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February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Looking into Palantir: Activists want NHS to come clean about secretive deal with data-mining company

RT | February 26, 2021

Under a deal negotiated in secret with the British government, shady data firm Palantir will continue to manage NHS data for two years. Activists calling for transparency have now brought the NHS to court.

When the British government unveiled its ‘Covid-19 data store’ last March, controversial “spy tech” firm Palantir was given control of the data collected from the public, which included sensitive data such as patients’ ages, addresses, health conditions, treatments, and whether they smoke or drink, among other private information. Awarded the contract for a nominal fee of £1 ($1.40), Palantir was only supposed to hold this data until the end of the coronavirus pandemic, but was awarded a second £23 million contract in December, ensuring the data-gathering project will continue until at least December 2022.

The government’s data store – used to inform its pandemic response – was criticized last March for its reliance on US tech firms, like MicrosoftAmazon, and the aforementioned Palantir, to handle Britons’ data. According to an NHS impact assessment, Palantir processes data that includes details on patients’ sex lives, political views, and religious beliefs.

The government inked the deal behind closed doors, and large sections of the contract are redacted – including sections laying out who has access to patient data, how it will be used, and with which third parties it will be shared. Readable in the contract is a line stating that after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, the database may be repurposed for “general business-as-usual monitoring.”

Activists with OpenDemocracy and lawyers with Foxglove Legal this week sued the NHS, claiming that the renewed deal with Palantir warranted a fresh impact assessment and demanding public consultation over the deal, which was awarded without the usual tender process.

As news of the lawsuit broke on Wednesday, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism also revealed that Palantir executives had been lobbying the NHS for access to patient data since summer 2019, six months before the coronavirus first cropped up in China. According to emails seen by the bureau, Palantir’s UK boss, Louis Mosley, hosted a meal attended by Lord David Prior, chair of NHS England, in July. In the days afterwards, Prior thanked Mosley for supplying him with “watermelon cocktails,” and asked him to get in touch with ideas to help the NHS “structure and curate our data.”

In the months afterwards, Palantir offered demonstrations of its services to Prior and his colleagues at its San Francisco offices, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In October 2019, NHS bosses reportedly met with representatives of Microsoft, Amazon, and vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca to discuss the creation of a “single, national, standardised, event-based longitudinal record for 65 million citizens,” which would be built in the following two years and contain medical and genetic records of every single UK resident. Palantir was said not to be present at the meeting, but Mosley reportedly told Prior shortly afterwards that he had a “very positive meeting” with a top NHS official in private.

Like the mythical seeing-stone it’s named after, Palantir is a company shrouded in secrecy. Launched by billionaire Peter Thiel, Palantir received start-up funding from the CIA and counts multiple US government agencies, law enforcement departments, and military branches among its clients. Its true number of employees is unknown, and former workers are reportedly often forbidden from talking to the media.

Its software has been used by police departments to profile likely offenders and predict future crime, by the military to predict roadside bombings in Middle Eastern war zones, and by immigration authorities to help track, apprehend, and deport illegal immigrants – a partnership it has tried to keep under wraps before.

With both Palantir and the NHS seemingly keen on continuing their partnership, Foxglove director Cori Crider told the BBC that her aim is to prevent the government using “the pandemic as an excuse to embed major tech firms like Palantir in the NHS without consulting the public.”

“The datastore is the largest pool of patient data in UK history. It’s one thing to set it up on an emergency basis, it’s a different kettle of fish to give a tech firm like Palantir a permanent role in NHS infrastructure,” she added.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

California Bill Would Fine Retailers That Keep Boys and Girls’ Toys and Clothing in Separate Sections

By Paul Joseph Watson | Summit News | February 25, 2021

A new bill proposed in California would fine retailers, including online stores, that continue to display boys and girls’ toys and clothing in separate sections.

Introduced by Democrats Evan Low and Cristina Garcia in the California state legislature, the bill would require retailers to display the “majority” of the items in unisex sections.

The legislation would also forbid signs that indicate whether the toys and clothing are intended for boys or girls.

Websites would also be made to show all the items on a single page entitled “kids,” “unisex” or “gender neutral,” something that would cause practical confusion even outside of the political intentions of the bill.

Retailers with over 500 employees would be hit with an initial $1,000 fine for non-compliance.

“There are clear political and social motivations behind this bill, namely to use the state to compel “inclusivity” and encourage the “self-expression” of disordered inclinations at a very young age. It’s despicable,” commented Evan James.

As we highlighted earlier, a new Gallup poll found that when it comes to Generation Z, one in six now identify as some form of LGBT.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | 1 Comment

Western Powers Can Save Iran Nuclear Deal – By Honoring It

Strategic Culture Foundation | February 26, 2021

The international signatories to the nuclear accord with Iran have now a three-month window to salvage that landmark deal. The onus is on the United States to return to the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action (JCPOA) – as the accord is formally titled. Washington must do this unconditionally, beginning with lifting its economic sanctions from Iran. The European states have a duty to advocate Washington to meet its obligations. And all of the Western powers have a duty to honor a treaty which bears their signatures. Castigating Iran for alleged breaches is a cowardly distraction from the real problem.

This week Iran averted a further serious breakdown in the JCPOA after negotiating an interim inspection compromise with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran has suspended so-called short-notice inspections at nuclear and military sites for three months, but will continue recording video footage at the sites which it will then provide to the IAEA for monitoring and verification purposes as required under the JCPOA. If, however, the United States does not cancel its sanctions on Iran by this period then the surveillance videos will be destroyed, and one can assume that the JCPOA will be finally doomed.

Let’s recap on how we arrived at this impasse. The JCPOA was signed in July 2015 by the United States, Britain, France, Germany (the E3), Russia, China and Iran. It was subsequently ratified by the UN Security Council. The accord took several years of painstaking negotiations to complete and was widely seen as a landmark in diplomacy and an important achievement towards improving peace and security in the Middle East – Israel’s continued possession of nuclear weapons notwithstanding.

In exchange for Iran taking the unprecedented step of severely curtailing its civilian nuclear program (a program it is entitled to pursue as a signatory of the 1970 Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty), the other international powers were mandated to cancel a raft of Western and UN sanctions imposed on Iran.

Then Donald Trump got elected as US president in 2016 and set about sabotaging the JCPOA which he disparaged as the “worst deal ever”. Trump walked the US away from the accord unilaterally in May 2018 and promptly re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. This was part of a “maximum pressure” policy of aggression towards Iran by the Trump administration which was rationalized by citing baseless allegations that the Iranians were secretly building nuclear weapons and conducting malign operations in the region.

Not only that but the Trump administration threatened all other signatories to the JCPOA with extraterritorial “secondary sanctions” if they continued doing business with Iran. Russia and China have ignored those American threats, but lamentably the European Union has feebly caved in to Washington’s demands. Billions of euro-worth of investment and trade deals with Iran were scrapped by the Europeans in deference to Washington’s bullying diktat. In effect, as far as relations between Iran and the Western powers are concerned the JCPOA has delivered nothing of benefit to the Iranian people despite Tehran’s erstwhile full compliance with the accord.

The combination of the United States unilaterally abrogating an international treaty, and the Europeans complying with unlawful punitive measures against Iran, then resulted in Tehran taking subsequent steps to gradually wind down – but not revoking – its commitments to the JCPOA. Those steps include surpassing limits on enrichment of uranium and stockpiles of the enriched nuclear material. Iran is within its right to carry out these “remedial actions” under the provisions of the JCPOA if other signatories do not meet their obligations. And the US and EU have clearly not met their obligations.

