Archive | April 23rd, 2020

Fake COVID-19 Data, Erroneous Death Figures

Iran-Linked Group Caught Spreading COVID-19 'Disinformation' On ...

By Lesley Kushner

Global Research,

This incisive video by Lesley Kushner explains how the CDC COVID-19 figures are manipulated.

Presumptive vs. Confirmed Cases

According to the CDC the data presented for the United States include both “confirmed” and “presumptive” positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the CDC or tested at CDC labs.

The presumptive (PC) and confirmed cases (CC) are lumped together.  And the total number (PC + CC ) constitutes the basis for establishing the data for COVID-19 infection. It’s like adding apples and oranges. The total figure (PC+CC) categorized as “Total cases” is meaningless. And there often no lab report. The figures do not measure positive COVID-19 Infection. And among those “total cases” are “recovered cases”.

Fake Death Certificates. 

“Presumed” or “Contributed” is to be put on the Death Certificate, when there is absolutely no proof that COVID19 was the cause of death, nor was there a lab test indicating COVID-19 positive.  (M. Ch. Editor)

blob:https://www.facebook.com/d7531612-c314-4451-867c-2bcadb3cf9cd

Spinning Fear and Panic Across America. Analysis of COVID-19 Data

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Nazi regime and Hezbollah, Confirmation of Deterrence Policy

Israel and Hezbollah, Confirmation of Deterrence Policy

By Elijah J. Magnier

The Israeli leadership has not tired of trying to change the Rules of Engagement (ROE) with Hezbollah since its defeat in the 2006 war, in the hope of eliminating the organisation that rose to state level in military capabilities (and medical skills, as it showed its preparations to confront the emerging COVID-19 virus). Israel has tried to hit targets inside Syria to stop convoys coming into Lebanon loaded with advanced weapons. However, Israel, after pursuing a non-provocation policy with Hezbollah for many years, decided to improvise and attempt a sneak attack on Beirut with drones, in the hope of introducing a new ROE and hitting Hezbollah targets. Hezbollah, however, returned the Israeli attempt by creating another balance of deterrence, embarrassing and ridiculing Israel and its army. But that, it seems, did not deter Israel, which was searching for methods to break the existing Rules of Engagement. The breach came on the northern border. Did the tension bring a large-scale escalation between Israel and Hezbollah any closer?

Since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011 and the participation of Hezbollah in this war throughout the entire Syrian geography since 2013, Israel has not hit any Hezbollah target causing casualties in its ranks, with two exceptions. The first was in 2015 when hitting two cars roaming in the Quneitra – the occupied Golan area- killing an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer and the person responsible for protecting VIPs in “Hezbollah”, Jihad Imad Mughniyeh, and their companions. Hezbollah responded by striking an Israeli convoy in the Shebaa Farms area, killing an Israeli captain and sergeant and wounding 7 others. Tel Aviv accepted the tit-for-tat and refrained from responding further.

In the same year, Israel assassinated Samir al-Quntarin in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Al-Quntar was in charge of the organisation and recruitment among the Druse of Suweida and the occupied Golan. After these two incidents, whenever Israel wanted to hit a truck bound for Lebanon, it would bomb the road in front of the truck to force it to stop and give time for passengers to evacuate to a safe distance before striking the cargo. This introduced an acceptable ROE between Israel and Hezbollah, as there were no casualties but only equipment lost which was eventually replaced.

Israeli soldiers repairing a fence at the borders with Lebanon

Indeed, after his return from a visit to Washington, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett admitted that “Israel hits a Hezbollah truck loaded with weapons and leaves five trucks without intercepting them.” This indicates that Israel is aware it has failed to reduce the capabilities of Hezbollah and to prevent the supply of advanced weapons and precision missiles. Israel wishes to permanently eliminate Hezbollah and is still working hard to do so, but without finding a way to break the “deterrence equation” imposed on it by Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, and without triggering a wider conflict which Israel is not ready for.

The last attempt was in August last year when Israel sent suicide drones to the southern suburb of Beirut. One of the drones exploded and another failed and was captured. This unusual Israeli violation required the response of “Hezbollah”, as its Secretary General promised, in an unprecedented step, striking not only in the occupied Shebaa Farms, but along the 125 km Lebanese border.

This humiliated Israel and its strong army, which withdrew and evacuated its military and observation positions at a depth of 5 km along the borders. Not only that, but Israel provided Hezbollah with fake targets to end the “distress” of Tel Aviv and thereby put an end to the embarrassment that afflicted the political and military leadership of the Israeli entity.

A blue bag containing an old vacuum cleaner with visible cables to confuse the Israeli soldiers, thrown on the other side of the borders.

This created a balance which effectively deterred Israel: it would not dare to attack Hezbollah after such a harsh and humiliating experience. Hence, Hezbollah wanted to prevent the installation of a new equation, which Israel was seeking, namely to start operations piloted by drones against multiple targets. This new cycle was broken before becoming established.

Recently in Jdeidet Yabous inside Syrian territory, a Cherokee vehicle belonging to Hezbollah members whose unit operates in Quneitra stopped in front of Al-Haidari station. It is not excluded that Israel had hit the road in front of the car to warn passengers to leave. Another method Israel has used often has been to hack the mobile phones of the personnel inside the car and send a message in Arabic asking them to leave before the car was destroyed. The car was stopped in front of the station, and the passengers, who did not panic, got out because of their familiarity with the Israeli method used for years, which aims not to cause human losses so as to prevent a symmetrical response.

