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The US military dropped off its last batch of artillery shells carrying deadly VX nerve agent to be destroyed

VX is a highly lethal and persistent nerve agent that has been banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Blue Grass Chemical Activity personnel strap the last of the VX projectiles onto a tray for loading into .....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 7th, 2021

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The "Spartacus COVID Letter" That"s Gone Viral

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral Via The Automatic Earth blog, This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot. The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter Hello, My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough. We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies. Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight. We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw. We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment. What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core. First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end. Summary: COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs. Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder. Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater. Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs. The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one. Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal. There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China. Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present. The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables. COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments: COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that. In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion. COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame. In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19. The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus. COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2. The breakdown of the pathology is as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus. SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2. This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted. Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage. Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach. Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis. Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely. This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis. We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde. When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation. The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues. Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice. Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect. The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively. In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling. India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin. Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug. The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral. In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all. The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis. The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means. COVID-19 Transmission: COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible. The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant. The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe. Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud. The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped. Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments. COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers: The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown. Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ. These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to. SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body. It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that. Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies. Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation. Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue. SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity. SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness. The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules. SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones. In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill. If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease. There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive. In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs. We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives. By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease. Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately. COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy: The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people. In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs. Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina. This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony. Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2. The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars. EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose. In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials. December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours. Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab. The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released. The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found. This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established. The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators. The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik. The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19. The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront. This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public? The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable. COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism: This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells. On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells. The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage. Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity. Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely. Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales. Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books. Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines. Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic. In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind. Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing. However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes. However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels. BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling. For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse. If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will. Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master. The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it. Conclusions: The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise. This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them. Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so. These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago. Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods. This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect. Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs. The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite: Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are. Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class. Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests. Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization. Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon. Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation. Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values. What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories. The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism. Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man. To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens. To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words. Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that. *  *  * This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references. For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt2 hr. 37 min. ago

The "Great Game" Moves On

The 'Great Game' Moves On Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, Following America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, her focus has switched to the Pacific with the establishment of a joint Australian and UK naval partnership. The founder of modern geopolitical theory, Halford Mackinder, had something to say about this in his last paper, written for the Council on Foreign Relations in 1943. Mackinder anticipated this development, though the actors and their roles at that time were different. In particular, he foresaw the economic emergence of China and India and the importance of the Pacific region. This article discusses the current situation in Mackinder’s context, taking in the consequences of green energy, the importance of trade in the Pacific region, and China’s current deflationary strategy relative to that of declining western powers aggressively pursuing asset inflation. There is little doubt that the world is rebalancing as Mackinder described nearly eighty years ago. To appreciate it we must look beyond the West’s current economic and monetary difficulties and the loss of its hegemony over Asia, and particularly note the improving conditions of the Asia’s most populous nations. Introduction Following NATO’s defeat in the heart of Asia, and with Afghanistan now under the Taliban’s rule, the Chinese/Russian axis now controls the Asian continental mass. Asian nations not directly related to its joint hegemony (not being members, associates, or dialog partners of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) are increasingly dependent upon it for trade and technology. Sub-Saharan Africa is in its sphere of influence. The reality for America is that the total population in or associated with the SCO is 57% of the world population. And America’s grip on its European allies is slipping. NATO itself has become less relevant, with Turkey drawn towards the rival Asian axis, and its EU members are compromised through trading and energy links with Russia and China. Furthermore, France is pushing the EU towards establishing its own army independent of US-led NATO — quite what its role will be, other than political puffery for France is a mystery. It is against this background that three of the Five Eyes intelligence partnership have formed AUKUS – standing for Australia, UK, and US — and its first agreement is to give Australia a nuclear submarine capability to strengthen the partnership’s naval power in the Pacific. Other capabilities, chiefly aimed at containing the Chinese threat to Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific Ocean, will surely emerge in due course. The other two Five Eyes, Canada and New Zealand, appear to be less keen to confront China. But perhaps they will also have less obvious roles in due course beyond pure intelligence gathering. The US, under President Trump, had failed to contain China’s increasing economic dominance and its rapidly developing technological challenge to American supremacy. Trump’s one success was to peel off the UK from its Cameron/Osbourne policy of strengthening trade and financial ties with China by threatening the UK’s important role in its intelligence partnership with the US. For the UK, the challenge came at a critical time. Brexit had happened, and the UK needed global partners for its future trade and geopolitical strategies, the latter needed to cement its re-emergence onto the world stage following Brexit. Trump held out the carrot of a fast-tracked US/UK trade deal. The Swiss alternative of neutrality in international affairs is not in the UK’s DNA, so realistically the decision was a no-brainer: the UK had to recommit itself entirely to the Anglo-Saxon Five-Eyes partnership with the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and turn its back on China. But gathering intelligence and building naval power in the Pacific won’t defeat the Chinese. All simulations show that the US, with or without AUKUS, cannot win a military conflict against China. But AUKUS is not a formal model on NATO lines which commits its members by treaty to aggression against a common enemy. While Taiwan remains a specific problem, the objective is almost certainly to discourage China from territorial expansion and protect and give other Pacific nations on the Asian periphery the security to be independent from the SCO behemoth. The trade benefits of closer relationships with these independent nations are also an additional reason for the UK to join the CPTPP — the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It qualifies for membership through its sovereignty over the Pitcairn Islands. And that is why China has also applied to join. Therefore, AUKUS’s importance is in the signal sent to China and the whole Pacific region, following the abandonment of land-based operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The maritime threat to China is a line which must not be crossed. We are entering a new era in the Great Game, where the objective has changed from dominance to containment. Having lost its position of ultimate control in the Eurasian land mass America has selected its partners to retain control over the high seas. And the UK has found a new geopolitical purpose, re-establishing a global role now that it is independent from the EU. The French cannot join the CPTPP being bound into the common trade policies of the EU. Seeing the British escape the strictures of the EU and rapidly obtain more global influence than France could dream of has touched a raw nerve. Mackinder vindicated The father of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder, is frequently quoted and his theories are still relevant to the current situation. Much has been written about Mackinder’s prophecies. His concept of the World Island was first mentioned in his 1904 presentation to the Royal Geographic Society in London: “a pivot state, resulting in its expansion over the marginal lands of Euro-Asia”. In 1943 he updated his views in an article for the Council on Foreign Relations, adding to his heartland theory. Written during the Second World War, his commentary reflected the combatants and their positions at that time. But despite this, he made a perceptive comment relative to the situation today and AUKUS: “Were the Chinese for instance organised by the Japanese to overthrow the Russian Empire and conquer its territory they might constitute the yellow peril to the world’s freedom just because they would add an oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent.” When Mackinder wrote his article the Japanese had already invaded Manchuria, but their subsequent defeat removed them from an active geopolitical role, and in place of a Soviet defeat China has entered a peaceful partnership with Russia that extends to all its old Central Asian soviet satellites. It is the focus on the ocean frontage that matters, upon which the maritime silk road depends. The article brings into play another aspect mentioned by Mackinder, and that is the Heartland’s tremendous natural resources, “…including enough coal in the Kuznetsk and Krasnoyarsk basins capable of supplying the requirements of the whole world for 300 years”. And: “In 1938 Russia produced more of the following food stuffs than any other country in the world: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and sugar beets. More manganese was produced in Russia than in any other country. It was bracketed with United States in the first place as regards iron and it stood second place in production of petroleum”. Through its partnership with Russia all these latent resources are available to the Chinese and Russian partnership. And the real potential for industrialisation, held back by communism and now by Russian corruption, has barely commenced. After presciently noting that one day the Sahara may become the trap for capturing direct power from the sun (foreseeing solar panels), Mackinder’s article ended on an optimistic note: “A thousand million people of ancient oriental civilisation inhabit the monsoon lands of India and China [today 3 billion, including Pakistan]. They must grow to prosperity in the same years in which Germany and Japan are being tamed to civilisation. They will then balance that other thousand million who live between the Missouri and the Yenisei [i.e., Central and Eastern America, Britain, Europe and Russia beyond the Urals]. A balanced globe of human beings and happy because balanced and thus free.” Both China and now India are rapidly industrialising, becoming part of a balanced globe of humanity. While the West tries to hang on to what it has got rather than progressing, China and India along with all of under-developed Asia are moving rapidly in the direction of individual freedom of economic choice and improvements in living conditions, to which Mackinder was referring. Obviously, there is some way for this process yet to go, displacing western hegemony in the process. America particularly has found the political challenges of change difficult, with its deep state unable to come to terms easily with the implications for its military and economic power. We must hope that Mackinder was right, and the shift of economic power is best to be regarded as the pains of geopolitical evolution rather than conditions for escalating conflict. But in pursuing its green agenda and eschewing carbon fuels, the West is unwittingly handing a gift to Mackinder’s Heartland, because despite diplomatic noises to the contrary China, India and all the SCO membership will continue to use cheap coal, gas, and oil which Asia has in abundance while Western manufacturers are forced by their governments to use expensive and less reliable green energy. Green obsessions and global trade Meanwhile, the West has gone green-crazy. Banning fossil fuels without there being adequate replacements must be a new definition of insanity, for which the current fuel crises in Europe attest. With over 95% of European logistics currently being shifted by diesel power, switching to battery power or hydrogen by 2030 by banning sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles is a hostage to fortune. While it is hardly mentioned, presumably the Western powers think that by banning carbon fuels they will take the wind out of Russia’s energy quasi-monopoly, because including gas Russia is the largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world. Instead, the West is creating an energy shortage for itself, a point driven home by Gazprom withholding gas flows through its pipelines to Europe, thereby driving up Europe’s energy costs sharply and ensuring a far more severe energy crisis this winter. Even if Russia turns on the taps tomorrow, there is insufficient gas storage in reserve for the winter months. And Europe and the UK have got ahead of themselves by decommissioning coal and gas-fired electricity. In the UK, a massive undersea gas storage facility off the Yorkshire coast has been closed, leaving precious little national storage capacity. As we have seen with the post-covid supply chain chaos, energy problems will not only become acute this winter, but are likely to persist through much of next year. And even that assumes Russia relents and moderates its energy stance to European customers. By way of contrast, though its partnership with Russia China is gifted unlimited access to all carbon fuels. She is still building coal-fired electricity power stations at an extraordinary rate — according to a BBC report there are 61 new ones being commissioned. A further 51 outside China are planned. As a sop to the West China has only said she won’t finance any more outside her territory. And India relies on coal for over two-thirds of its electrical energy. While Europe and America through their green obsessions are denying themselves the availability and technologies that go with carbon fuels, the Russian/Chinese axis will continue to reap the full benefits. The West’s response is likely to be to decry Chinese pollution and its contribution to global warming, but realistically there is little it can do. Demand for Chinese-manufactured goods will continue because China now has a quasi-monopoly on global manufacturing for export. In the unlikely event western consumers become avid savers while their governments continue to run massive budget deficits, their trade deficits will rise even more, allowing Chinese exporters to increase prices for consumers and intermediate goods without losing export sales. While there is nothing it can do about China’s production methods, AUKUS members will undoubtedly lean on other exporting CPTPP members to comply with global green policies. But they will be competing with China, and while they may pay lip service to the climate change agenda, in practice they are unlikely to implement it without holding out for unrealistic subsidies from the western nations driving the climate change agenda. Under current circumstances, it seems unlikely that China’s CPTPP application will lead to membership, given the CPTPP requirement for China’s central government to relinquish ownership of its SOEs and to permit the free flow of data across its borders. In any event, China is focused on developing its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement with ratification signed so far by China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. It will come into effect when ratified by ten out of the fifteen signatories, likely to be in the first half of 2022, and in terms of population will be two and a half times the size of the EU and the US/Mexico/Canada (USMCA) trade agreements combined. With four out of five of the signatories being American allies, RCEP demonstrates that the AUKUS defence partnership is an entirely separate issue from trade. While the US may not like it, if RCEP goes ahead freer trade will almost certainly undermine a belligerent stance in due course. Despite hiccups, the progression of trade dealing in the Pacific region promises to prove Mackinder right about the prospect of a more balanced world. All being well and guaranteed by a balance of naval capabilities between AUKUS and China, a free-trading Pacific region will render the European and American trade protectionist policies an anachronism. But the threat is now from another direction: financial instability, with western nations pulling in one direction and China in another. Since the Lehman collapse and the ensuing financial crisis, China has been careful to prevent financial bubbles. Figure 1 shows that the Shanghai Composite Index has risen 82% since 2008, while the S&P500 rose 430%. While the US has seen financial asset values driven by a combination of QE and investor speculation, these factors are absent and discouraged in China. Government debt to GDP is about half that of the US. It is true that industrial debt is high, like that of the US. But the difference is that in China debt is more productive while in America there has been a growing preponderance of debt zombies, only kept solvent by zero interest rate policies. China’s policy of ensuring that the expansion of bank credit is invested in production and not speculation differs fundamentally from the US approach, which is to deliberately inflate financial assets to perpetuate a wealth effect. China avoids the destabilising potential of speculative flows unwinding because it lays the economy open to the possibility that America will use financial instability to undermine China’s economy. In a speech to the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee in April 2015, Major-General Qiao Liang, the People’s Liberation Army strategist, identified a cycle of dollar weakness against other currencies followed by strength, which first inflated debt in foreign countries and then bankrupted them. Qiao argued it was a deliberate American policy and would be used against China. In his words, it was time for America to “harvest” China. Drawing on Chinese intelligence reports, in early 2014 he was made aware of American involvement in the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong. After several delays, the Fed announced the end of QE the following September which drove the dollar higher, and “Occupy Central” protests broke out the following month. To Qiao the two events were connected. By undermining the dollar/yuan rate and provoking riots, the Americans had tried to crash China’s economy. Within six months the Shanghai stock market began to collapse with the SSE Composite Index falling from 5,160 to 3,050 between June and September 2015. One cannot know for certain if Qiao’s analysis was correct, but one can understand the Chinese leadership’s continued caution based upon it. For this and other reasons, the Chinese leadership is extremely wary of having dollar liabilities and the accumulation of unproductive, speculative money in the economy. It justifies their strict exchange control regime, whereby dollars are not permitted to circulate in China, and all inward capital flows are turned into yuan by the PBOC. Furthermore, domestic monetary policy appears deliberately different from that of America and other western nations. While everyone else has been inflating their way through covid, China has been restricting domestic credit expansion and curtailing shadow banking. The discount rate is held up at 2.9% with market rates slightly lower at 2.2%, and the only reason it is that low is because alternative dollar rates are at zero and EU and Japanese rates are negative. It is this restrictive monetary policy that has led to the current crisis in property developers, with the very public difficulties of Evergrande. Far from being a surprise event, with cautious monetary policies it could have been easily foreseen. Moreover, the government has a sensible policy of not rescuing private sector businesses in trouble, though it is likely to take steps to limit financial contagion. In their glass houses, Western critics continually throw stones at China. But at least her policy makers have attempted to avoid contributing to the global inflation cycle. With prices beginning to rise at an accelerating pace in western currencies, a new global financial crash is in the making. China and her SCO cohort would be adversely affected, but not to the same extent. The fruits of China’s policies of restricting credit expansion are showing in the commodity prices she pays, which in her own currency have increased by ten per cent less than for dollar-based competition, judging by the exchange rate movements since the Fed reduced its funds rate to the zero bound and instigated monthly QE of $120bn on 19-23 March 2020 (see Figure 2). And while both currencies have moved broadly sideways since January, there is little doubt that the fundamentals point to an even stronger yuan and weaker dollar. The domestic benefits of a relatively stronger yuan outweigh the margin compression suffered by China’s exporters. It is worth noting that as well as moderating credit demand, China is attempting to increase domestic consumer spending at the expense of the savings rate, so consumer demand will begin to matter more than exports to producers. It is in line with a long-term objective of China becoming less dependent on exports, and exporters will benefit from domestic sales growth instead. Furthermore, with China dominating global exports of intermediate and consumer goods and while western budget deficits are increasing and leading to yet greater trade deficits, Chinese exporters should be able to secure higher prices anyway. There can be little doubt that the budget deficits financed by monetary inflation in America, the EU, Japan and the UK, plus central bank stimulus packages are now undermining the purchasing power of all the major currencies. The consequences for their purchasing powers are now becoming apparent and attempts to calm markets and consumers by describing them as transient cuts little ice. In terms of their purchasing powers, these currencies are now in a race to the bottom. Not only are the costs of production rising sharply, but following a brief pause of three months, commodity and energy prices look set to rise sharply. Figure 3 shows the Invesco commodity tracker, which having almost doubled since March 2020 now appears to be attempting a break out on the upside. Since global competitiveness is no longer a priority, China would be sensible to let its yuan exchange rate rise against western currencies to help keep a lid on domestic prices and costs. It is, after all, a savings driven economy, with the sustainable characteristics of a strong currency relative to the dollar. Conclusions Having failed in their land-based military objectives, America’s undeclared tariff and financial wars against China are also coming to an end, to be replaced by a policy of maritime containment through the AUKUS partnership. Attempts to stem strategic losses in Asia have now ended with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and from other interventions.The change in geopolitical policy is not yet widely appreciated. But the parlous state of US finances, dollar market bubbles, persistent and increasing price inflation and the inevitability of interest rate increases will make a policy backstop of maritime containment the only geostrategic option left to America. By pursuing more cautious monetary policies, China is less exposed to the inevitable consequences of global monetary inflation. While yuan currency rates are managed instead of set by markets, it is now in China’s interest to see a stronger yuan to contain domestic price and cost inflation. Even though fiat currencies could be destroyed by imploding asset bubbles, these factors contribute to a set of circumstances that appear to lead to a more peaceable outcome for the world than appeared likely before America and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. There’s many a slip between cup and lip; but it was an outcome forecast by Halford Mackinder nearly eighty years ago. Let us hope he was right. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 08:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt18 hr. 25 min. ago

