domestic and international studies have shown significantly waning efficacy.

On a brighter note, vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization and death remained high. As breakthrough infections, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to emerge in fully vaccinated people, there is “an urgent need to reinstate multiple layers of protection, such as masking and physical distancing – even among vaccinated persons,” the scientists warn.

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About the same report, with added benefits: 1/ LA Times manages to turn the utter failure of the vaccines into a promo for the same vaccines and 2/ a booster after 28 days. Soon coming to your town.

Dramatic Decline In Effectiveness Of All Three Covid-19 Vaccines Over Time (LAT)

As the Delta variant became the dominant strain of the coronavirus across the United States, all three COVID-19 vaccines available to Americans lost some of their protective power, with vaccine efficacy among a large group of veterans dropping between 35% and 85%, according to a new study. Researchers who scoured the records of nearly 800,000 U.S. veterans found that in early March, just as the Delta variant was gaining a toehold across American communities, the three vaccines were roughly equal in their ability to prevent infections. But over the next six months, that changed dramatically. By the end of September, Moderna’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, measured as 89% effective in March, was only 58% effective. The effectiveness of shots made by Pfizer and BioNTech, which also employed two doses, fell from 87% to 45% in the same period.

And most strikingly, the protective power of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine plunged from 86% to just 13% over those six months. The findings were published Thursday in the journal Science. The three vaccines held up better in their ability to prevent COVID-19 deaths, but by July — as the Delta variant began to drive a three-month surge of infections and deaths — the shots’ effectiveness on that score also revealed wide gaps. Among veterans 65 and older who were inoculated with the Moderna vaccine, those who developed a so-called breakthrough infection were 76% less likely to die of COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated veterans of the same age. Older veterans who got the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and subsequently experienced a breakthrough infection were 70% less likely to die than were their unvaccinated peers.

And when older vets who got a single jab of the J&J vaccine suffered a breakthrough infection, they were 52% less likely to die than their peers who didn’t get any shots. For veterans younger than 65, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provided the best protection against a fatal case of COVID-19, at 84% and 82%, respectively. When younger veterans inoculated with the J&J vaccine suffered a breakthrough infection, they were 73% less likely to die of COVID-19 than were their unvaccinated peers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended booster shots for everyone who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months earlier.

Boosters are also recommended six months after a second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines for everyone 65 and older; those with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to a serious case of COVID-19; those who live in nursing homes or other group settings; and those who live or work in high-risk settings such as hospitals or prisons. In addition, all people with compromised immune systems are advised to get a booster shot if it’s been at least 28 days since their vaccine took full effect.

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Not long ago, Pfizer “falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported..” Now that’s a come back.

Pfizer Shares Surge After Release Of ‘Miracle’ COVID Pill (ZH)

Thursday was a rough day for Moderna shares after the company released revenue figures and FY guidance that deeply disappointed Wall Street expectations (potentially destroying the reputation of financier Steve Weiss, arguably Moderna’s biggest promoter on Wall Street, in the process). But on Friday, Pfizer – Moderna’s biggest rival – rubbed Moderna’s nose in it by announcing a revolutionary new oral COVID antiviral similar to the Merck ‘miracle pill’ that won approval from UK regulators yesterday. The news sent Pfizer’s stock surging, while Moderna and Merck shares tumbled, during premarket trade. Pfizer shares were trading up 11%+:

The key takeaway from the Pfizer announcement is this: Pfizer said studies showed its COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients by 89%. That’s even higher than the 50% reduction in hospitalizations and deaths shown by the Merck pill. Again, like Merck, Pfizer said that it was no longer taking new patients in a clinical trial of the treatment “due to the overwhelming efficacy” of the drug, which it now plans to submit its findings to the FDA for emergency authorization (just like Merck is doing). Yesterday, Merck won approval for its new COVID antiviral, molnupiravir, from regulators in the UK, and it’s pushing to wrack up as many EUAs as possible from regulators from all over.

Pfizer is already planning to seek approval emergency approval from the US government because, according to the numbers, its drug is even more effective than molnuiravir. According to the headline numbers, Pfizer’s new antiviral is even more effective than the rival pill from Merck. Pfizer’s pill, which will be sold under the brand name Paxlovid, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% when taken within three days after symptoms emerge (the number for Merck’s drug was it needed to be taken within 5 days of infection). “The results are really beyond our wildest dreams,” said Annaliesa Anderson, a Pfizer executive who led the drug’s development. She expressed hope that Paxlovid “can have a big impact on helping all our lives go back to normal again and seeing the end of the pandemic.”

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“Citizens have a right to object to this, and to the illegal vaccine “mandate” invoked by the pugnaciously stupid “Joe Biden” regime..”

Woke Gets Whacked — But Hold the Victory Lap (Kunstler)

The CDC and the FDA have unleashed a set of untested vaccines on the public that have been shown to produce alarmingly high rates of adverse reactions, both disabling and leading to death. The CDC’s VAERS system for reporting all that is so janky that doctors can barely use it and the CDC refuses to fix it; meanwhile doctors are being punished for even attempting to report adverse reactions. The whole of medical officialdom has militated aggressively against early treatments of Covid-19 with cheap and easily available drugs, even firing doctors who attempt to use the protocols.

The entire approval process of the various vaccines has been rife with fraud, gamed statistics, sabotaged trials, bait-and-switch scams, and unaccountable manufacturing screw-ups — all immersed in a stench of moneygrubbing. The drug companies have refused to fully reveal the contents of the vaccines. Now they are ramping up an urgent campaign to vaccinate children following rushed and falsified clinical trials, with the statistical certainty that many more kids will be injured or will die from the vax than they would from Covid-19 itself.

Citizens have a right to object to this, and to the illegal vaccine “mandate” invoked by the pugnaciously stupid “Joe Biden” regime. There is an awful creeping suspicion in the USA and in other countries that people who have received vaccinations are beginning to present fatal cardiovascular and neurological illness in large numbers, and that an attempt is underway to cover all this up. There is likewise a growing body of evidence that the vaccines and “boosters” incrementally disable the human immune system so that later in the winter of 2021-2022 millions of people will be at risk of dying from Covid variants and virtually any other disease that comes along, including cancers. How many of us are prepared for that?

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In Greece yesterday, the police were using water cannon against protesting firemen.

No, It’s Not Legal (Denninger)

OSHA claims this is an “Emergency” and requires immediate action. However, it wasn’t an emergency 11 months ago. Nor was it one in September, when there were many, many more cases and deaths than there are today. It also isn’t one now until January 2nd, directly after a number of industry groups complained about the impact of it on the holidays. Note that the alleged “authority” that OSHA has to deal with workplace insults and risks when it comes to an ETS depends on it being an actual emergency. OSHA cannot deliberately decide to sacrifice employees “up to a specific date because its inconvenient for their employers.” Indeed that act alone invalidates the ETS as it makes clear there is no emergency at all and the claim of one is a pretext.

OSHA’s regulatory authority is limited to workplaces. A risk that is diffuse and beyond the workplace in at least equal quality and severity is beyond their mandate. A respiratory virus is in that category. Can OSHA mandate asbestos regulations or concentrations of chemicals in the factory or other working environment? Sure. Can they mandate that which is in the outside air in the ordinary environment at the same level of risk? No. There is no specific and articulable risk within general employment that is not present everywhere else in ordinary life.

OSHA is required to back up their findings and claims with actual science. They can’t. Specifically there is no evidence that being jabbed is superior to being infected — in fact, its the other way around. Even if it is superior at some point in time the alleged “rule” does not differentiate and, in the instant case, the evidence is that those who were jabbed in January of last year either lost all protection or actually have negative protection .vs. someone who was never vaccinated at all. This, incidentally, makes their entire argument pretextual (and which the administration has admitted.)

OSHA is required to use the least-invasive means to address whatever it claims needs addressing. Demanding an invasive and permanent medical procedure is not the least-invasive means. For example they might be able to get away with a mask rule provided those medically-contraindicated are exempted or moved to other jobs and provided the employer pays for the masks; there are protocols for safe use of same which are in fact required in other industries and certain atmospheres. That’s reasonable and carries no negative risk of temporary, permanent or catastrophic harm.

OSHA has admitted that a less-invasive means exists through their “mask and test” option and thus is required to issue that, if they issue anything. The Civil Rights Act does not give you the right to put murder others. As such OSHA cannot mandate a jab if an alternative that is less-intrusive, which they admit to, is deemed acceptable. They deemed it reasonable, acceptable and effective. Their mandate thus falls by their own hand.

OSHA further cannot mandate you play Russian Roulette in order to keep a job nor can they mandate your employer force you to playing Russian Roulette, even if they assert there is some other risk they’re mitigating by doing so. They can put in place a standard that carries no identifiable risk, and do — for example there is no identifiable risk to mandating guards on a punch press, hard hats on a construction site, air circulation standards in a factory where potential dust or other contamination is present, and similar. This mandate is for an invasive medical procedure that carries risk and it does not matter how small the risk is. OSHA simply has no authority to issue a rule that your employer must demand you risk grievous injury or death under penalty of fining them if you refuse.

