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Anti-Empire

offsite link Vaccinated Covid Deaths 20X More Common ... Fri Jul 30, 2021 16:50 | Edward Slavsquat

offsite link Israel Used Pegasus Spyware to Bribe Rep... Fri Jul 30, 2021 13:54 | Mehul Srivastava

offsite link The Military Hits Sydney Streets to Help... Fri Jul 30, 2021 08:14 | Alison Xiao

offsite link Pfizer Now Says the True Vaccine Is the ... Thu Jul 29, 2021 23:11 | The Babylon Bee

offsite link How Washington’s Top Taiwan Specialist... Thu Jul 29, 2021 22:26 | Gareth Porter

Anti-Empire >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link 5 Year Anniversary Of Kem Ley?s Death Sun Jul 11, 2021 12:34 | Human Rights

offsite link Poor Living Conditions for Migrants in Southern Italy Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:14 | Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Lockdown Skeptics

The Daily Sceptic

offsite link End of Self-Isolation Rules for Fully Vaccinated Could Be Delayed Past August 16th Tue Jul 27, 2021 12:04 | Michael Curzon
The end of self-isolation rules for fully vaccinated Brits could be delayed past August 16th, the Policing Minister has suggested, saying that we will have to "wait and see" what the scientists advise.
The post End of Self-Isolation Rules for Fully Vaccinated Could Be Delayed Past August 16th appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link ?Outrageous Proposal? to Introduce Vaccine Passports Could Split Tories ?Irretrievably?, Warns Steve... Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:21 | Michael Curzon
The Government must scrap its "outrageous proposal" to introduce vaccine passports or it will risk splitting the Conservative Party "irretrievably", warns Steve Baker, the Deputy Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group.
The post “Outrageous Proposal” to Introduce Vaccine Passports Could Split Tories “Irretrievably”, Warns Steve Baker appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link Was Lockdown Illegal? Tue Jul 27, 2021 09:30 | Noah Carl
Was lockdown illegal? While the High Court in London rejected Dolan?s case against the Government, lockdown opponents have won important victories in a number of countries, including France, Germany and Spain.
The post Was Lockdown Illegal? appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link And Finally? Tue Jul 27, 2021 02:27 | Toby Young
In the latest episode of London Calling, Toby and James discuss the declining case numbers ? and where that leaves Neil Ferguson ? as well as why Toby won?t boo footballers taking the knee and the new season of Ted Lasso.
The post And Finally… appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link News Round-Up Tue Jul 27, 2021 02:20 | Toby Young
A summary of all the most interesting stories that have appeared about Covid and other areas of warranted scepticism in the past 24 hours ? not just in Britain, but around the world.
The post News Round-Up appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

Lockdown Skeptics >>

Voltaire Network
Voltaire, international edition

offsite link France : from colonial fantasy to disaster, by Thierry Meyssan Tue Jul 27, 2021 09:41 | en

offsite link France, against its adversaries and its allies, by Thierry Meyssan Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:36 | en

offsite link From false accusations to the real massacre, by Thierry Meyssan Wed Jul 21, 2021 09:39 | en

offsite link The nuclear race accelerates, by Manlio Dinucci Mon Jul 19, 2021 10:21 | en

offsite link Turkey sending jihadists from Idlib to Afghanistan Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:32 | en

Voltaire Network >>

Edward Slavsquat - Fri Jul 30, 2021 16:50

Probably you heard the terrifying news: An internal CDC report concluded that the 'Delta' variant is as transmissible as chickenpox. Oh no, not the dreaded chickenpox.

Curiously, trusted media outlets seemed less interested in discussing a confidential PowerPoint slide which showed that in May, 15% of Covid hospitalizations that resulted in death occurred among the vaccinated. The data was collected from COVID-NET, which is a network of medical facilities monitored by the CDC covering around 10% of the US population. The network is a "source for important data on hospitalization rates associated with Covid-19," according to the CDC. In other words: It's used to identify general trends in the country.

This hidden-until-very-recently data raises a number of slightly uncomfortable questions.

First of all, why did Health Chairman-for-Life Anthony Fauci suggest earlier this month that virtually no humans who got the shot have died from Covid-19?

On July 4 he told NBC: "If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2% of them are unvaccinated. About 0.8% are vaccinated."

To be clear: he was speaking about June. But how do you go from 15% to 0.8% over the course of a few weeks? Besides, there was no panic about the chickenpox-resembling Delta Plague back in May. With vaccine efficacy now shown to deteriorate over time, it seems reasonable to assume June saw similar, if not greater, numbers of vaxxed Americans croaking to Covid.

Curiously, the Associated Press ran a story in late June, allegedly citing figures provided by the CDC, which claimed that fully vaccinated people only accounted for 0.8% of deaths in May:

Only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

The AP analyzed figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC itself has not estimated what percentage of hospitalizations and deaths are in fully vaccinated people, citing limitations in the data.

 

Yeah: No.

Why did the AP report this clearly ridiculous 0.8% figure? Where is it coming from?

And why is the media completely ignoring this rather large and concerning discrepancy?

We're drowning in a sea of bullshit, friends.

Edward Slavsquat is a highly influential senior Kremlin official who occasionally blogs on Anti-Empire.com

Probably you heard the terrifying news: An internal CDC report concluded that the 'Delta' variant is as transmissible as chickenpox. Oh no, not the dreaded chickenpox.

Curiously, trusted media outlets seemed less interested in discussing a confidential PowerPoint slide which showed that in May, 15% of Covid hospitalizations that resulted in death occurred among the vaccinated. The data was collected from COVID-NET, which is a network of medical facilities monitored by the CDC covering around 10% of the US population. The network is a "source for important data on hospitalization rates associated with Covid-19," according to the CDC. In other words: It's used to identify general trends in the country.

This hidden-until-very-recently data raises a number of slightly uncomfortable questions.

First of all, why did Health Chairman-for-Life Anthony Fauci suggest earlier this month that virtually no humans who got the shot have died from Covid-19?

On July 4 he told NBC: "If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2% of them are unvaccinated. About 0.8% are vaccinated."

To be clear: he was speaking about June. But how do you go from 15% to 0.8% over the course of a few weeks? Besides, there was no panic about the chickenpox-resembling Delta Plague back in May. With vaccine efficacy now shown to deteriorate over time, it seems reasonable to assume June saw similar, if not greater, numbers of vaxxed Americans croaking to Covid.

Curiously, the Associated Press ran a story in late June, allegedly citing figures provided by the CDC, which claimed that fully vaccinated people only accounted for 0.8% of deaths in May:

Only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average.

The AP analyzed figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC itself has not estimated what percentage of hospitalizations and deaths are in fully vaccinated people, citing limitations in the data.

 

Yeah: No.

Why did the AP report this clearly ridiculous 0.8% figure? Where is it coming from?

And why is the media completely ignoring this rather large and concerning discrepancy?

We're drowning in a sea of bullshit, friends.

Edward Slavsquat is a highly influential senior Kremlin official who occasionally blogs on Anti-Empire.com

Mehul Srivastava - Fri Jul 30, 2021 13:54

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Naftali Bennett, then Israel’s defence minister, came up with an idea to help contain the spread of the disease: let the military spyware manufacturer NSO track down his fellow citizens’ every movement.

The suggestion from the man who is now Israel’s prime minister did not pass muster. But it shows the close ties the Israeli company assailed by rights activists for selling a military-grade surveillance software to repressive regimes has with the highest echelons of the state.

NSO’s Pegasus software, which requires a government licence for export because it is considered a weapon, has in recent years become a crucial part of Israel’s diplomatic outreach — a role that has come into focus after this weekend’s revelation by a consortium of newspapers that it had been traced to the cell phones of 37 journalists, lawyers and political activists. The software surreptitiously turns phones into listening devices while unveiling their encrypted contents.

“From the 1950s, Israel used its weapons sales for diplomatic gains, the only thing that changes is the names of the countries,” said Eitay Mack, an Israeli human rights lawyer who has tried for years to have NSO’s export licence cancelled. “The question is if there will be some change in the exports policy.”

While the recent news media leaks on Pegasus sparked international outrage, the criticism in Israel has been muted. The reporting “looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation”, said lawmaker Yair Golan, a former deputy military chief, jumping to NSO’s support in a televised speech. “It is not just NSO that does such things.”

