Saturday, February 29, 2020

Scientists successfully cure diabetes in mice for 1st time


(LONDON INDEPENDENT) Diabetes is a disease that has a huge impact on peoples’ lives.

So far the disease, which is thought to affect over 400 million people worldwide, is understood to be incurable. But researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have just proved that it is possible to cure diabetes in mice in just a couple of weeks.

IFL Science’s Alfredo Carpineti reports that the researchers used human cells to keep the disease at bay for at least nine months and up to more than a year in some mice. The findings were published in Nature Biotechnology.

Read the full story ›

The post Scientists successfully cure diabetes in mice for 1st time appeared first on WND.


Did China Close First Lab To Sequence Covid-19 Out Of Fear It Would Lose Bat Soup Narrative? 

Did China Close First Lab To Sequence Covid-19 Out Of Fear It Would Lose Bat Soup Narrative? 

The question we all should be asking: Why was the first medical research lab, located in Shanghai, to sequence the whole genome of Covid-19 and publicly share the data shut down? 

The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center & School of Public Health at Fudan University was the first lab in the world to sequence the whole genome of the virus on Jan 11. Then, the Shanghai Health Commission, one day later, on Jan 12, shuttered the lab for "rectification." 

"The center was not given any specific reasons why the laboratory was closed for rectification. [We have submitted] four reports [asking for permission] to reopen, but we have not received any replies," a source from the lab told the South China Morning Post (SCMP). 

The source said it wasn't clear if the closure of the Level 3 biosafety facility was a direct result of the lab publishing virus sequence data on, an open-access virus discussion forum, and GenBank, an open-access data repository. 

The release of the genome data on the public domain allowed researchers to develop a new test kit to diagnose the virus. By Feb 3, the lab's Professor Zhang Yongzhen, who was responsible for the sequencing, found his data published in Nature. 

"It was not about any individual's achievements. It's about having biological test kits ready in the face of a previously unknown respiratory disease, especially when a large part of the population [was] moving [across the country] during the Lunar New Year holidays," said the source. 

The source warned that the closure of the lab slowed down scientists and their research when they should have been developing new tools and vaccines to manage the virus outbreak, but for some reason, and it's still unknown, the government immediately closed the lab after the genome sequence was published in the public domain. 

"There have been applications from research institutes and universities to try drugs and compare the effects of different treatment and the development of vaccines, but [all these will have] to be turned down. Closing down the laboratory also affects the studying of the virus," the source added.

China's lack of transparency since the outbreak began late last year is a significant concern. The likely reason behind the lab's closure early last month was pressure by the Chinese government on Shanghai Health Commission to prevent the spread of scientific data to the international community that would likely debunk the official narrative that the virus came from a food market in Wuhan, China. But as we noted last week, it's too late, and the Global Times had to admit that a "New Chinese study indicates novel coronavirus did not originate in the Huanan seafood market."

Even China has had to question its official narrative; the NY Post published an article which sounds very familiar to ours: "Don't buy China's story: The coronavirus may have leaked from a lab" in which the author writes "the evidence points to SARS-CoV-2 research being carried out at the Wuhan Institute of Virology."

As to why China pressured Shanghai to close the lab that first sequenced the virus and published it on open-access sites for the world's scientific community to observe is that it attempted to limit information about the virus so its official narrative wouldn't be debunked; oops too late. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/29/2020 - 16:40


Friday, February 28, 2020

Swiss Neutrality ‘Shattered’ As Leading Cryptologic Firm Revealed To Be CIA Front

Switzerland is reeling from the shock caused by revelations last week that Crypto AG, the world’s leading manufacturer or cryptologic equipment during the Cold War, whose clients included over 120 governments around the world, was a front company owned by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

How I lost 100% of my investment on the Corona Virus


At precisely 11am on November 11, 1918, in a nondescript railroad car in northeastern France, a group of senior military officers and government officials signed an armistice agreement that effectively ended World War 1.

The Great War had killed a staggering 9 million soldiers in four years. That’s more than nearly every major global conflict in the previous two centuries combined.

Yet right at the same time as the war ended, a mysterious new virus started spreading around the world that eventually became known as the Spanish Flu.

And in less than three years the Spanish Flu infected 500 million people and killed as many as 100 million people, roughly 5% of the entire world population at the time.

This made the Spanish Flu five times deadlier than World War 1. And that’s really scary to think about.

But let me be clear: the Coronavirus is not the Spanish Flu. Not even close.

It’s understandable and completely normal to be nervous about the Coronavirus. It’s starting to spread rapidly, infection rates are climbing, and financial markets are swooning.

But we are going to be just fine. Humanity as suffered through much worse.

Now, to shrug this off as ‘no big deal’ is frankly a bit silly. This is obviously a pretty big deal, and it’s having a major impact worldwide in some of the strangest ways.

For example, lately I have been negotiating the refinance of an approximately $8 million loan with a large European bank. But that deal has slowed to a crawl thanks to Coronavirus. (Fortunately, the loan continues to earn substantial interest, so the delay is quite profitable for us.)