Facebook employees may have been exposed to sarin: reports

Facebook Inc. employees may have been exposed to the deadly nerve agent sarin at a mailing facility on Monday, according to media reports. Two people .....»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJul 1st, 2019

Russia is pushing these 15 mutually contradictory theories to claim they weren"t behind the nerve agent attack

AP Britain has accused Russia of trying to kill former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent — but the Kremlin is fighting back. .....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 18th, 2018

A secretive Russian military lab has been named as the source of the nerve agent used on ex-spy Sergei Skripal

Google Maps The nerve agent used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal has .....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 6th, 2018

What Is Novichok? Why the Russian Nerve Agent Is So Dangerous

Once more, two victims have been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent developed by the former Soviet Union. Once more, two victims have been p.....»»

Category: europeSource: fortuneJul 5th, 2018

Woman Exposed To Novichok Nerve Agent Has Died

Unlike the Skripals - who miraculously walked away from their alleged exposure to the deadly nerve agent Novichok - Dawn Sturgess, 44, who was exposed on Thursday has died. In a statement, Assistant Commissioner Neil.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 8th, 2018

Russia "Indisputably" Greater Threat Than ISIS And Al-Qaeda, British Army Chief Warns

The wave of anti-Russia hysteria that gripped Britain following the attacks earlier this year on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who were nearly killed by a deadly nerve agent while visiting a mall in Salisbury, has faded .....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2018