In short OSHA must demonstrate that (1) the risk is unique to or concentrated in the workplace, (2) the requirement for an ETS is emergent and exigent, not one of convenience or pretextual, (3) the risk mitigated is of great bodily harm or death and (4) it is the least-invasive means of doing so. OSHA has repeatedly had their ETS issued standards thrown out because one or more of those requirements is not met. They rarely use this mechanism for this reason — and their record of success on challenge is poor.

This will go up in smoke folks — it’s just another threat by Biden and his pals, this time aimed at employers with the threat of huge fines if they push back. But you, as an employee, have all the power. No hospital runs without nurses. Garbage is not picked up without garbagemen and women. Fires are not put out without firefighters, nor are traffic accidents attended to and the “Jaws of Life” don’t operate themselves. Water and sewer systems don’t run themselves either.

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The end of morals.

Unvaccinated Troops Now Threatened With Losing All Their Veterans Benefits (ZH)

We detailed Thursday that many thousands of active duty Air Force personnel have still remained unvaccinated even after the Tuesday deadline has come and gone for the Air Force’s mandate to receive both Covid jabs, which was the earliest set deadline among US military branches. Already some branches like the Navy and Marines have clarified that members who refuse the mandate will be relieved of duty and separated from the service. After Tuesday’s deadline at least 8,500 active-duty members of the Air Force and Space Force are in non-compliance and now risk being kicked out. However, there’s no indication as of yet that commanders have booted anyone at this early point.

But now the Department of Defense (DoD) taking its threat of punitive action a big step further, saying unvaccinated service members could see their veterans’ benefits taken away. This would be based on personnel receiving other-than-honorable discharge, which will reportedly be determined by a base’s local command. The Pentagon is saying such a drastic penalty, which would result in individual veterans potentially losing everything from education benefits such as the GI Bill, to eligibility for a veterans home lone, is necessary as lack of vaccination impacts “readiness”. A new report in the Military Times quotes Gil Cisneros, Department of Defense (DoD) undersecretary for personnel, who told Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, “We see the vaccines as a readiness issue. Any discharge decision is up to the individual service as to how they proceed with that.”

The report describes that “Individuals with honorable discharges will be eligible for things like GI Bill benefits, VA home loans and transition assistance programs. Individuals with other-than-honorable discharges are still guaranteed mental health care services through VA, but may be blocked from most other benefits.” An honorable discharge would guarantee all of these benefits, while anything less throws them into doubt in terms of eligibility. Other branches have their deadlines for all personnel to get vaccinated coming in the next weeks. As for the Air Force, what might happen next is a mass expulsion of non-vaxxed service members. There was no word on what career fields the un-vaxxed were in. If some are pilots, especially ones operating stealth jets and bombers, the overreaching vaxx mandate could much more directly jeopardize America’s readiness for war.

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Managing expectations.

UKHSA Efficacy Stats Death Watch: Week 44 (eugyppius)


Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated case rates in the United Kingdom, from the latest UK Health Security Agency vaccine surveillance report

Yet again I had to draw this graph myself, and yet again, the UK Health Security Agency wants you to know that these rates are extremely, totally, absolutely unadjusted. They just don’t know precisely why or how. As I noted on Twitter, it’s emerged that UKHSA inserted all of their ill-advised disclaimers after coming under fire from the Office of Statistics Regulation, a regulatory body which periodically complains about statistics published by the British government. OSR director Ed Humpherson met with UKHSA hours before they published their Week 43 report, demanding they do something about these awkward graphs. They responded by ditching the graphs altogether and calling every last number unadjusted. This failed to satisfy him, so in the days afterwards he issued this unbelievable open letter.

“Dear Jenny, COVID-19 vaccine surveillance statistics
Thank you for the constructive meeting on Thursday 28 October to discuss the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) COVID-19 vaccine surveillance statistics. We focused on the risk that the data presented on rates of positive cases for those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated have the potential to mislead – and indeed we noted that these data have been used to argue that vaccines are ineffective. We welcome the changes you have made to the Week 43 surveillance report, published on 28 October. It is also very good that you are working closely with my team and with the relevant teams in the Office for National Statistics (ONS).”

The UK has backed itself into publishing some less-than-useful numbers. Now the office responsible for this publishing will have to work closely with a gaggle of political commissars, responsible for cleansing official discourse of anything that might be “used to argue that vaccines are ineffective.” Because he appears to be a genuinely stupid man, Humpherson spells this point out explicitly: “It remains the case that the surveillance report includes rates per 100,000 which can be used to argue that vaccines are not effective. I know that this is not the intention of the surveillance report, but the potential for misuse remains. In publishing these data, you need to address more comprehensively the risk that it misleads people into thinking that it says something about vaccine effectiveness.”

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The end of morals.

De Blasio To Pay Kids $100 To Get The Covid-19 Vaccine (Fox)

New York City will begin offering $100 to incentivize COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5-11. “Everyone can use a little more money around the holidays but most importantly we want our kids and our families to be safe,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. The new policy will apply to New York City-run vaccine sites and comes two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for children 5-11-years-old. The mayor said that getting the vaccine now will allow children to be fully vaccinated before Christmas, hoping that the $100 incentive will drive people to show up and get extra money for holidays.

The city is hoping to speed its effort to get kids vaccinated before they travel for the holidays, noting that the updated CDC guidance says that children have to wait three weeks between Pfizer doses, even though the dosage is smaller than the adult dose. The mayor also said that every public school in the city that serves children in the targeted age range will hold a dedicated vaccination day for those students beginning next week, which will cover about 1,070 sites over the course of the week by hitting roughly 200 schools per day. The city stressed that parents should be present to give verbal consent, whether at a school site or a city-run site, for their children to receive the shot, though de Blasio noted that parents and guardians can also give verbal consent over the phone.

“All choices are good choices, but we want to make it available and easy for parents who prefer just to go to their local school building,” de Blasio said. While millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been shipped around the country in advance of the guidance, pediatricians in the city say they have not been overwhelmed by calls for appointments for kids to get the shot. “We do NOT yet have the vaccine in our office. We placed an order last week and are awaiting confirmation about when the vaccine will be delivered. We will NOT schedule appointments until we have it,” a letter from Uptown Pediatrics in Manhattan sent to families Wednesday said. But city Health Commissioner David Chokshi stressed that parents can choose from multiple sites to get their children vaccinated. “There’s no wrong door here. We just wanna get as many kids vaccinated as quickly as we can,” Chokshi said.

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“Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the entire country..”

Florida Court Reinstates Governor’s Ban on Masking in Schools (ET)

In Florida’s ongoing battle over masking mandates in schools, the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) overruled the decision of a Leon County circuit court judge on Wednesday, reinstating the governor’s ban on forced masking in schools. Some Leon County parents are cheering the ruling as a big win for parents’ rights and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. In August, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis exceeded his authority in banning forced masking in public schools. In September, the First DCA overruled Cooper. But the following week, Cooper ruled that his order to prevent the state from enforcing school mask mandates should take immediate effect. On Oct. 27, the First DCA again overruled Cooper and emphasized three reasons why his ruling was wrong.

To begin, the First DCA ruled that the case never should have gone to trial because the plaintiffs did not have standing. The plaintiffs, a group of parents and students, could not sue to protect the institutional authority of local school districts and the Florida Department of Health. “Those entities alone must advance their own institutional rights,” the First DCA wrote. Second, the plaintiffs were not harmed by DeSantis’ order because the order took no action against them. In fact, all the governor did was direct other state agencies to protect parental rights. Third, the plaintiffs’ claim of receiving injury because they were exposed to COVID-19 by unmasked students was not “concrete” or “palpable” enough to warrant judicial intervention in public health policy.

Most notable was how the First DCA admonished Cooper for inventing his own legal theory to ultimately rule against the governor’s school mask policy by saying DeSantis somehow violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights by giving parents more rights. “While the Parents’ Bill of Rights undoubtedly played a role in the governor’s issuance of the executive order—and was even pleaded as an affirmative defense—the [Plaintiffs] never sought relief in their complaint based on an alleged violation of the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” the First DCA wrote. “They certainly never requested an injunction against a state administrative actor proceeding in some way in contravention of the Parents’ Bill of Rights.”

Similar court battles are playing out in other Florida counties. While the full appeal in the Leon County case is still pending, Christina Pushaw, executive press secretary for DeSantis said “the preliminary ruling shows that the Plaintiffs have little chance of saving the trial court’s ruling, so this is a win for Governor DeSantis and parents’ rights in Florida!” “Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the entire country,” Pushaw told The Epoch Times. “Infections statewide have declined more than 90 percent since schools in Florida opened. The rate of decline was the same for districts that had mask mandates and districts that followed state law by allowing parents to choose whether their kids wore masks or not.”

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“..the vaccinated were 191/8=23 times more likely to have subsequent symptomatic disease than the Covid recovered.”

A Review and Autopsy of Two COVID Immunity Studies (Kulldorff)

In the Israeli study, the researchers tracked 673,676 vaccinated people who they knew not to have had Covid and 62,833 unvaccinated Covid-recovered individuals. A simple comparison of the rates of subsequent Covid in these two groups would be misleading. The vaccinated are likely older and, hence, more prone to have symptomatic disease, giving the Covid recovered group an unfair advantage. At the same time, the typical vaccinated patient received the vaccine long after the typical Covid-recovered patient got sick. Most Covid recovered patients got the infection before the vaccine was even available. Because immunity wanes over time, this fact would give an unfair advantage to the vaccinated group. To make a fair and unbiased comparison, researchers must match patients from the two groups on age and time since vaccination/disease.