In Hong Kong, I’m leading a civil lawsuit against a fraudulent investment scheme, but the courts have been closed for weeks and don’t look to be opening anytime soon.

And I expect the impact will only grow… so being a little bit nervous about this does not make you paranoid.

But just remember that, as human beings, we generally make HORRIBLE decisions when we’re emotional… especially when that emotion is FEAR.

It’s also very easy to succumb to a herd mentality at a time like this. When everyone else is freaking out and panicking, it’s even easier to freak out and panic.

So let’s step back for a moment and think rationally together about a few things:

First, don’t do anything drastic. Avoid reactionary decisions, especially related to your finances.

For example, if you’re thinking about dumping all of your stocks because of the Coronavirus, then why did you buy them in the first place?

Business is hard, and there are always going to be complications and challenges. You can’t expect everything to be smooth sailing 100% of the time.

Great businesses adapt and overcome. They thrive when others buckle, and they come out of turmoil stronger than ever.

So think twice before you follow the crowd and sell shares of a great business that’s managed by talented people of integrity.

Second– three weeks ago I wrote about the virus, saying that “It doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B. . . if the virus appears to be spreading, you can bet that there will be a run on surgical masks and potentially even food at the grocery store.”

That appears to be happening in a number of places that have heavy infection rates. And it’s very difficult to find N95 respirator masks now.

I’ll reiterate—there is no downside to stocking up on some extra food, especially non-perishables, and some medicine.

Last, I’ll tell you a quick story that you’ll hopefully find hilarious.

A few weeks ago when the virus started becoming more of a concern, I thought to myself, “if the virus really starts to spread, stock markets will take a big hit.”

So I bought some ‘out of the money’ put options on the S&P 500. If you’re not sure what that means, I was essentially betting a small amount of money that the stock market would fall. And if my prediction came true, the bet would have paid off probably 10x within 2-3 weeks.

The thing about options, though, is that they’re not open-ended. I had to bet that the market would fall by a specific date. And the date I chose was Friday, February 21st—last week.

Well, Friday February 21st came and went without any fuss whatsoever. So I lost all the money I bet.

The very next trading day, Monday morning, the market tanked. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the day after that.

So I was right that the market would plummet. But I was just barely wrong about the timing. I was wrong by literally one trading day… and as a result I lost 100% of my investment.

The good news is that the amount of money I put down was trivial, so no big deal.

But it is a nice reminder that, even when you get the trend right, it’s damn near impossible to predict the timing.

Frankly I should have just bought more gold.

Gold has surged as a result of the virus spreading around the world because it’s a safe haven asset. On top of that, gold has several supply and demand fundamentals that support higher prices.

But we’ll talk more about gold soon, and why I think it has even more room to run.



Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Looming Financial Nightmare: So Much For Living The American Dream

Let’s talk numbers, shall we? The national debt (the amount the federal government has borrowed over the years and must pay back) is $23 trillion and growing.


Drag Queen Response to Drag Queen Story Book Hour


Kitty Demure calls himself “Your friendly, favorite conservative drag queen” and he has posted this message for heterosexual women who have children:

“I have no idea why you want drag queens to read books to your children. I have no idea. What in the Hell has a drag queen ever done to make you have so much respect for them and admire them so much, other than put on makeup and and jump on the floor and ride around and do sexual things on stage?

“I have absolutely no idea why you would want that to influence your child. Would you want a stripper or a porn star to influence your child? It makes no sense at all. A drag queen performs in a nightclub for adults. There is a lot of filth that goes on; a lot of sexual stuff that goes on and backstage, there’s a lot of nudity, sex and drugs, OK?

“So I don’t think that this is an avenue you would want your child to explore. They could explore dressing up at home, like we all did; like all gay boys did. We all dressed at home and we had a great time. We had a great time with our girlfriends, putting on makeup, trying on clothes, things like that – but to actually get them involved in drag is extremely, extremely irresponsible on your part.

“And I understand you might want to look like you’re ‘with it’, that you’re ‘cool’, that you’re ‘woke’, that you’re not a Nazi, that you’re not a homophobe – whatever it may be – but you can raise your child to be just a normal, regular, everyday child without including them in gay sexual things.

“And honestly, you’re not doing the gay community any favors. In fact, you’re hurting us, OK? We have already had a reputation of being pedophiles and being perverts and deviants. We don’t need you to bring your children around – so, you keep your kids at home or take them to Disneyland or take them to Chucky Cheese.

“But if you need your child to be entertained by a big human in a costume or in makeup, take them to the circus or something. When they turn 18 then, why don’t you take them to the clubs on their 18th birthday, because it’s an adult thing, OK?

“So don’t ruin your child’s life and don’t ruin us, because that’s what you’re doing.”

