Upcoming Events

no events match your query!

New Events

no events posted in last week

Blog Feeds

Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire

offsite link Masks Are Nothing but Dress Code Loyalty... Wed Apr 14, 2021 16:36 | J.B. Shurk

offsite link Do You Want a Nice Little Microchip Unde... Wed Apr 14, 2021 15:36 | RT

offsite link Mick Jagger Releases Anti-Lockdown, Anti... Wed Apr 14, 2021 14:36 | Robert Wenzel

offsite link Why Did the US Conduct a Freedom of Navi... Wed Apr 14, 2021 13:36 | Kunal Purohit

offsite link US Halts J&J Vaccine Use After Blood-Clo... Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:36 | Noah Weiland

Anti-Empire >>

The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Iran?s Much-Troubled Nuclear Program Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:39 | amarynth
South Front You can read this article in German. LINK Iran?s Natanz nuclear facility is an incredibly important piece of infrastructure for Tehran?s interests. One of its most important roles

offsite link Putin?s Ukrainian Judo Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:20 | amarynth
By Dmitry Orlov and posted with special permission A terrible war is about to erupt on Russia’s border with the Ukraine?or not?but there is some likelihood of a significant number

offsite link Biden calls the ?killer? Wed Apr 14, 2021 02:06 | The Saker
[this analysis was written for the Unz review] The big news of the day is that Biden decided to call Putin. Here is how the Russians reported this: At the

offsite link Sitrep China : Smrgsbord of notable international data points (and a little opium war) Tue Apr 13, 2021 16:27 | amarynth
Selections from Godfree Roberts? extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.... Further selections and editorial commentary by Amarynth: I am looking for a little

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2021/04/13 ? Open Thread Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:30 | Herb Swanson
2021/04/13 09:30:03Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Mainstream media: Failing to speak truth to power

offsite link David Quinn’s selective tolerance Anthony

offsite link A Woulfe in judges clothing Anthony

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality Anthony

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Voltaire Network

J.B. Shurk - Wed Apr 14, 2021 16:36

The Centers for Disease Control released another study showing no statistically significant decrease in "daily case" or "death growth" rates from COVID-19 in areas with mask mandates.  This comes after a similar CDC study in October indicated that mask mandates do not appear to have slowed or stopped the spread of the coronavirus at all.  Still, the CDC continues to recommend that all Americans wear masks, except in certain private settings when individuals are fully vaccinated, unless the goalpost-shifting Dr. Fauci gets his way.

This whole "masks don't seem to be having much effect, but wear them anyway" bureaucratic calculus may seem like a frivolous controversy to Americans preoccupied with the pandemic, but for Americans who are equally worried about the State's steady encroachment into the lives of families, mask mandates are the worst kind of noxious administrative abuse — another iteration of government coercion that constricts a person's freedom while accomplishing next to nothing.  It's government rule-making for the sake of rule-making whose chief purpose is to demonstrate that it is the government's job to command and each citizen's duty to readily obey.

Mask mandates are the perfect metaphor for a government that demands obedience:

Mask mandates are reminiscent of Barack Obama's belief that wealthy Americans should be taxed at higher rates, even if the imposition of those new taxes produces no net benefit for the federal treasury.  By his own admission, Obama's insistence on increasing taxes for wealthy Americans was not about generating government revenue or reducing government debt, but rather about punishing individual Americans for having acquired too much personal wealth.  It was a way for Obama to prove that he takes income inequality seriously while doing nothing about it.

In the same way, our American mask mandates are not really about reducing the spread of disease or "following the science," but rather about insisting that individual Americans prove through their attire that they take COVID-19 seriously, even if masks do nothing about it.

Just as Obama justifies the government's confiscation of wealth for confiscation's sake, the CDC justifies the imposition of mask mandates for imposition's sake.  It is the sartorial manifestation of the government's demand that an individual submit to its power and authority.

And it has unfortunately become the standard operating procedure for the American government.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that they strongly oppose mass illegal immigration.  Ignoring their wishes, the Biden administration has set into place policies that have created a border crisis with no end in sight.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that jobs and the economy are more important than recklessly combatting a global temperature change of a few hundredths of a degree over the next century in the name of "climate justice."  Ignoring their assessment, the Biden administration has killed off oil and gas jobs, increased the cost of gasoline at the pump, and handcuffed America's energy independence in the name of green dreams — strengthening the economies of Russia, China, and Iran while impoverishing millions of Americans.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that they prefer increasing manufacturing and economic diversification at home to depending upon the supply chains and resources of an adversarial China.  Instead, the Biden administration has actively discarded the "America First" economic policies of President Trump and reoriented America back toward the globalist initiatives of the last half-century that benefit transnational banks and Wall Street traders while crippling Main Street businesses and making America vulnerable to her enemies.

