Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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News and links December 26 2020

December 26, 2020

Subscribers of this blog may get the impression, that it is anti-US and pro China or pro Russia, criticizing Washington’s policies and the social, cultural, and economic situation in the USA, while ignoring similar deficiencies in China and Russia. 

The focus on US-faults results from the danger of the gargantuan US military machine (with 3.2 million the world biggest employer), and constant US military, economic, or political interventions, subversions, obstructions, and acts of sabotage in the majority of the worlds countries.

If the USA would leave other nations alone, it would be up to US-citizens to improve and remedy the situation, and everyone outside would be just an uninvolved spectator. Any nation with a military and political footprint comprable to the USA would also get the same coverage.

Yet, disregarding or turning a blind eye to imperfections and flaws in China and Russia cannot be explained and excused by US misdeeds, and therefore beginning with this blog post there will be regular scrutiny of developments in these two countries.

Chinese policies are marked by a blind faith in technological progress and a disregard of ecological problems. The emphasis on wireless connectivity is a prime example.

Since 2015, China has outspent the US by approximately 24 billion US$ in wireless infrastructure. With more than 700,000 5G base stations in operation nationwide, China is the clear frontrunner in the emerging new ultra-fast internet era. China’s “big three” state-owned carriers – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom – now boast a combined 180 million 5G users.

The frontrunner status comes at a price, as 5G infrastructure needs large investments and 10 to 20 times more energy that the old 3G and 4G net. 

While 5G’s high-frequency bandwidth allows higher transmission speeds than 4G, a 5G station covers a much smaller area (typically 500 meters), and to guarantee steady coverage and stable download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, companies will have to build considerably more stations than they did for 4G.

Electricity pylons, lamp posts, steeples, roof tops in urban areas have to be retrofitted into 5G hotspots. Telecom companies reportedly complained to the provincial governments that the hefty capital outlays required to meet the dictated targets will not generate the returns needed to recoup the investments. 

Those returns will of course also eroded by higher power consumption. China Tower’s President Tong Jilu told reporters on the sidelines of a parliamentary session that his company may have to pay 15.3 billion US$ per year just for electricity as 5G stations have become power guzzlers due to recently imposed US restrictions on their chip supplies. The average power consumption of a 5G station is 3.8 kilowatt per hour, three times more than used by current 4G stations outfitted with more efficient chips.

From January to November this year, China consumed 6,677.2 billion kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity, more than the annual totals for 2017 and 2018. Factories in southern China at the moment are experiencing energy restrictions and power outages because the power grid is overloaded.

Chinas embrace of 5G is certainly fueled by the state authorities desire to automatize, data mine, surveil, and control. Privacy and civil rights will be impeded while human health implications and impact on wildlife are not yet predictable but could be potentially severe.

Quantum supremacy is the latest buzzword in China and two quantum smartphones with “unbreakable encryption”  will hit the market in a few days.

China Telecom formed a joint venture with QuantumCTek, a company owned by the University of Science and Technology of China, to expand the quantum communications network linking Beijing and Shanghai. This quantum system has been up and running since 2019 and will cover more eastern and central cities.

Finally, China is taking aim at the moon, playing catch-up behind the space accomplishments of the USA and Russia.

All space technology is dual use, it has both civilian as well as military purposes. The same kind of scientific knowledge and electronic chips that enabled space flight were retooled to power cruise missiles, smart bombs, and drones. The big rockets of early space exploration, Saturn and Proton, were developed with the help of former Nazi scientists on both sides of the USSR-US divide,

In 1971 China’s Chairman Mao ZeDong revealed to visiting Romania’s Nicolae Ceaușescu that China had neither the capabilities nor interest to go to the moon. Premier Zhou Enlai then reportedly cut in to say, “It doesn’t even have air or water… The problems on earth haven’t been solved, but they want to go up to the moon, it’s ridiculous.”

The late US senator John McCain once said: “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” and though he was a despicable warmonger, there’s no denying that he had a point.

After the arrival of multiple COVID-19 vaccines the worlds policy makers hope for an economic recovery. In Russia expectations rise for an accompanying surge in demand for oil and natural gas. President Vladimir Putin is a firm believer in hydrocarbons as the world’s main energy source and a sceptic of “green agendas.” As long as he is in charge, all pleas of environmentalists to “leave it in the ground” will fall on deaf ears.

Russia’s Energy Strategy 2035, approved in June 2020, sets ambitious goals for expanding oil and gas extraction and defines the shifts in the world markets toward carbon-neutral energy production as a major challenge.

Igor Sechin, the CEO of the state-owned Rosneft corporation, lobbies for the project of developing the Vostok-Oil field in Eastern Siberia despite experts warnings that the returns on investment, estimated at 115 billion US$, are expected to be negative unless oil prices double.