Alexandra Bruce

Contributed by Alexandra Bruce



Scientists Discover HIV-Like "Mutation" Which Makes Coronavirus Extremely Infectious

Scientists Discover HIV-Like "Mutation" Which Makes Coronavirus Extremely Infectious

While mainstream scientists continue to perform mental gymnastics to insist that the new coronavirus wasn't man-made, new research from scientists in China and Europe reveal that the disease happens to have an 'HIV-like mutation' which allows it to bind with human cells up to 1,000 times stronger than the Sars virus, according to SCMP.

Recall that at the end of January, a team of Indian scientists wrote in a now-retracted, scandalous paper claiming that the coronavirus may have been genetically engineered to incorporate parts of the HIV genome, writing "This uncanny similarity of novel inserts in the 2019- nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag is unlikely to be fortuitous in nature," meaning - it was unlikely to have occurred naturally.

Fast forward to new research by a team from Nankai University, which writes that COV-19 has an 'HIV-like mutation' that  allows it to quickly enter the human body by binding with a receptor called ACE2 on a cell membrane.

Other highly contagious viruses, including HIV and Ebola, target an enzyme called furin, which works as a protein activator in the human body. Many proteins are inactive or dormant when they are produced and have to be “cut” at specific points to activate their various functions.

When looking at the genome sequence of the new coronavirus, Professor Ruan Jishou and his team at Nankai University in Tianjin found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in Sars, but were similar to those found in HIV and Ebola. -SCMP

"This finding suggests that 2019-nCoV [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the Sars coronavirus in the infection pathway," reads the paper published this month on - a platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences which releases research papers prior to peer-review.

"This virus may use the packing mechanisms of other viruses such as HIV," they added.

For those confused, what the latest scientific paper claims is that whereas the Coronavirus may indeed contain a specific HIV-like feature that makes it extremely infectious, that was the result of a rather bizarre "mutation." However, since the scientists did not make the scandalous claim that Chinese scientists had created an airborne version of HIV, but instead blamed a mutation, they will likely not be forced to retract it, even if it the odds of such a "random" mutation taking place naturally are extremely small.

As a reminder, the running narrative is that the new coronavirus lie dormant in bats somewhere between 20 and 70 years, then 'crossed over' to humans through and unknown species - possibly a Pangolin - before it emerged at a Wuhan, China meat market roughly 900 feet from a level-4 bioweapons lab.

And what were they researching at said lab? Among other things - why Ebola and HIV can lie dormant in bats without causing diseases.

According to the new study, the 'mutation' can generate a structure known as a cleavage site in the new coronavirus' spike protein, SCMP reports. "Compared to the Sars’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient, according to the study."

The virus uses the outreaching spike protein to hook on to the host cell, but normally this protein is inactive. The cleavage site structure’s job is to cheat the human furin protein, so it will cut and activate the spike protein and cause a “direct fusion” of the viral and cellular membranes. -SCMP

(a recent paper published by Dr. Zhou Peng of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, meanwhile, is "Immunogenicity of the spike glycoprotein  of Bat SARS-like coronavirus.")

According to the report, a follow-up study from a Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhn confirmed Nankai University's findings.

The mutation could not be found in Sars, Mers or Bat-CoVRaTG13, a bat coronavirus that was considered the original source of the new coronavirus with 96 per cent similarity in genes, it said.

This could be “the reason why SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious than other coronaviruses”, Li wrote in a paper released on Chinarxiv on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a study by French scientist Etienne Decroly at Aix-Marseille University, which was published in the scientific journal Antiviral Research on February 10, also found a “furin-like cleavage site” that is absent in similar coronaviruses.

Chinese scientists speculate that drugs targeting the fuirn enzyme could potentially hinder the virus' replication inside the human body. Drugs up for consideration include "a series of HIV-1 therapeutic drugs such as Indinavir, Tenofovir Alafenamide, Tenofovir Disoproxil and Dolutegravir and hepatitis C therapeutic drugs including Boceprevir and Telaprevir," according to Li's study.

The conclusion is in line with several reports from doctors who self-administered HIV drugs after testing positive for coronavirus, however there have been no clinical tests to confirm the theory.

All perfectly "natural."

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/26/2020 - 19:45


The Strangest Thing About the Debate


It struck me about one hour into what Politico calls “the snarling incoherence of the latest Democratic presidential debate” that was “painfully hard to follow.” 

What precisely was so painful? 

It was not what divided this gaggle of politicians vying for your affection. It was what united them. They all agree that their job is to have a plan for your life. This is the source of the pain. 

How did it happen that all these candidates have come to believe that it is their job to plan the economy, manage your finances, fix your job, improve your wages, get you to the doctor, get your kids educated, keep you off drugs, make you equal to others, give you climate justice, grant you vacation time, and one thousand and ten other things? 

That this is what they are supposed to do is not even questioned. And if you listened carefully, you will see that all of them agree that there is only one direction for government power: more. Everything without exception can be solved with more money, more power, more bureaucrats, more engagement, more plans, more intelligence, more focus. 

No longer is the presidency the person who presides over the affairs of state. All of life has become an affair of state. The presidency is not just an administrator of things related to the federal government. He or she is the head of the whole country and everything and everyone in it, plus sizable parts of the rest of the world. 