After the operator of the drone confirmed that all passengers had evacuated the vehicle and removed their personal belongings and individual weapons, it launched a missile that hit close to it, to destroy it. The missile did not hit the vehicle directly due to the strong winds that were blowing at this time in the border area between Syria and Lebanon.

One of the three locations on the Lebanese borders where the fence has been cut, indicating a possible crossing.

Hezbollah, which has not yet officially declared responsibility for the operation, refrained from commenting. However, the following day, Israel found three breaches of its border fence cut in three different locations that fall under the responsibility of three different Israeli battalions on the border with Lebanon. Also, three closed blue bags with electrical wires inside were left on the other side of the fences for the Israeli to find them.

The goal of the operation was not to make Israeli snipers shoot the bags (they turned out to contain an old vacuum cleaner, an empty box, and a bag of water). Nor was the objective to see robots and drones dealing with the suspicious bags.  Rather it was to tell Israel that the tunnels that it uncovered last year crossing the borders would be useless. Hezbollah showed that crossing of the border above ground is simple and easy in many locations under the nose of the electronic surveillance devices and sensitive cameras installed by Israel very close to the place of the breach.

The second message is clear: any act of provocation against Hezbollah will be met with a response inside what Hezbollah calls “occupied Palestine” and not only in the Lebanese occupied Shebaa Farms.

The fences were cut under the watchful control of the most sophisticated electronic cameras of the Israeli towers spread along the borders.

The third message is that any attempt to turn the threat into an opportunity to change the ROE will be answered with a direct response commensurate with the size of the Israeli strike. Furthermore, any future Israeli aggression will be followed by a possible attack on the nearby settlements, or adoption of other measures ready, planned and prepared within the bank of objectives Hezbollah has.

Hezbollah has demonstrated the existence of a loose flank that it has removed from its sleeve, indicating that it has many options available as an appropriate response to Israeli aggression. The price of the Cherokee car struck by Israel is about 4000 dollars, while the price of the missile fired and the measures it took to search for a possible breach is much higher.

The three different locations where the fence on the borders was breached via @imadovisky11

Does Israel really believe that it is a superpower that can deal with the Corona virus and its spread even while striking Syria, Lebanon and Iraq (during its internal crisis), while lacking preparedness on the internal domestic front, at the same time confronting the growing strength of Hezbollah’s experience and advanced capabilities? If so, Israel is mistaken.

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Britain’s NHS Using ‘Flawed’ COVID-19 Test

Hancock under pressure to resign as leaked documents show NHS is using knowingly flawed tests for coronavirus

By James Cusick

NHS laboratories are using a flawed test for coronavirus, according to a leaked Public Health England document seen by openDemocracy. Experts warn that the test fails to detect up to 25% of positive COVID-19 results.

Although the current test is known to be inconsistent, NHS labs are nonetheless being advised to continue using it, while an urgent “migration” or shift to a commercially available test takes place.

The leaked document from the National Infection Service (NIS) will put intense pressure on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to explain why the NHS has been using knowingly flawed tests for many weeks, as national death rates have spiralled.

Hancock – who promised 100,000 tests a week by the end of April – recently said that “no test is better than a bad test”. Yet the documents reveal that senior government advisers have known for some weeks that the UK’s critical coronavirus test was not entirely reliable.

Among the leading scientists who have seen the NIS document, the reaction has been one of outrage. One said: “There should be mass resignations, both at the top of PHE and in the government. We should expect better.”

Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said:

“Ministers boasted we were world leading in developing this test back in January. If there have been concerns about its accuracy, senior figures have a duty to be clear and transparent with the public. Given the Secretary of State has promised 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month we now need total clarity on what these tests are and who will be processing them.”

Throughout the pandemic, the government has regularly stated that at “all times” medical and scientific advice has been followed, and that the “right thing has been done at the right time”.

A testing ‘catastrophe’

Despite two months of reviewing the key test used in the UK to detect the virus – officially known as the ‘PHE SARS-CoV-2RdRp assay’ – no minister, leading scientific or medical adviser has publicly acknowledged that the test is not fully reliable.

Although a numerical evaluation of the test’s reliability is not included in the NIS document, openDemocracy has learned from a leading pathologist with knowledge of the NIS’s ongoing review that the test misses 25 percent of positive cases.

That, according to one leading epidemiologist, is a “catastrophe”. It means that those given a virus-free status in error since testing first began two months ago would not have known they were infected.

As such, they would have continued spreading the disease among their close family and – if they continued going to work or not practising social distancing – among the wider community.Has COVID-19 Testing Made the Problem Worse? Confusion Regarding “The True Health Impacts”

The UK is currently projected to have one of the worst infection and death rates of any country in Europe.

The NIS document seen by openDemocracy is authorised by Dr Susan Hopkins, Professor Maria Zambon and Professor Andrew Mumford: all senior research directors who report to the chief executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, and ultimately to Matt Hancock as Health Secretary.

UK ‘bottom of the queue’ for reliable tests

Evidence of “quality assurance difficulties” for key reagents – essentially the test’s chemical makeup – is quoted in the document as one of the contributing factors for the test’s unreliable performance.

The document says that Public Health England (PHE) has reviewed its own COVID-19 test and has agreed “immediate actions” to mitigate or rectify the problems. Among the advice given to laboratories using the PHE test is to be careful before “calling” a result negative, to “retest ambiguous samples”, and to move towards using commercial tests.