The Norwegian oil giant Equinor just acquired a 49 percent stake in the Krasnoyarsk Geological Research and Analytical Centre, which holds twelve exploration and production licenses in the Irkutsk region deep into the Siberian taiga forest in eastern Russia. Oil from this field will have a higher than average carbon footprint.

Last year, Rosneft and Equinor agreed to develop another field in western Siberia, the North-Komsomolskoye, estimated to hold 250 million barrels of oil and 23 billion cubic meters of gas.

Russia also tries to finish the Nord Stream Two gas pipeline project across the Baltic Sea. Russian pipe-laying ships are presently sailing toward the point offshore where the work stopped in November 2019 because of targeted US sanctions. The plan is to create facts on the seafloor before another set of US Congressional sanctions undercuts the insurance and certification of the nearly finished pipeline.

For many years Russia has maintained a coal mine in Spitzbergen and the Taymyr Peninsula has large coal reserves that India is interested in.

Putin used to have a good grasp on the intricacies of the oil-and-gas business, but the acceleration of global shifts toward alternative energy source appears to have him confused and irritated. He chooses to rely on bargaining over energy prices and on pursuing intrigues related to pipeline geopolitics, thus leaving Russia mired in a petro-state decline.

At his yearly press conference, Putin mentioned the following economic indicators: GDP down 3.6 percent, industrial production down 3 percent, agricultural industry up 1.8 percent, real incomes down 3 percent, unemployment rose to 6.3 percent, national debt lowest ever at 70 billion US$, international reserves rose to 587.7 billion US$, National Wealth Fund rose to 180 billion US$, 30 percent of the federal budget still comes from oil and gas revenues.

Well, if the fossil fuel business is not profitable anymore, there is still nuclear energy. On many of Putin’s foreign state visits he acts as a salesman for Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation. Exports of nuclear goods and services are a major Russian policy and economic objective. Over 20 nuclear power reactors are confirmed or planned for export construction.

The dangers of nuclear energy are not a matter of public discussion. There are 35 operating reactors in Russia with a combined capacity of 26,983 MW. Originally licensed for 30 years, most have been upgraded to extend the lifetime by another 15 years.

In 2018 Russia launched the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov with two reactors capable of producing 70 MW. It has been operating for more than a year in Pevek, Chukotka. A second is under construction and the current plan calls for seven in total. 

Greenpeace calls it a “Chernobyl on ice,” and environmentalists are deeply worried about an eventual large scale radioactive contamination of the worlds oceans which would dwarf the Fukushima disaster and endanger health and life of everybody.

Radioactive waste is a worldwide unsolved problem. In Russia 34 large and 257 small disposal sites for radioactive waste are available, but the controls at these sites are often inadequate and illegal dumps of radioactive waste abound. Many storage facilities have been in use long past their intended lifespans, and there are frequent leaks of radioactive material into the surrounding soil.

26,000 containers of nuclear waste in northern Russian locations are waiting to be reprocessed, along with thousands of containers with permanently discarded nuclear waste, old reactors, and decommissioned nuclear submarines dumped in the oceans. Soviet era nuclear waste poses a threat to the Arctic and Pacific Ocean. Many areas of the Barents Sea, the Kola Sea, the Kara Sea, and the Sea of Japan are heavily contaminated.

There are 17,000 containers with nuclear waste at the bottom of the Kara Sea and some of the containers show already signs of leakage. And yet, the threat posed by these small objects pales in comparison with the spent reactor fuel housed in the rusting carcasses of Soviet-era nuclear submarines and a number of individual reactor compartments torn from their original vessels and dropped into the ocean.

The most dangerous hazards are the nuclear submarines K-27 (Kara Sea), K-278 Komsomolets, and K-159 (Barents Sea). The KK-278 has two plutonium warheads on board. There were also 16 reactors from various vessels dumped into the Arctic seas. The Kursk submarine, which sank after a huge torpedo explosion in 2000, was lifted and brought to land for decommissioning two years after.

In addition to waste produced at home, Rosatom has agreed to reprocess and store nuclear waste produced by plants the company has constructed abroad. Rosatom has agreements with Egypt, Turkey, Belarus, Hungary, Finland, and several other countries to manage nuclear waste repatriation. Russia reprocesses nuclear waste to extract usable plutonium and uranium so it can be reused as fuel. These complicated processes create additional risks of radioactive contamination.

In 1957 at Kyshtym near Mayak a cistern with 80 tons of boiling highly radioactive waste exploded in a volcanic eruption sending radioactive steam and soot one kilometer high into the air. A black cloud darkened the sky, spreading twenty million curies of blistering atomic particles across 52,000 square kilometers, roughly the size of West Virginia, and contaminating the homes of some 270,000 people.