For Americans who believe that the government spends most of its time doing the exact opposite of what America overwhelmingly prefers, a mask mandate that accomplishes so little in the way of public health seems like the perfect metaphor for the government's desire to shut up its own citizenry.  What Big Tech censorship fails to catch in its net, Big Government catches in its own.

"What were you saying about ending endless wars, America?  We couldn't hear you underneath two masks.  Now let's invade Syria and build democracies everywhere but here at home."

Mask mandates reflect the American government's descent toward socialism:

Mask mandates are also an illustration of the sharp philosophical divide straining Americans into two camps guided by conflicting worldviews.  In the one are true democrats who believe that all legitimate government power is derived from individual consent, and in the other are true socialists who sanctify the exercise of government power in pursuit of collectivist goals at the expense of individual liberty.

Alexis de Tocqueville contrasted these worldviews aptly: "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom; socialism restricts it.  Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number.  Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality.  But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

When viewed alongside de Tocqueville's perceptive taxonomy, it is not hard to understand why mask mandates proving to have scant efficacy strike so many Americans as nothing more than the government's attempt to seek "equality in restraint and servitude."  Whether a scientific study actually supports the hypothesis that coronavirus transmission can be retarded through the use of masks has become irrelevant.  All that is important is that government functionaries deem the practice to be in the public's best interest.  An individual is forced to abandon personal reason and judgment for those of the government, a proposition that strikes a true democrat as inherently delegitimizing of any democratic system.

For Americans who believe that society should operate freely from government as much as possible and that government action should be reserved to handle only those problems that a cooperative society cannot accomplish on its own, relatively useless government dictates are absolute poison.  They reinforce President Reagan's biting observation that the "nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."  Americans with a healthy suspicion of government authority have no trouble understanding this joke.  They do not care about the government's "good intentions"; they detest the government's insistence on so casually and unnecessarily interjecting itself into the lives of private citizens.

In a sense, mask mandates have become nothing more than dress code loyalty oaths to the same state and local governments that have claimed for themselves the extraconstitutional powers to restrict free speech, religious liberty, personal commerce, and voluntary movement beyond the home in the name of a virus.  They represent Americans' symbolic acquiescence to government's mass lockdowns and economic shutdowns and their tacit acceptance that government's unconstitutional power grabs are somehow legitimate.

This symbolism, not the statistically insignificant decrease in infection and death rates in areas with strict mask mandates, is what actually animates those Americans who insist on controlling what covers other Americans' faces.  An American who refuses to participate in virus virtue-signaling is an American who refuses to believe that the economic, educational, and social carnage of the last year was justified.

And that repudiation is just too much for proponents of bigger and more intrusive government to take in stride.

Source: American Thinker

The Centers for Disease Control released another study showing no statistically significant decrease in "daily case" or "death growth" rates from COVID-19 in areas with mask mandates.  This comes after a similar CDC study in October indicated that mask mandates do not appear to have slowed or stopped the spread of the coronavirus at all.  Still, the CDC continues to recommend that all Americans wear masks, except in certain private settings when individuals are fully vaccinated, unless the goalpost-shifting Dr. Fauci gets his way.

This whole "masks don't seem to be having much effect, but wear them anyway" bureaucratic calculus may seem like a frivolous controversy to Americans preoccupied with the pandemic, but for Americans who are equally worried about the State's steady encroachment into the lives of families, mask mandates are the worst kind of noxious administrative abuse — another iteration of government coercion that constricts a person's freedom while accomplishing next to nothing.  It's government rule-making for the sake of rule-making whose chief purpose is to demonstrate that it is the government's job to command and each citizen's duty to readily obey.

Mask mandates are the perfect metaphor for a government that demands obedience:

Mask mandates are reminiscent of Barack Obama's belief that wealthy Americans should be taxed at higher rates, even if the imposition of those new taxes produces no net benefit for the federal treasury.  By his own admission, Obama's insistence on increasing taxes for wealthy Americans was not about generating government revenue or reducing government debt, but rather about punishing individual Americans for having acquired too much personal wealth.  It was a way for Obama to prove that he takes income inequality seriously while doing nothing about it.

In the same way, our American mask mandates are not really about reducing the spread of disease or "following the science," but rather about insisting that individual Americans prove through their attire that they take COVID-19 seriously, even if masks do nothing about it.

Just as Obama justifies the government's confiscation of wealth for confiscation's sake, the CDC justifies the imposition of mask mandates for imposition's sake.  It is the sartorial manifestation of the government's demand that an individual submit to its power and authority.