The latest suspension by Iran of inspections from the IAEA must be seen in the wider context of responding to the Western powers reneging on the implementation of an international treaty to which they are signatories.

Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has stated his intention to return the United States to the JCPOA. Biden has also dismissed the “maximum pressure” policy of his predecessor as a failure.

However, the Biden administration is insisting that it is Iran which must first return to full compliance with the nuclear accord.

It is somewhat disconcerting that the European trio of Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement this week censoring Iran for halting inspections from the IAEA. The E3 urged Iran to resume “full compliance” of the JCPOA.

The Europeans would have more credibility and authority if they showed some backbone in censoring the United States for its egregious failure to honor the nuclear accord. The Europeans say little if nothing when it comes to holding the US to account. It is the Europeans who have aided and abetted Washington in its backsliding and abuse of sanctions.

Russia and China have, however, rightly kept the focus on the priority thing to do, which is for the US to return immediately and unconditionally to abiding by the JCPOA, including lifting all sanctions from Iran.

At a time of global pandemic and particular hardship for Iran it is morally imperative for the United States to end its unlawful and barbaric sanctions regime. The only way to build trust is for the Biden administration to reverse the violations. If the United States does not take the morally and legally honorable steps then the suspicion of an ulterior agenda will be fatal for resolving the impasse. The Biden team talks about “lengthening and strengthening” the accord. It sounds suspiciously like Washington is trying to extricate further concessions from Iran beyond the concessions that it had originally agreed to when the JCPOA was signed in 2015. Is the Biden administration pandering to its regional allies Israel and Saudi Arabia who are implacably opposed to the accord? Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken have both stated publicly that this US administration will consult closely with Israel on all regional policies.

It is being reported that Europe is trying to facilitate “informal” talks between Iran and the United States. There should be no need for such cloak and dagger shenanigans. The Western powers can salvage the nuclear deal in a much more straightforward way – by honoring it.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Foreign Ministry: Twitter no longer independent social media, but a tool of ‘digital diktat’ under control of West

By Jonny Tickle | RT | February 26, 2021

Twitter is rapidly changing from an independent platform into a tool of Western countries to impose a dictatorship over the internet. That’s according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, following a recent ban of Russian accounts.

Speaking on Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova blasted the US tech giant for removing 100 accounts allegedly linked to the Kremlin. On Tuesday, the site’s owners announced that 69 were deleted for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance,” with a further 31 banned for “targeting the United States and European Union.”

“We once again can’t help but notice that Twitter is rapidly degenerating from an independent discussion platform into a tool of global digital diktat in the hands of the Western establishment,” she told journalists, noting that accounts from NATO members haven’t been victims of similar operations.

“Assumptions and unproven insinuations were once again presented as justifications,” she continued. “The reasoning in Twitter’s own report is absurd: the accounts allegedly broadcast messages related to the Russian government, undermined trust in NATO, and influenced the United States and the EU.”

In her opinion, the blocks were “arbitrary” and “illegal,” based on “opaque criteria.”

Following the ban, Russian regulator Roskomnadzor wrote to Twitter to demand a list of the blocked accounts and justifications for why Twitter blocked them.

On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested the creation of national and international rules to regulate social networks to avoid censorship.

“We are increasingly concerned about the non-transparent policies of social media platforms, which, at their discretion, prohibit or censor user content, openly manipulating public opinion,” he said.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

US Bombs Syria And Ridiculously Claims Self Defense

By Caitlin Johnstone | February 26, 2021

On orders of [proclaimed] President Biden, the United States has launched an airstrike on a facility in Syria. As of this writing the exact number of killed and injured is unknown, with early reports claiming “a handful” of people were killed.

Rather than doing anything remotely resembling journalism, the western mass media have opted instead to uncritically repeat what they’ve been told about the airstrike by US officials, which is the same as just publishing Pentagon press releases.

Here’s this from The Washington Post:

The Biden administration conducted an airstrike against alleged Iranian-linked fighters in Syria on Thursday, signaling its intent to push back against violence believed to be sponsored by Tehran.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack, the first action ordered by the Biden administration to push back against alleged Iranian-linked violence in Iraq and Syria, on a border control point in eastern Syria was “authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats.”

He said the facilities were used by Iranian-linked militias including Kaitib Hezbollah and Kaitib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

The operation follows the latest serious attack on U.S. locations in Iraq that American officials have attributed to Iranian-linked groups operating in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, a rocket attack in northern Iraq killed a contractor working with the U.S. military and injured a U.S. service member there.

So we are being told that the United States launched an airstrike on Syria, a nation it invaded and is illegally occupying, because of attacks on “US locations” in Iraq, another nation the US invaded and is illegally occupying. This attack is justified on the basis that the Iraqi fighters were “Iranian-linked”, a claim that is both entirely without evidence and irrelevant to the justification of deadly military force. And this is somehow being framed in mainstream news publications as a defensive operation.

This is Defense Department stenography. The US military is an invading force in both Syria and Iraq; it is impossible for its actions in either of those countries to be defensive. It is always necessarily the aggressor. It’s the people trying to eject them who are acting defensively. The deaths of US troops and contractors in those countries can only be blamed on the powerful people who sent them there.

The US is just taking it as a given that it has de facto jurisdiction over the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that any attempt to interfere in its authority in the region is an unprovoked attack which must be defended against. This is completely backwards and illegitimate. Only through the most perversely warped American supremacist reality tunnels can it look valid to dictate the affairs of sovereign nations on the other side of the planet and respond with violence if anyone in those nations tries to eject them.

It’s illegitimate for the US to be in the Middle East at all. It’s illegitimate for the US to claim to be acting defensively in nations it invaded. It’s illegitimate for the US to act like Iranian-backed fighters aren’t allowed to be in Syria, where they are fighting alongside the Syrian government against ISIS and other extremist militias with the permission of Damascus. It is illegitimate for the US to claim the fighters attacking US personnel in Iraq are controlled by Iran when Iraqis have every reason to want the US out of their country themselves.

Even the official narrative reveals itself as illegitimate from within its own worldview. CNN reports that the site of the airstrike “was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks” in Iraq, and a Reuters/AP report says “Biden administration officials condemned the February 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out.”

This is all so very typical of the American supremacist worldview that is being aggressively shoved down our throats by all western mainstream news media. The US can bomb who it likes, whenever it likes, and when it does it is only ever doing so in self defense, because the entire planet is the property of Washington, DC. It can seize control of entire clusters of nations, and if any of those nations resist in any way they are invading America’s sovereignty.

It’s like if you broke into your neighbor’s house to rob him, killed him when he tried to stop you, and then claimed self defense because you consider his home your property. Only in the American exceptionalist alternate universe is this considered normal and acceptable.

This sort of nonsense is why it’s so important to prioritize opposition to western imperialism. World warmongering and domination is the front upon which all the most egregious evils inflicted by the powerful take place, and it plays such a crucial role in upholding the power structures we are up against. Without endless war, the oligarchic empire which is the cause of so much of our suffering cannot function, and must give way to something else. If you’re looking to throw sand in the gears of the machine, anti-imperialism is your most efficacious path toward that end, and should therefore be your priority.