According to one estimate by the Soviet Health Ministry in Chelyabinsk, the ultimate death toll caused by the Mayak explosion was 8,015 people over a 32-year period. The long-term impacts of this event are difficult to quantify, as the facility released an unquantifiable amount of radiation for over three decades. 

The blast measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale, which places the Kyshtym disaster behind Chernobyl and Fukushima (both Level 7s) as the third-most significant nuclear disaster ever. 

With no concerts and no club gigs, what are all the musicians doing?

https://truthout.org/articles/2-7-million-jobs-in-the-arts-have-been-lost-since-the-pandemic-began/
Who needs artists? The big companies (Universal Music Group, Warner Music, Sony BMG) make their money with the back catalogue and AI generated virtual reality performances are the future of entertainment. K-pop stars mostly lip-sync, but that was done already long before pandemic times.

Bob Dylan, protest song icon of the sixties, born again Christian, Nobel Prize laureate, and bright ray of hope for every other tone deaf wannabe singer, has sold his entire song catalogue to Universal Music Group, signing over the rights and royalties to more than 600 songs in a blockbuster deal worth at least 300 million US$.

If he is just working on a Coronavirus Song, maybe he can use the following rhymes for a start:

Wherever we were heard,
from every point of the world,
where we had staked a claim,
we always praised your name.

There we played every game
without fear, without shame,
and we fought every war
in the glory of your name. 

Dear Lord, why did you harass and embarrass,
Dear Lord, why did you abandon and punish us?

With God on Our Side
Bob Dylan 1964

Oh, my name, it ain’t nothin’, my age, it means less
The country I come from is called the Midwest
I was taught and brought up there, the laws to abide
And that the land that I live in has God on its side

Oh, the history books tell it, they tell it so well
The cavalries charged, the Indians fell
The cavalries charged, the Indians died
Oh, the country was young with God on its side

The Spanish-American War had its day
And the Civil War too was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes I was made to memorize
With guns in their hands and God on their side

The First World War, boys, it came and it went
The reason for fighting I never did get
But I learned to accept it, accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead when God’s on your side

The Second World War, it came to an end
We forgave the Germans and then we were friends
Though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried
The Germans now too have God on their side

I learned to hate the Russians all through my whole life
If another war comes, it’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them, to run and to hide
And accept it all bravely with God on my side

But now we’ve got weapons of chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to, then fire them we must
One push of the button and a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions when God’s on your side

Through many dark hour I’ve been thinking about this
That Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you, you’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side

So now as I’m leaving, I’m weary as hell
The confusion I’m feeling ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head and they fall to the floor
That if God’s on our side, he’ll stop the next war

https://truthout.org/articles/independent-musicians-build-solidarity-amid-pandemic-by-forming-nationwide-union/ 

This years Christmas message went something like:

Don’t be intimidated, don’t be cowed. Don’t let worry and fear tear you down. Be vigilant but remain hopeful. The vaccines are on their way and everything will be good again. Keep the Christmas spirit alive even if the pandemic death toll rises.

It was told on every media channel, together with a mixture of harrowing news, mind-numbing statistics with ever rising death counts, and appeals to last out, persevere, and never give in.

Our superior societies of freedom, democracy, and consumerism will prevail, they will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes once the virus is defeated by the pharmaceutical industry and the wise decisions of our politicians.

Then we will be able again to shop till we drop, to buy and throw away more stuff, to jet around the globe, visiting places to remember or to forget.

Coronavirus Cases: 80 million
Deaths: 1,760 million

And don’t worry about climate change, environmental poisons, mass extinction, habitat destruction, because efforts are underway to slow or even reverse the damage humans have done to the planet: massive wind and solar energy facilities are built on a vast scale; sea walls are erected to hold back rising waters; ambitious tree planting initiative are going on to help stop the advance of deforestation or desertification, and new carbon free nuclear power plants are built or projected.

Feline news:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55229433
Four lions in Barcelona zoo got infected with the coronavirus.
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/11/us/snow-leopard-positive-coronavirus-kentucky-zoo-trnd/index.html
http://hatchingcatnyc.com/2020/12/17/cats-mcsorleys-old-ale-house/ 
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-animals-cat/saved-from-the-garbage-russian-cat-lands-on-its-feet-in-ministers-chair-idUSKBN28Y1BH 

Against all odds:

The US Peace Prize is an annual award that recognizes individuals and organizations who make significant antiwar contributions. The award’s first recipient was Cindy Sheehan in 2009. The mission of the prize is “to inspire other Americans to speak out against war and to work for peace.”