That is precisely what the study authors did, matching also on gender and geographical location. For the primary analysis, the study authors identified a cohort with 16,215 individuals who had recovered from Covid and 16,215 matched individuals who were vaccinated. The authors followed these cohorts over time to determine how many had a subsequent symptomatic Covid disease diagnosis. Ultimately, 191 patients in the vaccinated group and 8 in the Covid recovered group got symptomatic Covid disease. These numbers mean that the vaccinated were 191/8=23 times more likely to have subsequent symptomatic disease than the Covid recovered. After adjusting the statistical analysis for comorbidities in a logistic regression analysis, the authors measured a relative risk of 27 with a 95% confidence interval between 13 and 57 times more likely for the vaccinated.

The study also looked at Covid hospitalizations; eight were in the vaccinated group, and one among the Covid recovered. These numbers imply a relative risk of 8 (95% CI: 1-65). There were no deaths in either group, showing that both the vaccine and natural immunity provide excellent protection against mortality. This is a straightforward and well-conducted epidemiological cohort study that is easy to understand and interpret. The authors addressed the major source of bias through matching. One potential bias they did not address (as it is challenging to do) is that those with prior Covid may have been more likely to be exposed in the past through work or other activities. Since they were more likely to be exposed in the past, they may also have been more likely exposed during the follow-up period. That would lead to an underestimate of the relative risks in favor of vaccination. There may also be misclassification if some of the vaccinated unknowingly had Covid. That would also lead to an underestimate.

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Reigning NFL MVP, treated like a five year old.

NFL Star Aaron Rodgers Responds To ‘Fake’ Vaccine Controversy (RT)

NFL star Aaron Rodgers has hit out at reports that he ‘lied’ about his vaccination status as he reveals that he has been taking advice on alternative Covid therapies from podcast host Joe Rogan, including the use of Ivermectin. Reigning NFL MVP Rodgers, 37, was the source of a media frenzy this week when he was accused of lying about his vaccination status against Covid-19 after telling the media in August that he had been “immunized” against the virus. That was despite it emerging this week that he was unvaccinated after contracting the illness, forcing him out of the Green Bay Packers’ crunch showdown with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.

Rodgers’ vaccination status comes amid strict rules within the NFL designed to compel players to receive one of the various vaccines, with harsh financial penalties imposed on players who fall foul of the league’s vaccine protocols. It emerged that, despite Rodgers not having received a vaccine, he appeared without a face-mask at various press events – a situation strictly disallowed for unvaccinated players. By contrast, the Packers had made a host of their unvaccinated players available to the media only by teleconference. Addressing the firestorm for the first time on former NFL player Pat McAfee’s radio show, Rodgers said that he was aware that he had enflamed tensions with the ‘woke’ mob and that he had become the darling ‘cancel culture’ brigade.

He outlined that he had sought alternative methods to protect himself from the potentially fatal virus – including following podcast host and UFC presenter Joe Rogan’s alternative theories by taking the controversial Ivermectin medication. “I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now, so before my final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket I think I’d like to set the record straight on so many of the blatant lies that are out there about myself right now,” said Rodgers. “I didn’t lie in the initial press conference. During that time there was a very… a ‘witch hunt’ that was going on across the league where everybody in the media was so concerned about who was vaccinated and who wasn’t, and what that meant and who was being selfish and who would talk about it.

“[It was about] what they meant when they said it was a ‘personal decision’, [and that] they shouldn’t have to disclose their own medical information… “And at the time, my plan was to say that I had been immunized. It wasn’t some sort of ruse or lie, it was the truth. “Had there been a follow-up to my statement that I’d been immunized, I would have responded with this: look, I’m not some sort of anti-vax flat-earther. I am somebody who is a critical thinker. You guys know me, I march to the beat of my own drum. “I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some sort of ‘woke’ culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something.”

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Profitable destruction.

The Man Who Called Bullshit on Uber (MJ)

In December 2016, Forbes put Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick on its cover. “Super Uber,” a headline declared. “The most valuable startup ever isn’t content to be the Uber of Uber. How the $68 billion juggernaut is about to change the way everything moves.” bThe story opened with Kalanick pacing about a conference room. He was not just some “bro” or “douche.” As “jam sessions” like this one revealed, he had a “special sauce.” This was Uber’s actual genius: A PR machine that could transform six men listening to a boss in gray chinos into something almost mystical.bTwo weeks before, Hubert Horan, a little-known expert on the airline industry, wrote a blog post for an equally little-known website, called Naked Capitalism, that went in a different direction.

Horan’s thesis was that Uber was a tremendously unprofitable, inefficient, and not particularly innovative company that would make money only if it bought its way to an unregulated monopoly. Compared to the Forbes piece and many others like it, Horan’s article was a fiduciary root canal. (“There is no simple relationship between EBITAR contribution and GAAP profitability,” reads part of one sentence.) The goal was to show that Uber was hugely unprofitable and how, in the event that it did succeed, profit would come from hurting consumers and overall economic welfare by cornering the taxi market. Horan, who started consulting in the airline industry after getting his MBA at Yale in 1980, has now written 26 more installments of his Uber series. When combined as PDFs, the posts run 193 pages.

They reveal him to be much more a Cassandra than a crank. Uber has lost in the neighborhood of $28 billion since it launched in 2009. Its rides now cost far more than cabs in many major cities, its workers are as exploited as ever, and taxi drivers face massive debts, partly as a result of its business practices. Consumers, meanwhile, are shocked to learn what the rides investors have been subsidizing actually cost. =bIn Uber’s telling, the dynamic is about to change. In a late September SEC filing, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced that the company was reaching an “important milestone” after running “more profitably than ever before” in the third quarter of 2021, which ended in September. As the beginning of another Forbes headline put it: “Uber Poised To Turn A Quarterly Profit.” It will likely officially announce this newfound profitability during its quarterly earnings call on Thursday.

But Uber has not actually become profitable. Instead, as the company stated in its September SEC filing, it believes it will be profitable based on its own “adjusted” formula, which excludes 13 categories the company does not like to count, such as stock-based compensation and the money it’s spending to respond to the pandemic.

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“The government doesn’t control the banks; the banks control the government..”

“The Fed Is Our Master And ‘We The People’, Its Puppet” – G. Edward Griffin (ZH)

The Federal Reserve has become so powerful over the years that its intended roles have entirely reversed and gone haywire, according to G. Edward Griffin, author of the book, many claim a financial bible – The Creature from Jekyll Island. In a rare and exclusive interview, Griffin joined anchor Daniela Cambone on Stansberry Research to discuss the true nature of the Federal Reserve and its place in American society, foreshadowing a world without the institution as we know it. As Cambone points out, the controversial yet influential voice Griffin promulgates would be argued as necessary, among former Congressman Ron Paul and Robert Kiyosaki. Griffin presents a stark reality that dives into the Fed’s foundational structure and how its practices are that of a “banking cartel.” On the surface, one might find it extreme to say that a private institution working in cohesion with the government is playing the role of “masters” to citizens.


Griffin presents his argument accurately by pointing out how Chairman Powell and the Federal Reserve swiftly implemented economic policies contributing to the greatest wealth transfer in human history. “The government doesn’t control the banks; the banks control the government,” he says to round out this servant-master metaphor. In a world where central bank digital currencies will inevitably be the new form of money, Griffin warns, people could lose control of their money because the banks could “just throw a switch and shut you out of your account if they don’t like you.” He then says it’s crucial to hold “marketable assets” outside of what the banking cartel cannot control, such as valuable physical objects – to the likes of precious metals, noting that gold is only one of the few safe places to hide.

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Vaxxism
https://twitter.com/i/status/1456435096190341123

 

 

Weird.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime; donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Aug 172020
 


Claude Monet The Wooden Bridge 1872

 

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)
Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)
Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)
The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)
A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)
Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)
Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)
Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)
UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)
New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)
The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

 

 

What do you think about the post office narrative? Which side is trying to use it to influence the election?

How about the CNN poll that says all of a sudden Trump has closed the double digit gap to Biden? Is that the Kamala effect, or did CNN wake up to the realization that those huge gaps make people less likely to vote?

How about CNN’s -implied- claim that Biden voters are mpre enthusiastic than Trump voters? Does that ring true?

 

 

Can we move new global cases under 200,000? US new cases at the lowest since June 23. US deaths at “just” 522, but that complies with a weekend pattern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can anyone at all explain why these tests are not used all over the world? There are many rapid tests with comparable success rates. What are we waiting for? Does anyone understand why these tests are much more useful than the standard CPR ones? This is presented as a breakthrough, but it isn’t, really.

One-Second Coronavirus Test Achieves 95% Success Rate (JP)

An initial clinical trial of a coronavirus-testing technology that is believed to detect viruses in a fluid sample in less than a second has achieved a 95% success rate, according to data released last week from the trial performed at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. The test was designed by Newsight Imaging, a Ness Ziona-based start-up firm, and centers on a device that is about the size of a computer mouse, which can identify and classify evidence of a virus in the body in less than a second, using a sample of fluid – blood serum or saliva – inserted into a disposable test cuvette. In spectroscopy, a sample is tested with a broadband light source, Newsight CEO Eli Assoolin told The Jerusalem Post last month when it first received Sheba Medical Center’s IRB Ethics (“Helsinki”) Committee approval to conduct a pilot program for rapid COVID-19 detection tests.