In America especially it is important to oppose war and imperialism, because an entire empire depends on keeping the locals too poor and propagandized to force their nation’s resources to go to their own wellbeing. As long as the United States functions as the hub of a globe-spanning power structure, all the progressive agendas that are being sought by what passes for the US left these days will be denied them. Opposing warmongering must come first.

Standing against imperialism and American supremacism cuts directly to the heart of our difficulties in this world, which is why so much energy goes into keeping us focused on identity politics and vapid energy sucks which inconvenience the powerful in no way whatsoever. If you want to out-wrestle a crocodile, you must bind shut its mouth. If you want to take down a globe-spanning empire, you must take out its weapons. Opposing warmongering and killing public trust in the propaganda used to justify it is the best way to do this.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , | 4 Comments

Illinois’ Latest Use Of Taxpayer Money As Political Club

By Mark Glennon – Wirepoints – February 25, 2021

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs and a group of 29 other state financial officials recently sent letters to six of the nation’s largest private sector money managers in a transparently partisan attempt to bully them out of supporting Republicans.

The effort is a misuse of the power that adheres to managing billions of dollars of taxpayer money and sets a dangerous precedent that might well invite retaliation in the same form by Republicans holding similar offices or from a Republican successor to Frerichs. It’s an attempt by incumbent officeholders to control much of the money that controls politics.

Unfortunately, the effort got no scrutiny and only a few news articles in the national media, including these in The Washington Post and Bloomberg.

Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Frerichs oversees the investment of some $35 billion of Illinoisan’s money. Together with the other treasurers, public fiduciaries and pension trustees who signed the letter, over a trillion dollars of public money is represented.

Their letter went in substantially identical form, one of which is here, to BlackRock Inc., Vanguard Group, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Fidelity Investments, State Street Corp. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp.

The letter purports to be mainly about transparency and political contributions to members of Congress who voted against certification of election results that came in from the states. On January 6, 147 Congressional Republicans voted against certification, which was well over half of the Republican members of Congress.

That, the letter says, made its writers worried about returns on their investments. “A functioning democracy is foundational to a stable economy,” the letter says, “and we rely on economic and political stability in order to generate consistent investment returns on behalf of our beneficiaries.”

Nothing political at all, the officials are claiming, they are just doing their best to maximize financial returns.

Take a closer look to see if that’s believable.

One implicit threat about contributions to those candidates is clear in the first sentence of the letters. “[With] assets under management of over $1 trillion,” Frerichs and the others wrote, “we are frequently asked to evaluate asset allocations to asset managers.”

And they ask in the letter, “Will [you] forswear corporate political spending (direct or indirect) to the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn the results of a free and fair democratic election on January 6th, 2021?”

In other words, change your political contributions or, well, they didn’t need to spell it out.

There’s much more to it. The letters are a broad attempt to bully the money managers into partisan changes in their political activity.

You can’t even get past the letterhead, shown here, to see that broader, partisan agenda. It’s brazen, carrying the names of Service Employees International Union and Majority Action.

It’s so brazen you have to wonder what they were thinking.

SEIU is one of the largest public unions in the nation and huge Democratic benefactor. It is listed among Frerichs’ ten biggest campaign contributors in 2018, the last time he ran.

Majority Action, which spearheaded the effort behind the letter, is a progressive outfit focused on publicly shaming corporations into supporting like-minded causes, particularly on global warming.

Why are SEIU and Majority Action on the letterhead if not to signal general support for them as well?

As you would expect, it’s an entirely partisan group that signed the letter. Every one of the elected officials who signed it are Democrats. And each of the unelected officials who signed it are, from all I could find, active progressives and presumably also Democrats.

Are the letter writers sincere when claiming they are only concerned about their investment returns and election certification?

Objections to presidential vote certifications are not uncommon. Democrats have objected to all three certifications of Republican wins since 2000 – Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004. When Sen. Barbara Boxer objected to certification of Bush’s Ohio certification in 2004, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said on the Senate floor, “I thank her for doing that because it gives members an opportunity once again on a bipartisan basis to look at a challenge that we face not just in the last election in one State but in many States.”

Durbin’s point was fair, and Democrats had every right to make those objections. The letter writers undoubtedly didn’t object, nor are we aware of any objections they had to any of countless elected officials who stood silent and sometimes encouraged the political violence we saw over the summer.

There’s another oddity about the letter. Among its signers is Aaron Ammons as trustee of SURS, one of Illinois’ pensions, the State University Retirement System.

SURS, like most Illinois pensions, is among the walking dead in actuarial terms, being only 39% funded. Does anybody really think that saving democracy from insurrectionists is what SURS trustees should be focused on?

SURS Trustee Aaron Amons

Ammons, too, is a progressive Democrat. He’s a former chapter president of SEIU. Appointed by Gov. JB Pritzker, he was elected Champaign County Clerk in 2018 and co-founded the Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace & Justice. He is married to Democratic State Representative Carol Ammons.

The letter isn’t entirely focused on campaign contributions to those who voted against the vote certification. It addresses campaign donations in general and asks what broader reforms the letter’s recipients will undertake to rigorously reassess their “corporate political spending and evaluate whether payments serve to advance the company’s business objectives and a stable democracy.”

But that’s an entirely political judgement that neither Frerichs, Ammons nor the other signers are charged with imposing. Even if they are sincere in their claims about what’s good for rates of return in the long run, suffice it to say that opinions vary.

Those broader topics and questions belie the letter’s real purpose, which is to tell the big money folks to toe the party line — or else. From the letterhead down, its recipients would be fools to miss that full message. It’s not about maximizing returns, it’s about telling them where to use their financial clout politically.

We are fortunate that, at least so far, public officials with different political views than the letter writers haven’t tried the same tactic. They well might, as might a Republican successor to Frerichs.

A bad precedent has been set. Money, unfortunately, already controls much of government. But if this precedent is followed, we would have incumbent politicians effectively controlling much of the money that controls politics, pushing and pulling in different directions.

The letter is the most recent on a list of ways Frerichs has misused the public’s money for partisan purposes. Those stories and some on Frerichs’ other doings are in our articles linked below.

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

In Final Days, Trump Gave Up on Forcing Release of Russiagate Files, Nunes Prober Says

By Aaron Maté | RealClearInvestigations | February 25, 2021

After four years of railing against “deep state” actors who, he said, tried to undermine his presidency, Donald Trump relented to US intelligence leaders in his final days in office, allowing them to block the release of critical material in the Russia investigation, according to a former senior congressional investigator who later joined the Trump administration.

Kash Patel, whose work on the House Intelligence Committee helped unearth US intelligence malpractice during the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe, said he does not know why Trump did not force the release of documents that would expose further wrongdoing. But he said senior intelligence officials “continuously impeded” their release – usually by slow-walking their reviews of the material. Patel said Trump’s CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was instrumental in blocking one of the most critical documents, he said.

Patel, who has seen the Russia probe’s underlying intelligence and co-wrote critical reports that have yet to be declassified, said new disclosures would expose additional misconduct and evidentiary holes in the CIA and FBI’s work.

“I think there were people within the IC [Intelligence Community], at the heads of certain intelligence agencies, who did not want their tradecraft called out, even though it was during a former administration, because it doesn’t look good on the agency itself,” Patel told RealClearInvestigations in his first in-depth interview since leaving government at the end of Trump’s term last month, having served in several intelligence and defense roles (full interview here).