Recipients:

2009 Cindy Sheehan
2010 Dennis Kucinich
2011 Noam Chomsky
2012 Medea Benjamin
2013 Chelsea Manning
2014 Code Pink
2015 Kathy Kelly
2016 Veterans for Peace
2017 Ann Wright
2018 David Swanson
2019 Ajamu Baraka
2020 Christine Ahn

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/09/black-dirt-farm-collective-building-a-self-sufficient-community/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176784/tomgram%3A_lachmann%2C_schwartz%2C_and_young%2C_is_a_green_new_deal_planet_possible/
A brave article which even uses the term “disruptive direct action.”
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55261902
The pandemic drives record emissions drop, only China is an outlier.
https://apnews.com/article/science-coronavirus-pandemic-f23f452b2d2cbe4598223023c4d47076
https://dezayasalfred.wordpress.com/2020/12/11/my-take-on-the-us-elections-interview-to-the-swiss-german-journal-zeitgeschehen-im-fokus/
I put this blogpost here because it shows, that even someone from a rather conservative and privileged background can, disgusted by hypocrisy and cynicism of the ruling elite, become an advocate for justice and fairness.
https://civileats.com/2020/12/15/can-organic-farming-solve-the-climate-crisis/
https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/article/3114541/tai-chi-added-unesco-intangible-cultural-heritage-list-12
https://www.localfutures.org/progress-and-the-modernization-of-ladakh/ 

Environmental news:

Despite a sharp drop in greenhouse gas emissions during the pandemic, the world remains on pace for catastrophic warming in coming decades. The UN warns, that rich countries need to cut their carbon footprint by a factor of 30 to slow climate change.

https://theconversation.com/it-might-be-the-worlds-biggest-ocean-but-the-mighty-pacific-is-in-peril-150745
https://www.ehn.org/oil-and-gas-wells-methane-oceans-2649126354.html
https://theconversation.com/anthropocene-human-made-materials-now-weigh-as-much-as-all-living-biomass-say-scientists-151721
This is a frightening perspective!
https://earther.gizmodo.com/wall-street-s-new-water-market-is-the-latest-sign-we-re-1845824408
If you thought that water was a common good and getting enough water to drink, cook, clean, and bath was a human right, this is not so anymore. Water is now a commodity like any other stuff.
https://water-crisis-climate-change-health-environment.dw.com/en/
https://earther.gizmodo.com/the-world-will-be-nearly-6-degrees-hotter-unless-it-inv-1845837774
The combined carbon pollution from the richest 1 percent of the world’s population is larger than that from the poorest 50 percent. “The elite will need to reduce their footprint by a factor of at least 30 to stay in line with the Paris Agreement targets.”
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Amazons-Freshwater-Dolphins-Are-in-Danger-of-Extinction-20201210-0010.html
https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/12/more-co2-in-the-atmosphere-hurts-key-plants-and-crops-more-than-it-helps/
https://meta.eeb.org/2020/12/15/european-parliament-on-course-to-greenwash-farming-subsidies-and-recovery-funds/
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03515-7
Wetland restoration could greatly reduce nitrogen pollution.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/17/massive-logging-and-burning-project-next-to-yellowstone-national-park-challenged-over-threats-to-old-growth-forest/
https://www.ehn.org/oil-and-gas-wells-methane-oceans-2649126354.html
https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/lawsuit-challenges-trump-epas-approval-of-radioactive-roads-2020-12-18/
https://www.latimes.com/projects/toxic-chemicals-planes-covid-19-travel-woes/
https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/16/is-it-too-late-to-prevent-climate-change/
https://www.ehn.org/health-issues-associated-with-food-additives-2649620272.html

Economic news:

A global shipping crisis is causing freight costs to soar.

Global shipping schedules were initially disrupted during the early stages of the pandemic, but recently a surge in demand for imports and a backlog of empty shipping containers are causing bottlenecks at UK ports. Trade and travel restrictions because of new coronavirus mutations increased the chaos.

The global container supply chain is basically out of balance”.

The system stopped working properly when economies in various parts of the world shut down and re-opened at different times, as they dealt with Covid-19. That led to shipping firms falling behind when it came to picking up empty containers at ports and taking then back to Asia.

Now, with import demand surging again in Europe and North America, shipping lines are choosing to allocate space on vessels to companies that are exporting goods, since that’s more profitable than picking up empty containers.