30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet

30 Facts You Need To Know: A COVID Cribsheet Authored by Kit Knightly via Off-Guardian.org, You asked for it, so we made it. A collection of all the arguments you’ll ever need. We get a lot of e-mails and private messages along these lines “do you have a source for X?” or “can you point me to mask studies?” or “I know I saw a graph for mortality, but I can’t find it anymore”. And we understand, it’s been a long 18 months, and there are so many statistics and numbers to try and keep straight in your head. So, to deal with all these requests, we decided to make a bullet-pointed and sourced list for all the key points. A one-stop-shop. Here are key facts and sources about the alleged “pandemic”, that will help you get a grasp on what has happened to the world since January 2020, and help you enlighten any of your friends who might be still trapped in the New Normal fog: “Covid deaths” – Lockdowns – PCR Tests – “asymptomatic infection” – Ventilators – Masks – Vaccines – Deception & Foreknowledge *  *  * PART I: “COVID DEATHS” & MORTALITY 1. The survival rate of “Covid” is over 99%. Government medical experts went out of their way to underline, from the beginning of the pandemic, that the vast majority of the population are not in any danger from Covid. Almost all studies on the infection-fatality ratio (IFR) of Covid have returned results between 0.04% and 0.5%. Meaning Covid’s survival rate is at least 99.5%. * 2. There has been NO unusual excess mortality. The press has called 2020 the UK’s “deadliest year since world war two”, but this is misleading because it ignores the massive increase in the population since that time. A more reasonable statistical measure of mortality is Age-Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR): By this measure, 2020 isn’t even the worst year for mortality since 2000, In fact since 1943 only 9 years have been better than 2020. Similarly, in the US the ASMR for 2020 is only at 2004 levels: For a detailed breakdown of how Covid affected mortality across Western Europe and the US click here. What increases in mortality we have seen could be attributable to non-Covid causes [facts 7, 9 & 19]. * 3. “Covid death” counts are artificially inflated. Countries around the globe have been defining a “Covid death” as a “death by any cause within 28/30/60 days of a positive test”. Healthcare officials from Italy, Germany, the UK, US, Northern Ireland and others have all admitted to this practice: Removing any distinction between dying of Covid, and dying of something else after testing positive for Covid will naturally lead to over-counting of “Covid deaths”. British pathologist Dr John Lee was warning of this “substantial over-estimate” as early as last spring. Other mainstream sources have reported it, too. Considering the huge percentage of “asymptomatic” Covid infections [14], the well-known prevalence of serious comorbidities [fact 4] and the potential for false-positive tests [fact 18], this renders the Covid death numbers an extremely unreliable statistic. * 4. The vast majority of covid deaths have serious comorbidities. In March 2020, the Italian government published statistics showing 99.2% of their “Covid deaths” had at least one serious comorbidity. These included cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure and diabetes (among others). Over 50% of them had three or more serious pre-existing conditions. This pattern has held up in all other countries over the course of the “pandemic”. An October 2020 FOIA request to the UK’s ONS revealed less than 10% of the official “Covid death” count at that time had Covid as the sole cause of death. * 5. Average age of “Covid death” is greater than the average life expectancy. The average age of a “Covid death” in the UK is 82.5 years. In Italy it’s 86. Germany, 83. Switzerland, 86. Canada, 86. The US, 78, Australia, 82. In almost all cases the median age of a “Covid death” is higher than the national life expectancy. As such, for most of the world, the “pandemic” has had little-to-no impact on life expectancy. Contrast this with the Spanish flu, which saw a 28% drop in life expectancy in the US in just over a year. [source] * 6. Covid mortality exactly mirrors the natural mortality curve. Statistical studies from the UK and India have shown that the curve for “Covid death” follows the curve for expected mortality almost exactly: The risk of death “from Covid” follows, almost exactly, your background risk of death in general. The small increase for some of the older age groups can be accounted for by other factors.[facts 7, 9 & 19] * 7. There has been a massive increase in the use of “unlawful” DNRs. Watchdogs and government agencies have reported huge increases in the use of Do Not Resuscitate Orders (DNRs) over the last twenty months. In the US, hospitals considered “universal DNRs” for any patient who tested positive for Covid, and whistleblowing nurses have admitted the DNR system was abused in New York. In the UK there was an “unprecdented” rise in “illegal” DNRs for disabled people, GP surgeries sent out letters to non-terminal patients recommending they sign DNR orders, whilst other doctors signed “blanket DNRs” for entire nursing homes. A study done by Sheffield Univerisity found over one-third of all “suspected” Covid patients had a DNR attached to their file within 24 hours of hospital admission. Blanket use of coerced or illegal DNR orders could account for any increases in mortality in 2020/21.[Facts 2 & 6] *  *  * PART II: LOCKDOWNS 8. Lockdowns do not prevent the spread of disease. There is little to no evidence lockdowns have any impact on limiting “Covid deaths”. If you compare regions that locked down to regions that did not, you can see no pattern at all. “Covid deaths” in Florida (no lockdown) vs California (lockdown) “Covid deaths” in Sweden (no lockdown) vs UK (lockdown) * 9. Lockdowns kill people. There is strong evidence that lockdowns – through social, economic and other public health damage – are deadlier than the “virus”. Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19 described lockdowns as a “global catastrophe” in October 2020: We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of the virus[…] it seems we may have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition […] This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe.” A UN report from April 2020 warned of 100,000s of children being killed by the economic impact of lockdowns, while tens of millions more face possible poverty and famine. Unemployment, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, drug use and other social/mental health crises are spiking all over the world. While missed and delayed surgeries and screenings are going to see increased mortality from heart disease, cancer et al. in the near future. The impact of lockdown would account for the small increases in excess mortality [Facts 2 & 6] * 10. Hospitals were never unusually over-burdened. the main argument used to defend lockdowns is that “flattening the curve” would prevent a rapid influx of cases and protect healthcare systems from collapse. But most healthcare systems were never close to collapse at all. In March 2020 it was reported that hospitals in Spain and Italy were over-flowing with patients, but this happens every flu season. In 2017 Spanish hospitals were at 200% capacity, and 2015 saw patients sleeping in corridors. A paper JAMA paper from March 2020 found that Italian hospitals “typically run at 85-90% capacity in the winter months”. In the UK, the NHS is regularly stretched to breaking point over the winter. As part of their Covid policy, the NHS announced in Spring of 2020 that they would be “re-organizing hospital capacity in new ways to treat Covid and non-Covid patients separately” and that “as result hospitals will experience capacity pressures at lower overall occupancy rates than would previously have been the case.” This means they removed thousands of beds. During an alleged deadly pandemic, they reduced the maximum occupancy of hospitals. Despite this, the NHS never felt pressure beyond your typical flu season, and at times actually had 4x more empty beds than normal. In both the UK and US millions were spent on temporary emergency hospitals that were never used. *  *  * PART III: PCR TESTS 11. PCR tests were not designed to diagnose illness. The Reverse-Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test is described in the media as the “gold standard” for Covid diagnosis. But the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the process never intended it to be used as a diagnostic tool, and said so publicly: PCR is just a process that allows you to make a whole lot of something out of something. It doesn’t tell you that you are sick, or that the thing that you ended up with was going to hurt you or anything like that.” * 12. PCR Tests have a history of being inaccurate and unreliable. The “gold standard” PCR tests for Covid are known to produce a lot of false-positive results, by reacting to DNA material that is not specific to Sars-Cov-2. A Chinese study found the same patient could get two different results from the same test on the same day. In Germany, tests are known to have reacted to common cold viruses. A 2006 study found PCR tests for one virus responded to other viruses too. In 2007, a reliance on PCR tests resulted in an “outbreak” of Whooping Cough that never actually existed. Some tests in the US even reacted to the negative control sample. The late President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, submitted samples goat, pawpaw and motor oil for PCR testing, all came back positive for the virus. As early as February of 2020 experts were admitting the test was unreliable. Dr Wang Cheng, president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences told Chinese state television “The accuracy of the tests is only 30-50%”. The Australian government’s own website claimed “There is limited evidence available to assess the accuracy and clinical utility of available COVID-19 tests.” And a Portuguese court ruled that PCR tests were “unreliable” and should not be used for diagnosis. You can read detailed breakdowns of the failings of PCR tests here, here and here. * 13. The CT values of the PCR tests are too high. PCR tests are run in cycles, the number of cycles you use to get your result is known as your “cycle threshold” or CT value. Kary Mullis said: “If you have to go more than 40 cycles[…]there is something seriously wrong with your PCR.” The MIQE PCR guidelines agree, stating: “[CT] values higher than 40 are suspect because of the implied low efficiency and generally should not be reported,” Dr Fauci himself even admitted anything over 35 cycles is almost never culturable. Dr Juliet Morrison, virologist at the University of California, Riverside, told the New York Times: Any test with a cycle threshold above 35 is too sensitive…I’m shocked that people would think that 40 [cycles] could represent a positive…A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35″. In the same article Dr Michael Mina, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said the limit should be 30, and the author goes on to point out that reducing the CT from 40 to 30 would have reduced “covid cases” in some states by as much as 90%. The CDC’s own data suggests no sample over 33 cycles could be cultured, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute says nothing over 30 cycles is likely to be infectious. Despite this, it is known almost all the labs in the US are running their tests at least 37 cycles and sometimes as high as 45. The NHS “standard operating procedure” for PCR tests rules set the limit at 40 cycles. Based on what we know about the CT values, the majority of PCR test results are at best questionable. * 14. The World Health Organization (Twice) Admitted PCR tests produced false positives. In December 2020 WHO put out a briefing memo on the PCR process instructing labs to be wary of high CT values causing false positive results: when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain. Then, in January 2021, the WHO released another memo, this time warning that “asymptomatic” positive PCR tests should be re-tested because they might be false positives: Where test results do not correspond with the clinical presentation, a new specimen should be taken and retested using the same or different NAT technology. * 15. The scientific basis for Covid tests is questionable. The genome of the Sars-Cov-2 virus was supposedly sequenced by Chinese scientists in December 2019, then published on January 10th 2020. Less than two weeks later, German virologists (Christian Drosten et al.) had allegedly used the genome to create assays for PCR tests. They wrote a paper, Detection of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) by real-time RT-PCR, which was submitted for publication on January 21st 2020, and then accepted on January 22nd. Meaning the paper was allegedly “peer-reviewed” in less than 24 hours. A process that typically takes weeks. Since then, a consortium of over forty life scientists has petitioned for the withdrawal of the paper, writing a lengthy report detailing 10 major errors in the paper’s methodology. They have also requested the release of the journal’s peer-review report, to prove the paper really did pass through the peer-review process. The journal has yet to comply. The Corman-Drosten assays are the root of every Covid PCR test in the world. If the paper is questionable, every PCR test is also questionable. *  *  * PART IV: “ASYMPTOMATIC INFECTION” 16. The majority of Covid infections are “asymptomatic”. From as early as March 2020, studies done in Italy were suggesting 50-75% of positive Covid tests had no symptoms. Another UK study from August 2020 found as much as 86% of “Covid patients” experienced no viral symptoms at all. It is literally impossible to tell the difference between an “asymptomatic case” and a false-positive test result. * 17. There is very little evidence supporting the alleged danger of “asymptomatic transmission”. In June 2020, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said: From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” A meta-analysis of Covid studies, published by Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2020, found that asymptomatic carriers had a less than 1% chance of infecting people within their household. Another study, done on influenza in 2009, found: …limited evidence to suggest the importance of [asymptomatic] transmission. The role of asymptomatic or presymptomatic influenza-infected individuals in disease transmission may have been overestimated…” Given the known flaws of the PCR tests, many “asymptomatic cases” may be false positives.