The Ministry of Defence, which must approve every licence to export the weaponry, said that “appropriate measures are taken” if any violations of the export licence are proved.

NSO’s co-founder and chief executive, Shalev Hulio, denied the consortium’s findings, which allege that NSO’s spyware has been regularly used on members of civil society, opposition leaders and people with no connection to terrorism or crime.

“We are claiming very vocally that these are not Pegasus targets, or selected as Pegasus targets, or potential Pegasus targets. This has no relation to any customer of ours or NSO technology,” he told the Financial Times, vowing to shut down any customer’s systems that are proved to infect devices belonging to journalists or members of civil society.

NSO has said in the past that it does not have access to its client’s targets. Hulio said the company had queried each one of its clients individually to reach that conclusion.

‘The toy that everyone wants’

In recent years, Israel has wooed Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia into improving bilateral relations, by offering clandestine security co-operation against shared regional enemies, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran.

As the countries grew closer, groups such as Amnesty and the Citizen Lab have tracked increasing Pegasus intrusions into the phones of journalists, dissidents and activists across the region.

“It’s like the toy that every intelligence officer wants,” said a person involved in pitching NSO products in the Gulf. “They love the demos, they love that it is from Israel.”

Similarly, Pegasus attacks have been documented on critics of the governments of Hungary, India and Rwanda, as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursued alliances with their rightwing leaders.

Israel has for years ignored calls by a UN Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression, and others, to place a moratorium on the sales of spyware and to regulate it more closely.

NSO’s chief executive pushed back on any suggestion that the company’s products had been leveraged by Israel abroad.

“We are not a tool for diplomacy for the Israeli government; we are a commercial company, our shareholders are UK private equity,” said Hulio, referring to Novalpina Capital. “Those allegations are just theories.”

‘The government is eager to help them’

Those who have fought against NSO’s influence in Israel say the company enjoys strong support from Israeli legal and political circles.

An Israeli judge imposed a gag order on Mexican rights activists so that their lawsuit against the company could be heard in secret.

A judge with a long background in military intelligence is overseeing a case brought by a Saudi dissident and friend of the murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. The friend claims NSO was aware of his own phone being targeted. The judge has declined to recuse himself, despite declaring a prior relationship with NSO’s lawyers.

“The impression that I get is that the government is eager to help them, especially when it comes to keeping the discussion away from any public scrutiny,” said Alaa Mahajna, the lead lawyer on both lawsuits.

“The companies should be held liable for the dangerous technology they sell, but the most efficient way is prevention and, unfortunately, only the Ministry of Defence can do that.”

While the recent news media leaks on Pegasus sparked international outrage, the criticism in Israel has been muted. The reporting “looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation”, said lawmaker Yair Golan, a former deputy military chief, jumping to NSO’s support in a televised speech. “It is not just NSO that does such things.”

The Ministry of Defence, which must approve every licence to export the weaponry, said that “appropriate measures are taken” if any violations of the export licence are proved.

NSO’s co-founder and chief executive, Shalev Hulio, denied the consortium’s findings, which allege that NSO’s spyware has been regularly used on members of civil society, opposition leaders and people with no connection to terrorism or crime.

“We are claiming very vocally that these are not Pegasus targets, or selected as Pegasus targets, or potential Pegasus targets. This has no relation to any customer of ours or NSO technology,” he told the Financial Times, vowing to shut down any customer’s systems that are proved to infect devices belonging to journalists or members of civil society.

NSO has said in the past that it does not have access to its client’s targets. Hulio said the company had queried each one of its clients individually to reach that conclusion.

‘The toy that everyone wants’

In recent years, Israel has wooed Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia into improving bilateral relations, by offering clandestine security co-operation against shared regional enemies, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran.

As the countries grew closer, groups such as Amnesty and the Citizen Lab have tracked increasing Pegasus intrusions into the phones of journalists, dissidents and activists across the region.

“It’s like the toy that every intelligence officer wants,” said a person involved in pitching NSO products in the Gulf. “They love the demos, they love that it is from Israel.”

Similarly, Pegasus attacks have been documented on critics of the governments of Hungary, India and Rwanda, as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursued alliances with their rightwing leaders.

Israel has for years ignored calls by a UN Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression, and others, to place a moratorium on the sales of spyware and to regulate it more closely.

NSO’s chief executive pushed back on any suggestion that the company’s products had been leveraged by Israel abroad.

“We are not a tool for diplomacy for the Israeli government; we are a commercial company, our shareholders are UK private equity,” said Hulio, referring to Novalpina Capital. “Those allegations are just theories.”

‘The government is eager to help them’

Those who have fought against NSO’s influence in Israel say the company enjoys strong support from Israeli legal and political circles.

An Israeli judge imposed a gag order on Mexican rights activists so that their lawsuit against the company could be heard in secret.

A judge with a long background in military intelligence is overseeing a case brought by a Saudi dissident and friend of the murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. The friend claims NSO was aware of his own phone being targeted. The judge has declined to recuse himself, despite declaring a prior relationship with NSO’s lawyers.

“The impression that I get is that the government is eager to help them, especially when it comes to keeping the discussion away from any public scrutiny,” said Alaa Mahajna, the lead lawyer on both lawsuits.

“The companies should be held liable for the dangerous technology they sell, but the most efficient way is prevention and, unfortunately, only the Ministry of Defence can do that.”

Sometimes, the Israeli government has intervened to direct the company’s sales, said two people with knowledge of the issue, especially after high-profile scandals, such as when Saudi operatives killed Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018.

NSO initially halted a contract with Saudi Arabia amid allegations its technology had been used to track Khashoggi and his associates. But in 2019 it renewed the contract with the Israeli government’s full approval, said two people with knowledge of the issue.

“There was direct encouragement to keep this relationship alive,” said one, who added that NSO employees returning from the Gulf were often debriefed by Israeli intelligence. NSO’s Hulio denied such briefings took place.

‘The holy cow of the economy’

Often, the Israeli government’s links have been more public. After a dam collapsed in Brazil in January 2019, killing hundreds, the government dispatched NSO’s Hulio, who is a reservist in the search and rescue unit of the Israeli military, as part of its aid mission.

“I travelled there as part of my reserve duty. I am proud of what I am doing and it has nothing do with NSO,” he said.

Hulio showcased how NSO’s software can also be used to triangulate the locations of cell phones down to the last centimetre, according to people familiar with his trip.

“Israel has certain diplomatic goals, and its interests and the interests of these commercial companies can sometimes dovetail,” said Shay Aspril, an author and investigative journalist who first exposed NSO’s secretive technology in 2012.

“The Israeli public does not fully understand what is going inside high tech — the holy cow of the economy — and because the Israeli public is not really concerned, there is no public pressure on the government to change anything.”

Source: Financial Times

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Naftali Bennett, then Israel’s defence minister, came up with an idea to help contain the spread of the disease: let the military spyware manufacturer NSO track down his fellow citizens’ every movement.

The suggestion from the man who is now Israel’s prime minister did not pass muster. But it shows the close ties the Israeli company assailed by rights activists for selling a military-grade surveillance software to repressive regimes has with the highest echelons of the state.

NSO’s Pegasus software, which requires a government licence for export because it is considered a weapon, has in recent years become a crucial part of Israel’s diplomatic outreach — a role that has come into focus after this weekend’s revelation by a consortium of newspapers that it had been traced to the cell phones of 37 journalists, lawyers and political activists. The software surreptitiously turns phones into listening devices while unveiling their encrypted contents.

“From the 1950s, Israel used its weapons sales for diplomatic gains, the only thing that changes is the names of the countries,” said Eitay Mack, an Israeli human rights lawyer who has tried for years to have NSO’s export licence cancelled. “The question is if there will be some change in the exports policy.”

While the recent news media leaks on Pegasus sparked international outrage, the criticism in Israel has been muted. The reporting “looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation”, said lawmaker Yair Golan, a former deputy military chief, jumping to NSO’s support in a televised speech. “It is not just NSO that does such things.”

The Ministry of Defence, which must approve every licence to export the weaponry, said that “appropriate measures are taken” if any violations of the export licence are proved.