And that causes more and more empties to clog up UK ports as well as a container shortage (and more delays) in China.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/12/06/argentina-passes-millionaires-tax-fund-covid-19-recovery
It’s a start. Most citizens in Western countries are for increased taxation of the rich, but most politicians oppose it. The rich pay the bills for the election campaign propaganda, so their wishes are paramount.
https://www.globalresearch.ca/net-worth-us-billionaires-soared-1-trillion-total-4-trillion-since-pandemic-began/5731746
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/US-Attempts-to-Limit-Chinas-Operations-in-the-Stock-Market-20201211-0016.html
US-China decoupling.
https://voxeu.org/article/avoiding-zombification-after-covid-19-consumption-game-changer

Pandemic news:

A new mutation of Sars-CoV-2 (VUI-202012/01 or B.1.1.7) has been discovered. British PM Boris Johnson said in a hastily called press conference: “It appears to spread more easily and may be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the earlier strain.”

The new variant is defined by an unusual number and combination of mutations. One of these mutations, N501Y, has previously been shown to increase binding of the virus to receptors in our cells. N501Y was first sequenced in a virus in Brazil in April 2020 and is currently associated with a SARS-CoV-2 variant also rising in frequency in South Africa – an independent lineage from B.1.1.7 that is also warranting concern.

The coronavirus variant prevalent before this new strain was itself a mutation of the original pathogen that emerged in Wuhan, China, a year ago. Upon reaching Europe in February the virus mutated into a strain known as ‘D614G,’ which then became the dominant strain worldwide. Another strain, A222V, broke out in Spain shortly afterwards and now accounts for up to seven percent of samples in Europe. 
https://www.rt.com/uk/510570-uk-new-coronavirus-variant/
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/19/uk/christmas-covid-strain-restrictions-intl-gbr/index.html

It’s a 9/11 death toll four times every day, but the rising death numbers are reported somehow aloof and dispassionate, on the same emotional level as the latest economic indicators. It is not a matter of saving lives, it is about restarting the economy, securing profits, and avoiding damage to the economic and political system.

US President-elect Joe Biden: “I am not going to shut down the economy, period.”

This obvious normalization of death arises from the decision to treat “economic health” and “human life” as comparable entities, with the former prioritized over the latter. Once the legitimacy of the comparison and prioritization are accepted, mass death caused by reopening the economy is viewed as unavoidable.

In a financialized world, in which human life has only economic significance, those who are not engaged in increasing rentiers wealth and whose cost of care diminishes the created wealth are worthless.

The coronavirus pandemic is a disease that affects primarily the elderly and the poor. Covid-19 spreads rapidly in factories and in-person workplaces, disproportionately affecting minorities, immigrants, and people who live in shared and multigenerational households and often lack opportunities for social distancing.

About excess death:

People are afraid to go to the physician and they defer surgeries and other medical procedures because they (correctly) believe that in the hospital or clinic there is a risk of being infected with Sars-CoV-2. So they die not from COVID-19 but from their other untreated conditions.

Deaths from flu is down worldwide and that is not weird because the measures taken to protect against Sars-CoV-2 (masks, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings) are also a protection against flu. The difference is that flu is not as contagious as the coronavirus, so these measures work even better. This is also an explanation why excess deaths in some places (Norway, Denmark, Iceland, South Korea) are below COVID-19 fatalities (another explanation is, that acquired immunity against Sars-CoV-2 also may increase immunity against influenza). 

Vaccines are now available in several countries. Some countries go on alone, but there is also Gavi, the global vaccine alliance.
https://www.gavi.org/tag/covid19

With no certainty about which shots would work, Western governments scrambled in recent months to sign multiple deals to ensure their citizens would have at least some COVID-19 injections. Canada, for example, bought nearly 200 million vaccines — enough to cover its population of 38 million five times over. This precaution by the ones who can afford it means, that a fifth of the world’s population may not have access to a vaccine until 2022 as rich countries have already reserved more than half of the doses initially available.

Prices per dose of vaccines purchased by the European Union as follows: Oxford/AstraZeneca: €1.78; Johnson & Johnson: €6.93; Sanofi/GSK: €7.56; BioNTech/Pfizer: €12; CureVac: €10; and Moderna: €14.68.

The whole call for global solidarity has mostly been lost,” the World Health Organization’s vaccines chief Dr. Katherine O’Brien said during an internal discussion, a recording of which leaked to news agencies. Asked to clarify her remarks, O’Brien said in an email that “every country should have access to COVID-19 vaccines, as early as feasible.”

That is not going to happen.

Developing countries, led by South Africa and India, have requested a suspension of the WTO’s patent rules to enable them to manufacture or import affordable generic versions of the COVID-19 vaccine, but Britain and several other Western countries refused.

So, people in affluent countries will soon have the choice between getting vaccinated or waiting for more information about safety and efficacy of the offered vaccines — and it will not be an easy choice.