So they are all up there talking about what? They are talking about what they plan to do with your life and your money. That’s what was so painful. They have no clue about any possible limit to their planning. 

All the while, every single person watching this debate has his or her own plans for life. Real people are planning their futures, navigating the job market, dealing with the boss or trying to find good employees, watching their 401ks, talking with their financial planners, figuring out whether to get another degree or go to work, wondering about partners, thinking about children, worrying about their kids’ education, considering whether to raise children in a religion and which one, when to take a vacation and where, what to do about an uncle’s drinking problem, worrying about aging parents, wondering whether to rent or buy, and one million other things. 

We are all trying to figure it out. It’s called life planning. We all do it every day. The underlying institution that makes our plans realizable is that we have freedom and the right to manage our lives and resources. This is essential to what it means to live the good life. 

The trouble with the seven people on the stage last night is that they have little or no regard for our personal plans. It’s their plans for us that matter. Our lives are mere abstractions to them. 

We are there to be manipulated into granting them money and votes. Once they get the power via democratic means, they are done with us. Our only job is to cough up money and comply. That presumption is why the evening seemed so creepy. 

They talk about clumps of voters, not real people. They talk of the “working classes,” “African-American women,” “minority populations,” the “underemployed,” the “underinsured,” the “immigrants,” ad infinitum but these are categories of voters, people being drafted against their will into voting blocs, not actual living, breathing, choosing individuals. 

And with that comes a preposterous game of pretending that they know things that they cannot really know. The point was obvious in the question about what to do about pandemic disease should the U.S. be hit. They all strutted and pronounced on the issue as if they knew precisely the right path. 

Not one person said a normal thing like: “There is a lot we do not know about the coronavirus, and we are all sifting through information as it becomes available. Each of us wants to stay safe and all of us have a strong interest in taking every precaution.”

Such a statement would be a shock because it flies in the face of the ethos of this debate, which is that we are electing an all-knowing, all-powerful godlike brain rather than a mere head of state. 

Where did this idea come from that the president is not just the head of the state but also the head of the whole of society and everything within it? It’s been around a very long time but only recently has it been made so explicit, and become an open and conventional presumption behind all the political rhetoric. 

The first time I experienced it so overtly was 2015, when I heard the second campaign speech by Donald Trump when he was first seeking the Republican nomination. He stood in front of an audience and talked as if he were running to become not a constitutional head of state in a republic governed by the rule of law. He was running to be the CEO of America. It was strange and alarming. It never occurred to him that there might be limits on his power that would be justified. 

This speech rattled me. It struck me as the inauguration of a new era in politics. 

Here we are almost five years later, and guess what? The Democrats speak exactly like him. They have learned from Trump as good students. They are all running to be the new CEO of the whole country, just with a different set of priorities. 

They all have a plan for your life. Their plans naturally overrule your plans because they will have the power and might of government behind them. You merely have things like human rights that are, in a country that hosts the largest and most powerful government ever, rather vulnerable to rampant violation. 

Why do we put up with it? If you had a co-worker who spoke to you about your life and your plans the way members of the political class do as a matter of habit, you would avoid him like the coronavirus. You would plan your lunch hour to miss him, be on the phone when he walked by your desk, and maybe maneuver behind the scenes to get him pushed out. A person like that would be seen as threatening, even pathological. 

And yet we somehow put up with it from politicians. We watch with bemusement and think: what the heck is wrong with these people? Why are they so lacking in the normal human grace of willing to live and let live? It’s because they have all drank the Kool-Aid of power. They want it desperately and will do anything to get it. 

And truly, does anyone actually believe that this gang of political performers has access to some magic machine that will improve your life better than you can yourself? Some people do believe this. But fewer every day. If this political season has had any merit to it at all, it is that it has made the point that their presumption of omniscience and omnipotence is a dangerous path. 

And yet, despite all their silly and potential dangerous antics, what can we do but live our lives as we always do, planning and struggling, sometimes achieving and often failing, grappling with uncertainty and opportunity, doing our best to cobble together a good life, raise our children well, and prepare for the future as best we can? In this sense, none of these people can help. The best all of them can do is get out of the way. 


This article is republished with permission from AIER.

[Image Credit: New York Times Debate Highlights]