[fact 14] *  *  * PART V: VENTILATORS 18. Ventilation is NOT a treatment for respiratory viruses. Mechanical ventilation is not, and never has been, recommended treatment for respiratory infection of any kind. In the early days of the pandemic, many doctors came forward questioning the use of ventilators to treat “Covid”. Writing in The Spectator, Dr Matt Strauss stated: Ventilators do not cure any disease. They can fill your lungs with air when you find yourself unable to do so yourself. They are associated with lung diseases in the public’s consciousness, but this is not in fact their most common or most appropriate application. German Pulmonologist Dr Thomas Voshaar, chairman of Association of Pneumatological Clinics said: When we read the first studies and reports from China and Italy, we immediately asked ourselves why intubation was so common there. This contradicted our clinical experience with viral pneumonia. Despite this, the WHO, CDC, ECDC and NHS all “recommended” Covid patients be ventilated instead of using non-invasive methods. This was not a medical policy designed to best treat the patients, but rather to reduce the hypothetical spread of Covid by preventing patients from exhaling aerosol droplets. * 19. Ventilators killed people. Putting someone who is suffering from influenza, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or any other condition which restricts breathing or affects the lungs, will not alleviate any of those symptoms. In fact, it will almost certainly make it worse, and will kill many of them. Intubation tubes are a source of potential a infection known as “ventilator-associated pneumonia”, which studies show affects up to 28% of all people put on ventilators, and kills 20-55% of those infected. Mechanical ventilation is also damaging to the physical structure of the lungs, resulting in “ventilator-induced lung injury”, which can dramatically impact quality of life, and even result in death. Experts estimate 40-50% of ventilated patients die, regardless of their disease. Around the world, between 66 and 86% of all “Covid patients” put on ventilators died. According to the “undercover nurse”, ventilators were being used so improperly in New York, they were destroying patients’ lungs: This policy was negligence at best, and potentially deliberate murder at worst. This misuse of ventilators could account for any increase in mortality in 2020/21 [Facts 2 & 6] *  *  * PART VI: MASKS 20. Masks don’t work. At least a dozen scientific studies have shown that masks do nothing to stop the spread of respiratory viruses. One meta-analysis published by the CDC in May 2020 found “no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks”. Another study with over 8000 subjects found masks “did not seem to be effective against laboratory-confirmed viral respiratory infections nor against clinical respiratory infection.” There are literally too many to quote them all, but you can read them: [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Or read a summary by SPR here. While some studies have been done claiming to show mask do work for Covid, they are all seriously flawed. One relied on self-reported surveys as data. Another was so badly designed a panel of experts demand it be withdrawn. A third was withdrawn after its predictions proved entirely incorrect. The WHO commissioned their own meta-analysis in the Lancet, but that study looked only at N95 masks and only in hospitals. [For full run down on the bad data in this study click here.] Aside from scientific evidence, there’s plenty of real-world evidence that masks do nothing to halt the spread of disease. For example, North Dakota and South Dakota had near-identical case figures, despite one having a mask-mandate and the other not: In Kansas, counties without mask mandates actually had fewer Covid “cases” than counties with mask mandates. And despite masks being very common in Japan, they had their worst flu outbreak in decades in 2019. * 21. Masks are bad for your health. Wearing a mask for long periods, wearing the same mask more than once, and other aspects of cloth masks can be bad for your health. A long study on the detrimental effects of mask-wearing was recently published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Dr. James Meehan reported in August 2020 he was seeing increases in bacterial pneumonia, fungal infections, facial rashes . Masks are also known to contain plastic microfibers, which damage the lungs when inhaled and may be potentially carcinogenic. Childen wearing masks encourages mouth-breathing, which results in facial deformities. People around the world have passed out due to CO2 poisoning while wearing their masks, and some children in China even suffered sudden cardiac arrest. * 22. Masks are bad for the planet. Millions upon millions of disposable masks have been used per month for over a year. A report from the UN found the Covid19 pandemic will likely result in plastic waste more than doubling in the next few years., and the vast majority of that is face masks. The report goes on to warn these masks (and other medical waste) will clog sewage and irrigation systems, which will have knock on effects on public health, irrigation and agriculture. A study from the University of Swansea found “heavy metals and plastic fibres were released when throw-away masks were submerged in water.” These materials are toxic to both people and wildlife. *  *  * PART VII: VACCINES 23. Covid “vaccines” are totally unprecedented. Before 2020 no successful vaccine against a human coronavirus had ever been developed. Since then we have allegedly made 20 of them in 18 months. Scientists have been trying to develop a SARS and MERS vaccine for years with little success. Some of the failed SARS vaccines actually caused hypersensitivity to the SARS virus. Meaning that vaccinated mice could potentially get the disease more severely than unvaccinated mice. Another attempt caused liver damage in ferrets. While traditional vaccines work by exposing the body to a weakened strain of the microorganism responsible for causing the disease, these new Covid vaccines are mRNA vaccines. mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines theoretically work by injecting viral mRNA into the body, where it replicates inside your cells and encourages your body to recognise, and make antigens for, the “spike proteins” of the virus. They have been the subject of research since the 1990s, but before 2020 no mRNA vaccine was ever approved for use. * 24. Vaccines do not confer immunity or prevent transmission. It is readily admitted that Covid “vaccines” do not confer immunity from infection and do not prevent you from passing the disease onto others. Indeed, an article in the British Medical Journal highlighted that the vaccine studies were not designed to even try and assess if the “vaccines” limited transmission. The vaccine manufacturers themselves, upon releasing the untested mRNA gene therapies, were quite clear their product’s “efficacy” was based on “reducing the severity of symptoms”. * 25. The vaccines were rushed and have unknown longterm effects. Vaccine development is a slow, laborious process. Usually, from development through testing and finally being approved for public use takes many years. The various vaccines for Covid were all developed and approved in less than a year. Obviously there can be no long-term safety data on chemicals which are less than a year old. Pfizer even admit this is true in the leaked supply contract between the pharmaceutical giant, and the government of Albania: the long-term effects and efficacy of the Vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known Further, none of the vaccines have been subject to proper trials. Many of them skipped early-stage trials entirely, and the late-stage human trials have either not been peer-reviewed, have not released their data, will not finish until 2023 or were abandoned after “severe adverse effects”. * 26. Vaccine manufacturers have been granted legal indemnity should they cause harm. The USA’s Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) grants immunity until at least 2024. The EU’s product licensing law does the same, and there are reports of confidential liability clauses in the contracts the EU signed with vaccine manufacturers. The UK went even further, granting permanent legal indemnity to the government, and any employees thereof, for any harm done when a patient is being treated for Covid19 or “suspected Covid19”. Again, the leaked Albanian contract suggests that Pfizer, at least, made this indemnity a standard demand of supplying Covid vaccines: Purchaser hereby agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless Pfizer […] from and against any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, losses, damages, liabilities, settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses *  *  * PART VIII: DECEPTION & FOREKNOWLEDGE 27. The EU was preparing “vaccine passports” at least a YEAR before the pandemic began. Proposed COVID countermeasures, presented to the public as improvised emergency measures, have existed since before the emergence of the disease. Two EU documents published in 2018, the “2018 State of Vaccine Confidence” and a technical report titled “Designing and implementing an immunisation information system” discussed the plausibility of an EU-wide vaccination monitoring system. These documents were combined into the 2019 “Vaccination Roadmap”, which (among other things) established a “feasibility study” on vaccine passports to begin in 2019 and finish in 2021: This report’s final conclusions were released to the public in September 2019, just a month before Event 201 (below). * 28. A “training exercise” predicted the pandemic just weeks before it started. In October 2019 the World Economic Forum and Johns Hopkins University held Event 201. This was a training exercise based on a zoonotic coronavirus starting a worldwide pandemic. The exercise was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI the vaccine alliance. The exercise published its findings and recommendations in November 2019 as a “call to action”. One month later, China recorded their first case of “Covid”. * 29. Since the beginning of 2020, the Flu has “disappeared”. In the United States, since Februart 2020, influenza cases have allegedly dropped by over 98%. It’s not just the US either, globally flu has apparently almost completely disappeared. Meanwhile, a new disease called “Covid”, which has identical symptoms and a similar mortality rate to influenza, is supposedly sweeping the globe. * 30. The elite have made fortunes during the pandemic. Since the beginning of lockdown the wealthiest people have become significantly wealthier. Forbes reported that 40 new billionaires have been created “fighting the coronavirus”, with 9 of them being vaccine manufacturers. Business Insider reported that “billionaires saw their net worth increase by half a trillion dollars” by October 2020. Clearly that number will be even bigger by now. *  *  * These are the vital facts of the pandemic, presented here as a resource to help formulate and support your arguments with friends or strangers. Thanks to all the researchers who have collated and collected this information over the last twenty months, especially Swiss Policy Research. Tyler Durden Sun, 09/26/2021 - 07:00.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nyt18 hr. 25 min. ago