NSO’s co-founder and chief executive, Shalev Hulio, denied the consortium’s findings, which allege that NSO’s spyware has been regularly used on members of civil society, opposition leaders and people with no connection to terrorism or crime.

“We are claiming very vocally that these are not Pegasus targets, or selected as Pegasus targets, or potential Pegasus targets. This has no relation to any customer of ours or NSO technology,” he told the Financial Times, vowing to shut down any customer’s systems that are proved to infect devices belonging to journalists or members of civil society.

NSO has said in the past that it does not have access to its client’s targets. Hulio said the company had queried each one of its clients individually to reach that conclusion.

‘The toy that everyone wants’

In recent years, Israel has wooed Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia into improving bilateral relations, by offering clandestine security co-operation against shared regional enemies, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran.

As the countries grew closer, groups such as Amnesty and the Citizen Lab have tracked increasing Pegasus intrusions into the phones of journalists, dissidents and activists across the region.

“It’s like the toy that every intelligence officer wants,” said a person involved in pitching NSO products in the Gulf. “They love the demos, they love that it is from Israel.”

Similarly, Pegasus attacks have been documented on critics of the governments of Hungary, India and Rwanda, as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursued alliances with their rightwing leaders.

Israel has for years ignored calls by a UN Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression, and others, to place a moratorium on the sales of spyware and to regulate it more closely.

NSO’s chief executive pushed back on any suggestion that the company’s products had been leveraged by Israel abroad.

“We are not a tool for diplomacy for the Israeli government; we are a commercial company, our shareholders are UK private equity,” said Hulio, referring to Novalpina Capital. “Those allegations are just theories.”

‘The government is eager to help them’

Those who have fought against NSO’s influence in Israel say the company enjoys strong support from Israeli legal and political circles.

An Israeli judge imposed a gag order on Mexican rights activists so that their lawsuit against the company could be heard in secret.

A judge with a long background in military intelligence is overseeing a case brought by a Saudi dissident and friend of the murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. The friend claims NSO was aware of his own phone being targeted. The judge has declined to recuse himself, despite declaring a prior relationship with NSO’s lawyers.

“The impression that I get is that the government is eager to help them, especially when it comes to keeping the discussion away from any public scrutiny,” said Alaa Mahajna, the lead lawyer on both lawsuits.

“The companies should be held liable for the dangerous technology they sell, but the most efficient way is prevention and, unfortunately, only the Ministry of Defence can do that.”

While the recent news media leaks on Pegasus sparked international outrage, the criticism in Israel has been muted. The reporting “looks tendentious, with a commercial motivation”, said lawmaker Yair Golan, a former deputy military chief, jumping to NSO’s support in a televised speech. “It is not just NSO that does such things.”

The Ministry of Defence, which must approve every licence to export the weaponry, said that “appropriate measures are taken” if any violations of the export licence are proved.

NSO’s co-founder and chief executive, Shalev Hulio, denied the consortium’s findings, which allege that NSO’s spyware has been regularly used on members of civil society, opposition leaders and people with no connection to terrorism or crime.

“We are claiming very vocally that these are not Pegasus targets, or selected as Pegasus targets, or potential Pegasus targets. This has no relation to any customer of ours or NSO technology,” he told the Financial Times, vowing to shut down any customer’s systems that are proved to infect devices belonging to journalists or members of civil society.

NSO has said in the past that it does not have access to its client’s targets. Hulio said the company had queried each one of its clients individually to reach that conclusion.

‘The toy that everyone wants’

In recent years, Israel has wooed Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia into improving bilateral relations, by offering clandestine security co-operation against shared regional enemies, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran.

As the countries grew closer, groups such as Amnesty and the Citizen Lab have tracked increasing Pegasus intrusions into the phones of journalists, dissidents and activists across the region.

“It’s like the toy that every intelligence officer wants,” said a person involved in pitching NSO products in the Gulf. “They love the demos, they love that it is from Israel.”

Similarly, Pegasus attacks have been documented on critics of the governments of Hungary, India and Rwanda, as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pursued alliances with their rightwing leaders.

Israel has for years ignored calls by a UN Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression, and others, to place a moratorium on the sales of spyware and to regulate it more closely.

NSO’s chief executive pushed back on any suggestion that the company’s products had been leveraged by Israel abroad.

“We are not a tool for diplomacy for the Israeli government; we are a commercial company, our shareholders are UK private equity,” said Hulio, referring to Novalpina Capital. “Those allegations are just theories.”

‘The government is eager to help them’

Those who have fought against NSO’s influence in Israel say the company enjoys strong support from Israeli legal and political circles.

An Israeli judge imposed a gag order on Mexican rights activists so that their lawsuit against the company could be heard in secret.

A judge with a long background in military intelligence is overseeing a case brought by a Saudi dissident and friend of the murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. The friend claims NSO was aware of his own phone being targeted. The judge has declined to recuse himself, despite declaring a prior relationship with NSO’s lawyers.

“The impression that I get is that the government is eager to help them, especially when it comes to keeping the discussion away from any public scrutiny,” said Alaa Mahajna, the lead lawyer on both lawsuits.

“The companies should be held liable for the dangerous technology they sell, but the most efficient way is prevention and, unfortunately, only the Ministry of Defence can do that.”

Sometimes, the Israeli government has intervened to direct the company’s sales, said two people with knowledge of the issue, especially after high-profile scandals, such as when Saudi operatives killed Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018.

NSO initially halted a contract with Saudi Arabia amid allegations its technology had been used to track Khashoggi and his associates. But in 2019 it renewed the contract with the Israeli government’s full approval, said two people with knowledge of the issue.

“There was direct encouragement to keep this relationship alive,” said one, who added that NSO employees returning from the Gulf were often debriefed by Israeli intelligence. NSO’s Hulio denied such briefings took place.

‘The holy cow of the economy’

Often, the Israeli government’s links have been more public. After a dam collapsed in Brazil in January 2019, killing hundreds, the government dispatched NSO’s Hulio, who is a reservist in the search and rescue unit of the Israeli military, as part of its aid mission.

“I travelled there as part of my reserve duty. I am proud of what I am doing and it has nothing do with NSO,” he said.

Hulio showcased how NSO’s software can also be used to triangulate the locations of cell phones down to the last centimetre, according to people familiar with his trip.

“Israel has certain diplomatic goals, and its interests and the interests of these commercial companies can sometimes dovetail,” said Shay Aspril, an author and investigative journalist who first exposed NSO’s secretive technology in 2012.

“The Israeli public does not fully understand what is going inside high tech — the holy cow of the economy — and because the Israeli public is not really concerned, there is no public pressure on the government to change anything.”

Source: Financial Times

Alison Xiao - Fri Jul 30, 2021 08:14

Hundreds of soldiers will arrive in Sydney today to help police crack down on residents flouting stay-at-home restrictions amid rising case numbers.

Three hundred military personnel will undergo training over the weekend before hitting the streets with police on Monday to help ensure residents are complying with the health orders. 

NSW Police Minister David Elliott said the deployment was necessary because a small minority of people thought "the rules didn't apply to them".

He  told Channel Nine that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers would be paired with members of NSW Police.

"It will be imminent to see the 300 soldiers on the street," he said.

"It's no different to what we saw in Melbourne last year where the police worked hand in glove with the military to ensure they could have that intelligence-based compliance checks done quickly and swiftly."

Mr Elliott said the federal government first offered military help on July 7 but up until now the government hadn't thought it necessary.

But yesterday, as case numbers rose dramatically, the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller formally requested help from the ADF in enforcing Sydney's lockdown.

Commissioner Fuller said the ADF assistance would allow police to double the number of house calls they can make in the eight local government areas (LGAs) of concern.

"There's 2,000 doors we have to knock so to bring Defence in made logistical sense," he said.

"We can double the amount of checks we do in a day by doing a police officer with a member of the ADF.

"They don't come with powers and they won't be carrying firearms but they come with an enormous amount of training, very disciplined, they understand the task."

Commissioner Fuller said police had been stretched across a number of COVID-19 operations and this was an opportunity to bring in more resources to help maintain public safety in NSW.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the ADF officers would act as a "force multiplier" to increase police presence around affected areas.

More than 200 military personnel are already deployed in NSW, working in hotel quarantine and at Sydney Airport.