Trump did not respond to requests seeking comment sent to intermediaries.

Although a Department of Justice inspector general’s report in December 2019 exposed significant intelligence failings and malpractice, Patel said more damning information is still being kept under wraps. And despite an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the conduct of the officials who carried out the Trump-Russia inquiry, it is unclear if key documents will ever see the light of day.

Patel did not suggest that a game-changing smoking gun is being kept from the public. Core intelligence failures have been exposed – especially regarding the FBI’s reliance on Christopher Steele’s now debunked dossier to secure FISA warrants used to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But he said the withheld material would reveal more misconduct as well as major problems with the CIA’s assessment that Russia, on Vladimir Putin’s orders, ordered a sweeping and systematic interference 2016 campaign to elect Trump. Patel was cautious about going into detail on any sensitive information that has not yet been declassified.

‘Continuously Impeded’ in Public Disclosure

Patel’s work on the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of its former Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, is widely credited with exposing the FBI’s reliance on Steele and misrepresentations to the FISA court. Yet congressional Democrats and major media outlets portrayed him as a behind-the-scenes saboteur who sought to “discredit” the Russia investigation.

The media vitriol unnerved Patel, who had previously served as a national security official in the Obama-era Justice Department and Pentagon – a tenure that exceeds his time working under Trump. Patel says that ensuring public disclosure of critical information in such a consequential national security investigation motivated him to take the job in the first place.

“The agreement I made with Devin, I said, ‘Okay, I don’t really want to go to the Hill, but I’ll do the job on one basis: accountability and disclosure,” Patel said. “Everything we find, I don’t care if it’s good or bad or whatever, from your political perspective, we put it out.’ So the American public can just read it themselves, with a few protections here and there for some certain national security measures, but those are minimal redactions.”

That task proved difficult. The House Intelligence Committee’s disclosure efforts, Patel said, “were continuously impeded by members of the intelligence community themselves, with the same singular epithets that you’re going to harm sources and methods. … And I just highlight that because, we didn’t lose a single source. We didn’t lose a single relationship, and no one died by the public disclosures we made because we did it in a systematic and professional fashion.”

“But each time we forced them to produce [documents],” Patel added, “it only showed their coverup and embarrassment.” These key revelations he helped expose include Justice official Bruce Ohr’s admission that he acted as a liaison to Steele even after the FBI officially terminated him; former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s false statements about leaks related to the Hillary Clinton email investigation; and the FBI’s reliance on the Steele dossier to spy on Page. “There is actually a law that prevents the FBI and DOJ from failing to disclose material to a court just to hide an embarrassment or mistake, and it came up during our investigation. It helped us compel disclosure.”

Assessing the ‘Intelligence Community Assessment’ 

For Patel, a key document that remains hidden from the public is the full report he helped prepare and which Trump chose not to declassify after pressure from the intelligence community: The House Intelligence Committee report about the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA).

The ICA is a foundational Russiagate document. Released just two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, it asserted that Russia waged an interference campaign to help defeat Hillary Clinton. Despite widespread media accounts that the ICA reflected the consensus view of all 17 US intelligence agencies, it was a rushed job completed in a few weeks by a small group of CIA analysts led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, who merely consulted with FBI and NSA counterparts. The NSA even dissented from a key judgment that Russia and Putin specifically aimed to help install Trump, expressing only “moderate confidence.”

The March 2018 House report found that the production of the ICA “deviated from established CIA practice.” And the core judgment that Putin sought to help Trump, the House report found, resulted from “significant intelligence tradecraft failings that undermine confidence in the ICA judgments.”

Along with that March 2018 report, Patel and his intelligence committee colleagues produced a still-classified document that fleshed out the ICA’s “tradecraft failings” in greater detail.

“We went and looked at it [the ICA], and looked at the underlying evidence and cables, and talked to the people who did it,” Patel says. According to Patel, the ICA’s flaws begin with the unprecedentedly short window of time in which it was produced during the final days of the Obama White House. “In two to three weeks, you can’t have a comprehensive investigation of anything, in terms of interference and cybersecurity matters.”

Patel said that still classified information undermines another key claim – that Russia ordered a cyber-hacking campaign to help Trump. The March 2018 House report noted that the ICA’s judgments, “particularly on the cyber intrusion sections, employed appropriate caveats on sources and identified assumptions,” but those were drowned out by partisan insistence that Russia was the culprit.

Constrained from discussing the material, Patel said its release “would lend a lot of credence to” skepticism about the Mueller report’s claim that Russia waged a “sweeping and systematic” interference campaign to install Trump.

That skepticism was bolstered in July 2019 when the Mueller team was reprimanded by a US District judge for falsely suggesting in its final report that a Russian social media firm acted in concert with the Kremlin. (Mueller’s prosecutors later dropped the case against the outfit.)

“We had multiple versions, with redactions, at different levels of classifications we were willing to release,” Patel said. “But that was unfortunately the one report, which speaks directly to [an absence of concrete evidence] that’s still sitting in a safe, classified. And unfortunately, the American public – unless Biden acts – won’t see it.”

Confirming earlier media reports from late last year, Patel says it was Trump’s CIA Director Gina Haspel who personally thwarted the House report’s release. The report sits in a safe at CIA headquarters in Langley. “The CIA has possession of it, and POTUS chose not to put it out,” Patel says. He does not know why.

‘Outrageous’ Reliance on CrowdStrike

Another key set of documents that the public has yet to see are reports by Democratic National Committee cyber-contractor CrowdStrike – reports the FBI relied on to accuse Russia of hacking the DNC. The FBI bowed to the DNC’s refusal to hand over its servers for analysis, a decision that Patel finds “outrageous.”

“The FBI, who are the experts in looking at servers and exploiting this information so that the intelligence community can digest it and understand what happened, did not have access to the DNC servers in their entirety,” Patel said. “For some outrageous reason the FBI agreed to having CrowdStrike be the referee as to what it could and could not exploit, and could and could not look at.”

According Patel, Crowdstrike CEO Shawn Henry, a former top FBI official under Mueller, “totally took advantage of the situation to the unfortunate shortcoming of the American public.”

CrowdStrike’s credibility suffered a major blow in May 2020 with the disclosure of an explosive admission from Henry that had been kept under wraps for nearly three years. In December 2017 testimony before the House Intel Committee showed he had acknowledged that his firm “did not have concrete evidence” that Russian hackers removed any data, including private emails, from the DNC servers.

“We wanted those depositions declassified immediately after we took them,” Patel recalled. But the committee was “thwarted,” he says, by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under Dan Coats, and later by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff once Democrats took control of Congress in January 2018. According to Patel, Schiff “didn’t want some of these transcripts to come out. And that was just extremely frustrating.” Working with Coats’ successor, Richard Grenell, Patel ultimately forced the release of the Henry transcript and dozens of others last year.

Still classified, however, are the full CrowdStrike reports relied on by the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Patel said their release would underscore Henry’s admission while raising new questions about why the government used reports from DNC contractors – the other being Fusion GPS’ Steele dossier – for a consequential national security case involving a rival Republican campaign.