Private-sector tests are sold by major pharmaceutical firms such as Hoffmann-La Roche, Abbott Laboratories and others. Commercial laboratories and academic institutions, such as the Crick Institute in London, largely use commercially available tests and not the PHE test.

However due to the worldwide demand for COVID-19 testing, these commercially available tests are now in short supply. If all NHS labs were to suddenly be mandated to switch to commercial products, one leading professor said: “We would find ourselves simply at the bottom of a very large queue for these critical materials.”

The three advisers who authorised the document make it clear that use of the flawed PHE test cannot continue.

But, given the lack of an immediate alternative, they advise NHS labs in the meantime to take care in interpreting the results.

A “shortage of swabs” and the specialist fluid used to “transport” the swabs to laboratories are also identified in the documents as causing variations in the performance of the Public Health England SARS test in NHS laboratories.

The importance of accuracy in test results was emphasised late last month by Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical officer. At a time when questions about the reliability of the PHE test would have been surfacing internally, Professor Whitty discussed the use of tests that might detect the presence of antibodies in those who had recovered from the virus.

He said tests needed to be “incredibly accurate,” adding: “If they are not accurate, we will not release any of them.”

Last month Health Secretary Matt Hancock authorised the purchase of £20m antibody tests from China. The tests were later found to be unreliable and effectively junked. It is understood the Chinese tests were 60 percent reliable.

You can read the full leaked document here

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South Korea Is a Model for Combatting COVID-19, Safely Holds Elections

It Should Now Take the Lead in Diplomacy with North Korea

By Kee B. Park and Christine Ann

inter-Korean

For the first time in two months, South Korea’s new coronavirus cases have dropped to single digits. Seoul has not only demonstrated that it can contain the pandemic, but that it can safely hold elections, which last week led to a landslide victory for President Moon Jae-in’s party in the parliamentary elections. Having earned the trust of the South Korean public and the admiration of the global community, now is the time for Moon to claim leadership over another issue that the Trump administration has woefully mismanaged: relations with North Korea.

The Trump administration’s approach to North Korea has been characterized by the president developing a personal relationship with Kim Jong Un, while imposing ever-stricter sanctions and continuing to hold joint military exercises with South Korea. This has failed to move the needle on North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Pyongyang continues to test weapons — even in the midst of a global pandemic — and shows no signs of wanting to engage with Washington.

But the universal threat of the coronavirus has created a vastly different landscape for President Moon to make progress with North Korea. Moon has all the leverage he needs to resolve a 70-year-old conflict and create a model for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

From the beginning of his presidency, Moon — a human rights lawyer and former soldier who served in the DMZ — has made more headway than past South Korean leaders in improving inter-Korean relations. Five months after signing the Panmunjom Declaration in April 2018, Moon and Kim met in Pyongyang for a second summit and signed an inter-Korean military agreement that set forth a demilitarization process, including disarming soldiers in the Joint Security Area and demining portions of the DMZ. South Korea took concrete steps to revive inter-Korean cooperation, such as establishing a diplomatic compound in Kaesong and seeking to link the inter-Korean railroad at Dorasan Station at the DMZ.

Unfortunately, Moon’s pro-peace diplomacy with North Korea fell victim to Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign on North Korea. In an October 2018 call to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-HwaSecretary of State Mike Pompeo rebuked Seoul for moving too fast with Pyongyang and failing to move in lock step with Washington on denuclearization. When asked about South Korea’s possible lifting of sanctions on North Korea, President Trump told reporters,

“They won’t do that without our approval. They do nothing without our approval.”

Since Trump’s colossal failure to reach a deal with Kim in Hanoi last year, talks have frozen, not just between Washington and Pyongyang, but also between the two Koreas. Not only does Moon now have a clear mandate domestically, the global context has changed, paving the way for him to pursue his inter-Korean peace agenda, with or without Washington’s approval.

For one, South Korea doesn’t have to continue conducting military exercises with the United States, which has been the ire of the North Korean regime. On March 23, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire so that the world can address the pandemic. President Macron of France is pressing for the U.N. Security Council to back the Secretary-General’s call, securing the commitments of three of five permanent members: China, the United Kingdom and the United States. The American and South Korean militaries agreed to cancel this spring’s military exercises due to the pandemic; adhering to the global ceasefire gives President Moon cover to cancel them altogether.

In addition to the global ceasefire, there is growing consensus that sanctions must be lifted against particularly vulnerable countries such as North Korea. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. human rights chief and a physician, recently called for sectoral sanctions to “be eased or suspended” because they impede the delivery of vital medical and humanitarian aid. “In a context of global pandemic,” Bachelet explained, “impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”

With more than 2 million cases and nearly 150,000 deaths worldwide caused by COVID-19, the United States is acquiescing. On April 16, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions exemptions for humanitarian assistance to North Korea, including “testing kits, respiratory devices, personal protective equipment, and medicine used in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery from COVID-19.”

With two years left in his presidency — and the U.S. and North Korea now entering the 70th year of being locked in a technical state of war — Moon should take this opportunity to advance peace on the Korean Peninsula. The brokenness of the U.S. approach in resolving the North Korean conflict begs for leadership, which President Moon must claim for the future of regional and worldwide security.

After all, if there is one key lesson to be taken away from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that South Korea can do some things better — much better — than the United States.

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Why Has the Price of Crude Oil Skydived?