Source: ABC News


Sydney's poorest neighbourhoods on Friday braced for military enforcement of the city's toughest and longest lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic as the infection numbers held persistently high five weeks since restrictions began.

With the city of 5 million people ordered to stay home amid an outbreak of the highly transmissable Delta variant, authorities outlined even tighter restrictions for the worst affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors.

From Monday, some 300 Australian army personnel will help police door-knock people who have tested positive to the virus to ensure they are isolating, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said at a televised news conference.

"The sheer volume of increase over the last week (means) the level of compliance (enforcement) has gone from hundreds into thousands," he said.

The amped-up military and police presence would cover the breadth of Australia's largest city but mainly eight local government districts in the city's west - home to 2 million people - where most new cases have been reported.

The epicentre of the outbreak has crossed Sydney from the affluent beachside suburb of Bondi to the western suburbs, where local leaders said residents felt unfairly targeted by the heightened enforcement.

"They've got no other ideas than to bring in the military as a last resort because they're lost for answers on issues they created," said Steve Christou, mayor of the Cumberland local government area, where 60% of its 240,000 residents were born overseas.

"They are a poor community, they are a vulnerable community, and they don't deserve these lockdowns or these extended and harsh measures that they have now been targeted with," he added in a telephone interview.

People living in the western suburbs must stay within 5 km (3 miles) of home and have a virus test every three days in order to be allowed to do essential work outside the area.

Already police have been given sweeping new powers to close businesses breaking rules. Military officers won't be armed and will be under police command, police commissioner Fuller said on Friday. They will also aim to work with community leaders on enforcement strategies, he said.

An emergency COVID cabinet of state and federal leaders meanwhile began a regular meeting on Friday, with plans to discuss exit strategies from the pandemic - widely expected to centre around getting more people vaccinated.

Source: Reuters

Hundreds of soldiers will arrive in Sydney today to help police crack down on residents flouting stay-at-home restrictions amid rising case numbers.

Three hundred military personnel will undergo training over the weekend before hitting the streets with police on Monday to help ensure residents are complying with the health orders. 

NSW Police Minister David Elliott said the deployment was necessary because a small minority of people thought "the rules didn't apply to them".

He  told Channel Nine that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) officers would be paired with members of NSW Police.

"It will be imminent to see the 300 soldiers on the street," he said.

"It's no different to what we saw in Melbourne last year where the police worked hand in glove with the military to ensure they could have that intelligence-based compliance checks done quickly and swiftly."

Mr Elliott said the federal government first offered military help on July 7 but up until now the government hadn't thought it necessary.

But yesterday, as case numbers rose dramatically, the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller formally requested help from the ADF in enforcing Sydney's lockdown.

Commissioner Fuller said the ADF assistance would allow police to double the number of house calls they can make in the eight local government areas (LGAs) of concern.

"There's 2,000 doors we have to knock so to bring Defence in made logistical sense," he said.

"We can double the amount of checks we do in a day by doing a police officer with a member of the ADF.

"They don't come with powers and they won't be carrying firearms but they come with an enormous amount of training, very disciplined, they understand the task."

Commissioner Fuller said police had been stretched across a number of COVID-19 operations and this was an opportunity to bring in more resources to help maintain public safety in NSW.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the ADF officers would act as a "force multiplier" to increase police presence around affected areas.

More than 200 military personnel are already deployed in NSW, working in hotel quarantine and at Sydney Airport.

Source: ABC News


Sydney's poorest neighbourhoods on Friday braced for military enforcement of the city's toughest and longest lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic as the infection numbers held persistently high five weeks since restrictions began.

With the city of 5 million people ordered to stay home amid an outbreak of the highly transmissable Delta variant, authorities outlined even tighter restrictions for the worst affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors.

From Monday, some 300 Australian army personnel will help police door-knock people who have tested positive to the virus to ensure they are isolating, New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller said at a televised news conference.

"The sheer volume of increase over the last week (means) the level of compliance (enforcement) has gone from hundreds into thousands," he said.

The amped-up military and police presence would cover the breadth of Australia's largest city but mainly eight local government districts in the city's west - home to 2 million people - where most new cases have been reported.

The epicentre of the outbreak has crossed Sydney from the affluent beachside suburb of Bondi to the western suburbs, where local leaders said residents felt unfairly targeted by the heightened enforcement.

"They've got no other ideas than to bring in the military as a last resort because they're lost for answers on issues they created," said Steve Christou, mayor of the Cumberland local government area, where 60% of its 240,000 residents were born overseas.

"They are a poor community, they are a vulnerable community, and they don't deserve these lockdowns or these extended and harsh measures that they have now been targeted with," he added in a telephone interview.

People living in the western suburbs must stay within 5 km (3 miles) of home and have a virus test every three days in order to be allowed to do essential work outside the area.

Already police have been given sweeping new powers to close businesses breaking rules. Military officers won't be armed and will be under police command, police commissioner Fuller said on Friday. They will also aim to work with community leaders on enforcement strategies, he said.

An emergency COVID cabinet of state and federal leaders meanwhile began a regular meeting on Friday, with plans to discuss exit strategies from the pandemic - widely expected to centre around getting more people vaccinated.

Source: Reuters

The Babylon Bee - Thu Jul 29, 2021 23:11

NEW YORK, NY—As the new Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in the U.S., a spokesman for drugmaker Pfizer admitted today that the true COVID vaccine isn’t what was injected into our bodies, but rather the friends we made along the way.

“The key to defeating COVID was inside of us this whole time,” the spokesman said. "I’m not talking about our immune systems. I’m talking about our friends, families, and neighbors who helped us through this difficult ordeal. They are the TRUE cure for the pandemic.”

“Over the last 17 months, we’ve laughed together virtually, cried together virtually, and even burned down several city blocks in the name of peaceful protests,” he said. “If we keep working together while wearing masks and staying six feet apart, there’s no end to what we can accomplish.”

“Though we’ve made great progress, we’re not out of the woods just yet,” the spokesman then warned. “So please, continue to harass your friends and neighbors about wearing masks, report improper behavior to government authorities, and out strangers on social media whenever possible. That’s what good friends do.”

The spokesman concluded the press conference by urging everyone to get a third Pfizer shot, preferably prior to the end of the company’s fiscal third quarter on September 30. He said the firm is also testing the need for a fourth booster shot, the need for which will depend highly on how the rest of their fiscal year goes.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

NEW YORK, NY—As the new Delta variant continues to wreak havoc in the U.S., a spokesman for drugmaker Pfizer admitted today that the true COVID vaccine isn’t what was injected into our bodies, but rather the friends we made along the way.

“The key to defeating COVID was inside of us this whole time,” the spokesman said. "I’m not talking about our immune systems. I’m talking about our friends, families, and neighbors who helped us through this difficult ordeal. They are the TRUE cure for the pandemic.”

“Over the last 17 months, we’ve laughed together virtually, cried together virtually, and even burned down several city blocks in the name of peaceful protests,” he said. “If we keep working together while wearing masks and staying six feet apart, there’s no end to what we can accomplish.”

“Though we’ve made great progress, we’re not out of the woods just yet,” the spokesman then warned. “So please, continue to harass your friends and neighbors about wearing masks, report improper behavior to government authorities, and out strangers on social media whenever possible. That’s what good friends do.”

The spokesman concluded the press conference by urging everyone to get a third Pfizer shot, preferably prior to the end of the company’s fiscal third quarter on September 30. He said the firm is also testing the need for a fourth booster shot, the need for which will depend highly on how the rest of their fiscal year goes.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire.

Gareth Porter - Thu Jul 29, 2021 22:26

Why did the top think tank Taiwan specialist ignore a longstanding U.S. policy that blocked any move by the Taiwanese leader that might have disrupted the political basis for China-Taiwan cooperation? And why did he give a free pass to the leader of Taiwan’s separatist party?

An investigation into that turnabout by Richard C. Bush of the Brooking Institution reveals a previously unknown story of an Obama administration policy shift away from one of the bedrock principles that guided US policy toward Taiwan.

The historic understanding between the United States and China over the status of Taiwan initiated by President Richard Nixon and every subsequent U.S. administration was based on the one China principle which China has insisted upon, along with the recognition of People’s Republic of China and the de-recognition of the anti-Communist regime on Taiwan.