Doubting Reliability of CIA’s Kremlin Mole

The CIA relied on another questionable source for its assertion that Putin personally ordered and orchestrated an interference campaign to elect Trump: a purported mole inside the Kremlin. The mole has been outed as Oleg Smolenkov, a mid-level Kremlin official who fled Russia in 2017 for the United States where he lives under his own name. According to the New York Times, some CIA officials harbored doubts about Smolenkov’s “trustworthiness.”

Patel said he could not comment on whether he believes Smolenkov relayed credible information to the CIA. “I’m sort of in a bind on this one, still, with all the classified information I looked at, and the declassifications we’ve requested, but have not yet been granted.”

Patel did suggest, however, that those who have raised skepticism about the CIA’s reliance on Smolenkov are “rightly” trying to “get to the bottom” of the story. “But until that ICA product that we created, and some of the other documents are finally revealed – if I start talking about them, then I’m probably going to get the FBI knocking at my door.”

Will Key Documents Be Released?

On his last full day in office, President Trump ordered the declassification of an additional binder of material from the FBI’s initial Trump-Russia probe, Crossfire Hurricane. A source familiar with the documents covered under the declassification order confirmed to RealClearInvestigations that it does not contain the House committee’s assessment of the January 2017 that Patel wants released. Nor does it contain any of the CrowdStrike reports used by the FBI.

In addition to those closely guarded documents, Patel thinks that there is even more to learn about the fraudulent surveillance warrants on Carter Page. The public should see “the entire subject portion” of the final Carter Page FISA warrant, Patel said, as well as “the underlying source verification reporting” in which the FBI tried to justify it, despite relying on the Steele dossier. By reading what the FBI “used to prop up that FISA, the American public can see what a bunch of malarkey it was that they were relying on,” Patel added. “The American public needs to know about and read for themselves and make their own determination as to why their government allowed this to happen. Knowingly.

“And that’s not castigating an entire agency. We’re not disparaging the entire FBI because of Peter Strzok [the FBI agent dismissed, in part, because of anti-Trump bias] and his crew of miscreants. Same thing goes for the intelligence community. If they did some shoddy tradecraft, the American public has a right to know about it in an investigation involving the presidential election.”

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Russophobia | , , | 2 Comments

Medical reversals – when doctors hurt patients

By Sebastian Rushworth, M.D. | February 26, 2021

I’ve been asked why I’m so skeptical when it comes to health and medical science. My answer is because I’ve spent many hours studying medical history, and I’ve seen how much damage doctors have done over the centuries. If you were to select a patient-doctor consultation at random from all the ones that have happened throughout history, your odds are probably better of selecting one in which the doctor harmed the patient than one in which the doctor helped the patient. That is certainly true if you only look at consultations happening before the year 1900.

It’s a shame that medical history generally isn’t part of the curriculum in medical school. If it was, maybe doctors would be more humble about what they know, and what they don’t know. If I were to design a medical school curriculum, I would make the first five to ten weeks of medical school an in-depth course in medical history, with a particular focus on all the mistakes doctors and scientists have made through the centuries, and why they made those mistakes. To quote a well worn cliché, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Personally, I wear my skepticism as a badge of pride. If I were to seek out a doctor for some medical condition I was suffering from, I would want that person to be a natural skeptic. I would want someone who won’t believe something just because that’s what they were taught in medical school, or because it’s what they heard from a salesperson working for a pharmaceutical company.

I’m going to present four different cases from recent history, that I think show clearly why it’s important to be highly skeptical when it comes to the area of health and medicine. Things can often seem to be very beneficial after a few early studies, or because common sense suggests they should be beneficial. Then when more data comes in, sometimes decades after a certain treatment has become the “gold standard” of therapy, it becomes clear that the intervention is actively harmful. In some cases, millions of people have died prematurely as a result of the intervention by this point. When this happens, when something goes from being the recommended therapy to turning around 180 degrees and becoming something that doctors recommend against, it is known as a medical reversal. Unfortunately, medical reversals are common.

Another thing that I think is unfortunate is that scientific methodology is not really something that is taught in school. People even leave university with very limited training in scientific method. This causes the large majority of the population to be unable to weigh scientific evidence themselves, and it makes them totally beholden to the opinions of others. That’s why I try to use this blog to educate in scientific method. Science, just like democracy, thrives when lots of people are able to examine different pieces of evidence and think for themselves.

Anyway, let’s get to the four cases.

Lobotomy was first developed in the 1930’s by Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz, and further refined by two American doctors, neurologist Walter Freeman and neurosurgeon James Watts. A lobotomy is basically a surgical intervention in which parts of the frontal cortex of the brain are destroyed. It was developed as a treatment for psychiatric disorders, based on the hypothesis that destroying parts of the frontal lobe would allow destructive mental patterns to “reset” themselves.

After his first surgeries in 1935, Moniz presented a case report of twenty psychiatric patients. He claimed that a third were significantly improved in their underlying psychiatric illness, while a third were mildly improved, and a third were unimproved. None were apparently harmed. This claim was immediately countered by the psychiatrist that had provided the patients to Moniz, who responded that all the patients had suffered a “degradation” of personality.

The frontal cortex is responsible for complex goal oriented behavior, self-control, and higher order thinking, pretty much the things that separate humans from other animals. So, knowing what we know today about the function of the frontal lobe, destroying large chunks of it is likely to turn a person in to an apathetic, lethargic zombie. And this is what happened to the people who were lobotomized, as was clear early on to those who cared to look.

In spite of the limited evidence of benefit, and early suggestion of harm, the procedure was taken up enthusiastically in several parts of the world. By 1949, when lobotomies were at their most popular, thousands of people were being lobotomized around the world each year. That same year Egas Moniz was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for his efforts.

Then the truth started to catch up with the hype. It became clear that somewhere between 5% and 15% of all patients undergoing lobotomy were being killed by the procedure, either dying on the operating table or shortly after surgery. It was not uncommon for arteries in the brain to become accidentally nicked, resulting in major intracranial bleeding and strokes. When this didn’t kill outright, it often resulted in severe physical handicaps.

It also became more widely known that, although the patients might become more “placid” after the procedure, they were hardly being cured. People who had been institutionalized before the procedure, continued to be institutionalized after the procedure. Few people were able to function independently after undergoing a lobotomy. So lobotomies gradually fell out of favor, although they were still being carried out on patients in some countries as late as the 1980’s.

Let’s move on to our next medical reversal. Starting in the 1960’s, public health authorities around the world started recommending that parents have their babies sleep on their stomachs. The recommendation was not based on any scientific studies, rather it was based on “common sense”, that all too frequent destroyer of lives.

There were multiple hypotheses floating around that together constituted the basis for the recommendation. One was that it would decrease the risk of hip dysplasia, another was that it would prevent scoliosis, a third that it would decrease the risk of aspiration of milk (accidentally getting milk in to the airways), a fourth that it would prevent babies developing “flat heads”.

In the late 1980’s, observational data started to appear suggesting that prone sleeping was causing a huge increase in the number of children dying of cot death, a.k.a. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Children sleeping on their bellies appeared to be around 500% more likely to die of SIDS than children sleeping on their backs.

Pretty much over night, government health authorities switched from recommending that babies sleep on their bellies to recommending that they sleep on their backs. And virtually over night, the rate of cot death dropped. Dramatically. Here in Sweden, the number of children dying of SIDS decreased by 85% over the course of a few years.

How many children died unnecessarily during the few decades in which prone sleeping was being recommended by public health authorities? Probably millions.