This is a multifaceted issue, as there have been vaccination campaigns who indeed eradicated or nearly eradicated a dangerous pathogen. Smallpox is the prime example, while the polio vaccination drive didn’t succeed until now due to political or cultural disruptions and less than perfect vaccines.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-smallpox-is-no-more-but-polio-and-other-diseases-persist-20191203/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696658/
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201120-why-you-really-dont-want-to-catch-covid-19
https://apnews.com/article/pandemics-coronavirus-vaccine-epidemics-coronavirus-pandemic-united-nations-0980fa905b6e1ce2f14a149cd2c438cd
https://www.ksjomo.org/post/intellectual-property-monopolies-block-vaccine-access
https://neuburger.substack.com/p/95-effective-may-not-mean-what-you
https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/12/an-internal-medicine-doctor-and-his-peers-read-the-pfizer-vaccine-study-and-see-red-flags.html 

At the moment, not to get infected in the first place and not rushing to be among the first people getting a shot seems prudent, but if after a while the vaccinations indeed slow down infections and the reported side effects seem to be tolerable, being vaccinated becomes a reasonable option.

There are 21 vaccines in various states of testing and a further 154 being explored pre-clinical. If we are lucky, one of them could be as good as the smallpox vaccine. We will know more in two or three years, till then the decision of getting vaccinated and the choice of a particular vaccine will be high risk gambling.

Four in 10 doctors in Belgium, the country with the worlds highest death per capita rate (1,555 per 1 million people), are not themselves keen to take the COVID-19 vaccine. These doctors are not vaccine deniers. Their objection is that the vaccine, despite all the money, effort, and best science dedicated to it, has simply not passed the test of time.

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-five-ways-some-states-have-used-the-pandemic-to-curtail-human-rights-and-democracy-151618
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/09/youn-d09.html
Long Covid-19 in adolescents and young adults.
https://www.studyfinds.org/children-with-covid-blood-vessel-damage/
No symptoms doesn’t mean there’s no longtime problem.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201217154046.htm
Another study about Sars-CoV-2 bridging the blood brain barrier, causing the brain to release cytokines and inflammatory products.
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/508716-homeschooling-popularity-covid19-kids
In places where it is allowed, more children are removed from public schools, sparking fear that in today’s digital and polarized world they will be unable to accept or understand opposing views. The number of kids being educated at home in England has risen by 38 percent in the past year. Homeschooling’s increased popularity, spurred on by Covid-19, risks kids being ensconced in both digital and physical echo chambers.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/astonishing-amount-of-masks-thrown-out-during-pandemic-scientists_n_5fcea279c5b6787f2a9a326d
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55223241
The WEF (World Economic Forum) moves to Singapore because there is less danger of coronavirus infections.
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3113374/coronavirus-who-wants-end-panic-then-forget-approach-epidemics
It is not only the danger of zoonotic diseases, there is also an undeclared pandemic of chronic diseases (allergies, asthma, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.), caused by lifestyle, unhealthy food, and the constantly increasing contamination of air, water, and soil by man made poisons. This silent pandemic of chronic ailments compromise the human immune system and will make newly emerging zoonotic diseases even more dangerous.
https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/new-on-the-covid-19-front-lines-children-may-be-driving-the-pandemic-after-all-a-95e4c0e7-2ea0-479b-ac27-d17f07d147a5
https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/germany-is-faring-poorly-in-the-second-wave-of-the-coronavirus-a-afc634db-9220-496b-8aca-fd19f2e0962f
https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-demand-for-underground-bunkers-soars-over-fears-of-coronavirus-pandemic-12156996
http://www.ipsnews.net/2020/12/vaccine-hijacked-rich/
https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/medics-warn-unrelenting-tsunami-coronavirus-after-christmas
https://truthout.org/articles/us-airports-are-portals-for-disease-spread-venezuela-shows-another-way/
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/12/covid-19-sleep-pandemic-zzzz/617454/lamber/

Media, technology, and propaganda news:

https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-war-terror-displaced-37-million-people/5731689
This report is biased and flawed. It is included in this link list to show how propaganda works. One statement from the report: “…we are not blaming the U.S. government alone for the displacement of the 7.1 million Syrians we include in our total. Deep responsibility lies with other combatants who have played larger roles during the Syrian civil war (2011–present). They include Assad and the Syrian government, the Islamic State, Syrian rebel groups, the Russian and Turkish governments, and other outside forces.”
https://thewallwillfall.org/2020/12/10/white-helmets-founder-le-mesurier-is-now-a-mainstream-saint-but-leaked-docs-raise-questions-about-his-widows-role/
https://fair.org/home/freedom-is-blossoming-after-dismembering-a-journalist-saudi-arabia-goes-on-a-pr-spree/
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/help-latvian-journalists-defend-the-right-to-information-and-expression-stop-europes-descent-into-dystopia/
Latvian oppression against Russian speaking journalists.
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/12/12/yet-another-major-escalation-in-establishment-internet-censorship/
https://freedom.press/news/2020-report-journalists-arrested-us/
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/16/pres-d16.html
https://fair.org/home/action-alert-nyt-erases-us-economic-war-against-venezuela/
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-55399513
An English town fights against 5G.