West Texas Intermediate (WTI), dipped 321% to -40.32/barrel while the global standard, Brent crude futures pared brief gains and edged about 9.5% lower at $25.41/barrel

By Azhar Azam

On the back of the unprecedented supply glut, sapped demand and filled storage amid the coronavirus pandemic – for the first time in history, the prices of the US crude oil futures tanked to a negative territory, indicating the producers would pay traders for taking the oil off their hands.

Prices on the May contract expiring Tuesday for the US-benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), dipped 321% to -40.32/barrel while the global standard, Brent crude futures pared brief gains and edged about 9.5% lower at $25.41/barrel.

The June and July WTI contracts also dropped roughly 18% to $20.43/barrel and 11% to $26.18/barrel.

As the spread between May and June contracts, known as front and second month – is now the widest in the history, the downward trend for June and July contracts insinuated the mounting uncertainty and dying investors’ hopes about reopening of the US economy in near future.

Initially, it was disagreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia on production cuts at the OPEC+ forum that exacerbated tensions in the oil industry and stoked price and share war between them. By the time, the two energy rivals downplayed differences and signed an agreement; the Covid-19 went on the rampage to trigger abysmal anxieties in the US crude markets.

The ecstatic US President Donald Trump, claimed to have brokered the deal, popped up on twitter to thank Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz – terming the agreement “big” and “Great deal for all!” that “will save hundreds of thousands of energy jobs in the United States.”

But with the pandemic doling out a severe blow to major driver of the US economy, the settlement between Riyadh and Moscow looks antediluvian as the price setback coupled with shelved energy demand poses a significant threat to the jobs of more than 10 million workers associated with the oil industry. Many of whom are already being terminated or furloughed.

So even the historic deal – to steeply cut the oil production by 9.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) and backstop the value decline – did little to stabilize the markets and cannot prevent the WTI from a free fall. That’s because the reduction was not as per the expectations of the president himself and global analyst firms that believed it to be at least 20 mb/d to resuscitate the industry.

How Washington drove Saudi Arabia into the deal is controversial too. Trump’s push for a production cut was backed by a coalition of US Congressmen that in a threatening letter on April 8, sought the Kingdom “to do its part to bring stability – not further volatility – to global crude oil markets.”

The frictional tone citing threats of suspending the US-Saudi economic and military collaboration and recalling American support to counter “Iran’s malign activity” – emphasized the traditional pattern of Washington’s bulling behavior toward its allies to achieve its interests.

Additionally, the price at which the oil should be sold is vital for the US shale sellers. For the American oil companies, anything less than $40/barrel is perilous for their operations sustainability. If the price of the crude drops below that mark, some producers may decide to stop pumping and the firms may head for bankruptcy. That’s what is happening right now.

Head of shale research Artem Abramov at Rystad Energy says “$30 is already quite bad, but once you get to $20 or even $10, it’s a complete nightmare.” The comments pronounces how crucial it is for the US companies that oil remains at least around $40/barrel otherwise they won’t be able to survive and many of them could go bankrupt.

OPEC in its most recent monthly statement on April 16 said “The term structure of all three crude benchmarks – ICE Brent, NYMEX WTI and DME Oman – moved to a super contango in March.” Contago describes a situation that refers to oversupply and encourages traders to store oil to sell later on, hoping the crudes price to rally.

But with the wiping out US storage capacity, the traders won’t be any more able to buy more oil or even sell existing stocks in sharply condensing domestic oil market. The buyers of front month contracts would hence be forced to take physical delivery of the oil at the end of May that they can’t so they have to sell it now at any price.

Chief commodities analyst at leading Swedish SEB Group Bjarne Schieldrop confirmed the US storage issue referring “very front-loaded” contango, stating “The curves are saying we have a big problem with the storage of oil right now.”

Michael Lynch, President of Strategic Energy & Economic Research also doubts the US storage capacity to endure the flooding oil and believes that could be full to brim. “The implication is that storage might be more full than thought, or that buyers expect it to be very soon.”

All the US key oil facilities, including its main storage hub and delivery point Cushing, Oklahoma, are weighed down with the excess barrels. Since the end of February, the stockpiles at the largest oil-storage tank farm in the world have increased by nearly 50% to 55 million barrels against its working storage capacity of 76 million barrels. If the critical facility is full, a trader said it would be a “disaster.”

The US needs the consumption to rebound in short term. If it doesn’t and the airlines keep on grounded, cars remain garaged and refineries stay idle for a longer period – there would be tremendous selling pressure on all the traders holding the contracts, adding more weight on the Trump administration to provide support and reopen economy amid pandemic.

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Scientific Study Traces the Evolution and Migration of SARS-CoV-2. Where did the Virus Originate?

Review of an Important Peer Reviewed PNAS Study entitled Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes, by Peter Forster, Lucy Forster, Colin Renfrew, and Michael Forster

By Allen Yu

Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes by Peter Forster, Lucy Forster, Colin Renfrew, and Michael Forster published by the Proceedings of the  National Academy of Sciences of the United Sciences of America (PNAS) focuses on a study of the genomes of 160 covid-19 patients. 

As readers may know, viruses are RNA-based entities that periodically and regularly undergo mutations. One can study these mutations and almost like clockwork trace their evolution – i.e. their lineage and migration pattern.

The authors specifically employed a methodology known as “character-based phylogenetic networks”. The technique has been used as the “method of choice” to reconstruct prehistoric human population movements, language evolution, various ecological studies, and some 10,000 phylogenetic studies of diverse organisms – and now virology.