It amazes me how keen government agencies often are to offer recommendations based on little or no evidence, especially when we have such clear examples of situations in which this has resulted in mind-boggling harm. If only public health professionals bothered to follow the first credo of the medical profession, which is “first, do no harm”.

Let’s move on to our next case.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) have been around for a long time. Aspirin was invented in the 1890’s, and ibuprofen has been around since the early 1960’s. One problem with these drugs, which has been recognized since the early days, is that they can cause stomach ulcers. In fact, over-use of NSAID’s is one of the most common reasons for emergency hospital admissions due to bleeding ulcers.

The reason for this side-effect is that NSAID’s block an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase, generally shortened to just COX (another name for NSAID’s is COX-inhibitors). There are two different versions of COX, COX-1 and COX-2. All the early NSAID’s are unselective COX-inhibitors. In other words, they block both COX-1 and COX-2.

At some point it was discovered that the entire positive effect that comes from NSAID’s, in terms of decreasing inflammation and pain, comes from their inhibition of COX-2, while inhibition of COX-1 is responsible for the side effect of increased bleeding. This naturally led drug companies to seek to develop specific COX-2 inhibitors, that would decrease inflammation, but not cause stomach ulcers.

In 1999, the first two COX-2 selective inhibitors came on the market, rofecoxib (a.k.a. Vioxx), produced by Merck, and celecoxib (a.k.a. Celebrex), produced by Pfizer. They instantly become some of the best selling drugs in the world. Of the two, rofecoxib was much better at blocking COX-2 specifically, and thus far less likely to cause stomach ulcers.

After a few years on the market, signals started to appear that rofecoxib was associated with a heavily increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, people taking rofecoxib had something like a 300% increased risk of having a heart attack compared with people taking non-selective NSAID’s. Merck’s initial response was, unsurprisingly, to try to put the lid on this information. But by 2004, the cat was well and truly out of the bag. In the face of mounting criticism (and lawsuits), Merck chose to withdraw the drug from the market. By that point, 80 million people had been treated with rofecoxib and around 100,000 people had suffered unnecessary heart attacks.

I’m going to end with a slightly more personal example. On my first day of medical school I was told about a fantastic new treatment that had been developed at my new place of study, Karolinska Institutet, and its associated hospital. The developer of the new treatment was a surgeon called Paolo Macchiarini, and the treatment was a stem-cell coated synthetic windpipe. The windpipe could be transplanted in to people who had damaged their windpipes in accidents, or who had to to have their windpipes removed due to cancer. The idea was that the synthetic windpipe would meld with the surrounding tissues and grow in to a fully functioning new windpipe.

Paolo Macchiarini had been head-hunted by Karolinska Institutet in competition with several other top universities. He seemed a shoe-in for the Nobel prize.

The synthetic windpipe transplant surgeries had started in 2010. The first people to be operated on all died relatively soon afterwards, but there was a lot of media hype around them anyway, probably due to the feeling that this was a revolutionary technology, and probably also due to the fact that Machiarini was an excellent salesman.

Since the people he operated on had an annoying habit of dying, Machiarini supposedly felt that he needed healthier specimens to operate on. Thus far, all the people had been suffering from end-stage diseases that would have killed them in the near future even without the surgery. Maybe they were just too sick to begin with to truly benefit?

So he found some people who weren’t actually dying. In 2012 he put synthetic windpipes in to two people who lived with chronic tracheostomies (breathing tubes in the throat) after car accidents, and one in a woman who had suffered accidental damage to her trachea during an earlier surgery. In 2013 he put a synthetic windpipe in to a two-year old who had been born without one. These people were perfectly healthy otherwise, and they were young.

The synthetic windpipes didn’t work. The stem cells didn’t turn in to functional epithelium, as had been hoped. The synthetic windpipes became seeding grounds for bacteria and were attacked by the immune system. They failed to meld with the surrounding tissues. They literally fell apart within months. And the patients died.

What is particularly galling is that there was no need for the synthetic windpipes. Windpipes could have been taken from cadavers instead. In fact, Machiarini had started out doing surgeries with windpipes from cadavers, which had on the whole been successful, but had then chosen to switch over to synthetic windpipes, apparently because it seemed more high-tech and was therefore more likely to generate media attention. The entire exercise was a PR-stunt, primarily intended to speed Paolo Machiarini on the path to a Nobel prize.

By the time I first heard of the synthetic wind pipes, on my first day of medical school in September 2014, things were already starting to come apart. The patients were dying like flies – even the ones who had been healthy before their surgery. Yet Machiarini was continuing to publish articles in prestigious scientific journals, in which he claimed that the stem cell treated synthetic windpipes were holding up well, and integrating with the surrounding tissues, just as planned.

Everything came crashing down very suddenly, in 2016, when Swedish public television aired a documentary that told the truth about Machiarini’s surgeries. Apart from making clear that the surgeries were nowhere near as successful as was being claimed, it became clear that Machiarini had never tested any of his synthetic windpipes on animals before moving on to humans(!), and it also surfaced that colleagues at Karolinska University Hospital had tried to blow the whistle on Machiarini two years earlier, in 2014, but had been threatened in to silence by the leadership at the university and the hospital.

I guess this last case isn’t really a medical reversal, since the synthetic windpipes never actually became standard practice. But I think it’s an interesting cautionary tale. There are lots of charlatans out there, masquerading as serious scientists. Some of them get discovered early on, like Paolo Machiarini, and some of them don’t get discovered until decades have passed and many people have had their lives ruined, like Egas Moniz.

My main point from these cases is that doctors and health authorities harming patients is not even remotely something that is in the distant past. We’re not talking blood letting here, a practice that resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths, but that doctors thankfully stopped doing on a regular basis two hundred years ago. Serious medical reversals have happened in the recent past, and they will happen again. They are particularly likely when new interventions get rushed out based on scant evidence.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Coronavirus Fact-Check #10: Why “new cases” are plummeting.

OffGuardian | February 26, 2021

The scary red numbers are all going down. Check any newspaper or covid tracking website you want. Cases. Deaths. Hospitalisations. They’re all going down, sharply, and have been for weeks, especially in the US and UK.

So, why would that be?

Pundits across the media world have made suggestions – from vaccines to lockdowns – but there’s only one that makes any real sense.


The assumption most people would make, and would be encouraged to make by the talking heads and media experts, is that the various “vaccines” have taken effect and stopped the spread of the “virus”.

Is this the case? No, no it’s not.

The decline started in mid-January, far too early for any vaccination program to have any effect. Many experts said as much:

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said the falling case numbers can’t be attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine, because not even a tenth of the population has been vaccinated, according to the CDC.

Further, the drop is happening simultaneously in different countries all around the world, and not every country is vaccinating at the same rate or even using the same vaccine. So no, the “vaccines” are not causing the drop.


Another suspect is the lockdown, with blaring propaganda stating that all the various government-imposed house arrests and “distancing” measures have finally had an impact.

That’s not it either.

Sweden, famously, never locked down at all. Yet their “cases” and “Covid related deaths” have been dropping exactly in parallel with the UK:

Clearly, if countries that never locked down are also seeing declines in case numbers, the lockdown cannot be causing them.

So what is?


Maybe for our answer, we should look at the date the decline started.

Observe this graph:

As you can see, the global decline in “Covid deaths” starts in mid-to-late January.