Beginning in the 1990s, the U.S. government had urged the Taiwanese government stop publicly flouting the one China principle. But President Tsai-Ing wen, first elected 2016 as the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), consistently refused to accept the demands.

Her obstinate stance seriously eroded the stability in cross-Strait relations that prevailed under the Nationalist government of Ma Ying-jeou from 2008 to 2016. As a result, Taiwan has turned from a source of US-China cooperation into a dangerous geopolitical friction point.

Described by former Brookings President Strobe Talbott as “quite simply America’s leading Taiwan hand,” Richard C. Bush played a key role in legitimizing this quiet US shift in Taiwan policy. The story of how Bush accepted Tsai as a serious interlocutor for cross-Strait relations, despite the Taiwanese leader’s ties with a firmly established separatist wing of the DPP, helps explain dramatic rise in Sino-US tensions over Taiwan since in 2016.

As this previously untold story reveals, Bush was encouraged to do so by Obama administration officials.

U.S. officials deterred Taiwanese leaders from a blow-up with China

Before joining Brookings in 2002, Bush was one of the US government’s leading hands on China and Taiwan. He served as the CIA’s “National Intelligence Officer” for East Asia from 1995 to 1997, then became the Director of the American institute in Taiwan (AIT) – the unofficial U.S. government representation in Taiwan created in 1979 after the U.S. de-recognition of the Republic of China.

In his 2005 book, Untying the Knot, Bush acknowledged the fact that unofficial delegations from Taiwan and China had agreed on the concept of “one China, two systems”  as the political basis for discussion of cross-Strait cooperation. They called it “the 1992 Consensus.”

US officials were concerned, however, that top Taiwanese officials were taking provocative positions on Taiwan’s political-legal status that risked a blow-up with China, knowing they could count on the United States to protect the island from China. 

Those worries prompted the US to issue a policy called “dual deterrence” designed to deter Beijing from attacking Taiwan, while reassuring China that Washington would not support any moves toward Taiwanese independence.

The policy also cautioned Taipei against moves that would “unnecessarily provoke a Chinese military response,” as Bush put it, while promising Taiwan that it would not have to sacrifice its interests in order to ensure good relations with Beijing.

Bush revealed in December 2015 that the United States had applied the policy on three occasions over positions taken by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates.  

The first time came in 2003, when President Chen Shui-bian’s statements and actions indicated to US officials that he might unilaterally “change the status quo” by moving toward Taiwanese independence. In response, a State Department official warned Chen in 2008 against policies that would unnecessarily put Taiwan’s security at risk.

Next, in 2011, when Tsai Ing-wen was running for the first time as DPP candidate for president, the Obama administration expressed “distinct doubts” that cross-Strait stability would continue under a DPP government.

Bush did not mention another instance in which he was personally involved as Director of the AIT: in a 1999 interview, then-President Lee Teng-hui had given presented his “state to state” theory of Taiwan-China relations. Beijing was outraged, immediately branding his rhetoric as “separatist”.  Bush was dispatched to Taipei from Washington with a stern U.S. warning against such talk, promptly shutting down Lee’s separatist concept.

An Obama policy shift threatens future war over Taiwan

Richard C. Bush suggested in December 2015 that the Obama administration would likely have to implement the same “dual deterrence” policy once the likely winner of the 2016 Presidential election, DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen, took power. 

During her campaign, Tsai had avoided taking a clear stance on the 1992 Consensus and the “one country” principle. Instead, she expressed support for the “status quo” while refusing explain what that meant in practice. 

Bush noted that she had good reason to obscure her real policy toward the PRC. After all, a 2014 DPP-sponsored poll revealed that 60 percent of Taiwanese who had a position on cross-Strait policy favored the KMT’s status quo position and only 40 percent supported the DPP policy.

Furthermore, China’s PRC had attacked her as early as 2000 as “Taiwan separatist Tsai,” noting that she had openly supported Chen’s “one country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait, and had attacked then President Ma Ying-jeou’s policy as “selling Taiwan to China.”

In 2011, when Tsai was running for DPP chair, she declared flatly, “There is no 1992 Consensus.” Instead, she proposed a “Taiwan Consensus” — a position viewed by the Obama administration as unacceptably risky.

But in April 2016, just before Tsai’s inauguration, Bush abruptly reversed his position of a few months earlier and supported Tsai’s refusal to clarify her stance on the 1992 Consensus.

There was no ambiguity about where the Taiwanese leader stood. As Bush explained, Tsai could not accept the 1992 Consensus on which China had long insisted as the basis cross-Strait cooperation, because to do so would alienate the “true believers” in the DPP and split the party.

That, of course, was exactly the kind of internal Taiwanese political threat to the stability of cross-Strait relations that the “dual deterrence” policy had been created to deal with. Nevertheless, Bush blamed the impasse on Beijing. 

In calling for Tsai’s adherence to the 1992 Consensus and the “one China” principle, Bush wrote, China was demanding “a high degree of clarity from her.” Further, he suggested, “Perhaps [China’s] strategy is to set the bar so high that she can’t clear it.” 

In fact, Beijing was applying the same criterion to Tsai as it had to Taiwanese governments in the past.  The difference now was that Tsai had rejected what previous governments had accepted.

The military pushes for “great power competition” to justify budget hike

In a series of responses to e-mail queries from Grayzone, Bush attributed his April 2016 rejection of the “dual deterrence” policy to Tsai to a shift by Obama officials. “Obama administration officials were more confident about Tsai’s intentions in 2015-16, than they had been in 2011-12, when Tsai also ran for president,” Bush wrote.

Behind that Obama administration decision to tolerate Tsai ‘s refusal to honor the 1992 Consensus lies a larger story: the Obama administration adopted its position just when domestic US political and bureaucratic inertia was shifting towards a confrontation with Beijing over military issues. Indeed, Obama’s shift came during a period of growing pressure on the White House from the US military, the Pentagon and Republicans in Congress to take a harder line on China.

In mid-2015, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris began pushing publicly for a tough U.S. response to Chinese military construction on artificial islands the PRC claimed in the South China Sea. Adm. Harris argued for US “freedom of navigation” operations within the 12-mile limit claimed by Beijing. That demand was supported by the Pentagon and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, who was complaining of Obama administration “de facto recognization” of those Chinese claims. 

The White House remained silent on the issue, resisting such operations until October 2015, when Obama approved the first of several more over the following year.

Meanwhile, another conflict was brewing between the White House and then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter over whether to identify China as a strategic competitor with the United States. Privately, Obama argued against publicly declaring “strategic competition,” but for the Pentagon, the designation was necessary to generate congressional support for more defense spending.

In February 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter foreshadowed a “return to great power competition”, and vowed to counter the “rising” Chinese power. Though the White House had ordered the Pentagon not to use such provocative rhetoric, the political ground had already shifted in favor of the military’s position.

In an email to The Grayzone, Bush said, “I don’t know everything that went into the thinking of Obama officials on Tsai, specifically the nature and degree of Pentagon or congressional pressure.” He added that he did not recall whether pressure from the military was a factor in the decision not to intervene. 

Yet it is hard to believe that big ticket issues like the defense budget did not impinge on the narrower decision not remain passive in the face of Tsai’s separatism.

The consequences of that fateful decision have continued to accumulate, especially since Tsai’s reelection in 2020. China has made it clear that it plans to impose higher economic and psychological costs on Taiwan over Tsai’s rejection of the one China principle.

It has begun a campaign of frequent intrusions by PLAF fighter planes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), aimed at underlining Taiwan’s vulnerability and forcing the Taiwanese population to whether the DPP’s flirtation with an independent Taiwanese state is worth the cost.

A new Taiwan crisis looms in 2023-2025 in the likely scenario that Tsai’s Vice-President William Lai — the leader of the separatist wing of the DPP becomes the DPP presidential candidate in the 2024 election.

The question of “dual deterrence” will be raised again, but with much higher stakes.

Source: The Grayzone

Why did the top think tank Taiwan specialist ignore a longstanding U.S. policy that blocked any move by the Taiwanese leader that might have disrupted the political basis for China-Taiwan cooperation? And why did he give a free pass to the leader of Taiwan’s separatist party?

An investigation into that turnabout by Richard C. Bush of the Brooking Institution reveals a previously unknown story of an Obama administration policy shift away from one of the bedrock principles that guided US policy toward Taiwan.