The light that returns from the sample is analyzed to determine its wavelength content. “We collect the spectral signature after the light is absorbed in the sample, and then we can analyze the content of it,” he said, noting that spectral-analysis technology has already been used to identify certain human diseases and abnormalities. “Basically, on one side, you have the source of light, and on the other side, you have the sensor chip – a sensitive and fast camera that can see different wavelengths. In the middle, you put the sample,” Assoolin said. Prof. Eli Schwartz of the Center for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Sheba said that under laboratory conditions, the research team was clearly able to differentiate between COVID-19 samples that were positive and those that were negative, with a 95% accuracy rate. “For a new AI-based technology such as this, the results are quite encouraging,” Schwartz said.

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As the virtual Dem convention starts, CNN is in a bit of a bind. They’ve been reporting on various polls that all show Biden leading Trump by double-digit margins, but even their viewers haven’t forgotten how they predicted Hillary had a 95% chance of winning in 2016. And of course the problem with those wide margins is they make people wonder why they should vote, if the outcome is so clear.

So now there’s a poll that shows Trump is fast catching up (the Kamala effect?) , but not without adding the rather curious notion that “Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.”

Is there anyone who believes that Biden voters are more enthusiastic than Trump voters? Doesn’t that contradict everything we’ve seen?

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High (CNN)

Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump among registered voters has significantly narrowed since June, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, even as the former vice president maintains an advantage over the President on several top issues and his choice of California Sen. Kamala Harris as a running mate earns largely positive reviews. And on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election, a new high in CNN polling in presidential election cycles back to 2003. Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%. It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%. The pool of battleground states in this poll includes more that Trump carried in 2016 (10) than were won by Hillary Clinton (5), reflecting the reality that the President’s campaign is more on defense than offense across the states. Taken together, though, they represent a more Republican-leaning playing field than the nation as a whole.


The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide). Trump has also solidified his partisans since June. While 8% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents in June said they would back Biden, that figure now stands at just 4%. And the President has boosted his backing among conservatives from 76% to 85%.

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Weissmann likely doesn’t know what Clinesmith agreed to tell Durham in his guilty plea.

Weissmann’s your typical dirty cop/dirty lawyer. Rumor has it he was in charge of the Mueller probe, not Mueller himself. And yes, he has strong links to the Dems and Hillary.

Mueller Aide Weissmann Tells DOJ Attorneys Not To Help Investigators (Turley)

I recently wrote a column discussing how Democratic leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have argued against continuing the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham despite growing evidence of misconduct by Justice Department officials and now the first guilty plea by former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith. Now, Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, has derided the Clinesmith plea while actually calling on Justice Department attorneys to refuse to help on ongoing investigations that could implicate aspects of his own prior work. I was among those who expressed concern when Mueller selected Weissmann due to his history of controversial prosecutorial decisions, including a pattern of prosecutorial overreach in the Enron litigation.

Weissmann’s recent statements (made before the release of his new book on the Russian investigation) have only served to reaffirm those concerns. Recently, Weissmann wrote an extraordinary and disturbing New York Times op-ed (with former Defense Department special counsel Ryan Goodman). In the column, he appeared to call on Justice Department lawyers to undermine the Durham investigation as well as the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Bash’s investigation into the “unmasking” requests by Obama administration officials. They wrote “Justice Department employees in meeting their ethical and legal obligations, should be well advised not to participate in any such effort.”

Consider that line for a moment. Weissmann is openly calling on attorneys to refuse to help on investigations that could raise questions about his own decisions. Durham is looking at a pattern of errors, false statements, bias, and now criminal conduct in the Russian investigation. There is obviously overlap with the Mueller investigation which discussed many of the same underlying documents and relied on work by some of the same individuals. The failure to address misconduct, bias, or criminal conduct by such individuals would be embarrassing to both Weissmann and Mueller. Despite that obvious conflict of interest, Weissmann is calling on attorneys to stand down. It is the same troubling position that was once taken by Sally Yates, who told an entire federal agency not to assist the President in his travel ban.

[..] I believe that the public needs to have a full and transparent account of what happened in the Russian investigation on both sides. Like many, Weissmann would like transparency on only one side and to shutdown the Durham investigation despite Horowitz referring matters for criminal investigation and finding a host of false statements, errs, and professional misconduct. Even the addition of a criminal plea has not stopped Weissmann from denouncing this investigation. For years, I have criticized Weissmann’s record of dubious prosecutorial judgment, bias, and overreach. However, that case against Weissmann is not nearly as powerful as the case he is making against himself.

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What a crazy story.

The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery (PJM)

That dastardly Donald Trump is at it again. He is either the evilest man ever to hold the office of president or the dumbest. He is either a Machiavellian genius manipulating the media and his hypnotized followers or a bumbling know-nothing idiot. Trump is being accused of sabotaging the November elections because he won’t give the postal unions and incompetent managers in the postal service $25 billion to play with. The money will stave off catastrophe for about a year at the rate the USPS is burning through cash. Without that money, we’re informed by those in the know, thousands — no, tens of thousands — no, millions of voters who wait until the last minute to mail in an absentee ballot might not have their votes counted because, well, Trump.

The procrastinators in America are up in arms and plan a demonstration to show their outrage. But it probably won’t happen until after the election since that’s when they’ll eventually get around to it. The “crisis” in postal delivery presupposes that, prior to Trump’s shenanigans, the USPS was doing fine — nothing that a few tens of billions of taxpayer dollars couldn’t fix. In fact, that’s what the postal unions are saying. In a statement released on Saturday, the letter carriers and postal workers’ unions assure the public that even without the money, they can do the job. [..] So what’s all the hubbub about? The letter carriers say they can deliver the ballots on time. The postal employees claim they don’t need the extra cash. Where, pray tell, is there a “crisis”?


Nancy Pelosi knows. In fact, she’s about to call the members of the House of Representatives off the campaign trail and back to Washington to deal with the “crisis.” Politico: “Pelosi and other top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Democrats are looking to address organizational issues at the Postal Service in the coming weeks, not to provide additional funding at this time, according to sources familiar with the discussion.” Nothing says “crisis” in Washington quite like pulling politicians away from their campaigns for a political stunt like holding an “emergency” session of Congress.

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The USPS has been a mess for decades. Nothing to do with Trump. But yes, he does think the issue risks being used against him.

A Reality-Based Look At Trump And The Post Office (York)

The idea that the Postal Service will not be able to handle the volume of mail in the election, or not be able to handle it within normal Postal Service time guidelines, does not make much sense. According to its most recent annual report, last year, in fiscal year 2019, the Postal Service handled 142.5 billion pieces of mail. “On a typical day, our 633,000 employees physically process and deliver 471 million mailpieces to nearly 160 delivery points,” the report says. This year, that number is higher, given the Postal Service’s delivery of census forms and stimulus checks. Those alone added about 450 million additional pieces of mail.

In 2016, about 136 million Americans voted in the presidential election. The number will probably be a bit higher this year. If officials sent ballots to every single American registered to vote — about 158 million people — and then 140 million people returned ballots, the roughly 298 million pieces of mail handled over the course of several weeks would be well within the Postal Service’s ability to handle. Of course, officials will not send a ballot to every American registered to vote, and not every voter will vote by mail. Whatever the final number is, the ballots that are cast by mail will not cripple a system that delivers 471 million pieces of mail every day.

There are, of course, compelling examples of election dysfunction, most notably the mess New York made of some of its congressional primaries this summer. But rather than representing a Postal Service problem, that was because some states are unprepared for a dramatic increase of voting by mail. The states have to prepare the ballots, address them, and process and count them when the Postal Service delivers them. That is the focus of the entirely legitimate fears of a possible vote-counting disaster this year. But it’s not the Postal Service.

[..] The Postal Service is not funded by a regular appropriation. It is, instead, an “independent agency” and is expected to support itself, beyond a yearly appropriation of about $55 million to cover the costs of mail for the blind and overseas balloting in elections. The Postal Service has lost money for a very long time. In fiscal year 2019, it had operating revenues of $71.1 billion and operating expenses of $79.9 billion, leaving it with a deficit of $8.8 billion. At the moment, Postal Service officials have told Congress, it has about $14 billion in cash on hand, putting it on the road to fiscal insolvency (without further aid) in late 2021. In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, the $2 trillion relief measure passed in March, Congress gave the Postal Service a $10 billion borrowing authority. After the bill became law, there were negotiations between the Postal Service and the Treasury Department on the terms of the borrowing; a deal was announced in July.

The ability to borrow $10 billion, the postmaster general said, would “delay the approaching liquidity crisis.” [..] The House HEROES Act would give $25 billion to the Postal Service in what is essentially a bailout. The bill mentions nothing about helping the Postal Service handle the upcoming election or any other election. Indeed, the only stipulation at all placed on the $25 billion is that the Postal Service, “during the coronavirus emergency, shall prioritize the purchase of, and make available to all Postal Service employees and facilities, personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, and sanitizers, and shall conduct additional cleaning and sanitizing of Postal Service facilities and delivery vehicles.” If the House Democrats who wrote and passed the bill intended the money to be spent specifically for elections, they did not say so in the text of the legislation.