What else happened around that time?

Well, on January 13th the WHO published a memo regarding the problem of asymptomatic cases being discovered by PCR tests, and suggesting any asymptomatic positive tests be repeated.

This followed up their previous memo, instructing labs around the world to use lower cycle thresholds (CT values) for PCR tests, as values over 35 could produce false positives.

Essentially, in two memos the WHO ensured future testing would be less likely to produce false positives and made it much harder to be labelled an “asymptomatic case”.

In short, logic would suggest we’re not in fact seeing a “decline in Covid cases” or a “decrease in Covid deaths” at all.

What we’re seeing is a decline in perfectly healthy people being labelled “covid cases” based on a false positive from an unreliable testing process. And we’re seeing fewer people dying of pneumonia, cancer or other disease have “Covid19” added to their death certificate based on testing criteria designed to inflate the pandemic.

Just as we at OffGuardian predicted would happen the moment the memo was published.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 3 Comments

Cuomo and the Failure of Covid Absolutism

By James Bovard | AIER | February 24, 2021

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is falling from grace at epic speed. His administration is now the target of a Justice Department probe for policies that resulted in the death of one out of eight nursing home residents in the state. Regardless of whether the New York legislature impeaches Cuomo, the standard he championed poses a continuing peril.

From the start of the Covid pandemic, the media idolized Cuomo for his “safety through absolute power” mantra. Last March 20, Cuomo imposed a statewide lockdown on 20 million New Yorkers, closing schools and businesses. Cuomo labeled his decree a “pause” and declared: “If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.” At that point, most counties in New York state had five or fewer people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Cuomo’s “just one life” standard for lockdowns should have obliterated his credibility. Instead, Cuomo’s maxim was treated as a triumph of idealism and benevolence. Cuomo’s power grab was enabled by media allies that fanned hysteria. As AIER editorial director Jeffrey Tucker recently noted, the New York Times’ Donald G. McNeil Jr. “was the first reporter from a major media venue to stir up virus panic and advocate for extreme lockdown measures… The Times allowed its voice to be used to promote a primal and primitive disease panic, which they surely knew would create a cultural/political frenzy.” Presidential candidate Joe Biden hailed Cuomo last Spring for setting the “gold standard” for leadership on Covid.

After Cuomo swayed the New York legislature to give him “authorization of absolute power,” as the New Yorker declared, he issued scores of decrees, including one compelling nursing homes to admit Covid-infected patients and permitting Covid-infected staffers to keep working at those homes. A New York democratic legislator said that Cuomo was “inclined towards tyranny. But in a crisis that’s what people want.”

New Yorker profile, entitled “Andrew Cuomo, King of New York,” explained that Cuomo and his aides saw the battle over Covid policy as “between people who believe government can be a force for good and those who think otherwise.” For many liberals and much of the nation’s media, placing people under house arrest, padlocking schools, bankrupting business, and causing two million people to lose their jobs vindicated government as “a force for good.”

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace declared that Cuomo is “everything Trump isn’t: honest, direct, brave.” Entertainment Weekly hailed Cuomo as “the hero that America never realized it needed until he was on our television screens every night.” As National Review recently noted, local reporters failed to ask questions on his nursing home edict “for months, as the governor held his much-praised daily press briefings about the pandemic. There were literally hundreds of hours of Cuomo press conferences in the first half of 2020 where not a single question was asked about nursing homes.”

The docile media paved the way to Cuomo winning an Emmy award for his “masterful use of television” during the pandemic. The media’s valorization of Cuomo helped make his self-tribute book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemica bestseller. 

Cuomo has always known how to milk the media. When he was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, he explained to the Washington Post in 1999 how he would fix HUD’s dismal image: “The PR is the most important thing I do … Eighty percent of the battle is communications.” (I christened Cuomo as “the Clinton administration’s most megalomaniacal cabinet secretary in a 2000 American Spectator piece titled, “Andy At It Again: How to Keep Reinventing HUD to Advance Yourself.”) Flash forward to last June, and Cuomo prematurely issued a poster celebrating his and New York state’s victory over Covid. The political art (sold for $14.50 plus shipping and handling) featured a steep mountain symbolizing the rise and fall of Covid cases. The poster was plastered with insipid phrases such as “The sun on the other side, “The power of ‘We,’” “Winds of Fear,” “Follow the Facts,” and “Love Community Support,” and included a jibe against Trump. Though poster sales failed to deter second and third waves of Covid outbreaks, the PR campaign further encouraged the media to focus on Cuomo’s words instead of his deeds.

During the pandemic, “legitimacy” came not from adhering to the U.S. and state Constitutions but from continually invoking “science and data,” as Cuomo did. Cuomo’s entitlement to absolute power came from modeling concocted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a Washington State-based institution bankrolled by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel noted last week in an AIER analysis, IHME forecasts presumed a death rate 30 times higher than the rate that actually occurred. That horrendous miscalculation sufficed for one governor after another to nullify Americans’ freedom with lockdown orders. Absurd statistical extrapolations forecasting future harm made tyranny irrelevant.

Cuomo describes himself as a “great progressive,” perhaps thereby entitling himself to any power he presumes necessary “for the good of the people,” Bill of Rights be damned. November, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York state restrictions that limited religious gatherings to ten or fewer people while permitting far more leeway for businesses to operate, declaring that Cuomo’s rules were “far more restrictive than any Covid-related regulations that have previously come before the Court… and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.” Cuomo’s allies in the liberal establishment reacted with horror to the limit on his sway. An American Civil Liberties Union official fretted to the New York Times that “the freedom to worship… does not include a license to harm others or endanger public health.” Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe and Cornell professor Michael Dorf babbled that the ruling signaled that the Supreme Court belonged in “the theocratic and misogynist country in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’”

Cuomo remained revered even though his repressive policies failed to prevent New York from having among the nation’s highest Covid death rates. But a Justice Department probe into his nursing home policies launched last August may be his undoing. New York state reported barely half of the total of more than 12,000 New York nursing home patients who died of Covid.  Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told Democratic legislative leaders that “basically, we froze” when the feds demanded information. “We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice… was going to be used against us,” DeRosa said according to a leaked transcript.

But Cuomo’s culpability goes beyond hiding corpses. Early in the pandemic, he pushed to include a legislative provision written by the Greater New York Hospital Association to give a waiver of liability to nursing homes and hospitals whose patients died of Covid. A report last month by the New York Attorney General warned, “The immunity laws could be wrongly used to protect any individual or entity from liability, even if those decisions were not made in good faith or motivated by financial incentives.” As the Guardian noted, “Cuomo’s political machine received more than $2 million from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), its executives and its lobbying firms.”

But Cuomo’s credibility should have been dethroned long before the latest disclosures. As early as last May, barely two months after the start of the state lockdown, a New York Post columnist groused: “So Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed Grandma and cratered New York’s economy. But he looked good doing it.” Cuomo’s cachet derived almost entirely from media scoring that until recently ignored almost all of the harms he inflicted.

Cuomo and other politicians have used Covid policy lodestars that were akin to crossing the Pacific Ocean with navigators who insisted the earth was flat. Melinda Gates admitted last December: “What did surprise us is we hadn’t really thought through the economic impacts.” The politicians who imposed shutdowns based on data from the Gates’ funded by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation apparently never bothered to estimate the collateral damage from their decrees. Similar myopia spurred crackdowns and restrictions in many states that helped cause the sharpest reduction in Americans’ life expectancy since World War Two.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that either politicians or the media have recognized the authoritarian dangers inherent in governors or presidents claiming a right to boundless power to save “just one life.”