This is an early study – the sample size is only 160 humans – with 100 types. However, the results are stunning. Among the key conclusions:

  1. There are three major types of coronaviruses, A, B, and C, with type A being the ancestor of SARS-CoV-2 in humans and showing 96.2% similarly to a particular strain of virus in bats.
  2. Most of the viruses in China and Wuhan are of type B while most of the viruses found in America, Europe and Australia are of type A and C. Type C is not found in Mainland China but is found in significant numbers in Hong Kong, S. Korea, and Taiwan.
  3. While Type B is found in large numbers across Mainland China (including Wuhan), it is not found in significant numbers around the rest of the world.
  4. The methodology used was successfully used to trace several clinically verified cases of virus travel from Wuhan out to various nations, including Brazil and Italy. As such, the authors concludes the “character-based phylogenetic networks” methodology was useful and appropriate for studying the spread and evolution of the coronavirus.
  5. Yet, according to the methodology, the earliest sample of virus studied – collected on December 24 2019 in Wuhan – WAS NOT close to being the ancestor of SARS-CoV-2.

According to the authors:

In a phylogenetic network analysis of 160 complete human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) genomes, we find three central variants distinguished by amino acid changes, which we have named A, B, and C, with A being the ancestral type according to the bat outgroup coronavirus. The A and C types are found in significant proportions outside East Asia, that is, in Europeans and Americans. In contrast, the B type is the most common type in East Asia, and its ancestral genome appears not to have spread outside East Asia without first mutating into derived B types, pointing to founder effects or immunological or environmental resistance against this type outside Asia. (To read the complete scientific report in pdf click here)

China’s New Coronavirus: An Examination of the Facts

Some observations…

First, most of the viruses in the West do not seem to have arisen from China. The authors identified Type B as the main virus type found in Mainland China, with that Type mostly confined to Mainland China and Types A and C predominant outside China – including U.S., Europe and Australia.

Two reasons given for why Type B variants (“China’s virus,” if you must) did not expand much beyond Mainland China: one being “complex founder scenario” and second “the ancestral Wuhan B-type virus is immunologically or environmentally adapted to a large section of the East Asian population, and may need to mutate to overcome resistance outside East Asia.”

Since I have yet to see any reputable studies that shows any strains of the coronavirus having any affinity or dislike to any ethnicity of people, let’s focus on “complex founder scenario” and “environment” resistance.

The authors have noted many perplexities in the study. But if we consider the possibility that coronavirus did not originate in Wuhan, those perplexities all go away. More specifically, let’s presume a scenario where the virus was already circulating under the radar in the West and were carried to Wuhan in December or some time before, where it then spread locally within China.

Consider the fact that the authors had noted that Type B variants outside China did not show the “one-month” variations that would have been expected were Type B variants and descents to have traveled out of China to infect the rest of the world.

But if Type B variants – including Type C “descendants” – were already communally established and transmitted outside China, then this paradox easily goes away.

Assuming the virus to have been brought to Wuhan instead of originating from Wuhan would also constitute a “complex founding scenario” that the author hypothesized could solve the riddle.

This assumption also provides an explanation for the “environmental resistance” the author hypothesized. If the virus arrived in Wuhan with the Chinese authorities quickly closing down the city soon afterwards, the virus would not have had chance to spread to the rest of the world. The Chinese government’s shutting down of Wuhan in January could easily form the “environmental resistance” the authors hypothesized for the Type B virus.

Finally, it is important to note that in this study, of the 160 samples, most are from patients in China, only a few from outside Asia. In this study, the authors had tentatively labelled Type C as a descendant of Type B found in China. But while Type B is found mostly in Wuhan, it has also been found in significant numbers outside China. As more data from outside China comes live (one hopes soon), the same methodology will probably reveal that the predecessor to Type B and Type C arose outside not inside China. Type A and Type C thus all arose outside China and independently of China.

While the current study is China-centric (most data are from China), it already has established that the virus did not arise in Wuhan. The authors noted importantly in the data supplement section, “the oldest isolate from 24 December 2019 (brown node, week 0) lies diagonally opposite to the bat virus outgroup root.”

As we get more data, studies such as this will shed a lot of light on the origins of the coronavirus. It is really too bad, such a shame that the U.S. and Europe has missed such critical times testing and tracking the viral flow. It is worth noting that U.S. officials are blaming China for the virus. But even with limited data, the authors have been able draw some preliminary conclusions regarding the geographic origins of the virus.

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Immense Economic Damage of Pandemic

Immense Economic Damage of Pandemic: Worldwide Economic Collapse Reveals Failure of “Global Capitalism”

Is it not time to begin the struggle for an alternative society, based on socialist principles, to consign the attendant failures of capitalism to the dustbin of history?

By Dr. Leon Tressell

As each day passes by data pours in revealing the immense economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Most politicians and economic pundits will put the blame for up the economic hurricane, blasting tens of millions into unemployment, on coronavirus lock downs. Fitch Ratings has given a brief snapshot of the unfolding economic catastrophe which it predicts will last well into the 2020s:

“World GDP is now expected to fall by 3.9% in 2020, a recession of unprecedented depth in the post-war period. This is twice as large as the decline anticipated in our early April GEO update and would be twice as severe as the 2009 recession.”