The Economic Cataclysm Ahead

The economic storm hasn't passed; the false calm is only the eye of the financial hurricane.
To understand the economic cataclysm ahead, do the math. Those expecting the Covid-19 pandemic to leave the U.S. economy untouched are implicitly making these preposterously unlikely claims:
1. China will resume full pre-pandemic production and shipping within the next two weeks.
2. Chinese consumers will resume borrowing and spending at pre-pandemic rates in a few weeks.
3. Every factory and every worker in China will resume full pre-pandemic production without any permanent closures or disruptions.
4. Corporate America's just-in-time inventories will magically expand to cover weeks or months of supply chain disruption.
5. Not a single one of the thousands of people who flew direct from Wuhan to the U.S. in January is an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus who escaped detection at the airport.
6. Not a single one of the thousands of people who flew from China to the U.S. in February is an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus.
7. Not a single one of the thousands of people who are in self-quarantine broke the quarantine to go to Safeway for milk and eggs.
8. Not a single person who came down with Covid-19 after arriving in the U.S. feared being deported so they did not go to a hospital and are therefore unknown to authorities.
9. Even though U.S. officials have only tested a relative handful of the thousands of people who came from Covid-19 hotspots in China, they caught every single asymptomatic carrier.
10. Not a single asymptomatic carrier caught a flight from China to Southeast Asia and then promptly boarded a flight for the U.S.
I could go on but you get the picture: an extremely contagious pathogen that is spread by carriers who don't know they have the virus to people who then infect others in a rapidly expanding circle has been completely controlled by U.S. authorities who haven't tested or even tracked tens of thousands of potential carriers in the U.S.
These same authorities are quick to claim the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the U.S. is low even as the 14 infected people they put on a plane ended up infecting 25 passengers on the flight. These same authorities tried to transfer quarantined people to a rundown facility in Costa Mesa CA that was not suitable for quarantine, forcing the city to file a lawsuit to stop the transfer.
Do these actions instill unwavering confidence in the official U.S. response? You must be joking.
Do the math, people. The coronavirus is already in the U.S. but authorities have no way to track it due to its spread by asymptomatic carriers. People who don't even know they have the virus are flying to intermediate airports outside China and then catching flights to the U.S.
None of the known characteristics of the virus support the confidence being projected by authorities. The tests are not reliable, few are being tested, carriers can't be detected because they don't have any symptoms, the virus is highly contagious, thousands of potential carriers continue to arrive in the U.S., etc. etc. etc.
The network of global travel remains intact. Removing a few nodes (Wuhan, etc.) does not reduce the entire network's connectedness that enables the rapid and invisible spread of the virus.
Second, what authorities call over-reaction is simply prudent risk management. As I noted yesterday in How Many Cases of Covid-19 Will It Take For You to Decide Not to Frequent Public Places?, when an abstract pandemic becomes real, shelves are emptied and streets are deserted.
It doesn't take thousands of cases to trigger a dramatic reduction in the willingness to mix with crowds of strangers. A relative handful of cases is enough to be consequential.
Many of the new jobs created in the U.S. economy over the past decade are in the food and beverage services sector, the sector that is immediately impacted when people decide to lower their risk by staying home rather than going out to crowded restaurants, theaters, bars, etc.
Many of these establishments are hanging on by a thread due to soaring rents, taxes, fees, healthcare and wages. Many of the employees are also hanging on by a thread, only making rent if they collect big tips.
Central banks can borrow money into existence but they can't replace lost income. A significant percentage of America's food and beverage establishments are financially precarious, and their exhausted owners are burned out by the stresses of keeping their business afloat as costs continue rising. The initial financial hit as people reduce their public exposure will be more than enough to cause many to close their doors forever.
As small businesses fold, local tax revenues crater, triggering fiscal crises in local government budgets dependent on ever-higher tax and fee revenues.
A significant percentage of America's borrowers are financially precarious, one paycheck or unexpected expense away from defaulting on student loans, subprime auto loans, credit card payments, etc.
A significant percentage of America's corporations are financially precarious, dependent on expanding debt and rising cash flow to service their expanding debt load. Any hit to their revenues will trigger defaults that will then unleash second-order effects in the global financial system.
The global economy is so dependent on speculative euphoria, leverage and debt that any external shock will tip it over the cliff. The U.S. economy is far more precarious than advertised as well.
The economic storm hasn't passed; the false calm is only the eye of the financial hurricane.
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The Scale of the Chinese Lockdown


The official death toll from the Covid-19/coronavirus now stands at over 2,500 people. There are over 80,000 cases worldwide.

The people I’ve talked to about this epidemic fall into two camps.

Those in the first camp say that this needs to be put into perspective, the number of people who die each year from the flu dwarf the number of coronavirus deaths and it is likely that survival rates will be much better in a first-world, Western health system where the doctors aren’t in fear of the secret police when they say that there is something wrong.

Those in the second camp say that we can’t trust any of the numbers coming out of China, that it is worrying that there seem to be cases cropping up in countries around the world, and that China would not lock down half of its country for a disease that is less deadly than the flu.

“But Marcus!” I hear you say, “Don’t use hyperbole for effect! China hasn’t locked down half of its country!”

Well, according to this report from CNN, I am not exaggerating that much. Almost half of China’s 1.3 billion-strong population remain subject to varying forms of travel restrictions and other quarantine measures. Or, to put it another way, some 780 million people are living under some form of restrictive movement. This is an unbelievably large number.

These restrictions are in place across all of Hubei, the northeastern province of Liaoning, as well as Beijing and Shanghai. Now, these restrictions are not uniform and range from self-quarantine (also known as my normal Friday night … thank you, yes I’m here all week - try the veal) to limits on who can come and go from neighborhoods.