A similar standard is helping justify keeping schools closed in many areas. Teachers’ unions have rallied around the motto: “If one teacher dies, isn’t that too many?” But like Cuomo’s shutdowns, that standard ignores the horrific collateral damage on American children. A Journal of the American Medical Association analysis concluded that shutting down the schools would reduce the current crop of students’ collective years of life by more than five million, based on “lower income, reduced educational attainment, and worse health outcomes.” It remains to be seen how much, if any, the role of the well-being of children plays in school policy in the coming months.

While it is unlikely that the media lapdogs who adore Cuomo and other prominent politicians will admit their follies, the exposure of hard facts may help blunt the next stampede to submission. The Justice Department investigation into nursing home policies that boosted Covid death tolls in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania could tarnish some of the nation’s most aggressive Covid lockdowners. Other investigations by the media or private groups could expose far more evidence of misconduct or of gross negligence that boosted Covid death tolls.

In a tour of television talk shows shortly after President Biden was inaugurated, Cuomo recited his latest catchphrase: “Incompetent government kills people.” This intended slapdown of Trump is recoiling badly on the New York governor. If Cuomo is impeached or forced to resign for his Covid fiascos, maybe he could score plenty of media appearances with a new slogan: “Absolute power with impunity kills.”

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tony Blair’s anti-freedom project continues, but ‘War on Terror’ is replaced by ‘War on Covid’

By Neil Clark | RT | February 25, 2021

The ‘War on Terror’ seems to have morphed into a ‘War on Covid’. And guess what? Serial warmonger Tony Blair is a key figure in both, seeking to curtail our civil liberties with the excuse that it’s all for the “greater good.”

The date: Monday November 6, 2006. The place: Downing Street news conference. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair dismisses the civil rights argument against ID cards, which his government is keen to introduce. He says it is an issue of “modernity” and “modern life.”

“We are building a new part of our infrastructure here. And like other such projects the gains to citizens will be much larger and more extensive than anyone could say at the time.”

Sound familiar?

Fast forward fourteen years, and the same Tony Blair is saying much the same thing about Covid vaccine passports. There’s been no more zealous British advocate of vaccine passports than the man the anti-lockdown journalist Peter Hitchens calls ‘The Blair Creature’.

“Prepare for a health passport now,” he said in December. “I know all the objections, but it will happen. It’s the only way the world will function and for lockdowns to no longer be the sole course of action.”

Last week it was reported that ´The Blair Creature’ had been lobbying hard for vaccine passports to be included in Boris Johnson’s so-called ‘road map’ out of lockdown. And they were. The government has announced a review. Michael Gove, a man who once wrote a piece entitled ‘I can’t fight my feelings any more; I love Tony (Blair)’, is heading it.

Tony must be  delighted.

Back in 2006, ID cards were promoted as a way of tackling the ‘terrorism’ threat and keeping us all ‘safe’. Vaccine passports are presented today in the same reassuring manner. The War on Terror and the War on Covid have so much in common. They both have five level ‘alert’ systems. ´The Blair Creature’ is the key linking figure.

Both wars (Terror and Covid), have been used as smokescreens to pursue elite, globalist and extremely illiberal agendas. Under the guise of ‘fighting terrorism‘, the US, UK and their allies embarked on a series of regime change wars.

First up was Afghanistan, on the grounds that the Taliban-ruled country had been sheltering Bin Laden. But while you could make a case for linking this to a ’war on terror’ there could be no such excuses for the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Ba’athist Iraq – whose long serving Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was a practising Christian – was actually a bulwark against extremist groups like Al-Qaeda. The assault on Iraq proved to us that the ‘war on terror’ was a sham. Far from making us safer, the invasion actually greatly boosted global terrorism by spawning ISIS.

In short ‘the war on terror’ made the global terrorism situation much worse, and that’s before we get on to the reduction in civil liberties at home. Air travel has never been the same. Restrictions that were imposed – such as prohibitions on bringing liquids on board flights – and which were billed as ’temporary measures’ are still with us. ‘Anti-terrorism’ legislation has been regularly strengthened while at the same time there’s been covert British action in Libya and Syria on the side of the terrorists, which has led to domestic blowback.

We know for instance that the Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi, responsible for the horrific attack in 2017 which killed 22 people, more than half of them children, and his father Ramadan, had links with the anti-Gaddafy Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, allegedly used by the UK authorities as part of their regime change operation. As I noted in a previous op-ed, Abedi Jnr was even rescued from Libya by the Royal Navy.

The ‘War on Terror’ was based on a fundamental deceit. It was a deep state/neocon con trick. Not only was it a war that could never be won, it was never meant to be won. It was meant to be permanent. But in 2020 it was superseded by a new war – the ‘War on Covid’.

Again, we see much the same Manichean rhetoric. George W. Bush famously stated “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” And so it is today, with ‘virus control’ and not ‘terrorism control’ the focus.

If you oppose oppressive lockdowns, restrictions on free movement, and the introduction of vaccine passports, then you are on the side of the virus. You want to ‘let it rip’. You have ‘blood on your hands’ just like the millions who marched against the Iraq War. Support a more nuanced, proportionate approach with people allowed to make their own risk assessments? No, that’s not allowed. You’re either with the ‘War on Covid’ or against it.

The ‘War on Covid’ gives the Western elites the opportunity to strip away our freedoms and complete the building of the digital ‘infrastructure’ that began under the ‘War on Terror’ and which Blair referred to in 2006.

‘Health passports’ are a key part of that infrastructure, as I noted last summer. The WEF’s ‘Great Reset’ is heavily dependent on their introduction.

Of course, it won’t just be your ‘Covid’ status that’ll be on them; they will be extended into full, digitalised bio-ID cards. Vaccine passports are the gateway to a Chinese-style social credit restricted access control system being rolled out in the West.

Blair, the great authoritarian, hopes to get in 2021 or 2022 what he couldn’t get fifteen years ago. “I think you’re going to the stage where it’s going to be very hard for people to do a lot of normal life unless they can prove their vaccination status… Vaccination in the end is going to be your route to liberty,” he said in a recent interview. And of course he is working  hard to make sure we do get to that stage.

Will he succeed? His plan for ID cards fifteen years ago failed because of the strength of opposition. When Labour lost power in 2010, the scheme was ditched. But the Tony Blair Institute (which has received considerable funding for its work from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) boasted on Twitter last May that its ‘teams’ were “embedded in governments around the world, helping them to keep their people safe”.

We know that Blair has been ‘advising’ Health Secretary Matt Hancock and that the secret talks reportedly covered vaccines and mass testing. What is scary today is that the parliamentary opposition – now led by the uber-Blairite Sir Keir Starmer – seems to be even more pro-health passports than the government.

But we shouldn’t give up hope just yet. A petition against Covid-19 vaccine passports has raised almost 200,000 signatures. The campaign against health passports needs the support of the anti-war, anti-imperialist left and hopefully the fact that it’s Tony Blair who is pushing them will cause people to wake up and see the bigger picture. War on Terror, War on Covid. ‘Only connect!’, as the great novelist E.M. Forster might say.

February 26, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | 2 Comments