The Island of Death: Visiting the gulag where my grandfather was tortured, but didn"t officially exist

My grandfather was held at Bulgaria's most notorious gulag. This summer, I saw it for the first time. A Belene survivor crosses the bridge across the Danube that connects the town of Belene and Persin island in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) This summer, Tana Ganeva traveled to Belene, Bulgaria's most notorious prison camp, where her grandfather was held in the 1950s. Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its Communist-era gulags, where thousands were starved, tortured, and killed. Ganeva's grandfather attempted to escape Bulgaria four times, before making it to California. See more stories on Insider's business page. The island of Persin is a bird-watcher's paradise. Set on the Danube River, which divides Bulgaria and Romania, it's a nature park covered in wetlands and home to hundreds of rare bird species: the spoonbill, the pygmy cormorant, the corncrake, as well as herons, eagles, storks, and pelicans. Amid the natural beauty, it's jarring to consider that this was the location of a concentration camp where thousands of Bulgarian political prisoners were brutalized and killed from 1949 to 1953 - and in some cases for years after that. Though it's officially known as Belene after the quiet Bulgarian village that sits 750 feet away on the mainland, old-timers here call it by another name: the Island of Death.My stepgrandfather, Georgi Tutunjiev, was sent here at age 24 and spent four years and three months interred at Belene after someone (he suspected his ex-wife) told the authorities of his plan to escape the country. In his notebooks - he had planned to write a memoir about Belene but never did before he died in 2011 at 87 - he remembered the place as "brutal facilities for re-education," where he'd endured "indescribable physical and psychological abuse." He finally managed to escape Bulgaria in 1966 and settle with my grandma in California. In 1989, my parents and I left Bulgaria and joined my grandparents in California, thanks to the family-reunification policy. While many survivors of trauma shut down, my grandfather never stopped talking about the gulag. He seemed to have an unending loop of stories about Belene. For my immediate family, it could be exhausting, and we were alarmed to discover his extensive gun collection, which my grandmother gamely dismissed as a coping mechanism. But guests who came to the house were often riveted by his dark tales, which he mixed with his sense of humor. "Jeko! The Communistie shot you!" he'd shout at his terrier mix, and the dog would sprawl on his back, playing dead. An aerial view of Persin island. The gulag was known as Belene, after the nearby town. Tsvetomir Nikolaev I've come to the town of Belene on a brutally hot day in August for a tour of the Island of Death. I meet Nedyalka Toncheva, who works for the Belene Island Foundation, a nonprofit that organizes tours of the island, close to the bank of the Danube.We cross a rickety water bridge on foot and then jump aboard a Jeep driven by a 24-year-old Belene native named Peter. Toncheva, who is 35, is passionate and knowledgeable about the island's flora and fauna. Every few minutes, she tells Peter to stop the car to point out a roosting stork or a water eagle. She talks about her plans to make Persin a tourist destination comparable to Borovets, a ski resort with luxury hotels in the Rila mountains; or Koprivchitsa, a living museum honoring the Bulgarian rebels who mounted an uprising in 1876 against the Ottoman Empire.In the three decades since the fall of communism, Bulgaria has effectively buried the history of its many gulags, which operated mostly in the 1950s during the early, and most violent, days of Communist rule in the country. In Belene itself, many lower-level guards came from the village and a former mayor was also the gulag's first superintendent. It's not surprising that the village doesn't advertise its history.After 1989, survivors who had been forced to sign documents promising to never talk about the camps started speaking out. For a brief time, they became the subjects of documentaries and newspaper profiles. But soon, the consensus was that it was better to move on. An interior minister tasked with investigating the camps instead secretly ordered a purge of thousands of pages of documents - 40% of the government record. While Bulgaria's defeat of the Ottomans is central to the national identity, and much is made of the fact that Bulgaria saved its Jews during the Holocaust, the memory of the Communist era is more fraught. Georgi Tutunjiev, the author's grandfather, in around 1977. Tana Ganeva Peculiar for a tour, most of our stops lead us to what's not left of the camp. The shacks where prisoners slept have been razed - there's no trace of them.At the entrance, in what is now an open field, an inscription says, "To be human is to have dignity." From inside the camp - what would have been visible to the internees - the engraving says, "If the enemy doesn't surrender, he is destroyed." But no one I've talked to knows whether it's the original or has been recreated. There are a few abandoned, falling-apart buildings, but those were built in 1959, six years after the camp's official (but not real) closing, when it was converted into a prison, in part to kill rumors that it had operated as a secret gulag. Todor Zhivkov, the Communist premier who took power in 1954 and stayed on until 1989, reopened it in the 1980s to detain Muslims who refused to take on Slavic names in place of their own - a disastrous bid to assimilate them. I ask Toncheva whether there's a list of everyone who was held in the camp. I'm thinking of my grandfather and wondering whether there's any documentation. She tells me everyone who comes here for the camp asks the same question."There's no way to know, no list," Toncheva says, apologetic. "There's almost no proof the camp even existed."'Perfectly calculated by Satan himself'The first contingent of 300 men arrived at the Belene camp in the summer of 1949, five years after the 1944 Communist coup. My grandfather, then 24, arrived that first winter. A camp for women was founded on an adjacent island soon after.It was modeled after Josef Stalin's gulags in Siberia. Most of the prisoners had been dragged from their homes by the military police and sent here without trial. (Estimates vary, but 20,000 to 40,000 people were thought to be murdered by the Bulgarian Communist Party.) Even Stalin eventually warned them to scale down the killing of prominent oppositional figures or risk creating martyrs.The first wave of prisoners had to hack through the unpopulated island and build small shacks that were so crowded the prisoners didn't have room to lie down. In his history of the camp, Borislav Skotchev wrote that the island was dotted with towers manned by guards with machine guns. A survivor of Belene during a commemoration ceremony in 2015. Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images) The men held here included the former leader of the Social Democrats, Orthodox priests (many in their 70s), and the mayor of Bulgaria's capital, Sofia. Tsveti Ivanov, the editor of the newspaper Svoboden Narod, or Free People, was sent to Belene after serving 10 months in prison. He was beaten so brutally that he got tetanus from his wounds and died in the compound. Much of what we know about the place comes from survivors' memoirs. They were fed a thin soup, sometimes with a handful of beans thrown in. Their bread ration - moldy or stale when it made its way to them - was small, and could be withheld by the guards as punishment. Sometimes they got tea. My grandfather told me that, in the winter, both the soup and the tea were given to them already frozen.When Toncheva takes us on a brief walk to go look at storks, the ground gives off wet heat, and brambles and thorns claw at us, as if the island is alive and doesn't want us there. I think of the people who had to work days and nights, in sweltering summers, devoured by mosquitoes. It's unbelievable that anyone survived.An internal CIA document described the grim situation of starving prisoners. "A frequent sight is that of a prisoner eating raw green leaves and roots," it said. "To be caught doing this, however, would result in 10 days in detention in a dungeon for such an offense." The lucky ones got packages from family, though those were often taken by guards. Many had little choice but to choke down the rotting carcasses of wild cats, killed and skinned for their fur by the villagers, or pick through horse dung for undigested barley. According to a CIA information report from March 13, 1952, during one brutal winter 30 prisoners died of cold or starvation."It was an Inferno circle, perfectly calculated by Satan himself," Liliana Pirinchiva, one of the female survivors of Belene, wrote in her memoir. "We were reduced to skeletons." A group of Bulgarian anarchists. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Then there were the guards, who brought an especially sadistic approach to their work. Some would chase packs of prisoners on horseback, letting their rifles off "as if we were a flock of sheep," wrote Stefan Botchev, a survivor. When he got a severe case of scabies, the mites burrowing into his skin, he was locked up in a shed alone because the guards didn't want him to infect the cows. He recalled seeing a beating so severe that a prisoner's spine was broken, turning him into a "reptile crawling on the ground."Kouni Genchev Kounev, the chairman of the Bulgarian Youth Agrarian Union who also survived Belene, recalled one especially brutal punishment, in which the guards would pull back a prisoner's head and strike him in the trachea. They called it the "sword stroke."Years later, Krum Horozov, a survivor, would draw water colors of the camp from memory - it's virtually the only visual documentation that exists. In 2011, six years before his death, Horozov wrote: "And when we die, which will be soon, who will remember what happened on that island in the 1950s, and will they know that people were sent there without a trial and sentence?"Lilia Topouzova, a historian in Toronto who writes about the history and the memory of the camps, recalls meeting Horozov at an academic conference; he was trying to give away copies of his drawings of Belene to university students, but they avoided him as if he were a pesky street vendor.The CricketAt 93, Tsvetana Dzhermanova is the last known survivor of the women's camp, which was known as Shturets, or Cricket. We're sitting outside her home in the mountain village of Leskovets, and she's talking so fast I wonder how she manages to breathe.She smiles and laughs a lot, and she reminds me of my grandfather, who also spoke with the speed of a motorboat, frantic to tell his story."I promised to outlive the Communistie, and here I am!" she boasts. (My grandfather also took an understandable delight at outliving the Communistie. "I survived the Communistie, but I won't survive old age," he once told me, when I was 25 and had no idea about either.) Tsvetana Dzhermanova. Tsvetana Dzhermanova Dzhermanova was an anarchist in the 1950s, and still is today. "That's my personal ideology," she says. "I'm not sure humans are evolved enough to make either anarchism or socialism work the way they should, but for me, anarchism is it. Because I value freedom, family, friendship, and love."When she first heard about anarchism as a teenager, she asked her mother what it meant. "Anarchists are the people all regimes persecute," her mother had replied. That sold her. Dzhermanova joined a village group. She had no designs on power (detesting it) and mostly spent her time reading anarchist literature and working on a community vegetable garden. She estimates that 800 anarchists from the town were swept up in a night and sent to the gulags."We sang songs while we worked," Dzhermanova tells me. "That helped." Last spring the sprightly nonagenarian made the three-hour trip to Belene to speak with a group of students about the camps. "They had no idea about this. They were really surprised," she says. "No one had ever talked to them about it, and they don't learn about it in school."'Out of Fashion'Toncheva and our driver, Peter, walk through a falling-down building that was constructed in 1959, in part to hide evidence of the camp. It's covered in bird shit. Plant life is taking over its rotted remnants, and old decayed furniture has been abandoned here and there. We talk about how nobody talks about the camp.Peter tells us that despite having spent almost his entire life roughly 750 feet from Persin, in Belene village, he learned about the camp only two weeks earlier, when Toncheva hired him as a driver for her tours."To think they only gave them bread and water, and made them work so hard," he says, shaking his head in disbelief. A crumbling building built on the site of Belene. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters As far as Toncheva knows, no one from her family was held here, but she remembers asking her grandmother about the island when she was a teenager and again after reading the memoirs of survivors. "Shhh. Don't talk so much about this," her grandmother would say. "You don't want to bring trouble."There are rumors of a mass grave near Persin. Mikhail Mikailev, the head of the Belene Island Foundation, wants to find it. But money for the equipment required to find and dig up the remains eludes this two-person staff.Unlike Peter and Toncheva, my parents, who were born in the mid-1950s and grew up in Bulgaria, tell me that in the 1970s and 1980s, all their friends in Sofia knew about Belene. "We all heard the stories," my mother says.But for the authorities, maintaining official denial was worth murder.In 1969, the celebrated Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov defected to the West, where he wrote about the regime's abuses. In one essay, Markov described traveling on a boat down the Danube and approaching Belene. "I remembered how, feet dangling over the edge of the boat, a youth with a guitar once sang a strange song: Danube, white river, how quiet you flow / Danube, black river, what anguish you know." A view of Persin island. Tsvetomir Nikolaev On a rainy afternoon in London, a man jabbed the tip of his umbrella into Markov's leg. Later, Markov noticed what looked like a small bug bite but didn't think much of it. A few days later he was dead, most likely poisoned by the Bulgarian secret service.Before my visit to Belene, I met Topouzova, the historian, over Zoom to talk about the erasure of the camps in Bulgaria's consciousness. While former generals wrote best-sellers, the owner of a prominent bookstore dismissed any interest in survivors' memoirs - they were "out of fashion," he had told her.It was gaslighting in its purest form. And it showed how we're all so prone to the "just world" fallacy, a phenomenon where if something is too horribly unjust, the human brain just kind of moves on. It's not all that hard to bury inconvenient truths."It turned out that aging men and women with fragmented memories of bygone violence did not make for the faces of change," Topouzova wrote in a recent paper titled "On Silence and History" for the American Historical Association. "The interned were rendered nonexistent - their experiences and memories fated to vanish along with the files." A pile of stonesNations define themselves by their monuments. The memorial in downtown Manhattan demands that we never forget the victims of 9/11. In the past few years, American activists have torn Confederate statues from their perches, signaling a break with the passive acceptance of the history of slavery. Yet grappling with unpleasant history isn't easy. It was only in 2018 when a museum honoring the Black victims of lynching opened in Alabama. The 1619 Project, which posits that the history of the United States is rooted in slavery, has spurred a massive backlash. School districts have banned children's books about Rosa Parks. Vaunted democracies are as likely to try to bury inconvenient truths as former communist states. At an exhibition in Sofia in 2009, Belene survivors look at images of the gulag's victims. Stoyan Nenov/Reuters In Bulgaria, there are monuments everywhere. From the smallest village to Sofia, the heroes of Bulgaria's uprising against the Ottoman Empire are eternalized in stone. In Plovdiv, a giant sculpture overlooks Bulgaria's second-largest city that honors "Alyosha," an everyman Soviet soldier who helped "liberate" Bulgaria in the 1940s - even though many Bulgarians see that period as Soviet imperialism, much like the Ottoman Empire's 500 years of occupation.The victims of Belene and the other camps have no such honor. The Belene foundation does the best it can. They helped organize an art exhibit, where Korozov's pencil drawings were tacked onto the walls of the decaying structures that had been erected to mask evidence of the gulag. A man places photos of famous victims of Soviet policy in front of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2014. Hristo Vladev/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images There is one modest monument on the island. It's an abstract stone structure, and you'd have no idea what it was if you didn't already know the history. The original idea was to build a monument that listed the names of all the known internees, something like the Vietnam wall on the Mall in Washington. But the survivors and their families who pooled their resources to build it ran out of money, and no one, including the Bulgarian government, stepped in to help. (The survivors also hoped to open a museum and to recreate the shacks where they were held, but that hasn't happened either.)My grandfather's escape Dzhermanova, the 93-year-old anarchist - and eternal optimist, apparently - has hope that younger people will dig up the buried history.As for my grandfather, his ex-wife (or whoever it was who betrayed him to the authorities) was right that he wanted to escape Bulgaria.After his release from Belene in 1953, that resolve was so much stronger. "After 4 years and three months in the Island of Death, I became determined to go to my real home: America," he explained in his notebooks. The author with her grandfather and grandmother, Tsvetana Tutunjieva. Tana Ganeva As he detailed it, it would take four harrowing attempts. Soon after his release from Belene, he managed to make it into Yugoslavia during a "sabor" - a temporary loosening of borders so family and friends in the two countries could see each other. But he got caught and was thrown into a Yugoslavian jail.From there, he organized an inmate breakout after bribing the guard dog, Jeko, with his dinner. But he and the other prisoners were caught in the woods, and the Yugoslavian authorities gave them up to the Bulgarian authorities in exchange for 10 cows. "They weren't even very good cows - scrawny," he wrote.Several years later, he tried to cross Bulgaria's mountainous border into Greece, but he was caught once again.Finally, he made it into Austria and then Germany by clinging to the underside of a freight train. And then on to California, where he gave his new dog a familiar name: Jeko.Tana Ganeva writes about policing, prisons and criminal justice. She's currently working on a book about escapees from the Soviet bloc. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