Some of the restrictions are very strict: Wuhan, Huanggang, Shiyan and Xiaogan (the four cities at the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei province) have completely sealed off all residential complexes and communities and the use of non-essential vehicles is banned. Residents have food and other necessities delivered to them because they are not permitted to leave their homes. (Apparently online gaming is surging in China at the moment…)

This is all having a massive effect on the Chinese economy. I saw a graph based on shipping that showed that imports to China were down a third and exports from China were 50 percent below their post-Chinese New Year historical averages. For a country that is heavily dependent on its economic growth to distract its citizens attention from its horrific human rights abuses, restricting half of its citizens’ movements in some degree seems an overreaction to what is apparently less deadly than the flu.

But let us have some optimism!

China has announced that some of the restrictions in Wuhan have been lifted…oh wait, no, it has renounced that announcement and the officials that prematurely announced that easing have been “reprimanded” (and their families have been invoiced for the 5.8mm “reprimand”).

What a wonderful country we have economically bound ourselves to hand and foot.


This article has been republished from MercatorNet under a Creative Commons license.

[Image Credit: Pixabay]


Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2


This afternoon Julian’s Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, left court to return to Madrid. On the way out he naturally stopped to shake hands with his client, proffering his fingers through the narrow slit in the bulletproof glass cage. Assange half stood to take his lawyer’s hand. The two security guards in the cage with Assange immediately sprang up, putting hands on Julian and forcing him to sit down, preventing the handshake.

That was not by any means the worst thing today, but it is a striking image of the senseless brute force continually used against a man accused of publishing documents. That a man cannot even shake his lawyer’s hand goodbye is against the entire spirit in which the members of the legal system like to pretend the law is practised. I offer that startling moment as encapsulating yesterday’s events in court.

Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.

Magistrate Baraitser looked at Fitzgerald and stated, in a voice laced with disdain, that he had raised such matters before and she had always replied that she had no jurisdiction over the prison estate. He should take it up with the prison authorities. Fitzgerald remained on his feet, which drew a very definite scowl from Baraitser, and replied that of course they would do that again, but this repeated behaviour by the prison authorities threatened the ability of the defence to prepare. He added that regardless of jurisdiction, in his experience it was common practice for magistrates and judges to pass on comments and requests to the prison service where the conduct of the trial was affected, and that jails normally listened to magistrates sympathetically.

Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison. She stated that if the prison conditions were so bad as to reach the very high bar of making a fair hearing impossible, the defence should bring a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds. Otherwise they should drop it.

Both prosecution and defence seemed surprised by Baraitser’s claim that she had not heard of what they both referred to as common practice. Lewis may have been genuinely concerned at the shocking description of Assange’s prison treatment yesterday; or he may have just had warning klaxons going off in his head screaming “mistrial”. But the net result is Baraitser will attempt to do nothing to prevent Julian’s physical and mental abuse in jail nor to try to give him the ability to participate in his defence. The only realistic explanation that occurs to me is that Baraitser has been warned off, because this continual mistreatment and confiscation of documents is on senior government authority.

A last small incident for me to recount: having queued again from the early hours, I was at the final queue before the entrance to the public gallery, when the name was called out of Kristin Hrnafsson, editor of Wikileaks, with whom I was talking at the time. Kristin identified himself, and was told by the court official he was barred from the public gallery.

Now I was with Kristin throughout the entire proceedings the previous day, and he had done absolutely nothing amiss – he is rather a quiet gentleman. When he was called for, it was by name and by job description – they were specifically banning the editor of Wikileaks from the trial. Kristin asked why and was told it was a decision of the Court.

At this stage John Shipton, Julian’s father, announced that in this case the family members would all leave too, and they did so, walking out of the building. They and others then started tweeting the news of the family walkout. This appeared to cause some consternation among court officials, and fifteen minutes later Kristin was re-admitted. We still have no idea what lay behind this. Later in the day journalists were being briefed by officials it was simply over queue-jumping, but that seems improbable as he was removed by staff who called him by name and title, rather than had spotted him as a queue-jumper.

None of the above goes to the official matter of the case. All of the above tells you more about the draconian nature of the political show-trial which is taking place than does the charade being enacted in the body of the court. There were moments today when I got drawn in to the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.

So to the actual proceedings in the case.

For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:

1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.

2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public

3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.

In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.

Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:

a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs

Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!

On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.

Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.

Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…

Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.

After a brief break, Baraitser came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. Summers replied that agreed evidence or prosecution evidence at the US court martial clearly was agreed by the US government as fact, and what was at issue at the moment was whether the US government was charging contrary to the facts it knew. Baraitser said she would return to her point once witnesses were heard.

Baraitser was no making no attempt to conceal a hostility to the defence argument, and seemed irritated they had the temerity to make it. This burst out when discussing c), the Iraq war rules of engagement. Summers argued that these had not been solicited from Manning, but had rather been provided by Manning in an accompanying file along with the Collateral Murder video that showed the murder of Reuters journalists and children. Manning’s purpose, as she stated at her court martial, was to show that the Collateral Murder actions breached the rules of engagement, even though the Department of Defense claimed otherwise. Summers stated that by not including this context, the US extradition request was deliberately misleading as it did not even mention the Collateral Murder video at all.