Jie Boden

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From April, but highly appropriate. We’ve discussed this in the Comments, and I keep thinking that one, or a few, states having a working model doesn’t mean it’s endlessly scalable.

Washington’s Successful Vote-by-Mail System Wasn’t Built Overnight (CC)

State officials across the nation are turning to Washington state for advice on how to set up a vote-by-mail system before the November presidential election, but officials say that question is just the first of many they should be asking. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who is in charge of Washington’s election system, and King County Elections Director Julie Wise, who runs elections in the county where more than a third of Washington voters fill out a ballot, said the list of questions other states need to answer in order to effectively implement vote-by-mail is long and complicated. And mid-April may be too late to start making the switch from a mostly in-person system to a vote-at-home configuration, said Wise, who worked on in-person voting for a decade before moving, along with the state of Washington, to vote-by-mail elections in 2011.

“We’ve been at it for a decade. It’s not an easy lift to make that transition,” said Wise, between meetings to plan for a November election that could change dramatically — even in one of the nation’s five vote-by-mail states — because of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. “You’re cutting it very short,” was her response to recent inquiries from other states and counties, in addition to sharing a packet of information about how King County votes by mail, from the technology to the people. Among the questions other states and municipalities should be asking, according to Wyman and Wise:


• Do we need to buy new equipment to count the votes? • Do we have current addresses of our voters? Have we tried to mail them anything recently? • How recent are the signature cards from voters? Do we need to ask millions of people to fill out new ones? • Do we have a place to count votes that can accommodate the people needed to verify ballots and count them, while allowing for social distancing? • What state laws would we need to change in order to allow for most votes to be cast by mail? • Will we provide free postage? • How much will that cost? • Will we provide drop boxes and, if so, how many? • Do we need to set up some in-person sites for people to vote or register and how can you do that while accounting for social distancing? • How much will this transition cost? Where will the money come from? And that’s just the beginning of the list.

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It’s not just his tweets. Schiff and the Dems have been getting away for so long with utter falsehoods they themselves may not even recognize them as such anymore. And who’s going to call them on it now? The MSM have been getting away with the exact same thing. But what use is it to go for a soft touch approach like this from John Solomon? Just say Schiff’s a blatant liar. Because he is. And opther people, like a journalist, may claim innocence, but the chair of the House Intelligence Committee can definitely not.

Adam Schiff’s Inaccurate Russia Tweets Raise Double-Standard Question (JTN)

Twitter has on more than one occasion appended or flagged President Trump’s tweets as misleading. But so far, it has not done the same with several posts by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff that are demonstrably false or misleading, raising questions of a double standard. For instance, Schiff tweeted in July 2018 that “the release of the Carter Page FISA application makes clear, once again, the FBI acted lawfully and appropriately” in reference to the surveillance warrant the bureau used to spy on the Trump adviser during the Russia collusion probe. In fact, the FISA application that Schiff referred to in the tweet contained 51 statements that were inaccurate, misleading or undocumented, and included 17 violations of FBI rules ranging from false and unverified information to omissions of exculpatory evidence of innocence, the Justice Department inspector general reported last December.

Likewise, DOJ officials withdrew two of the four Page FISA applications, and the chief judge of the FISA court ruled in March that the FBI has misled the court. “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said. And last week, an ex-FBI lawyer agreed to plead guilty to a felony and admitted he falsified a document to deceive the court. In other words, the FBI acted unlawfully and inappropriately in the Page FISA debacle. And to date, Twitter hasn’t flagged or appended Schiff’s tweet even though he has enormous influence on the platform with 2.4 million followers.

Just the News identified more than a dozen tweets that Schiff has posted since 2017 that are inaccurate or misleading based on the declassified information that has been made public over the last year by the Justice Department, FBI, and intelligence community. Earlier this month, for instance, Schiff tweeted out a claim that Trump had not taken action to stop Russia from interfering in elections. “Donald Trump has never deterred Russia from interfering in U.S. elections. Far from it. The sum total of Trump’s words and actions has only encouraged Russian meddling in our elections,” Schiff wrote.

[..] Several times, Schiff has tweeted claims that there is evidence Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to hijack the 2016 election. For instance, the California Democrat posted a tweet in April 2018 accusing Republicans of ignoring “when in plain sight — evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Multiple investigations ranging from the Senate Intelligence Committee to Special Counsel Robert Mueller have concluded there is no evidence any Trump campaign official – or any other American – colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. “The investigation did not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired to coordinate it with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” Mueller wrote, saying extensive contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians did not amount to a conspiracy.

Then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr last year came to a similar conclusion. “We don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” he announced.

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Again, it’s not the lockdowns:

“Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]”

Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Record -27.8% Annual Rate (AP)

Japan’s economy shrank at annual rate of 27.8% in April-June, the worst contraction on record, as the coronavirus pandemic slammed consumption and trade, according to government data released Monday. The Cabinet Office reported that Japan’s preliminary seasonally adjusted real GDP, the sum of a nation’s goods and services, fell 7.8% quarter on quarter. The annual rate shows what the number would have been if continued for a year. Japanese media reported the latest drop was the worst since World War II. But the Cabinet Office said comparable records began in 1980. The previous worst contraction, a 17.8% drop, was in the first quarter of 2009, during the global financial crisis.

The world’s third largest economy was already limping along when the virus outbreak struck in China late last year. It has weakened as the pandemic gained ground, leading to social distancing restrictions and prompting many people to stay home when they can. “In April, May, a state of emergency was issued, it was a situation where the economy was artificially stopped so to speak, and the impact was severe,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister Economic and Fiscal Policy. “These are tough numbers but they bottomed out in April and May, we would like to put all our efforts into returning to a growth trajectory,” Nishimura told reporters.


[..] The economy shrank 0.6% in the January-March period, and contracted 1.8% in the October-December period last year, meaning that Japan slipped into recession in the first quarter of this year. Recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. [..] Japanese economic growth was flat in July-September. Growth was minimal the quarter before that. [..] For the April-June period, Japan’s exports dropped at a whopping annual rate of 56%. Private consumption dipped at an annual rate of nearly 29% as shoppers stayed home, leaving malls and restaurants nearly empty of customers. That was without any full shutdown of businesses to contain coronavirus outbreaks [..]

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In a bit of a dip? No panic, let’s blow another housing bubble. The instrument this time is a stamp duty holiday.

UK Housing Market Has Busiest Month In More Than 10 Years (G.)

The housing market has had its busiest month in more than 10 years in July, with the traditional summer lull replaced by a flurry of activity from buyers and sellers, according to the property website Rightmove. The site, which typically lists about 95% of homes for sale in the UK, said the “rulebook has been rewritten”, with the boom fuelled by pent-up demand during lockdown accelerating as the summer has progressed. It said the number of monthly sales agreed in Britain had been the highest since it started tracking the figure a decade ago, up by 38% on the same period last year and worth a combined total of more than £37bn. Would-be sellers were also active, with more properties coming on to the market than in any month since 2008.

Asking prices have fallen by an average of 0.2% across mainland Britain, but this has been driven by a 2% drop in London, where the number of homes coming on to the market is up by 69% year-on-year. In seven regions, asking prices hit record highs as sellers sought to make the most of the demand. The housing market was closed in lockdown and reopened in mid-May, sparking a flurry of activity. July brought a stamp duty holiday on homes costing up to £500,000 in England and £250,000 in Wales and Scotland, which further fuelled activity.


Last week figures from the UK’s largest estate agency firm, Countrywide, showed that demand for homes costing between £500,000 and £750,000 had soared since the tax break was announced, and Rightmove’s figures suggest a similar effect for other agents. The number of sales agreed for large homes was up by 59% annually, while for first-time properties the rise was 29% and on homes with three or four bedrooms, excluding four-bed detached properties, it was 38%.

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She didn’t want to do it.

New Zealand Delays General Election By A Month Amid COVID19 Outbreak (G.)

New Zealand is to delay its general election by a month due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland, the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has said. Calls had been growing from opposition parties for the election to be moved, with opposition leaders saying it wasn’t “just and fair” to hold an election while an outbreak was underway and level 3 restrictions were in place in the country’s largest city, prohibiting campaigning. Ardern said after consulting with every political party in parliament, as well as the electoral commission, she had decided to move the general election from 19 September to 17 October. She said her first suggestion of moving it by two weeks had been rejected by the Electoral Commission as not enough time to prepare logistics such as venues.

“The Electoral Commission, via the Ministry of Justice, has advised me that a safe and accessible election is achievable on this date,” Ardern said. “Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays.” Ardern said Covid-19 would be with the world “for some time to come” and repeatedly pushing the election date would not lessen the risk of disruption to voters and parties. “This is why the Electoral Commission has planned for the possibility of holding an election where the country is at level 2, and with some parts at level 3. I will not change the election date again.” New Zealand is in the midst of its first outbreak since eliminating the disease in June, with dozens of people infected and held in quarantine in Auckland, a city of 1.5 million.


On Monday nine news cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the total number of cases related to the south Auckland cluster to 58. Maori and Pasifika people have been disproportionately infected by the latest outbreak. Five people were in hospital being treated for the disease, and the source of the outbreak remained a mystery, the ministry of health said. “We still don’t have any particular clues as to the origin of the outbreak,” director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

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Must read for today. How do new words enter our lexicon? To what extent are they propagated, and by whom, and for which purposes? Ever heard of critical theory?