And it has unfortunately become the standard operating procedure for the American government.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that they strongly oppose mass illegal immigration.  Ignoring their wishes, the Biden administration has set into place policies that have created a border crisis with no end in sight.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that jobs and the economy are more important than recklessly combatting a global temperature change of a few hundredths of a degree over the next century in the name of "climate justice."  Ignoring their assessment, the Biden administration has killed off oil and gas jobs, increased the cost of gasoline at the pump, and handcuffed America's energy independence in the name of green dreams — strengthening the economies of Russia, China, and Iran while impoverishing millions of Americans.

In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear that they prefer increasing manufacturing and economic diversification at home to depending upon the supply chains and resources of an adversarial China.  Instead, the Biden administration has actively discarded the "America First" economic policies of President Trump and reoriented America back toward the globalist initiatives of the last half-century that benefit transnational banks and Wall Street traders while crippling Main Street businesses and making America vulnerable to her enemies.

For Americans who believe that the government spends most of its time doing the exact opposite of what America overwhelmingly prefers, a mask mandate that accomplishes so little in the way of public health seems like the perfect metaphor for the government's desire to shut up its own citizenry.  What Big Tech censorship fails to catch in its net, Big Government catches in its own.

"What were you saying about ending endless wars, America?  We couldn't hear you underneath two masks.  Now let's invade Syria and build democracies everywhere but here at home."

Mask mandates reflect the American government's descent toward socialism:

Mask mandates are also an illustration of the sharp philosophical divide straining Americans into two camps guided by conflicting worldviews.  In the one are true democrats who believe that all legitimate government power is derived from individual consent, and in the other are true socialists who sanctify the exercise of government power in pursuit of collectivist goals at the expense of individual liberty.

Alexis de Tocqueville contrasted these worldviews aptly: "Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom; socialism restricts it.  Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number.  Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality.  But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

When viewed alongside de Tocqueville's perceptive taxonomy, it is not hard to understand why mask mandates proving to have scant efficacy strike so many Americans as nothing more than the government's attempt to seek "equality in restraint and servitude."  Whether a scientific study actually supports the hypothesis that coronavirus transmission can be retarded through the use of masks has become irrelevant.  All that is important is that government functionaries deem the practice to be in the public's best interest.  An individual is forced to abandon personal reason and judgment for those of the government, a proposition that strikes a true democrat as inherently delegitimizing of any democratic system.

For Americans who believe that society should operate freely from government as much as possible and that government action should be reserved to handle only those problems that a cooperative society cannot accomplish on its own, relatively useless government dictates are absolute poison.  They reinforce President Reagan's biting observation that the "nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."  Americans with a healthy suspicion of government authority have no trouble understanding this joke.  They do not care about the government's "good intentions"; they detest the government's insistence on so casually and unnecessarily interjecting itself into the lives of private citizens.

In a sense, mask mandates have become nothing more than dress code loyalty oaths to the same state and local governments that have claimed for themselves the extraconstitutional powers to restrict free speech, religious liberty, personal commerce, and voluntary movement beyond the home in the name of a virus.  They represent Americans' symbolic acquiescence to government's mass lockdowns and economic shutdowns and their tacit acceptance that government's unconstitutional power grabs are somehow legitimate.

This symbolism, not the statistically insignificant decrease in infection and death rates in areas with strict mask mandates, is what actually animates those Americans who insist on controlling what covers other Americans' faces.  An American who refuses to participate in virus virtue-signaling is an American who refuses to believe that the economic, educational, and social carnage of the last year was justified.

And that repudiation is just too much for proponents of bigger and more intrusive government to take in stride.

Source: American Thinker

RT - Wed Apr 14, 2021 15:36

Medical researchers working for the Pentagon have claimed to have created a microchip that can identify viruses like Covid-19 if they are under your skin.

Retired Army Col. Dr. Matt Hepburn, an infectious disease physician, told ‘60 Minutes’ that the microchip acts like a “check engine” light for people, but does not track their every movement, which has been central to online conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccinations.

The technology was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which operates under the Pentagon. Hepburn’s interview was conducted on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where last year over 1,200 crew members tested positive for Covid-19, something Hepburn claims this microchip could prevent in the future.

The microchip, which is not in widespread use beyond the Defense Department, is embedded under the skin in a tissue-like gel and continuously tests the recipient's blood for evidence of a virus, like Covid-19. Once detected, it alerts the carrier they must immediately get a blood test.

“It’s a sensor,” Hepburn said. “That tiny green thing in there, you put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body and that signal means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow.”

He went on to claim that the early detection technology could “stop the infection in its tracks.”

Another bit of technology highlighted during the ‘60 Minutes’ segment that could directly affect viruses like Covid was a dialysis machine that would be used to filter and detox blood and then reinsert the blood into a patient until the virus is removed from the body.

A military spouse dubbed ‘Patient 16’ reportedly went through this process after going through a serious illness that caused septic shock and organ failure. After four days of treatment, researchers claim she made a full recovery.

“For us, at DARPA, if the experts are laughing at you and saying it’s impossible, you’re in the right space,” Hepburn said.