At this point Baraitser could not conceal her contempt. Try to imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag” or “the Brighton line”, or if your education didn’t run that way try to imagine Pritti Patel spotting a disabled immigrant. This is a literal quote:

“Are you suggesting, Mr Summers, that the authorities, the Government, should have to provide context for its charges?”

An unfazed Summers replied in the affirmative and then went on to show where the Supreme Court had said so in other extradition cases. Baraitser was showing utter confusion that anybody could claim a significant distinction between the Government and God.

The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. This was only claimed in relation to materials a) and d). Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book Wikileaks, published in February 2011.

Nobody had put 2 and 2 together on this password until the German publication Die Freitag had done so and announced it had the unredacted cables in August 2011. Summers then gave the most powerful arguments of the day.

The US government had been actively participating in the redaction exercise on the cables. They therefore knew the allegations of reckless publication to be untrue.

Once Die Freitag announced they had the unredacted materials, Julian Assange and Sara Harrison instantly telephoned the White House, State Department and US Embassy to warn them named sources may be put at risk. Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.

With relation to the same behaviour 3) on materials d), Summers showed that the Manning court martial had accepted these materials contained no endangered source names, but showed that Wikileaks had activated a redaction exercise anyway as a “belt and braces” approach.

There was much more from the defence. For the prosecution, James Lewis indicated he would reply in depth later in proceedings, but wished to state that the prosecution does not accept the court martial evidence as fact, and particularly does not accept any of the “self-serving” testimony of Chelsea Manning, whom he portrayed as a convicted criminal falsely claiming noble motives. The prosecution generally rejected any notion that this court should consider the truth or otherwise of any of the facts; those could only be decided at trial in the USA.

Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court. She invited the defence to address this argument in the morning.

It is now 06.35am and I am late to start queuing…

With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.

This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.


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The post Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2 appeared first on Craig Murray.


Debunking The Smear That Assange Recklessly Published Unredacted Documents


This is a new section for my ongoing mega-article Debunking All The Assange Smears, a resource for debating 30 of the most common smears against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Use it, share it, and let me know if there’s anything you think should be changed or added.

The prosecution in the Assange extradition trial has falsely alleged that WikiLeaks recklessly published unredacted files in 2011 which endangered people’s lives. In reality the Pentagon admitted that no one was harmed as a result of the leaks during the Manning trial, and the unredacted files were actually published elsewhere as the result of a Guardian journalist recklessly included a real password in a book about WikiLeaks.

A key government witness during the Chelsea Manning trial, Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, testified under oath that no one was hurt by them. Additionally, the Defense Secretary at the time, Robert M Gates, said that the leaks were “awkward” and “embarrassing” but the consequences for US foreign policy were “fairly modest”. It was also leaked at the time that insiders were saying the damage was limited and “containable”, and they were exaggerating the damage in an attempt to get Manning punished more severely.

As Assange’s defense highlighted during the trial, the unredacted publications were the result of a password being published in a book by Guardian reporters Luke Harding and David Leigh, the latter of whom worked with Assange in the initial publications of the Manning leaks. WikiLeaks reported that it didn’t speak publicly about Leigh’s password publication for several months to avoid drawing attention to it, but broke its silence when they learned a German weekly called Freitag was preparing a story about it. There’s footage of Assange calling the US State Department trying to warn of an imminent security breach at the time, but they refused to escalate the call.

It wasn’t long after that that the full unredacted archive was published on a website called Cryptome, where it still exists in its unredacted form today, completely free from prosecution. It wasn’t until the leaks were forced into the public, at the initiation of Leigh’s password shenanigans, that WikiLeaks published them in their unredacted form.

Assange’s US criminal defense lawyer Barry Pollack said in a press conference after the second day of the extradition trial being held at Belmarsh Prison: “What was laid out in great detail in court today was that the United States government making this extradition request claimed that Julian Assange intentionally published names of sources without redaction. We learned today that the United States government knew all along that that wasn’t true. That when others were about to publish those names without redaction, Julian Assange called the State Department to warn the State Department that others were about to publish, and pleaded with the State Department to take whatever action was necessary to protect those sources. The idea that the United States government is seeking extradition of Julian Assange when it, the United States government, failed to take any action is really unfathomable. I think we will learn more as this trial goes on that the United States government simply has not disclosed, in the extradition request, the underlying facts.”

The US government doesn’t care about unredacted publications, or it would have gone after Cryptome. The US government doesn’t care about people being harmed by the Manning leaks; it knows that didn’t happen. The US government cares about punishing a journalist for exposing its war crimes, plain and simple.

The attempts to smear Assange as reckless, cold and cavalier with the Manning leaks have been forcefully disputed by an Australian journalist named Mark Davis, who was following Assange closely at the time filming footage which would become the documentary Inside WikiLeaks. You can listen to Davis’ account of what transpired here, or you can read about it in this WSWS article.