“The decline in GDP equates to a USD2.8 trillion fall in global income levels relative to 2019 and a loss of USD4.5 trillion relative to our pre-virus expectations of 2020 global GDP. Fitch expects eurozone GDP to decline by 7%, US GDP by 5.6%, and UK GDP by 6.3% in 2020.’’

Yet at the beginning of this year the financial media and political classes around the world were making rosy forecasts how we were going to experience moderate economic growth this year built upon solid economic foundations. There was no cause for worry or alarm just let global capital work its magic and trickle-down economics would ensure living standards would rise for all.

Fast forward 4 months and a global health pandemic has revealed how shallow, brittle and unstable were the economic foundations of global capitalism. These foundations were built upon infinitely low interest rates, an exponential rise in debt both public and private (sending global debt over the $250 trillion mark) and a massive increase in social and economic inequality.

The world economy was slowing down during 2019 and heading towards a global recession. Japan’s economy had already entered recession territory in the last quarter of 2019, meanwhile PMI data from China and Germany indicated that they were hovering just outside recession territory.Systemic Breakdown? Financial Bubbles Creating Conditions for New Crash

The global economy at the end of 2019 was teetering on the brink and just needed a catalyst or pin to pop the everything bubble which has seen massive inflation in the prices of paper assets across the globe ranging from stocks and bonds to derivatives such as collateralized loan obligations.

The anaemic economic growth experienced by global capitalism since the last financial crisis, which was a mere 12 years ago, has been based upon a gigantic expansion of the global money supply as central banks and governments mistakenly believe that the only way to sustain our debt fuelled economic system was to create ever more debt.

The last 12 years since the 2008 global financial crisis have witnessed an unparalleled wealth transfer from the working classes to the billionaire class which wields immense political influence over governments across the world. Central bank stimulus programs i.e. quantitative easing together with historically low interest rates fuelled a speculative bonanza which has pushed financial markets to all-time highs across the globe.

Meanwhile, governments across the world have sought to give the hard pressed billionaire class a helping hand by cutting capital gains, income and corporation taxes across the board. President Trump’s $1 trillion tax give away to the economic elites in 2017 is the most egregious example of this phenomena.

At the same time, wages for billions of ordinary people have stagnated or fallen whilst welfare benefits and health care have declined. We now have the utterly surreal situation whereby 26 billionaires control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity amounting to over 3.8 billion people.

The working classes and underemployed poor of the developing world were made to pay for the costs of the 2008 global economic crisis. Once the coronavirus pandemic has finally burned itself out the working people of this world will be confronted with an economic depression which will rival and indeed may exceed in severity that of the 1930s. Governments across the board will once again seek to make ordinary people pay for the cost of the gigantic debts incurred by government and centrla bank bailouts.

In a desperate effort to prop up their system and protect the interests of their own class central bankers and corporate politicians across the globe are presiding over yet another wealth transfer that benefits the richest 1% in society. Bloomberg has noted how over $8 trillion has been printed out of thin air by global central banks and governments to prop up the capitalist system. The bulk of this horde of fiat money has gone to service the needs of Wall Street and its counterparts in London, Paris Frankfurt, Shanghai et cetera. The Wall Street Journal has openly acknowledged this truth in an editorial:

“The Fed may feel all of this is essential to protect the financial system’s plumbing and reduce systemic risk until the virus crisis passes, but make no mistake the Fed is protecting Wall Street first. The goal seems to be to lift asset prices, as the Fed did after the financial panic, and hope that the wealth effect trickles down to the rest of the economy.”

During the 2020s ordinary people across the globe face a simple but very stark question: can we have faith in a system whose primary motive is to service and protect the interests of the 1%? Maybe, it is time to begin the struggle for an alternative society, based on socialist principles, to consign the attendant failures of capitalism to the dustbin of history.

Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on Immense Economic Damage of Pandemic

The Florence Declaration: The Creation of a “NATO-Exit” International Front

By Comitato No Nato and Global Research

Introductory Note

The 25th of April is an important date in Italy’s history. It commemorates the 75th anniversary of  Liberation, which is also the Anniversary of the Resistance.

Last year we met in Florence on the 7th of April, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO.

The theme of our conference last year was NATO EXIT.  

The event was organized by Italy’s Comitato No Guerra, No NATO, in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). The Florence Declaration was drafted by Italy’s Comitato and the CRG.

On April 25, 2020, Commemorating the Liberation of Italy. We express our solidarity with the people of Italy. At the same time we express our concern regarding the US military bases established in Italy immediately established after World WarII.  

We must reflect on our history. Was it a Liberation or an Occupation?  

The European Union is militarized. The Pentagon is actively involved under banner of NATO in both Western and Eastern Europe. 

Italy like many other countries is currently experiencing a major crisis. This year on the 25th of April which commemorates Italy’s Liberation, we are not able to meet in Firenze to debate and discuss the “coronavirus crisis” which is affecting millions of people Worldwide.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 25 April 2020

***

Text of The Florence Declaration adopted by more than 600 participants to the Florence No War No NATO Conference, April 7, 2019.

Original in Italian. Translations into English, French, Russian, Spanish. The debates and discussions were chaired by renowned author and geographer Manlio Dinucci.

The event was organized by Italy’s Comitato No Guerra, No NATO, in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). The Florence Declaration was drafted by Italy’s Comitato and the CRG.

***

The risk of a vast war which, with the use of nuclear weapons, could mean the end of Humanity, is real and growing, even though it is not noticed by the general public, which is maintained in the ignorance of this imminent danger.