An Afghan Army cadet says he"s been hiding at home for 6 weeks, fearing the Taliban"s door-to-door manhunt

The Taliban have been hunting down people that served the previous Afghan government or once helped the West. Taliban fighters escort veiled women marching at a pro-Taliban rally outside the Shaheed Rabbani Education University in Kabul, Afghanistan. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images Former members of Afghanistan's national army are now likely Taliban targets. One cadet told Insider he was hiding in his home and afraid to go outside. "They are taking over houses and killing them one by one. We are now in a very dangerous situation." See more stories on Insider's business page. A cadet with Afghanistan's army has described being in hiding for the past six weeks, never once stepping outside for fear of retribution from the Taliban.The cadet, who asked not to be named as he fears for his life, told Insider the Taliban were hunting members of the Afghanistan National Army, which helped foreign armies fighting the militant group.Insider has reviewed ID documents and photos of the cadet in uniforms that he said were taken in training. Due to the collapse of the Afghan military, Insider was unable to independently verify his military service.'They can easily recognize us as cadets'The cadet said he had been hiding in his uncle's house in Jalalabad since August 14, the day before the Taliban seized Kabul, and not left since.The cadet said he was afraid of being identified as an Afghan Army member as he has short hair and little facial hair - the opposite of typical Taliban-fighter style: "They can easily recognize us as cadets." Taliban commanders speaking to reporters in September 2021. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images He said he believes the Taliban had information about Afghan soliders' identities: "They are targeting one by one, people on the list.""They are taking over houses and killing them one by one. We are now in a very dangerous situation."Former army members "are at huge risk since the Taliban takeover," he said. "They are looking for [us].""The situation is getting worse day by day here." Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul on August 19, 2021. Rahmat Gul/AP The Taliban were known for brutal punishments, including hand amputation and execution. One of their founders said this week they would bring those punishments back.Afghan Army soliders are also likely Taliban targets, with several reports saying the group has done door-to-door manhunts for them.A confidential August 18 report sent to the United Nations from a Norwegian intelligence service, seen by Insider, warned that the Taliban were "intensifying the hunt-down of all individuals and collaborators with the former regime."It said people linked to the military were "particularly at risk.""There are multiple reports that the Taliban have been and are extending lists of individuals, phone numbers and family members of individuals believed to have been collaborating with allied forces."An Afghan special forces commander also told the BBC in late August that the Taliban had already killed at least 12 special forces members in Kandahar and three soldiers in Jalalabad, saying: "The Taliban took them out of their homes and shot them." Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed CIA base in Deh Sabz district on September 6, 2021, after the US pulled all its troops out the country. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images The cadet's brother told Insider: "He is at home, we are hiding from the outside. We are not letting him go outside, he cannot go to the city."He said the whole family is afraid: "If they know we are hiding him here, they could punish the whole family."He said the family has not tried to flee Afghanistan, fearing the Taliban checkpoints around the country, including around Kabul's airport, from which thousands tried to flee following the group's takeover."We haven't tried to leave so far, the Taliban have checkpoints everywhere," the brother said. "They are checking everybody's names. There were a lot of Taliban in front of Kabul airport."Cadet wants to fight for BritainThe Afghan National Army was trained by NATO, the US, and other allied countries, and its soldiers fought along western troops until their withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban takeover. This made Afghan Army soldiers a Taliban target.The cadet's brother said they were desperate for help from another nation: "To the United Nations, to any government, it doesn't matter which: Who can help us?"The UK, for example, is considering incorporating Afghan troops into its army. "We are hoping for the best, if the UK government can help," the cadet said. "I want to help the UK."Matthew Loh contributed reporting.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

PG&E Charged With Deaths Of 4 In 2020 Wildfire Started By Its Equipment

PG&E Charged With Deaths Of 4 In 2020 Wildfire Started By Its Equipment Shares of the perennially-troubled PG&E - America's largest utility whose aging equipment has helped start a rash of deadly wildfires across California - tumbled Friday after the DA in Shasta County hit the company (which just emerged this spring from its second bankruptcy filing in as many decades) with a 31-count indictment, including 11 felonies, and 4 manslaughter charges. The charges were mostly tied to the 2020 Zogg fire in northern California, where hundreds of homes were destroyed During a Friday news conference, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said her office had determined back in July that PG&E was “criminally liable” for last year’s Zogg Fire, which blazed near the NorCal city of Redding. "They failed to perform their legal duties. Their failure was reckless, criminally negligent, and resulted in the deaths of four people," Bridgett said during the briefing. PG&E's recent criminal convictions from the last few years, which have been marred by intense wildfire seasons in the West, include pleading guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter tied to the Camp Fire, the 2018 blaze ignited by its long-neglected electrical grid that nearly destroyed the town of Paradise. It's also still facing criminal charges from the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, the 2019 Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and was on probation from the deadly San Bruno explosion when a 30-inch pipe exploded into flames killing eight people. Bridgett explained PG&E's liability thusly: the fire was started because PG&E didn't remove a tree, which had been marked to be removed in 2013, but never was. A grapevine left in place on that tree caused significant physical defects to its trunk, which ultimately fell on an electrical line during a windstorm on Sept. 27, 2020. The charges were announced three days before the anniversary of the fire. "I have determined that we have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company is criminally liable for their reckless ignition of the Zogg Fire and the deaths and destruction that it caused," she said at a news conference. "While criminal prosecutions of corporations is rare. One of the primary reasons to charge a corporation criminal is a finding that illegal behavior is widespread and serious. Their failure was reckless and was criminally negligent, and it resulted in the death of four people." The indictment counts span from murder to environmental crimes; 20 are misdemeanors. PG&E said previously the death and destruction caused by the Zogg fire (and all the other fires its equipment has caused) have been "heartbreaking" but that it has resolved civil claims with Shasta County and continues to reach settlements with victims and their families. "We do not, however, agree with the district attorney’s conclusion that criminal charges are warranted given the facts of this case," the utility’s statement said after the DA announced her desire to charge the utility this summer. Of course, the more legal pressure PG&E is facing, the higher the odds that it will simply retreat once again behind bankruptcy protection (what would be its third since 2001) to manage its claims. Though there's also the threat that its regulator, the Public Utility Board of California, takes over control (something that would probably horrify shareholders). And, in what's perhaps the most perverse outcome of all, whatever fines it pays out will be offset by rate hikes borne by its customers, about 16MM people in northern and north-central California. And no matter what happens, next year we'll get to go through this whole process again since PG&E has already copped to starting more fires this year. Tyler Durden Fri, 09/24/2021 - 15:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 24th, 2021

PG&E charged with manslaughter after equipment sparked deadly California wildfire in 2020

The nation's largest utility was charged on Friday with manslaughter and other crimes following a northern California blaze in 2020. A house burns on Platina Road during the Zogg Fire near Ono, California, in 2020. AP Photo/Ethan Swope, File Pacific Gas and Electric was charged on Friday with manslaughter and other crimes. It follows a 2020 Northern California blaze started by alleged neglected equipment, AP reported. Four people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. Pacific Gas and Electric was charged on Friday with manslaughter and other crimes following a Northern California blaze last year that prosecutors allege was started by neglected equipment, the Associated Press reported. Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced 31 charges against the nation's largest utility company, including 11 felonies.State prosecutors said the September 2020 fire began after a pine tree fell on a PG&E transmission line and scorched the communities in the Sierra Nevada, the report said. The blaze quickly grew out of control, killing four people and incinerating hundreds of homes. California's Shasta and Tehama counties sued PG&E alleging negligence, and said the company didn't remove the tree, even though it had been marked to be taken down two years earlier, the Associated Press reported. PG&E did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment.It's not the first time in recent years that the company has found itself in serious trouble. Last year, PG&E pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter from a 2018 blaze sparked by a neglected electrical grid. That fire destroyed the town of Paradise, along with 10,000 homes, the report said, leading to hundreds of lawsuits and causing the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 2019.PG&E already faced charges in April from the Sonoma County district attorney's office after a 2019 fire that displaced 200,000 people, according to the Associated Press. It's also on criminal probation after a 2010 pipeline explosion near San Francisco that killed eight people. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 24th, 2021

Here"s Why Investors Should Retain eHealth (EHTH) Stock Now

eHealth (EHTH) continues to benefit from expanded telesales organization, online enrollment growth and higher internal agent productivity. eHealth EHTH is poised for growth, banking on higher Medicare plan-approved members, new enrollments, solid Family and Small Business performance, and a robust capital position.Growth ProjectionsThe Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 and 2022 earnings per share is pegged at $2.97 and $3.67, indicating year-over-year increases of 22.2% and 23.5%, respectively.Estimate RevisionOver the past 60 days, the stock has witnessed its earnings estimates for 2021 move 1.7% north. This should instill investors' confidence in the stock.Earnings Surprise HistoryeHealth boasts an impressive surprise record, beating on earnings in all the trailing four quarters, the average being 66.02%.Zacks Rank & Price PerformanceThe company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). In the past year, the stock has lost 51.6% against the industry’s growth of 21.4%. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Business TailwindseHealth continues to witness strong momentum in Medicare Advantage enrollment growth. Medicare Advantage enrollment growth has exceeded expectations in the second quarter. The insurer has made significant progress toward expanding and enhancing the telesales organization which is expected to drive the Medicare business.An increase in Medicare plan-approved members, owing to growth in Medicare Advantage plan members, higher Medicare Supplement plan members, strong consumer demand, online enrollment growth, and an increase in internal agent productivity during the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period are expected to drive revenues for the Medicare segment, going forward.The Medicare segment’s revenues are expected to be $601-$639 million in 2021. Profit is expected to be $130-$146 million.A combination of strong enrollments and a continuing increase in the persistency of the existing book of business is likely to benefit the Individual, Family and Small Business segment’s revenues and profit growth. Higher approved members for qualified health plans and increased approved members in non-qualified health plans are expected to drive the Individual and Family Plan-approved members.The Individual, Family and Small Business segment’s revenues are expected to be $59-$61 million in 2021, up from $39-$41 million stated earlier. Profit for the segment is expected to be $36-$38 million, up from the earlier mentioned $19-$20 million.The tailwinds have aided eHealth in maintaining a sustainable revenue growth trend over the past few years. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s 2021 and 2022 revenues is pegged at $684.4 million and $804.1 million, respectively. The figures indicate year-over-year increases of 17.4% and 17.5%, respectively.For 2021, total revenues are expected to be $660-$700 million. Adjusted EBITDA for 2021 is estimated to be $110-$125 million, in line with the prior range.eHealth exited the second quarter with cash and cash equivalents, which surged more than five-fold from the 2020-end level. For 2021, cash used in operations is expected to be $85-$95 million, and cash used for capital expenditure is projected to be $24-$27 million.Better-Ranked Industry PlayersSome better-ranked companies from the same industry are Brown & Brown BRO, Marsh & McLennan Companies MMC and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. AJG, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Brown & Brown surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 21.40%.Marsh & McLennan surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 13.88%.Arthur J. Gallagher surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 13.51%. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. (MMC): Free Stock Analysis Report Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG): Free Stock Analysis Report Brown & Brown, Inc. (BRO): Free Stock Analysis Report eHealth, Inc. (EHTH): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Kim Jong-un"s sister says North Korea is willing to discuss ending the decades-long Korean War - if South Korea stops its "hostile" policies