In my view, this typifies the institutionalization of education and knowledge. Which claims that the only things that you can learn that are of any value are to be found in schools. Say that often enough and nothing of value can be found there anymore. Knowledge as a monopoly doesn’t work.

The Roots Of Wokeness (Sullivan)

In the mid-2010s, a curious new vocabulary began to unspool itself in our media. A data site, storywrangling.org, which measures the frequency of words in news stories, revealed some remarkable shifts. Terms that had previously been almost entirely obscure suddenly became ubiquitous—and an analysis of the New York Times, using these tools, is a useful example. Looking at stories from 1970 to 2018, several terms came out of nowhere in the past few years to reach sudden new heights of repetition and frequency. Here’s a list of the most successful neologisms: non-binary, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, traumatizing, queer, transphobia, whiteness, mansplaining. And here are a few that were rising in frequency in the last decade but only took off in the last few years: triggering, hurtful, gender, stereotypes.

Language changes, and we shouldn’t worry about that. Maybe some of these terms will stick around. But the linguistic changes have occurred so rapidly, and touched so many topics, that it has all the appearance of a top-down re-ordering of language, rather than a slow, organic evolution from below. While the New York Times once had a reputation for being a bit stodgy on linguistic matters, pedantic, precise and slow-to-change, as any paper of record might be, in the last few years, its pages have been flushed with so many neologisms that a reader from, say, a decade ago would have a hard time understanding large swathes of it. And for many of us regular readers, we’ve just gotten used to brand new words popping up suddenly to re-describe something we thought we knew already. We notice a new word, make a brief mental check, and move on with our lives.

But we need to do more than that. We need to understand that all these words have one thing in common: they are products of an esoteric, academic discipline called critical theory, which has gained extraordinary popularity in elite education in the past few decades, and appears to have reached a cultural tipping point in the middle of the 2010s. Most normal people have never heard of this theory—or rather an interlocking web of theories—that is nonetheless changing the very words we speak and write and the very rationale of the institutions integral to liberal democracy. What we have long needed is an intelligible, intelligent description of this theory which most people can grasp. And we’ve just gotten one: “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity,” by former math prof James Lindsay and British academic, Helen Pluckrose. It’s as deep a dive into this often impenetrable philosophy as anyone would want to attempt. But it’s well worth grappling with.

What the book helps the layperson to understand is the evolution of postmodern thought since the 1960s until it became the doctrine of Social Justice today. Beginning as a critique of all grand theories of meaning—from Christianity to Marxism—postmodernism is a project to subvert the intellectual foundations of western culture. The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place. The idea of objective truth—even if it is viewed as always somewhat beyond our reach—is abandoned. All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional, and can in turn be subverted or problematized.

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Feb 032018
 
 February 3, 2018  Posted by at 11:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Frank Larson Times Square, New York 1954

 

FISA Memo Released: Here’s What It Says (ZH)
Dow Plummets 666 Points, Capping Worst Week In 2 Years (CNBC)
Did The Market Just Get “Woke?” (Roberts)
Over $100 Billion Wiped Off Global Cryptocurrency Market In 24 Hours (CNBC)
Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big US Banks Recoil (BBG)
Sotu Klaatu Barada Nikto (Jim Kunstler)
UK Interest Rates Will Rise At The End Of February (G.)
Green Brexit Is Impossible To Guarantee, EU Is Warned (G.)
German Carmakers Have Lost All Moral Standing (Spiegel)
How YouTube’s Algorithm Distorts Truth (G.)
Blockchain To Track Congo’s Cobalt From Mine To Mobile (R.)
Congo Gripped By Fear As Thousands Flee ‘Bone-Chilling’ Violence (G.)
WikiLeaks Has Published Leaks On Trump Admin And Russia, Seeking More (CJ)
‘Ultra-Processed’ Products Now Half Of All UK Family Food Purchases (G.)

 

 

The differences in interpretation across the aisle are far more stunning than the memo itself is.

FISA Memo Released: Here’s What It Says (ZH)

Update: The just released FISA memo accuses senior officials at the DOJ of inappropriately using biased opposition research into then-candidate Trump to obtain surveillance warrants on transition team members as part of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia. According to the document, information from the the so-called Steele dossier was “essential” to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It claims that then-deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe told the committee in December that without the information from the Steele dossier, no surveillance warrant for Page would have been sought. The memo alleges that the political origins of the dossier — paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC — were not disclosed to the clandestine court that signed off on the warrant request.

The document claims that although the FBI had “clear evidence” that the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, was biased against Trump, it did not convey that to the surveillance court when making its warrant applications. Steele told then-associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” the memo says. House conservatives have touted the memo’s revelations as “worse than Watergate” and hinted that it could prove the undoing of the federal investigation into Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Democrats on the panel say that it is a cherry-picked set of inaccurate accusations designed to kneecap special counsel Robert Mueller. They have drafted their own counter-memo to rebut the Republican-drafted document, but the majority voted against immediately making that document public earlier this week.

The memo is based on a slate of highly-classified materials provided to the committee by the Justice Department itself, in a closed-door deal brokered by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Naturally, the DOJ has claimed that the release of the memo is an abrogation of the terms of that deal, an assertion spokesmen for both Ryan and Nunes have rejected. Meanwhile, the underlying evidence remains classified, a state of affairs that Democrats and some national security analysts say makes it impossible to independently verify the memo’s conclusions. As The Hill reported earlier, ahead of the document’s release, Paul Ryan privately urged House Republicans not to overplay the document — and not to tie it to the Mueller investigation.

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10 years ago, a drop of 777 was the biggest news on the planet. Today, 666 gets poo-poohed into nothingness.

Dow Plummets 666 Points, Capping Worst Week In 2 Years (CNBC)

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday after a stronger-than-expected jobs report sent interest rates higher. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 665.75 points to close at 25,520.96, capping off the index’s sixth-largest points decline ever. The 30-stock index also fell below 26,000. Friday also marked the first time since June 2016 that the Dow fell at least 500 points. The S&P 500 fell 2.1% and finished at 2,762.13, with energy as the worst-performing sector. The Nasdaq composite plunged 1.96% to 7,240.95 as a decline in Apple and Alphabet offset a strong gain in Amazon shares. The Dow posted its worst day since June 2016. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had their biggest one-day fall since September 2016 and August 2017, respectively.

“The key for the market today is rising interest rates,” said Mike Baele, managing director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “The old adage is: ‘Bull markets don’t die of old age, they are killed by higher interest rates.’ That looms large.” The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists polled by Reuters expected growth of 180,000. Wages, meanwhile, rose 2.9% on an annualized basis. The report sent interest rates higher. The benchmark 10-year yield rose to 2.85% on the back of the report, hitting a four-year high. Investors have been jittery about the recent rise in interest rates, worrying they may be rising too fast. On Friday, the 30-year yield rose its highest level since March.

Bank stocks fell as the yield curve widened. The SPDR S&P Bank exchange-traded fund, which tracks bank stocks, dropped 1.2%. Banks typically benefit from higher interest rates. This has been a volatile week for U.S. stocks. The Cboe Volatility index, widely considered the best fear gauge in the market, rose from 11.08 this week to 17.31.

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That graph is stunning.

Did The Market Just Get “Woke?” (Roberts)

Since the beginning of this year, we have been warning of the potential for a correction. Of course, such warnings seemed pointless as the nearly “parabolic” rise in the markets seemed unstoppable. But all of a sudden, something seems to have changed as the market stumbled this past week and has been unable to regain its footing.

So, what “woke” the markets? Was it the sudden realization that Central Banks globally are reducing Q.E. programs? Or, that economic growth may be weaker than expected given recent numbers? Or, something else? Whatever, the excuse turns out to be, the real culprit is seen in the chart below.

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By now, there are some really big losers out there.

Over $100 Billion Wiped Off Global Cryptocurrency Market In 24 Hours (CNBC)

Over $100 billion was wiped off the global cryptocurrency market in 24 hours on Friday amid concerns over tighter regulation and worries that the bitcoin price was manipulated on a major exchange. The total market capitalization or value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation stood at $405 billion Friday morning New York time, according to data from CoinMarketCap.com, which takes into account the prices of digital coins across a number of key exchanges. This was a fall of $112.6 billion in value from a day before. Cryptocurrencies have seen a major sell-off this week. Bitcoin fell below $9,000 on Thursday and briefly dropped below $8,000 Friday morning, according to CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index, which tracks prices from four major cryptocurrency exchanges.

Other major coins including ethereum and ripple were down 12% and 13%, respectively, compared to a day ago as of 9:58 a.m., ET, Friday. The cryptocurrency world has been plagued by a spate of negative news. India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the country wants to “eliminate” the use of digital currencies in criminal activities, signaling tighter regulation in the country. The New York Times reported Wednesday that an increasing number of digital currency investors are worried the price of bitcoin and other digital currencies have been inflated by cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, which is included in CoinDesk’s price index. Bloomberg reported Tuesday that in December, the U.S. Commodity Futures and Trading Commission subpoenaed Bitfinex and a cryptocurrency company called Tether, which is run by many of the same executives.

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What, they figured there was no more profit in there?

Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big US Banks Recoil (BBG)

A growing number of big U.S. credit-card issuers are deciding they don’t want to finance a falling knife. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup said they’re halting purchases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on their credit cards. JPMorgan, enacting the ban Saturday, doesn’t want the credit risk associated with the transactions, company spokeswoman Mary Jane Rogers said. Bank of America started declining credit card transactions with known crypto exchanges on Friday. The policy applies to all personal and business credit cards, according to a memo. It doesn’t affect debit cards, said company spokeswoman Betty Riess.

And late Friday, Citigroup said it too will halt purchases of cryptocurrencies on its credit cards. “We will continue to review our policy as this market evolves,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier said. Allowing purchases of cryptocurrencies can create big headaches for lenders, which can be left on the hook if a borrower bets wrong and can’t repay. There’s also the risk that thieves will abuse cards that were purloined or based on stolen identities, turning them into crypto hoards. Banks also are required by regulators to monitor customer transactions for signs of money laundering – which isn’t as easy once dollars are converted into digital coins.

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From before the memo release. As I said, it’s the interpretation more than the memo itself.

Sotu Klaatu Barada Nikto (Jim Kunstler)

The situation certainly puts the nation in a quandary. An uncouth and ridiculous President called forth to battle a vicious, dishonest, bureaucracy and in particular its gigantic, out-of-control “security” apparatus, which appears to have been hijacked by politically interested parties — namely, the minions of Hillary Clinton. You have been reminded here before that history is the supreme prankster. In Fourth Turning terms, the poor old disintegrating USA pined for a “gray champion” and all it got was this booby prize: a Manhattan real estate schmikler with a mean streak. Well, that’s how things roll in a long emergency. And this might only be the beginning of it. In any case, it appears that the FBI, in the hallowed words of Ricky Ricardo, has got some ‘splainin’ to do.

Recall, it was not so long ago that the FBI was run by a cross-dressing maniac addicted to blackmail, so let’s not act as if the agency was something that the Lord Yahweh brought into being on the fifth day of creation, after the lobsters and the cockateels. Granted, J. Edgar Hoover was a hard act to follow, but we are now, evidently, living in an age of even lower men (and women, to be fair). CNN reminded viewers relentlessly last night that The Memo was sure to be a disappointment, a “nothingburger,” for a nation that expects a righteous half-pound beef patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and special sauce on a sesame bun. Personally, I expect something more like a three-day-old dead carp in a plain brown wrapper. Maybe “the Resistance” will try to make gefilte fish out of it, which is a burger of sorts: chopped meat, anyway.

Meanwhile, we await the report of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who has been rooting around in the same burger den as the House and Senate committees, questioning the same cast of characters. The DOJ report is liable to be more damaging than The Memo. The whole nasty gumball of suspicion and innuendo seems destined to climax in a constitutional crisis. Ludicrous as it seems — like some rogue army out of the stupid Star Wars epic — the “Resistance” bethinks itself the nation’s savior. In the best American tradition, they’ll burn the joint down in order to save it.

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Another little Brexit surprise.

UK Interest Rates Will Rise At The End Of February (G.)

There’s going to be an interest rate rise on 28 February. In just a few weeks you are going to see about 0.25% added to mortgage and savings rates. But you won’t see a press release from the Bank of England that the base rate has gone up. Instead, for the first time in years, banks are going to be scrambling to offer savers better rates – and the losers will be anyone taking out a new mortgage. So what’s happening? On 28 February an extraordinary financial measure, put in place in the days after the Brexit vote, will end. It was called the Term Funding Scheme and was designed to make sure that the 0.25% rate cut in the wake of the shock referendum result in 2016, did actually feed through the financial system (while keeping them profitable). Under the scheme, banks and building societies were able to borrow money from the Bank of England almost for free.

They did so with gusto. They have so far taken £106bn under the scheme, equal to around £3,500 for every working person in the country. Lloyds took £18bn, RBS £14bn, Barclays £10bn, Nationwide £9.5bn and Santander £8bn. Nearly everyone rushed to grab their share: from the tiny Holmesdale building society – which took £4m – through to the Nottingham building society (£395m) and Virgin Money (£4.2bn). Specialist lender Aldermore, which does a lot of buy-to-let mortgages, has drawn £1.4bn from the scheme over a period during which its total net lending has been £1.5bn. It underlines just how important the cash has been. With all this money gushing out of the Bank of England, it has meant that no one has really had to bother chasing savers for their money. So savings rates, already massively depressed by the 2012 Funding for Lending Scheme, were hit further.

But the corner will be turned on 28 February. On that date, the banks and building societies will have to start repaying that £106bn. They’ll have a few years to do it, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic suggesting rates will rise overnight. But let’s say I wouldn’t, right now, lock myself into Lloyds’ one-year bond paying 0.4% or NatWest’s two-year bond paying 0.85%. The banks are going to have to offer much better rates than that to bring the money in. Some of the big banks may pooh-pooh this. Yes, £18bn sounds like a lot for Lloyds, but then it has an £800bn balance sheet, so it’s hardly fatal. But when rivals start offering as much as 3% to get you to move money, banks won’t have a choice but to raise rates. According to Paul Richards, chairman of Insignis Cash Solutions: “It’s likely we will see a 0.25%-0.5% increase in longer-term savings rates over the next 12 months and potentially up to 1% over the next 24-36 months, which could leave a one-year term account getting close to the 3% level.”

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Why should the EU feel ‘warned’ about what may happen when the UK is no longer part of the EU?

Green Brexit Is Impossible To Guarantee, EU Is Warned (G.)

The European Conservative and Reformist group which represents Conservative MEPs has has said Brexit will make it “impossible” to guarantee that current environmental standards can be maintained in Britain or the EU. A leaked document seen by the Guardian also calls for “the closest possible working relationship” between the EU and UK after Brexit, and for a “no regression clause” in future British trade deals. This would “limit any negative effects from deregulation,” says the paper, which was submitted to the European parliament’s Brexit environment steering group. Some Conservative MEPs claimed not to have seen the report that was submitted. The parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, told the Guardian: “Suggestions that the UK might seek to lower environmental standards after Brexit are alarming and contradict the commitments made by prime minister May in her Florence speech.”

They also showed why a future deal “must contain precise and detailed safeguards, with robust sanctions, to ensure the maintenance of high standards and a level playing field,” he said. The EU’s environmental laws are among its most popular, with polls showing that over 80% of Britons support the same levels of protection – or higher – after Brexit. During the referendum campaign, key government ministers said EU laws such as the birds and habitats directive were “spirit-crushing” and would be scrapped. But Theresa May has sought to defuse fears of conservation backsliding by trying to make the environment a selling point of leaving the bloc. “Let me be very clear,” May said in a speech last month. “Brexit will not mean a lowering of environmental standards.” “We will use the opportunity Brexit provides to strengthen and enhance our environmental protections – not to weaken them.”

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Still haven’t seen one word about prosecuting the people behind all this. Incredible.

German Carmakers Have Lost All Moral Standing (Spiegel)

Starting in 2007, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Bosch maintained a joint lobby organization that was disguised as a research institute. The European Research Association for the Environment and Health in the Transportation Sector (EUGT) purported to dedicate itself to the “environmental-medical effects of road traffic.” But the staff in leadership posts alone shows that the institute was in no way interested in independent research. EUGT head Michael Spallek, for example, had previously spent years employed as a leading company doctor at VW. He retained his VW email address, even after his move to EUGT. The results of the institute’s research were accordingly one-sided. The efficacy of low emission zones in cities that place restrictions on driving cars with high emissions?

There’s no proof, according to one essay the lobby group managed to place in a trade publication for respiratory medicine. Nighttime noise pollution from cars? It’s no problem, as long as it’s continuous. Do diesel emissions cause cancer? Can’t be proven. A short time later, former VW manager and EUGT head Spallek approved the tests with the monkeys. “We have finished our discussions with the company lawyers,” Spallek wrote in an email dating June 14, 2013. The lawyers had given the green light for the study to be carried out, but with one restriction: Non-human primates were to be used instead of human volunteers. Several VW executives at the time were copied in the message, including Stuart Johnson, the head of the company’s Engineering and Environmental Office in the United States.

But it doesn’t appear as though any critical questions were asked. The aim of the experiment with the monkeys had been to deliver definitive proof of how clean “German diesel” really is. The case files compiled by attorney Melkersen illustrate the zeal with which VW’s people organized the test. Nothing was left to chance when engineer James Liang began his journey with a bright-red VW Beetle from California to New Mexico at the beginning of October 2014. The engineer from company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, was already under pressure, even at that point. The U.S. environmental authorities had expressed their doubts about the emissions values of the allegedly squeaky-clean car. VW Chairman Martin Winterkorn had been breathing down his staff’s necks, too. The new diesel models needed to provide the company with a breakthrough in the important U.S. market. As such, anything that might possibly preserve diesel’s environmentally friendly façade had priority.

Which is where the monkeys came in. As of Oct. 2, all final preparations had been made for the test. The VW man moved assiduously around the red Beetle, which had been placed on a chassis dynamometer. The experiment would be led by Jacob McDonald, an athletic young biologist who had quickly risen in his career at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI). McDonald found it strange that an engineer from Volkswagen would be present for the test. “It’s the first time that I’ve experienced that,” he would later say. And what he really couldn’t grasp was why the VW people wanted to transmit the entire test data in real-time to their research center in California. Engineer Liang had even brought along a transmission device especially for the task.