The historic understanding between the United States and China over the status of Taiwan initiated by President Richard Nixon and every subsequent U.S. administration was based on the one China principle which China has insisted upon, along with the recognition of People’s Republic of China and the de-recognition of the anti-Communist regime on Taiwan.

Beginning in the 1990s, the U.S. government had urged the Taiwanese government stop publicly flouting the one China principle. But President Tsai-Ing wen, first elected 2016 as the candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), consistently refused to accept the demands.

Her obstinate stance seriously eroded the stability in cross-Strait relations that prevailed under the Nationalist government of Ma Ying-jeou from 2008 to 2016. As a result, Taiwan has turned from a source of US-China cooperation into a dangerous geopolitical friction point.

Described by former Brookings President Strobe Talbott as “quite simply America’s leading Taiwan hand,” Richard C. Bush played a key role in legitimizing this quiet US shift in Taiwan policy. The story of how Bush accepted Tsai as a serious interlocutor for cross-Strait relations, despite the Taiwanese leader’s ties with a firmly established separatist wing of the DPP, helps explain dramatic rise in Sino-US tensions over Taiwan since in 2016.

As this previously untold story reveals, Bush was encouraged to do so by Obama administration officials.

U.S. officials deterred Taiwanese leaders from a blow-up with China

Before joining Brookings in 2002, Bush was one of the US government’s leading hands on China and Taiwan. He served as the CIA’s “National Intelligence Officer” for East Asia from 1995 to 1997, then became the Director of the American institute in Taiwan (AIT) – the unofficial U.S. government representation in Taiwan created in 1979 after the U.S. de-recognition of the Republic of China.

In his 2005 book, Untying the Knot, Bush acknowledged the fact that unofficial delegations from Taiwan and China had agreed on the concept of “one China, two systems”  as the political basis for discussion of cross-Strait cooperation. They called it “the 1992 Consensus.”

US officials were concerned, however, that top Taiwanese officials were taking provocative positions on Taiwan’s political-legal status that risked a blow-up with China, knowing they could count on the United States to protect the island from China. 

Those worries prompted the US to issue a policy called “dual deterrence” designed to deter Beijing from attacking Taiwan, while reassuring China that Washington would not support any moves toward Taiwanese independence.

The policy also cautioned Taipei against moves that would “unnecessarily provoke a Chinese military response,” as Bush put it, while promising Taiwan that it would not have to sacrifice its interests in order to ensure good relations with Beijing.

Bush revealed in December 2015 that the United States had applied the policy on three occasions over positions taken by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates.  

The first time came in 2003, when President Chen Shui-bian’s statements and actions indicated to US officials that he might unilaterally “change the status quo” by moving toward Taiwanese independence. In response, a State Department official warned Chen in 2008 against policies that would unnecessarily put Taiwan’s security at risk.

Next, in 2011, when Tsai Ing-wen was running for the first time as DPP candidate for president, the Obama administration expressed “distinct doubts” that cross-Strait stability would continue under a DPP government.

Bush did not mention another instance in which he was personally involved as Director of the AIT: in a 1999 interview, then-President Lee Teng-hui had given presented his “state to state” theory of Taiwan-China relations. Beijing was outraged, immediately branding his rhetoric as “separatist”.  Bush was dispatched to Taipei from Washington with a stern U.S. warning against such talk, promptly shutting down Lee’s separatist concept.

An Obama policy shift threatens future war over Taiwan

Richard C. Bush suggested in December 2015 that the Obama administration would likely have to implement the same “dual deterrence” policy once the likely winner of the 2016 Presidential election, DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen, took power. 

During her campaign, Tsai had avoided taking a clear stance on the 1992 Consensus and the “one country” principle. Instead, she expressed support for the “status quo” while refusing explain what that meant in practice. 

Bush noted that she had good reason to obscure her real policy toward the PRC. After all, a 2014 DPP-sponsored poll revealed that 60 percent of Taiwanese who had a position on cross-Strait policy favored the KMT’s status quo position and only 40 percent supported the DPP policy.

Furthermore, China’s PRC had attacked her as early as 2000 as “Taiwan separatist Tsai,” noting that she had openly supported Chen’s “one country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait, and had attacked then President Ma Ying-jeou’s policy as “selling Taiwan to China.”

In 2011, when Tsai was running for DPP chair, she declared flatly, “There is no 1992 Consensus.” Instead, she proposed a “Taiwan Consensus” — a position viewed by the Obama administration as unacceptably risky.

But in April 2016, just before Tsai’s inauguration, Bush abruptly reversed his position of a few months earlier and supported Tsai’s refusal to clarify her stance on the 1992 Consensus.

There was no ambiguity about where the Taiwanese leader stood. As Bush explained, Tsai could not accept the 1992 Consensus on which China had long insisted as the basis cross-Strait cooperation, because to do so would alienate the “true believers” in the DPP and split the party.

That, of course, was exactly the kind of internal Taiwanese political threat to the stability of cross-Strait relations that the “dual deterrence” policy had been created to deal with. Nevertheless, Bush blamed the impasse on Beijing. 

In calling for Tsai’s adherence to the 1992 Consensus and the “one China” principle, Bush wrote, China was demanding “a high degree of clarity from her.” Further, he suggested, “Perhaps [China’s] strategy is to set the bar so high that she can’t clear it.” 

In fact, Beijing was applying the same criterion to Tsai as it had to Taiwanese governments in the past.  The difference now was that Tsai had rejected what previous governments had accepted.

The military pushes for “great power competition” to justify budget hike

In a series of responses to e-mail queries from Grayzone, Bush attributed his April 2016 rejection of the “dual deterrence” policy to Tsai to a shift by Obama officials. “Obama administration officials were more confident about Tsai’s intentions in 2015-16, than they had been in 2011-12, when Tsai also ran for president,” Bush wrote.

Behind that Obama administration decision to tolerate Tsai ‘s refusal to honor the 1992 Consensus lies a larger story: the Obama administration adopted its position just when domestic US political and bureaucratic inertia was shifting towards a confrontation with Beijing over military issues. Indeed, Obama’s shift came during a period of growing pressure on the White House from the US military, the Pentagon and Republicans in Congress to take a harder line on China.

In mid-2015, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris began pushing publicly for a tough U.S. response to Chinese military construction on artificial islands the PRC claimed in the South China Sea. Adm. Harris argued for US “freedom of navigation” operations within the 12-mile limit claimed by Beijing. That demand was supported by the Pentagon and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, who was complaining of Obama administration “de facto recognization” of those Chinese claims. 

The White House remained silent on the issue, resisting such operations until October 2015, when Obama approved the first of several more over the following year.

Meanwhile, another conflict was brewing between the White House and then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter over whether to identify China as a strategic competitor with the United States. Privately, Obama argued against publicly declaring “strategic competition,” but for the Pentagon, the designation was necessary to generate congressional support for more defense spending.

In February 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter foreshadowed a “return to great power competition”, and vowed to counter the “rising” Chinese power. Though the White House had ordered the Pentagon not to use such provocative rhetoric, the political ground had already shifted in favor of the military’s position.

In an email to The Grayzone, Bush said, “I don’t know everything that went into the thinking of Obama officials on Tsai, specifically the nature and degree of Pentagon or congressional pressure.” He added that he did not recall whether pressure from the military was a factor in the decision not to intervene. 

Yet it is hard to believe that big ticket issues like the defense budget did not impinge on the narrower decision not remain passive in the face of Tsai’s separatism.

The consequences of that fateful decision have continued to accumulate, especially since Tsai’s reelection in 2020. China has made it clear that it plans to impose higher economic and psychological costs on Taiwan over Tsai’s rejection of the one China principle.

It has begun a campaign of frequent intrusions by PLAF fighter planes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), aimed at underlining Taiwan’s vulnerability and forcing the Taiwanese population to whether the DPP’s flirtation with an independent Taiwanese state is worth the cost.

A new Taiwan crisis looms in 2023-2025 in the likely scenario that Tsai’s Vice-President William Lai — the leader of the separatist wing of the DPP becomes the DPP presidential candidate in the 2024 election.

The question of “dual deterrence” will be raised again, but with much higher stakes.