South Korean president Moon Jae-in called this week at the UN General Assembly for an end to the decades-long conflict. Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un attends the women's ice hockey preliminary match between Korea and Switzerland during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) Kim Yo-jong said North Korea is willing to discuss ending the decades-long Korean War. She said South Korea must stop its "hostile" policies toward the North, the BBC reported. South Korean president Moon Jae-in called earlier this week at the UN for an end to the conflict. See more stories on Insider's business page. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said the country is willing to discuss ending the decades-long Korean War if South Korea stops its "hostile" policies, the BBC reported on Friday.South Korean president Moon Jae-in called earlier this week at the UN General Assembly for an end to the decades-long conflict, the report said, an idea that was initially regarded by a North Korean minister as "premature."In a statement on Friday, however, Yo-jong said the idea was "admirable" and that North Korea would be willing to engage in talks with the South if it stopped what she referred to as "hostile policies" toward the North, the report said. "What needs to be dropped is the double-dealing attitudes, illogical prejudice, bad habits and hostile stand of justifying their own acts while faulting our just exercise of the right to self-defence," she said in a statement.North and South Korea have been at war since the countries reached an armistice agreement in 1953. The armistice is not equivalent to a peace treaty, meaning the countries are technically still engaged in the conflict that split the peninsula into two countries seven decades ago.The comments mark a stark shift in tone for Yo-jong. Last month, Yo-jong threatened to boost North Korea's military in response to joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, Insider previously reported. "The dangerous war exercises pushed ahead by the US and the South Korean side disregardful of our repeated warnings will surely make them face more serious security threat," she said in a statement at the time.She also accused the US of being "a chief architect destroying peace and stability in the region."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

Biden says Border Patrol agents "will pay" after whipping at Haitian migrants while charging them on horseback

"It's dangerous, it's wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world, it sends the wrong message at home. It's simply not who we are," Biden said. A United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. Paul Ratje/Getty Images Biden said Border Patrol agents who whipped at and charged Haitian migrants "will pay" for their actions. DHS has initiated an investigation into the agents' behavior on the border in Texas. Biden called the treatment of migrants "dangerous" and "outrageous." See more stories on Insider's business page. President Joe Biden said Border Patrol agents who whipped at Haitian migrants with horse reins as they attempted to cross the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas this week will face punishment for their "outrageous" actions."I promise you those people will pay," Biden said of the agents during a White House press conference on Friday morning. "There will be consequences ... It's dangerous, it's wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world, it sends the wrong message at home. It's simply not who we are."White House press secretary Jen Psaki has repeatedly called the images and footage "horrific" and "horrible." The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that it opened an investigation into the agents' actions. "The footage is extremely troubling, and the facts learned from the full investigation, which will be conducted swiftly, will define the appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken," DHS said in a statement earlier this week. -Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 24, 2021Some Democratic lawmakers and others called the agents' treatment of the migrants human rights violations. Haitian migrants told reporters that they were forced to leave a makeshift refugee camp under a bridge in Texas to find water and food for themselves and their families. Many of them waded across the river to retrieve food in Mexico and then attempted to re-cross the border to return to the camp.Video footage showed agents on horseback charging the migrants, many of whom were barefoot and carrying bags of food, and using their reins as whips.One agent yelled at a group of men and women, "This is why your country's shit because you use your women for this."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

PHOTOS: Special operators and airborne soldiers put the US military"s new sniper rifle of choice to the test by jumping out of airplanes with it

The sniper rifle was then checked to make sure it still fired with precision during the post-drop live-fire trials. A Special Operations Sniper exits a C-27 aircraft with his MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) in the “side-mounted” configuration over Laurinburg drop zone, Laurinburg, North Carolina, during the PSR test. Staff Sgt. Nicholas Birkner, U.S. Army Operational Test Command US special operators and airborne soldiers put the new MK-22 sniper rifle to the test recently. They jumped out of airplanes with the rifle and then had the weapons checked to make sure they still worked. The testing is the "final hurdle" before fielding, the Army said in a statement. See more stories on Insider's business page. US Army snipers from the special operations community and the 82nd Airborne Division put the military's newest sniper rifle of choice to the test at Fort Bragg, North Carolina recently.The MK-22 sniper rifle, Barrett Firearms' Multi-Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) rifle, is a three-in-one sniper rifle that soldiers, Marines, and special operators all want, and the testing at Fort Bragg is the "final hurdle" before fielding starts. Mk 22 MRAD sniper rifle US Army Special Operations Command was the first to choose the new rifle, which can be chambered in 7.62 by 51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum ammunition, giving shooters greater flexibility with a single weapon.The Marines and the Army did the same, with the latter selecting the MRAD rifle for its Precision Sniper Rifle program. The rifle will replace all bolt-action rifles for the Corps and the Army's M2010 and M107 rifles.The sniper rifle "can be configured for multi-calibers by the sniper in the field and requires no higher level maintenance to reconfigure," US Army Operational Test Command's Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate said in a press statement. "It will also extend engagement ranges for both anti-material and anti-personnel target engagements.""The increased engagement range will keep snipers safer and increase the options for the local commander employing these combat multipliers," Sgt. Austin Stevens, an 82nd Airborne Division sniper, said.Weapon testing at Fort Bragg, which was preceded by the extensive training on the new equipment, involved vertical wind tunnel testing, as well as snipers airdropping from a C-27 military transport aircraft carrying the MK-22 rifles. A Special Operations Sniper participating in the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) test conducts vertical wind tunnel testing with his MK-22 in the “front-mount” configuration. Michael Zigmond, Audio Visual Production Specialist, U.S. Army Operational Test Command A Special Operations Sniper exits a C-27 aircraft with his MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) in the “side-mounted” configuration over Laurinburg drop zone, Laurinburg, North Carolina, during the PSR test. Staff Sgt. Nicholas Birkner, U.S. Army Operational Test Command The rifles were then evaluated afterwards to make sure that the pre-mission zero set by the snipers had not been thrown off by the jump. Special Operations Snipers zero their MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifles (PSR) before military free fall test trials on Range 61, Fort Bragg, North Carolina Barry Fischer, Audio Visual Production Specialist, U.S. Base & Test Support Services contractor A test NCO assigned to the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate observes post-drop live-fire test trials of the MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) at Range 61, Fort Bragg, North Carolina James Finney, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Base and Test Support Services contractor The modular aspect of the MK-22 rifle removes the need for troops to deploy with less weaponry, and the foldable stock and removable suppression systems mean a more compact load for paratroopers.With weapons that will be used by airborne troops, though, it is essential that the weapon be tested to ensure that any shock from an airdrop does not impact a shooter's ability to shoot straight and hit an intended target. That was carefully evaluated during recent testing. Technicians assigned to the Base and Test Support Services contractor conduct bore sight collimation on an MK-22 Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) after a paratrooper airdrop. James Finney, Audio Visual Production Specialist, Base and Test Support Services contractor. The MRAD rifles have generated a lot of excitement among members of the US military sniper community."It's an awesome gun," an experienced Army sniper previously told Insider. "I can tell you I never saw anything on that gun that I didn't like. It shoots phenomenally well. What it does, as far as barrel changes and things like that go, is pretty exceptional."The MK-22 is a "good gun coming at a good time that is going to increase efficiency and capabilities," he said. "We're excited about it."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

A CIA station chief was recalled after claims he wasn"t taking victims of the mysterious "Havana Syndrome" seriously

The first case of the illness was reported by US officials stationed in Cuba in 2016. More than 130 cases have emerged worldwide since. The logo of the CIA. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images The CIA recalled a top agent accused of doubting "Havana Syndrome," cases, per The Washington Post. The agent headed the CIA station in Vienna, which has reported several cases, The Post said. US intelligence agencies are working to identify the cause of the mysterious illness. See more stories on Insider's business page. The head of the CIA's station in Vienna, Austria, has been recalled over claims he doubted victims of the mysterious "Havana Syndrome," The Washington Post reported.The man, who has not been named, was said to be skeptical about the illness and insensitive to those who said they had experienced it, The Post said.The first case of what is now known as "Havana Syndrome" was reported by US officials stationed in Havana, Cuba, in 2016. Since then, more than 130 cases have emerged. More cases of the "Havana Syndrome" - which CIA officially calls "anomalous health incidents" - have been reported in Vienna than anywhere else bar Cuba.Symptoms include headaches, vertigo, hearing loss, and the appearance of buzzing or clicking sounds. Theories on the cause of the illness range from microwaves and ultrasound to parasites. Dozens of US diplomats, officials, and their families have been affected in the Austrian capital. Some children of US employees have also been affected there, The Post reported.In August, several offices at the US mission in Vienna shut down as a result of the illness, The Post said.The removal of the Vienna station chief shows the CIA is taking "Havana Syndrome" cases seriously.Earlier this month, the Department of Defense sent a memo to 2.9 million military service members and civilians asking them to report any symptoms that line up with the illness.On a trip to India this month, a person traveling with CIA Director Bill Burns experienced symptoms of the illness, CNN reported.Employees of the CIA told the network that the episode was perceived internally as a direct threat to Burns, and that Burns was furious when he found out.The Vienna recall follows the departure this month of Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, the top US official overseeing the State Department's response to the illness, after three months on the job.The department said Spratlen left because she had "reached the threshold of hours of labor" as a retiree. But NBC News reported that she left following criticism of her decision not to say if she believed an FBI study that said the "Havana Syndrome" could be a mental affectation.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 24th, 2021