Davis details how The Guardian, the New York Times, and Der Spiegel journalists were putting Assange under extreme pressure to go to press before Assange had finished redacting names from the documents. None of the outlets offered any resources or support to help redact them, and Assange had to pull an all-nighter himself and personally cleanse the logs of over 10,000 names before going live.

Davis says that it was Guardian journalists such as Leigh and Nick Davies, the two most vocal critics of Assange, who were displaying the cavalier attitude toward redaction back then.

“Of course, it was apparent that they would be risking, if not the safety, certainly exposing the identity of many people — there’s tens of thousands of documents there,” said Davis. “I never witnessed a conversation where anyone took that seriously. Not one.”

Davis says the only conversation that he witnessed on the topic of redaction was between Davies and Leigh, and Assange wasn’t present.

“It occurred to Nick Davies as they pulled up an article they were going to put in the newspaper — he said ‘Well, we can’t name this guy,’” recalls Davis. “And then someone said ‘Well he’s going to be named on the website.’ Davies said something to the effect of ‘We’ll really cop it then, if and when we are blamed for putting that name up.’ And the words I remember very precisely — from David Leigh was he gazed across the room at Davies and said: ‘But we’re not publishing it.’”

Indeed, the only ones who seem to concur with this “cavalier” characterization of Assange are those who’ve had a lot invested in making sure they weren’t blamed for the leaks.

I worked closely with Assange when editor of Bureau of Investigative Journalism on the Iraq War Logs. This claim absolutely false when it applies to that. We went to great lengths to redact names, protect identities. This is an assault on whistleblowing.

 — @iainoverton

Journalist Iain Overton observed on Twitter recently that his experience working on the Iraq war logs with Assange was very different to the gossip about him.

“I worked closely with Assange when editor of Bureau of Investigative Journalism on the Iraq War Logs,” Overton said. “This claim absolutely false when it applies to that. We went to great lengths to redact names, protect identities. This is an assault on whistleblowing.”

Finally there is a quote attributed to Assange by Leigh, “They’re informants, they deserve to die,” with regard to the sources in the logs that he painstakingly redacted all their names from. It was supposedly said at a dinner that was attended by John Goetz from Der Spiegel, who provided a testimony saying that he heard no such thing from Julian.

In a classic case of projection, it appears that Assange’s enemies are charging him with the very sins they were committing.


Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The Nobel Peace Prize Is A Sick Joke

The Nobel Peace Prize was founded in 1901 by Alfred Nobel, an arms manufacturer. His family factory first gained notoriety for producing weapons for the Crimean War of 1853-1856. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and various other powerful explosives.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

US CDC warns of 'disruption to everyday life' with spread of coronavirus

During a Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) press call on Tuesday, vaccine expert Dr. Nancy Messonnier stated that the agency is "preparing as if we are going to see community spread in the near term.


National Debt Isn’t $23 Trillion, It’s $122 Trillion, Group Says

WASHINGTON—America’s current national debt stands at roughly $23.3 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s “Debt to the Penny” website, which is so precise that visitors can pick a specific date in the recent past—say Jan.


Monday, February 24, 2020

Fake Markets Are on Collision Course with Reality


By Clint Siegner

Keeping up appearances is about to get a lot harder for the central planners trying to manage perceptions of the U.S. (and global) economy. The coronavirus is going to have a meaningful impact on global supply chains, even if stock market cheerleaders haven’t fully realized it yet.

This might be because the corporate media and ruling elites are burning a lot of what is left of their fading credibility trying to ignore or downplay the problem.

Some things can’t be ignored, however. Capital Economics published some telling charts last week showing conditions on the ground in China. Below are two which detail the Chinese economy all but grinding to a halt.

Daily Passenger Traffic

Coal Consumption at Power Plants

Bloomberg reported a 92% drop in Chinese car sales during the first half of February.

And Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, warned that the coronavirus will have a big impact on earnings. The company reported Chinese factories are operating at 50-60% of capacity.

That is very bad news to pile on top of the company’s already dismal performance. Maersk reported a loss in the 4th quarter, before the impact of the virus.

CNBC pundits can talk all they want, but what is happening in China will soon be felt around the world. Americans will find out what is real when many of the shelves in the local Walmart start looking a little bare.

If the virus is not contained quickly and factories remain closed, the supply chain could completely break down for merchants selling Chinese goods.

Managing perceptions may get harder, but that doesn’t mean the Federal Reserve won’t try. Christopher Irons of Quoth the Raven Research summed it up nicely on Twitter:

The year is 2023…

The coronavirus has wiped out humankind…

A lone server in the basement of the NY Fed building continues to bid the Dow Jones to new all-time highs.

Shares of Walmart are up about 1.5% since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30th. The broader S&P 500 index enjoyed a similar bump following the news, until today that is.

Could it be that investors think central banks will look at the coronavirus news as an excuse to ramp up stimulus?

They may be right, but no amount of printed money can put merchandise on store shelves.

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named “Best in the USA” by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

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Fake Markets Are on Collision Course with Reality