Source: The Grayzone

Anatoly Karlin - Thu Jul 29, 2021 18:26

These are the results of a recent poll from Rating Group. 41% agree with Putin’s position, 55% disagree. Not bad, considering there’s now been a generation’s worth of state svidomy narratives. [And considering that Crimea and Donbass were not polled.]

But possibly the most startling result (and certainly one that I didn’t expect) is there there’s essentially zero difference across age groups. 44% of 18-29 y/o’s agree to 42% of 60+ y/o’s, despite declining numbers of self-identifying Russians in younger age groups.

Otherwise, the regional and political party breakdowns are not surprising. Solid majorities in the South and East, amongst adherents of the UOC-MP, and the expected opposition parties (Opposition Bloc, Party of Shariy, etc.) consider Ukrainians and Russians to be one people.

Even so, the fact that even in Western Ukraine, 22% agree with this, as do 10% of Greek-Catholics, 12% of nationalist Svoboda supporters, and 10% of European Solidarity voters, was mildly interesting; it is curious and significant that such people even exist.

Source: The Unz Review

These are the results of a recent poll from Rating Group. 41% agree with Putin’s position, 55% disagree. Not bad, considering there’s now been a generation’s worth of state svidomy narratives. [And considering that Crimea and Donbass were not polled.]

But possibly the most startling result (and certainly one that I didn’t expect) is there there’s essentially zero difference across age groups. 44% of 18-29 y/o’s agree to 42% of 60+ y/o’s, despite declining numbers of self-identifying Russians in younger age groups.

Otherwise, the regional and political party breakdowns are not surprising. Solid majorities in the South and East, amongst adherents of the UOC-MP, and the expected opposition parties (Opposition Bloc, Party of Shariy, etc.) consider Ukrainians and Russians to be one people.

Even so, the fact that even in Western Ukraine, 22% agree with this, as do 10% of Greek-Catholics, 12% of nationalist Svoboda supporters, and 10% of European Solidarity voters, was mildly interesting; it is curious and significant that such people even exist.

Source: The Unz Review

David Rosenberg - Thu Jul 29, 2021 15:43

Coronavirus patients who recovered from the virus were far less likely to become infected during the latest wave of the pandemic than people who were vaccinated against COVID, according to numbers presented to the Israeli Health Ministry.

Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began this May show that Israelis with immunity from natural infection were far less likely to become infected again in comparison to Israelis who only had immunity via vaccination.

More than 7,700 new cases of the virus have been detected during the most recent wave starting in May, but just 72 of the confirmed cases were reported in people who were known to have been infected previously – that is, less than 1% of the new cases.

Roughly 40% of new cases – or more than 3,000 patients – involved people who had been infected despite being vaccinated. [This is from mid-July, it's even more than 40% by now.]

With a total of 835,792 Israelis known to have recovered from the virus, the 72 instances of reinfection amount to 0.0086% of people who were already infected with COVID.

By contrast, Israelis who were vaccinated were 6.72 times more likely to get infected after the shot than after natural infection, with over 3,000 of the 5,193,499, or 0.0578%, of Israelis who were vaccinated getting infected in the latest wave. [That's after only a few months – it's going to get worse.]

According to a report by Channel 13, the disparity has confounded – and divided – Health Ministry experts, with some saying the data proves the higher level of immunity provided by natural infection versus vaccination, while others remained unconvinced.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Coronavirus patients who recovered from the virus were far less likely to become infected during the latest wave of the pandemic than people who were vaccinated against COVID, according to numbers presented to the Israeli Health Ministry.

Health Ministry data on the wave of COVID outbreaks which began this May show that Israelis with immunity from natural infection were far less likely to become infected again in comparison to Israelis who only had immunity via vaccination.

More than 7,700 new cases of the virus have been detected during the most recent wave starting in May, but just 72 of the confirmed cases were reported in people who were known to have been infected previously – that is, less than 1% of the new cases.

Roughly 40% of new cases – or more than 3,000 patients – involved people who had been infected despite being vaccinated. [This is from mid-July, it's even more than 40% by now.]

With a total of 835,792 Israelis known to have recovered from the virus, the 72 instances of reinfection amount to 0.0086% of people who were already infected with COVID.

By contrast, Israelis who were vaccinated were 6.72 times more likely to get infected after the shot than after natural infection, with over 3,000 of the 5,193,499, or 0.0578%, of Israelis who were vaccinated getting infected in the latest wave. [That's after only a few months – it's going to get worse.]

According to a report by Channel 13, the disparity has confounded – and divided – Health Ministry experts, with some saying the data proves the higher level of immunity provided by natural infection versus vaccination, while others remained unconvinced.

Source: Arutz Sheva

RT - Thu Jul 29, 2021 09:41

A California restaurant has refused to back down after being bombarded with negative press and customer reviews for posting a sign demanding that all diners provide proof that they have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

With vaccination status increasingly becoming a prerequisite to participate in many ordinary activities, one Huntington Beach eatery has decided to take a slightly different approach to granting privileges based on personal medical decisions.

On its storefront window, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino taped a sign reading: “PROOF OF BEING UNVACCINATED REQUIRED. We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering."

The restaurant’s owner, Tony Roman, said that the unorthodox policy is designed to get people thinking as some Southern California businesses begin asking customers for proof of vaccination.

With the new and aggressive push for mandatory vax policies, we couldn't resist, so we are sending a message of our own. Hopefully most are smart enough to read between the lines. Otherwise we will just sit back and have fun watching their heads explode over it,” Roman said in a statement to local media.

An employee told the Los Angeles Times that the restaurant is not actually checking patrons' vaccine status. The restaurant previously declared itself a mask-free zone and refused to shut its doors when eateries were ordered in March 2020 to curtail indoor dining as part of Covid restrictions.

Some appear to appreciate the intended message behind the odd measure. A vaccinated woman who cuts hair at a nearby barbershop told local media that she didn’t feel slighted by the no-vaxxed-allowed policy.

“You got other places that want you vaccinated to come in. No different, right?" she noted to a local ABC affiliate.

However, many others were furious over the move. The restaurant has been pelted with negative reviews on Yelp. One comment said that the provocative rule was a “slap in the face to all those who died from Covid-19.”

The Times’ story, too, seemed less than sympathetic with the gimmick, and suggested that the restaurant was being irresponsible by not taking a recent rise in Covid cases seriously.

Orange County, which includes Huntington Beach and is home to some three million people, recorded one new Covid-related death on July 26. The county currently has 194 Covid hospitalizations, of which 48 are ICU patients.

The negative press and reviews seem to have only emboldened Roman. His restaurant issued a long, all-caps rant on Facebook deriding its “haters” and vowing to do “battle” with “PRO-MANDATORY VACCINE MINI GESTAPO AMERICAN TRAITORS.”

Source: RT

A California restaurant has refused to back down after being bombarded with negative press and customer reviews for posting a sign demanding that all diners provide proof that they have not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

With vaccination status increasingly becoming a prerequisite to participate in many ordinary activities, one Huntington Beach eatery has decided to take a slightly different approach to granting privileges based on personal medical decisions.

On its storefront window, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino taped a sign reading: “PROOF OF BEING UNVACCINATED REQUIRED. We have zero tolerance for treasonous, anti-American stupidity. Thank you for pondering."

The restaurant’s owner, Tony Roman, said that the unorthodox policy is designed to get people thinking as some Southern California businesses begin asking customers for proof of vaccination.

With the new and aggressive push for mandatory vax policies, we couldn't resist, so we are sending a message of our own. Hopefully most are smart enough to read between the lines. Otherwise we will just sit back and have fun watching their heads explode over it,” Roman said in a statement to local media.

An employee told the Los Angeles Times that the restaurant is not actually checking patrons' vaccine status. The restaurant previously declared itself a mask-free zone and refused to shut its doors when eateries were ordered in March 2020 to curtail indoor dining as part of Covid restrictions.

Some appear to appreciate the intended message behind the odd measure. A vaccinated woman who cuts hair at a nearby barbershop told local media that she didn’t feel slighted by the no-vaxxed-allowed policy.

“You got other places that want you vaccinated to come in. No different, right?" she noted to a local ABC affiliate.

However, many others were furious over the move. The restaurant has been pelted with negative reviews on Yelp. One comment said that the provocative rule was a “slap in the face to all those who died from Covid-19.”