A strong engagement to find a way out of the war system is of vital importance. This raises the question of the affiliation of Italy and other European countries with NATO.

NATO is not an Alliance. It is an organisation under the command of the Pentagon, and its objective is the military control of Western and Eastern Europe.

US bases in the member countries of NATO serve to occupy these countries, by maintaining a permanent military presence which enables Washington to influence and control their policies and prevent genuine democratic choices.

NATO is a war machine which works for the interests of the United States, with the complicity of the major European power groups, staining itself with crimes against humanity.

The war of aggression waged by NATO in 1999 against Yugoslavia paved the way for the globalization of military interventions, with wars against Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and other countries, in complete violation of international law.

These wars are financed by the member countries, whose military budgets are increasing continually to the detriment of social expenditure, in order to support colossal military programmes like that of the US nuclear programme which costs 1,200 billion dollars.

In violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the USA is deploying nuclear weapons in five non-nuclear NATO States, under the false pretext of the ”Russian menace”. By doing so, they are risking the security of Europe.

To exit the war system which is causing more and more damage and exposing us to increasing dangers, we must leave NATO, affirming our rights as sovereign and neutral States.

In this way, it becomes possible to contribute to the dismantling of NATO and all other military alliances, to the reconfiguration of the structures of the whole European region, to the formation of a multipolar world where the aspirations of the People for liberty and social justice may be realised.

We propose the creation of a NATO EXIT International Front in all NATO member countries , by building an organisational network at a basic level strong enough to support the very difficult struggle we must face in order to attain this objective, which is vital for our future.

Florence, April 7, 2019

Manlio Dinucci from Italy

Michel Chossudovsky from Canada

Zivadin Jovanovic from Serbia

Posted in NATOComments Off on The Florence Declaration: The Creation of a “NATO-Exit” International Front

Despite US Sanctions, Iran Launches Military Satellite for Defense

By Steven Sahiounie

On April 22, the 41st anniversary of the establishment of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), they launched the ‘Nour’ satellite, aboard the ‘Qased’ three-staged satellite launcher, during an operation located in the desert at Dasht-e Kavir.

IRGC commander General Salami said,

“Today, we gaze upon the Earth from skies. This honorable moment is the starting point of the establishment of new global power.” He added, “Today, the world’s powerful armies do not have a comprehensive defense plan without being in space, and achieving this superior technology that takes us into space and expands the realm of our abilities is a strategic achievement.”

His comments stressed the term ‘defense’ and described the multi-purpose satellite’s use in space in the realm of information technology and intelligence battles, including reconnaissance and safe communication capabilities.

The successful launch of the Nour gave the Iranian people a chance to feel pride and hope, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 5,290 people in Iran, with over 84,800 reported cases.  The satellite orbits 425 kilometers above Earth, while many around the globe are on stay-at-home orders, and dealing with the mental constraints of ‘cabin-fever’.  Iranians may see the satellite as a bit of good news despite the struggling economy and historically low oil prices.

Iran is now one of 15 countries that can put military satellites in space, and even though the US has placed the most severe sanctions in history upon Iran, still their engineers and scientists continue to produce technology “MADE IN IRAN”.  They have an advanced program that has launched satellites in the past, including joint research projects with other countries. ‘Omid’, was their first a domestically made satellite that was sent into orbit in 2009, and Iran launched imaging satellites in 2011 and 2012.

Tensions with the US

In 2018 President Trump pulled the US out of the international deal which the US was a partner to, designed to prevent Iran from making a nuclear weapon. Iran has continued to state they do not seek to create or use nuclear weapons. That action by Trump was the beginning of the tensions which are being felt in the Middle East today.

One of the main sources of tension between the Trump administration and Iran is the influence and pressure of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and some of the oil-rich ‘Arab Gulf’ countries, such as Saudi Arabia.  AIPAC and their Arab allies put pressure on Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and they tried to push the US military into aggression against Iran.As Conflict with Iran Escalates, Path to Peace Can be Found

Trump’s decision to withdraw set off a series of attacks and Trump ordered the assassination by a drone attack in January of the top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad. Iran answered back with ballistic missiles struck at US troops in Iraq.

The US says the satellite launch by Iran defies a UN Security Council resolution.

There is a political faction in the US, with close ties to Trump, who are pushing for a full-fledged war between the US and Iran. The two nearly went to war earlier this year after Trump ordered the assassination.  Experts have cautioned that a mistake or accident could plunge the region into a military conflict which could turn regional, if not global as allies of the US, and Iran would be forced to take sides.

The US Navy released a video last week which they claim shows Iranian speed-boats making harassing maneuvers close to US Navy warships in the North Arabian Sea, with one boat coming within yards of the US ship.  In the video, the Iranian-flagged boats are manned with a gun; however, the guns were never pointed at the US ship, which sounded its horn several times.

The IRGC acknowledged that events in the video happened; however, they downplayed the seriousness and felt the US was exaggerating.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump wrote.

Trump is facing a tough election in November, and his supporters demand he maintains his hard-line stance against Iran.  His supporters have been mentally molded into an opinion pattern that AIPAC has invested in for years. The option of negotiation and peaceful resolution of the tensions between the US and Iran is never discussed.  Sanctions, threats, and attacks are in the Trump diplomatic tool-box.