Global Steel August Production Slips as China Deepens Curbs

Crude steel production from China tumbled 13.2% year over year to 83.2 Mt in August as Beijing stepped up measures to curb production to clean up the environment. Global crude steel production dropped in August on a slump in output from top producer China to a 17-month low on government’s actions to control production to reduce carbon emissions.  Production rose across other major steel-producing countries for the reported month with the United States and Japan racking up the biggest gains.According to the latest World Steel Association (“WSA”) report, crude steel production for 64 reporting nations fell 1.4% year over year to 156.8 million tons (Mt) in August. A decline in Asia and Oceania offset higher production across other regions in the reported month.China Output Tumbles As Beijing Ramps Up Green PushCrude steel production from China fell for the third straight month in August as Beijing stepped up measures to cut production to clean up the environment in a bid to reach its carbon neutrality goal by 2060. Per the WSA, production in China, which accounts for more than half of the global steel output, slumped 13.2% year over year to 83.2 Mt in August. Output is also down from 86.8 Mt in July. Despite the decline, production is still up 5.3% year over year to 733 Mt in the first eight months of 2021.China is looking to keep 2021 steel output within last year’s record levels. The production curbs are aimed at reducing air pollution and controlling costs of raw materials including iron ore. China has been pushing steel mills in the country since early July to implement output and capacity curbs to comply with the norms to cut carbon emissions. The steel sector is among the biggest sources of carbon emissions in China, accounting for roughly 15% of national carbon emissions. China has set a national goal to achieve peak carbon emissions for the steel sector by 2025.In the Hebei province, Tangshan — the top steelmaking city in China — is reportedly planning to cut its crude steel production by 12.37 Mt in 2021 and looks to be on track to meet the target. China's second-largest steel-producing province, Jiangsu, has also ramped up output cuts this month. Other major steelmaking provinces such as Shandong and Liaoning have also started to scale down production.China’s steel output clocked 1.06 billion tons in 2020 following a production ramp-up on a strong rebound in domestic demand, driven by government investment in property and infrastructure. Output from the country hit a record high of 99.5 Mt in May 2021 on the back of firm domestic demand and healthy profit margins at mills, before retreating to 93.9 Mt in June.Production curbs are expected to keep China’s steel output levels under check in the coming months. Output is also likely to be capped by an expected softening of steel demand in the country, partly resulting from a slowdown in the construction sector. Beijing’s actions to take the heat out of its property market this year partly through credit tightening measures bodes ill for the country's steel industry.The debt crisis at one of China top property developers, Evergrande, also increases the risk of a financial contagion in the country’s property sector. This may lead to a slump in construction activities and a slowdown in the launch of new properties in China, thereby hurting steel demand and triggering more production cuts. The potential collapse of Evergrande, which is saddled with more than $300 billion in debt, may pop China’s property bubble and could have a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Real estate accounts for roughly 40% of China's steel consumption. A boom in the property sector played a major role in driving China's steel production last year.How Other Major Producers Fared in August?Among the other major Asian producers, India — the second-largest producer — saw an 8.2% rise in production to 9.9 Mt in August. Steel demand is picking up in India on a revival in economic activities with the lifting of lockdowns and restrictions imposed by state governments to blunt the rapid spread of the virus amid the deadly second wave. Government’s infrastructure push and focus on accelerating the rural economy augur well for steel demand in the country.Production in Japan climbed 22.9% to 7.9 Mt in the reported month. Output rose for the sixth straight month as steel makers in the country are seeing a rebound in industrial demand from the pandemic-led lows. Crude steel output in South Korea also rose 6.2% to 6.1 Mt. Consolidated output went down 7.3% to 112.7 Mt in Asia and Oceania reflecting the decline in China.In North America, crude steel production jumped 26.8% to 7.5 Mt in the United States in August. Shutdowns across major steel-consuming sectors due to the pandemic put a crimp on steel demand, forcing U.S. steel mills to curtail production and idle operations with capacity utilization slumping to a multi-year lows during the first half of 2020.However, demand has rebounded with the resumption of operations, leading to an uptick in capacity utilization and domestic steel production. U.S. capacity utilization rate broke above the important 80% level in May 2021 for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and remains close to the 85% level amid strong domestic demand. Overall production in North America went up 24.4% to roughly 10.2 Mt.  In the Europe Union (EU), production from Germany, the biggest producer in the region, rose 6.7% to 3 Mt. Total output was up 27.1% in the EU to around 11.6 Mt. Steel prices in the region have come under pressure since August following a rally over the past several months to record highs as the ongoing semiconductor shortage is hurting demand from car manufacturers. Reduced consumption in the automotive sector due to the chip crunch is expected to weigh on European steel prices over the near term.  Production in the Middle East rose 10.9% to 3.6 Mt in August. Iran, the top producer in the region, saw an 8.7% rise to 2.5 Mt. Africa logged a 38.2% surge to 1.3 Mt.Among other notable producers, output from Turkey increased 7.1% to 3.5 Mt. Production from Brazil, the largest producer in South America, went up 14.1% to 3.1 Mt in August.Steel Industry Rides on Price Rally, Demand StrengthThe steel industry is currently enjoying a bull run after bearing the brunt of the pandemic last year, thanks to a strong revival in domestic demand and skyrocketing steel prices.Coronavirus hurt demand for steel across major end-use markets for much of the first half of last year. However, industry has staged an impressive comeback on strong pent-up demand and zooming steel prices. Steel demand is on an upswing with the resumption of operations across major sectors such as automotive, construction and machinery following easing of lockdowns and restrictions across the word. Demand remains robust across construction and manufacturing sectors.Steel prices also continue to race ahead, buoyed by strong underlying supply and demand fundamentals. U.S. steel prices are on an upswing on strong end-market demand, tight supply and low steel supply-chain inventories.The benchmark hot-rolled coil (“HRC”) prices plunged to a pandemic-led multi-year low of roughly $440 per short ton in August 2020. However, HRC prices started to recover from September 2020 and are shooting higher since then on U.S. steel mills’ price hike actions, tight supply conditions and solid demand. Prices are currently hovering near the $2,000 per short ton level. HRC prices have shot up more than four-fold from the August 2020 low. The imbalance between supply and demand has largely contributed to the strong run-up in steel prices. Higher prices are likely to act as a catalyst and drive margins of steel companies through the remainder of 2021.Steel Stocks Worth ConsideringA few stocks currently worth a look in the steel space are ArcelorMittal MT, Nucor Corporation NUE, United States Steel Corporation X, Steel Dynamics, Inc. STLD and Ternium S.A. TX, each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.ArcelorMittal has expected earnings growth rate of 1,776.6% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 21.1% upward over the last 60 days.Nucor has expected earnings growth rate of 534.4% for the current year. The consensus estimate for the current year has been revised 27.6% upward over the last 60 days.U.S. Steel has expected earnings growth rate of 381.2% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has been revised 18.9% upward over the last 60 days.Steel Dynamics has expected earnings growth rate of 431% for the current year. The consensus estimate for the current year has been revised 18.3% upward over the last 60 days.Ternium has expected earnings growth rate of 460.6% for the current year. The consensus estimate for the current year has been revised 25.5% upward over the last 60 days. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Steel Dynamics, Inc. (STLD): Free Stock Analysis Report ArcelorMittal (MT): Free Stock Analysis Report United States Steel Corporation (X): Free Stock Analysis Report Nucor Corporation (NUE): Free Stock Analysis Report Ternium S.A. (TX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

NATO is still living with the consequences of a historic decision it made hours after 9/11

After 20 years of fighting in Afghanistan, NATO members face hard questions about their commitment to the alliance. NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson speaks to reporters after a meeting of NATO's Permanent Council, in Brussels, October 8, 2001. OLIVIER HOSLET/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images NATO's collective-defense provision, Article 5, is the alliance's backbone. Article 5 has only been invoked once, after the September 11 attacks, which led the alliance into Afghanistan. After 20 years of fighting there, NATO members face hard questions about their commitment to the alliance. See more stories on Insider's business page. A few weeks after the September 11 attacks, NATO made a decision that would shape its future for the next two decades when it invoked its most important weapon: Article 5.Article 5, NATO's collective-defense provision, is the alliance's backbone. According to it, an attack against one NATO member is an attack against all.The article was included in the Washington Treaty, NATO's founding document, to deter the Soviet Union amid the emerging Cold War. The idea was, essentially, that if the Soviet Union attacked a European NATO member the US would intervene on its behalf.However, the US was wary of an automatic military commitment. So, despite pressure from European allies, the article did not specify the type of assistance the members would offer to the attacked party. This would play out in unforeseen ways in the future. President George W. Bush and Robertson at the White House, October 10, 2001. TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images The article was never invoked during the Cold War. The first and so far only time it was invoked was not to defend a small NATO member from Soviet encroachment but the muscle of the alliance, the US itself, from Middle Eastern terrorists.The day after the September 11 attacks, most NATO countries called for the invocation of Article 5. This did not immediately happen since the origin of the attacks had yet to be determined to the satisfaction of some members.It took until October 2, 2001 - when then-NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson announced that the attacks had indeed been directed from abroad - for Article 5 to be invoked.This was a watershed moment for the alliance. Failure to invoke Article 5 would have rendered NATO obsolete. Instead, the alliance, which had struggled to find its raison d'être following the collapse of the Soviet Union, was propelled into Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism.NATO's most important mission Members of France's 13th Paratrooper Dragoon Regiment during training at a military airport in eastern France, October 9, 2001. DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images A number of NATO allies were involved in the war from the very beginning.The UK participated in the first airstrikes against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. German and British special-operations units took part in the Battle of Tora Bora. A number of NATO countries contributed personnel, aircraft, and logistical support during 2002's Operation Anaconda, the successful mission to rout out Al Qaeda from Afghanistan's Shahi Kot valley.After dismantling the Taliban and Al Qaeda networks in Afghanistan, NATO's role there only grew.In 2003, at the request of the UN and the Afghan government, NATO took charge of the International Security Assistance Force. This was a landmark moment for the alliance.ISAF would be NATO's first deployment outside of Europe and North America. All NATO members would contribute personnel to ISAF - some contributed more per capita than the US.Eventually, the ISAF mandate would expand from securing Kabul to the whole country. This nominally transferred control of the war to NATO.The war exposes NATO's weaknesses A man with a sign reading "War is Murder-War is Terror" outside the German parliament as it debates sending troops to Afghanistan, November 16, 2001. Sean Gallup/Getty Images Assuming control of such a high-stakes mission provided significant operational and organizational experience to NATO. However, as the war's toll increased, weaknesses within the alliance were exposed.Participation in the war in Afghanistan had been a contentious issue in many European countries from the beginning.In some, like Spain, parliamentary approval had not been obtained to dispatch troops to Afghanistan. In others, like Germany and Italy, the deployed troops were limited by legal constraints, which in some cases prevented them from actually fighting the Taliban.Most NATO members had not fought a war in decades, so even limited combat casualties caused significant backlash at home. The 2004 Madrid train bombings and the 2005 London bombings - which brought Islamist terror to Europe in two of the continent's worst attacks in decades - further increased the war's unpopularity.As a result, many NATO members only contributed a few support troops and tried to sidle away from combat operations and troubled areas. France even withdrew its combat forces in 2012. The lack of specificity in Article 5 meant members could abide by their NATO commitment without totally participating in the war effort.In 2015, ISAF became the Resolute Support Mission. A non-combat mission, RSM significantly scaled down the number of NATO troops in Afghanistan as it focused on supporting and advising Afghan security forces.At its peak in 2019, the RSM fielded 17,000 troops, half of whom came from America's allies. Nevertheless, many countries' troop contributions were in the double or even single digits, highlighting NATO's participation problems.The few thousand non-US NATO troops still involved in Afghanistan in 2021 followed the US out of the country, evacuating Kabul in late August.A warning sign American bombs are dropped on an Al Qaeda position in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, December 15, 2001. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images The alliance emerges from Afghanistan with a mixed record.On the one hand, it undertook its largest mission ever and the first outside its normal area of operations, learning valuable lessons about organization and interoperability that will be useful for future deployments.On the other hand, the intractable problem at the alliance's core was exposed: the near-impossibility of getting all 30 members to agree on and commit to military and political priorities.To apply those lessons and stay relevant, the alliance will need to ensure that alignment.As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, "Afghanistan will not be the last crisis for which North America and Europe need to act together through NATO."Constantine Atlamazoglou works on transatlantic and European security. He holds a Master's degree on security studies and European affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2021