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YouTube has the lowest common denominator down to a T. So let kids see videos of kids beating up kids. They’re sure to keep watching.

How YouTube’s Algorithm Distorts Truth (G.)

There are 1.5 billion YouTube users in the world, which is more than the number of households that own televisions. What they watch is shaped by this algorithm, which skims and ranks billions of videos to identify 20 “up next” clips that are both relevant to a previous video and most likely, statistically speaking, to keep a person hooked on their screen. Company insiders tell me the algorithm is the single most important engine of YouTube’s growth. In one of the few public explanations of how the formula works – an academic paper that sketches the algorithm’s deep neural networks, crunching a vast pool of data about videos and the people who watch them – YouTube engineers describe it as one of the “largest scale and most sophisticated industrial recommendation systems in existence”.

Lately, it has also become one of the most controversial. The algorithm has been found to be promoting conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas mass shooting and incentivising, through recommendations, a thriving subculture that targets children with disturbing content such as cartoons in which the British children’s character Peppa Pig eats her father or drinks bleach. Lewd and violent videos have been algorithmically served up to toddlers watching YouTube Kids, a dedicated app for children. One YouTube creator who was banned from making advertising revenues from his strange videos – which featured his children receiving flu shots, removing earwax, and crying over dead pets – told a reporter he had only been responding to the demands of Google’s algorithm. “That’s what got us out there and popular,” he said. “We learned to fuel it and do whatever it took to please the algorithm.”

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How to make rape, murder and pillage more efficiently. And what does Amnesty say? ‘We’re not against it’.

Blockchain To Track Congo’s Cobalt From Mine To Mobile (R.)

Blockchain is to be used for the first time to try to track cobalt’s journey from artisanal mines in Democratic Republic of Congo through to products used in smartphones and electric cars. Sources close to a pilot scheme expected to be launched this year say the aim is eventually to give manufacturers a way of ensuring the cobalt in lithium-ion batteries for products such as iPhones and Teslas has not been mined by children. Tracking cobalt presents many challenges as scores of informal mine sites would have to be monitored, all players in the supply chain would need to buy into the scheme, and accurate, electronic data would need to be transmitted from remote areas – all in a vast country plagued by lawlessness.

But companies are under growing pressure from consumers and investors to show the cobalt they use has come through supply chains free of rights abuses, just as they have for minerals used in electronics such as tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold. Businesses in China, the main destination for Congolese cobalt from artisanal mines, have set up a Responsible Cobalt Initiative, which has been joined by tech giants such as Apple and Samsung, to address child labor. The problem they face is that there are few sure-fire ways of tracing cobalt from the informal mines that produce up to a fifth of the cobalt from Congo, the world’s biggest producer. “The demand to make cobalt more sustainable is going to continue growing, meaning there is a will to find a solution and blockchain will be part of that,” said a source with the project.

[..] Sheila Warren, head of blockchain policy at the World Economic Forum, said it was an open question how well it could work in Congo given the prevalence of conflict, lawlessness and an opaque legal system. “We are prototyping, iterating, testing, scaling,” said Warren, who is working with experts to see how blockchain can improve mineral supply chains. “The technology is not the hard part.” Amnesty International, which detailed the extent of child labor in cobalt mining in Congo in a 2016 report, said it was looking at blockchain, especially with a view to tracing payments to middlemen. “You have to be wary of technological solutions to problems that are also political and economic, but blockchain may help. We’re not against it,” said Amnesty researcher Mark Dummett.

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It is our governments who are behind this. And our media who don’t tell us about that. How anyone can protest when the Congo is labeled a shithole is beyond me. That takes a very large object up one’s behind.

Congo Gripped By Fear As Thousands Flee ‘Bone-Chilling’ Violence (G.)

The UN refugee agency has become the latest aid organisation to voice its alarm over rising violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. Amid a worsening humanitarian crisis, almost 7,000 people have crossed to neighbouring Burundi and 1,200 into Tanzania in the past week, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “Refugees we have spoken to say they fled forced recruitment, direct violence and other abuses by armed groups. Others say they fled in anticipation of military operations and out of fear,” said spokesperson Babar Baloch. Earlier this week, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation described “alarming food insecurity” in the country, sparked by an extension of conflict into areas previously considered stable, such as the provinces of Kasai and Tanganyika.

Last month, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, DRC’s chief of mission for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said the humanitarian crisis in DRC was at “breaking point” amid a massive escalation of inter-ethnic conflict and widespread insecurity. The number of people coping with extreme hunger has risen by 2 million over the past six months, reaching 7.7 million – about 10% of the population. More than 4 million children under the age of five are at risk of acute malnutrition, said the agencies. “The humanitarian situation in the DRC is at breaking point, as is our capacity to respond to extremely limited funding,” said Chauzy. “The stories that Congolese who have been forced from their homes are telling are bone-chilling. They have been through so much already – torture, rape and murder of their loved ones. We cannot stand idly by as they suffer in silence.”

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Without WikiLeaks, we’d be stumbling even more in the dark. We don’t do nearly enough to protect them. We let whoever claim that Assange is some Russian agent, and we owe him a lot more respect than that.

WikiLeaks Has Published Leaks On Trump Admin And Russia, Seeking More (CJ)

Democrats believe that Assange is a Trump-supporting Kremlin asset while Trump supporters believe Assange is a based MAGA hat-wearing ally to their cause, the former because they were told to believe that by CNN and the Washington Post and the latter because they’ve seen him championed by Fox’s Sean Hannity and the elaborate 4chan hoax “QAnon”. Neither could be further from the truth. Today Assange responded to a call for transparency on Trump “tax returns, corporate records, campaign emails, and other documents relevant to Donald Trump’s Russia/WikiLeaks connections” from toxic neocon David Frum with the words “Go for it” and a link to WikiLeaks’ leak submission service. This is not the first time WikiLeaks has solicited documents on the Trump administration, and it won’t be the last.

Since long before the election and continuing through to the present, WikiLeaks has been harshly criticizing the president’s refusal to release his tax returns and publicly asking for leakers to submit them. They are on record trying to persuade Donald Trump Jr to do the same in a conversation that has been spuriously criticized but which when examined impartially is plainly just a leak publishing outlet soliciting a potential source. More importantly, WikiLeaks has already published Trump administration leaks. Its Vault 7 and Vault 8 leak drops exposing the CIA’s scary surveillance and hacking tools are comparable to NSA leaks from Edward Snowden against the Obama administration, and much like the Obama administration’s vindictive backlash against Snowden we are seeing similar retaliation from the Trump administration for the CIA leaks.

Trump’s CIA Director has pledged to shut down WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” and his Attorney General has statedthat Assange’s arrest is a priority, which Trump himself has said he would permit. Mike Pompeo’s increasingly vitriolic and threatening rhetoric about WikiLeaks is reminiscent of Joe Biden’s labeling Assange a “hi-tech terrorist” eight years ago. WikiLeaks in reality is not a friend of Republicans anymore than it’s a friend of Democrats, because WikiLeaks is and always will be first and foremost an enemy of corrupt power. The liberals who used to love Assange when he was dropping leaks about the Bush administration now hate him, and the conservatives who used to attack him as an enemy now celebrate him as a hero. This dynamic will necessarily switch again when more leaks drop and conservatives see clearly that Assange’s principles are not for sale.

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An epic tale for future historians. When we found how to feed ourselves, all of us, with good food, we decided not to do that. There’s some deeper meaning there, we don’t have the ability to do this right. We may be smart, but only superficially. And moreover, if we did get it right, we’d end up with 30-40 billion people here. So we poison ourselves.

‘Ultra-Processed’ Products Now Half Of All UK Family Food Purchases (G.)

Half of all the food bought by families in the UK is now “ultra-processed”, made in a factory with industrial ingredients and additives invented by food technologists and bearing little resemblance to the fruit, vegetables, meat or fish used to cook a fresh meal at home. Research by global nutrition experts reveals the scale of our food evolution, from farm-fresh to factory-manufactured. “Real food” has been replaced by salty snacks and sugary cereals, industrially-made bread and desserts, ready-meals and reconstituted meats alongside sweetened soft drinks. The study of 19 European countries is published this month in a special issue of the journal Public Health Nutrition. It shows that UK families buy more ultra-processed food than any others in Europe, amounting to 50.7% of the diet.

Germany comes second, on 46.2% and then Ireland on 45.9%. While the figures are not directly comparable, extracted from national surveys carried out differently and from different years, the trend is clear. The UK data they analysed came from the Living Costs and Food Survey 2008, the latest available. They categorised foods into four groups. More than a quarter of food (28.6%) was unprocessed or minimally so, 10.4% was processed cooking ingredients such as vegetable oil and 10.2% was ordinarily processed, such as cheese or cured meat. Ultra-processed food amounts to more than all the other groups combined.

Professor Carlos Monteiro from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, who led the research team, told the Guardian of his deep concern about the links between ultra-processed food with obesity and poor health. Ultra-processed foods may look attractive and are designed with sweet or salty tastes that make us want more. But there is nothing nutritious about them, Monteiro said. “Take breakfast cereals. If you take Froot Loops, for instance, more than 50% is sugar,” he told the Guardian. “[But] there is no fruit … “Ultra-processed foods are essentially new creations of the food industry with very low cost ingredients in a very attractive product.”

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