Imperial news:

The economic and social crisis shows no signs of abating with over 19 million people claiming some form of unemployment benefit, and with both CARES Act programs expiring on Dec. 26, leaving some 13 million people destitute.

More than 14 million American households are currently at risk of eviction and they have an estimated 25 billion US$ in rental debt, according to a report by global investment bank Stout. 4.9 million of them are likely to receive eviction notices in January after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium expires on December 31. 

Along with the expiration of state unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium, previously allocated funds through the CARES Act to supplement food banks and farmers have also expired. The 4.5 billion US$ Farmers to Families Food Box program, launched in May, ran out of funds this month, leaving food banks across the country to scramble for food, or outright cancel their weekly food drives.

A new pandemic relief package will establish a temporary 300 US$ per week supplemental jobless benefit and a 600 US$ direct stimulus payment to most citizens, along with a new round of subsidies for businesses and money for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction.

The 300 US$per week bonus jobless benefit is half the supplemental federal unemployment benefit provided under the CARES Act and will be limited to 11 weeks instead of 16 weeks. The direct 600 US$ stimulus payment is also half the previous payment.

Critics say, that the bill does not provide health insurance for the estimated 15 million who have lost it during the pandemic, will not house the over 162,000 who have been evicted during the pandemic, nor provide enough money to cover the 25 billion US$ in rental debt.

The largest chunk of the package, 284 billion US$, will be dedicated to refunding the Paycheck Protection Program. Ostensibly created to provide low-interest loans that could be turned into grants to allow small businesses to continue paying their employees, in reality large businesses were handed millions in loans, consuming a disproportionate share of the funding, while thousands of small businesses received nothing. The bill also includes generous tax breaks for the billionaire owners of NASCAR and for international liquor distributors.

When the money will actually be paid out is unclear. A  temporary lapse in expanded unemployment benefits for millions of US employees is now inevitable because of President Trump’s delay in signing the pandemic relief bill.

The United States reported a record 3,656 new Covid-19 deaths, the total case load has now surpassed 19 million and represents roughly five percent of the US population.

California is the latest coronavirus epicenter. The state just hit a record of 54 thousand daily infections. Mobile field facilities have been rolled out state-wide to deal with increasing hospitalizations and health officials scramble to hire more doctors and nurses. Hospitals in the southern half of the state are overwhelmed, all ICU (intensive care unit) beds are full, and there are not enough nurses to care for the critically sick patients. Governor Gavin Newsom has readied a “mass fatality plan,” dispensing 5,000 body bags and lining up 60 refrigerated morgue trailers.

https://apnews.com/article/imaad-zuberi-sold-donor-access-5a6b71bd05ddf2c1655847bb064edcc9
Lobbying (corruption) insights.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/19/nyct-d19.html
Draconian cuts are being prepared for transit systems in California, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and elsewhere
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/07/wmat-d07.html
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority wants to lay off a third of its workforce, cut half of all bus routes and close 19 of its 91 rail stations.
https://truthout.org/articles/primary-care-practices-are-shutting-down-amid-the-covid-induced-economic-crisis/
No money, no health care – this is the essence of private, profit oriented health care. 8 percent of all US physician practices (around 16,000) have closed under the stress of the pandemic, 7 percent of primary care practices are unsure they can stay open past December without financial assistance. (Just when one would need them most!)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pollution-airmonitors-gao/exclusive-u-s-air-pollution-monitoring-network-falling-into-disrepair-gao-report-idUSKBN28H2MR
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/12/08/bad-news-biden-picks-retired-general-and-raytheon-board-member-lloyd-austin-pentagon
A Biden administration means continuity.
https://www.blackagendareport.com/you-cant-shame-shameless-black-misleadership-class
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/11/17/biden-will-likely-be-worse-than-obama-the-left-must-lead-the-backlash-or-the-right-will/
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/12/09/who-the-resistance-was-actually-resisting-these-last-four-years/
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/12/02/the-streetlight-effect-when-people-look-within-the-system-for-solutions-to-the-system/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176785/tomgram%3A_liz_theoharis%2C_making_sense_of_mass_abandonment_amid_abundance/
https://truthout.org/articles/covid-cases-in-prisons-and-ice-immigration-jails-surpass-250000
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/19/pris-d19.html
https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/12/17/americas-marshall-islanders-confront-covid-19-disaster-447158
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/12/23/fbis-newest-prerogative-shooting-subway-passengers/