Iraq’s Parliament responded to the Trump ordered assassination by passing an order for all US troops to leave the country. Secretary of State Pompeo has a meeting in June slated to discuss the withdrawal from Iraq.  Earlier this month, Trump claimed that Iran was planning an unprovoked attack on US troops in Iraq, and he threatened Iran would pay a heavy price if they did so.

While Iran was ruled by the US ‘puppet’, the Shah of Iran, there was no Sunni-Shia divide; however, once the 1979 Islamic revolution occurred in Iran, the US State Department, and the CIA, began fueling sectarian hatred between the Sunni and Shia in the Middle East.  Before 1979, Iran had been under the US sphere of influence, but once they lost Iran the US targeted them with a sophisticated propaganda program, which aimed at replacing Iran as the enemy of the Arabs, and not Israel. This propaganda campaign was so successful, that today we see the ‘Arab Gulf’ monarchies cooperating with ‘Israel’ on the economy, security, and political issues.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Despite US Sanctions, Iran Launches Military Satellite for Defense

Henry Kissinger Calls for a New Post-Covid World Order

By Mike Whitney

Global Research,

Henry Kissinger thinks the Coronavirus is a threat to his precious New World Order, so he wants President Trump to do whatever he can to protect the system. In an opinion piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, the former Secretary of State urged Trump to launch a grand project, like the Marshall Plan, to unify the allies and convince them that the Uncle Sam can still rally the troops in a time of crisis. Here’s Kissinger:

“Drawing lessons from the development of the Marshall Plan and the Manhattan Project, the U.S. is obliged to undertake a major effort in three domains. First, shore up global resilience to infectious disease…Second, strive to heal the wounds to the world economy….Third, safeguard the principles of the liberal world order.

While the assault on human health will—hopefully—be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations. No country, not even the U.S., can in a purely national effort overcome the virus. Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program. If we cannot do both in tandem, we will face the worst of each.” (“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”, Wall Street Journal)

Kissinger thinks Trump’s “America First” rhetoric has undermined foreign relations and weakened US hegemony. He thinks the administration’s isolationist policies have created a leadership vacuum that China has quickly filled. And he has a point, too, after all, while China sent medical teams and vital supplies to countries hard-hit by the virus, the United States was busy tightening sanctions on Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, which prevented infected civilians from getting the medications they need to survive. Naturally, China’s humanitarian contributions have been widely applauded while Washington’s conduct has been denounced as petty, vicious and vindictive. There’s no doubt that the Trump administration has ceded the moral high-ground to its arch-enemy, China. Here’s Kissinger again:

“Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.” WSJ

Of course, when Kissinger talks about “public trust” and “social solidarity” what he really means is that the government needs to settle on an effective public relations strategy that will dupe the sheeple into falling in line. In Kissinger’s lexicon, solidarity is narrowly defined as ‘public support for elitist projects’ like globalization, open borders and the free movement of capital. These are the principles that guide Kissinger’s recommendations not any affection for working people who he regards as stupid mules. Here’s more:

“Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.” WSJ

See? What really Kissinger really cares about is the post-coronavirus world order, which he believes will mark the beginning of an entirely new era, an era in which governments will have to respond to unexpected crises, bitter political polarization and the growing prospect of social unrest. Kissinger seems to grasp all of this, but instead of offering a new vision for the future, he clings to the battered remains of a failed system that has exacerbated the wealth gap, triggered one economy-crushing financial meltdown after the other, and widened the arc of instability from North Africa, through the Middle East and into Central Asia. This is the world order that Kissinger wants to preserve, an America-centric imperium ruled by establishment elites, brandy-drooling plutocrats and the Bank Mafia. Is it any wonder why the proles are demanding change? Here’s more:

“The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally.” WSJ

“Enlightenment values”?? Is that what we saw in the photos from Abu Ghraib, or the footage from decimated Falluja, or the countless reports of black-sites where kidnapped victims were taken by US Intel Agents and beaten into submission? Do they practice enlightenment values at Gitmo, or at Bagram Air base or in Mosul which was reduced to rubble by heavy artillery and US bombers? Kissinger can blabber about enlightenment values all he wants, but he knows from first hand experience that those values are precariously propped atop a mountain of bloody corpses all sacrificed in the name of the liberal world order. Here’s more:

“Enlightenment thinkers (argued) that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.” WSJ

There it is again, Kissinger’s favorite theme, ” global trade and movement of people”, the two crumbling pillars of a globalization project that is now on life-support waiting to be euthanized by the millions of unemployed Americans who saw their jobs, their factories and their hopes for the future all go up in smoke due to outsourcing, off-shoring and Kissinger’s glorious “liberal world order.” Even now, while the US economy grinds to a standstill and jobless American workers wait anxiously by their doors for their $1,200 pittance from Uncle Sam, Kissinger continues to bray about the wonderful NWO that has greatly enhanced “security, order, economic well-being, and justice”.

Give me a break.

I agree with Kissinger that the post-Covid world order will be significantly different from the world that preceded it, but that’s as far as I’ll go. In truth, the US-dominated system is unraveling because the people of the world don’t want to ruled by force, because US leaders are incompetent bunglers who cannot be trusted to do the right thing, and because Washington’s arrogant go-it-alone policy-making has turned vast areas of the Middle East and Central Asia into uninhabitable wastelands.

Let’s face it, the United States had a chance to show the world it could be a reliable steward of global security, and they blew it. Nothing Kissinger says is going to change that.

Posted in USA, C.I.A, Health, PoliticsComments Off on Henry Kissinger Calls for a New Post-Covid World Order

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