The Times’ story, too, seemed less than sympathetic with the gimmick, and suggested that the restaurant was being irresponsible by not taking a recent rise in Covid cases seriously.

Orange County, which includes Huntington Beach and is home to some three million people, recorded one new Covid-related death on July 26. The county currently has 194 Covid hospitalizations, of which 48 are ICU patients.

The negative press and reviews seem to have only emboldened Roman. His restaurant issued a long, all-caps rant on Facebook deriding its “haters” and vowing to do “battle” with “PRO-MANDATORY VACCINE MINI GESTAPO AMERICAN TRAITORS.”

Source: RT

Marko Marjanović - Wed Jul 28, 2021 16:57

Bad news from Israel which led the world in vaccinations (and vaccine passports). The vaccinated there are testing positive for COVID at the same rate as is their proportion of the population. They are also dying and being hospitalized at nearly the same rate as their proportion of the population.

Their researchers have sifted through data and determined the vaccine appears to have protective qualities against COVID but loses them rapidly.

The benefit compared to the unvaccinated is 95 percent two weeks after the second dose, falls to 75 percent after 3 months, and to just 16 percent after 6 months. This would also suggest that after 7 months the benefit drops to nothing.

This means that to keep efficacy at over a measly 50 percent the vaccinated would need to get a booster every 4 months or three times a year.

Now, Israel vaccinated overwhelmingly with Pfizer. It is possible that the picture for other injections is not as abysmal. It is also possible that vaccine makers will improve the recipe over time, or that after enough boosters a more permanent immunity will be achieved.

But we don't know that.

At the present, the possibility that a permanent 50+ percent "immunity" from COVID will require a "booster" shot every 4 months is a possibility.

If so, seeing just how prone to moving the goalpost the virus freaks are they certainly are going to try and make thrice-yearly "vaccination" a new cultural and legal reality. (I say vaccination in citation marks because inoculation is by definition something that ought to grant long-lasting and rather strong immunity. On evidence Pfizer doesn't qualify.)

We keep being told that vaccines are "safe". I'm sure they are. What is also "safe" is driving a motorcycle 260 km/h. Only a tiny fraction of such rides result in a crash. The point isn't that the injection is guaranteed death, but what is the risk, to what extent is the risk knowable, and what is the benefit?

If life-long immunity doesn't take 2 doses, but three doses EVERY YEAR, then the upside per dose is rather less. If this immunity requires constant boosters, eg 120 in 40 years, then the total risk is also far, far higher.

Seriously. Who in their right mind is going to take 120 doses? What kind of wild mess is that going to inflict on your immune system?

And by the same token, who in their right mind -- that is not in a grave risk group -- ought to take 1 dose for 3 months of very partial protection from a flu germ?

All the more so since even the CDC estimated that around 40% of the population has already had COVID by April, and therefore already had much stronger, and far longer-lasting natural immunity.

One-half of the people getting the injection are taking on an unknowable risk for absolutely nothing, and much of the rest are doing it for nearly nothing.

And even that is "okay". But when you start to make the calculation of unknowable risk for (next-to-)zero upside obligatory for others we're starting to have a problem.

Bad news from Israel which led the world in vaccinations (and vaccine passports). The vaccinated there are testing positive for COVID at the same rate as is their proportion of the population. They are also dying and being hospitalized at nearly the same rate as their proportion of the population.

Their researchers have sifted through data and determined the vaccine appears to have protective qualities against COVID but loses them rapidly.

The benefit compared to the unvaccinated is 95 percent two weeks after the second dose, falls to 75 percent after 3 months, and to just 16 percent after 6 months. This would also suggest that after 7 months the benefit drops to nothing.

This means that to keep efficacy at over a measly 50 percent the vaccinated would need to get a booster every 4 months or three times a year.

Now, Israel vaccinated overwhelmingly with Pfizer. It is possible that the picture for other injections is not as abysmal. It is also possible that vaccine makers will improve the recipe over time, or that after enough boosters a more permanent immunity will be achieved.

But we don't know that.

At the present, the possibility that a permanent 50+ percent "immunity" from COVID will require a "booster" shot every 4 months is a possibility.

If so, seeing just how prone to moving the goalpost the virus freaks are they certainly are going to try and make thrice-yearly "vaccination" a new cultural and legal reality. (I say vaccination in citation marks because inoculation is by definition something that ought to grant long-lasting and rather strong immunity. On evidence Pfizer doesn't qualify.)

We keep being told that vaccines are "safe". I'm sure they are. What is also "safe" is driving a motorcycle 260 km/h. Only a tiny fraction of such rides result in a crash. The point isn't that the injection is guaranteed death, but what is the risk, to what extent is the risk knowable, and what is the benefit?

If life-long immunity doesn't take 2 doses, but three doses EVERY YEAR, then the upside per dose is rather less. If this immunity requires constant boosters, eg 120 in 40 years, then the total risk is also far, far higher.

Seriously. Who in their right mind is going to take 120 doses? What kind of wild mess is that going to inflict on your immune system?

And by the same token, who in their right mind -- that is not in a grave risk group -- ought to take 1 dose for 3 months of very partial protection from a flu germ?

All the more so since even the CDC estimated that around 40% of the population has already had COVID by April, and therefore already had much stronger, and far longer-lasting natural immunity.

One-half of the people getting the injection are taking on an unknowable risk for absolutely nothing, and much of the rest are doing it for nearly nothing.

And even that is "okay". But when you start to make the calculation of unknowable risk for (next-to-)zero upside obligatory for others we're starting to have a problem.

Marko Marjanović - Wed Jul 28, 2021 15:28

HMS Queen Elizabeth, a British aircraft carrier, and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the South China Sea, a territory predominantly claimed by China, reports the UK Defence Journal.

Great Britain has sailed a carrier group into the South China Sea! Whoah! A whole carrier group!

Well it's a "carrier group" of sorts. It has a carrier that has aircraft, sort of. And escorts, sort of.

HMS Queen Elizabeth comes sailing with 18 fixed-winged aircraft, 10 of which are operated by the US Marine Corps. Yes, the "British" "carrier group" boasts 8 British fixed-wing aircraft.

It also boasts the escort of 3 frigates, 2 of which are actually British, and 2 destroyers, one of which is British.

There was a second British destroyer escorting it but its engines broke down in hot water.

That is a thing. British destroyers break down in hot water.

The RN has confirmed that Daring-class Type 45 destroyer, HMS Diamond, has detached from the UK's Carrier Strike Group 2021 (CSG 21) following 'technical issues'.

The ship stayed in Augusta, Sicily, whilst the remainder of CSG 21 transited the Suez Canal to begin the second leg of its maiden deployment.

Well, now that the strike power represented by eight British F-35s, ten US F-35s, one British destroyer (that only deploys anti-air missiles), and one US destroyer sails deeper into China's A2/AD missile umbrella, Beijing will have no choice but to give up Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Apple.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, a British aircraft carrier, and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the South China Sea, a territory predominantly claimed by China, reports the UK Defence Journal.

Great Britain has sailed a carrier group into the South China Sea! Whoah! A whole carrier group!

Well it's a "carrier group" of sorts. It has a carrier that has aircraft, sort of. And escorts, sort of.

HMS Queen Elizabeth comes sailing with 18 fixed-winged aircraft, 10 of which are operated by the US Marine Corps. Yes, the "British" "carrier group" boasts 8 British fixed-wing aircraft.

It also boasts the escort of 3 frigates, 2 of which are actually British, and 2 destroyers, one of which is British.

There was a second British destroyer escorting it but its engines broke down in hot water.

That is a thing. British destroyers break down in hot water.

The RN has confirmed that Daring-class Type 45 destroyer, HMS Diamond, has detached from the UK's Carrier Strike Group 2021 (CSG 21) following 'technical issues'.

The ship stayed in Augusta, Sicily, whilst the remainder of CSG 21 transited the Suez Canal to begin the second leg of its maiden deployment.

Well, now that the strike power represented by eight British F-35s, ten US F-35s, one British destroyer (that only deploys anti-air missiles), and one US destroyer sails deeper into China's A2/AD missile umbrella, Beijing will have no choice but to give up Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Apple.

Anti-Empire >>

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