Imperial conquest news:

Tony Blinken, nominee for Secretary of State, recently explained that Biden’s pledge to “end the forever wars” means the USA will reduce large-scale deployments while expanding secret wars waged by special forces and proxies.

https://fair.org/home/us-leadership-and-other-euphemisms-for-war/
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176782/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_how_to_make_war%2C_twenty-first-century-style%2C_and_lose_a_world/
https://blackagendareport.com/top-secret-testimonies-implicate-rwandas-president-war-crimes
Kagame went on from there to become the trusted viceroy of the US empire in Africa, mainly responsible for the warcrimes in DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo), where 6 millions died, slaughtered by rogue militias who were mostly organized by Kagame. 2 millions were displaced or fled to neighboring countries.
https://english.almasirah.net/post/16529/Israel-Evicts-Syrians-in-Occupied-Golan-Heights-to-Establish-Wind-Turbines
https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/israeli-jets-fly-beirut-explosions-reported-syria-74903546
A very special Christmas message from Israel. Pictures show four warehouses near Masyaf destroyed. Israel now preferably uses Lebanon’s airspace for attacks.
https://thegrayzone.com/2020/12/07/opcw-executives-whistleblower-syria-leaks/
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/509439-western-governments-syria-terrorism-funding
https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/12/09/trump-administration-helped-gop-donors-get-syria-oil-deal/
Looting Syrian oil.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55407129
Ottoman empire. Kurdish politician Leyla Guven sentenced to 22 years.
https://english.almasirah.net/post/16647/Two-Thousand-Sudanese-Fighters-Arrive-in-Yemen-Al-Mayadeen
https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/north-africa-west-asia/while-world-was-locked-down-yemen-faced-apocalyptic-year/
https://sputniknews.com/us/202012161081484132-us-imposes-sanctions-on-vietnam-gas-and-chemicals-transportation-corp-for-transactions-with-iran/
https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15072
CEELA (Latin American Council of Electoral Experts) endorsed the legitimacy of Venezuela’s National Assembly elections.
https://thegrayzone.com/2020/12/13/ecuador-rafael-correa-venezuela-assange/
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivia-Electoral-Fraud-Case-Against-Ex-President-Morales-Voided-20201215-0002.html
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2020/12/04/we-are-the-terrorists/
https://orinocotribune.com/us-attack-treasury-department-imposes-new-sanctions-on-cuba-and-nicaragua/

Uncategorized news:

https://africasacountry.com/2020/12/our-distance-from-dirt
https://apnews.com/article/international-news-coronavirus-pandemic-ethiopia-massacres-united-nations-e6f32b038f6d6a27b6a3be59a9d3343f
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-conflict-manufacturing-insig-idUKKBN28J0EI
https://apnews.com/article/kenya-united-nations-ethiopia-31241097189daa353af87e99945652e3
https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Tigray-UN-Pushes-Govt-To-Offer-Humanitarian-Help-20201209-0018.html
https://www.reuters.com/article/ethiopia-conflict-eritrea-usa-exclusive-idUSKBN28L06R
https://jamestown.org/program/hot-issue-is-the-war-in-ethiopias-tigray-region-ending-or-only-just-beginning
War in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region from a Western perspective.
https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-country-on-the-brink-ethiopia-sinks-deeper-into-sectarian-conflict-a-36f15bb1-a7a0-4add-925b-03fe4a80c5b8
https://scheerpost.com/2020/12/24/americas-christmas-gift-to-africa-war-crimes/
https://thesaker.is/mh17-and-the-southern-cauldron/
Whatever the radar pictures may suggest, the possibility that MH17 was destroyed by a Ukrainian jet is not off the table.
https://covertactionmagazine.com/2020/12/17/this-book-turns-everything-you-thought-you-knew-about-north-korea-upside-down/
An alternative view that should at least be considered.
https://scheerpost.com/2020/12/22/lee-camp-ads-all-tell-us-to-kill-our-future-worth-discussing/
A well written appeal and proclamation against consumer culture. Please read and enjoy it!

News from cat land:

Here everything is quietly and harmoniously rolling along. The garden and the adjacent forest, where the cat family and I are still making our obligatory daily walks, keep us sane and healthy. One could call it “splendid isolation.”

Linda apparently has put herself together and counters Rita’s bullying forcefully. Hopefully the two can reach a state of “peaceful coexistence” or even reconcile. 

The coronavirus pandemic may be an inconvenience and a great danger to our health but it has one positive aspect: Finally Mother Nature fights back and maybe she even will win. That could be the comforting sentiment with which, when the day comes, I would like to depart from here.

Fingers crossed.