Source: RT

Medical researchers working for the Pentagon have claimed to have created a microchip that can identify viruses like Covid-19 if they are under your skin.

Retired Army Col. Dr. Matt Hepburn, an infectious disease physician, told ‘60 Minutes’ that the microchip acts like a “check engine” light for people, but does not track their every movement, which has been central to online conspiracy theories about Covid-19 vaccinations.

The technology was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which operates under the Pentagon. Hepburn’s interview was conducted on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where last year over 1,200 crew members tested positive for Covid-19, something Hepburn claims this microchip could prevent in the future.

The microchip, which is not in widespread use beyond the Defense Department, is embedded under the skin in a tissue-like gel and continuously tests the recipient's blood for evidence of a virus, like Covid-19. Once detected, it alerts the carrier they must immediately get a blood test.

“It’s a sensor,” Hepburn said. “That tiny green thing in there, you put it underneath your skin and what that tells you is that there are chemical reactions going on inside the body and that signal means you are going to have symptoms tomorrow.”

He went on to claim that the early detection technology could “stop the infection in its tracks.”

Another bit of technology highlighted during the ‘60 Minutes’ segment that could directly affect viruses like Covid was a dialysis machine that would be used to filter and detox blood and then reinsert the blood into a patient until the virus is removed from the body.

A military spouse dubbed ‘Patient 16’ reportedly went through this process after going through a serious illness that caused septic shock and organ failure. After four days of treatment, researchers claim she made a full recovery.

“For us, at DARPA, if the experts are laughing at you and saying it’s impossible, you’re in the right space,” Hepburn said.

Source: RT

Robert Wenzel - Wed Apr 14, 2021 14:36

He even sneaks in an anti-climate change line. Well, anyway, that is how I am interpreting the song.

He writes "I wanted to share this song that I wrote about eventually coming out of lockdown, with some much needed optimism."
It is typical rock-style lyrics that can be taken many ways. But  “We’re gonna escape these prison walls” is a very good line.

 

W'e took it on the chin
The numbers were so grim
Bossed around by pricks
Stiffen upper lips
Pacing in the yard
You’re trying to take the mick
You must think i'm really thick

Looking at the graphs with a magnifying glass
Cancel all the tours footballs fake applause
No more travel brochures
Virtual premieres
Ive got nothing left to wear

Looking out from these prison walls
You got to rob peter if you're paying paul
But its easy easy everything’s gonna get really freaky
Alright on the night
Soon it ll be be a memory you're trying to remember to forget

That's a pretty mask
But never take a chance tik tok stupid dance
Took a samba class i landed on my ass
Trying to write a tune you better hook me up to zoom
See my poncey books teach myself to cook
Way too much tv its lobotomising me
Think ive put on weight
Ill have another drink then ill clean the kitchen sink

We escaped from the prison walls
Open the windows and open the doors
But its easy easy
Everything s gonna get really freaky
Alright on the night
Its gonna be a garden of earthly delights
Easy sleazy its gonna be smooth and greasy
Yeah easy believe me
Itll only be a memory you're trying to remember
To forget

Shooting the vaccine bill gates is in my bloodstream
Its mind control
The earth is flat and cold its never warming up
The arctics turned to slush
The second comings late
There's aliens in the deep state

We'll escape from these prison walls
Now were out of these prison walls
You gotta pay peter if you're robbing paul
But its easy easy everything s gonna be really freaky
Alright on the night
Were all headed back to paradise
Yeah easy believe me
It'll be a memory you’re trying to remember to forget
Easy cheesy everyone sing please please me
It’ll be a memory you're trying to remember to forget

Source: Target Liberty

He even sneaks in an anti-climate change line. Well, anyway, that is how I am interpreting the song.

He writes "I wanted to share this song that I wrote about eventually coming out of lockdown, with some much needed optimism."
It is typical rock-style lyrics that can be taken many ways. But  “We’re gonna escape these prison walls” is a very good line.

 

W'e took it on the chin
The numbers were so grim
Bossed around by pricks
Stiffen upper lips
Pacing in the yard
You’re trying to take the mick
You must think i'm really thick

Looking at the graphs with a magnifying glass
Cancel all the tours footballs fake applause
No more travel brochures
Virtual premieres
Ive got nothing left to wear

Looking out from these prison walls
You got to rob peter if you're paying paul
But its easy easy everything’s gonna get really freaky
Alright on the night
Soon it ll be be a memory you're trying to remember to forget

That's a pretty mask
But never take a chance tik tok stupid dance
Took a samba class i landed on my ass
Trying to write a tune you better hook me up to zoom
See my poncey books teach myself to cook
Way too much tv its lobotomising me
Think ive put on weight
Ill have another drink then ill clean the kitchen sink

We escaped from the prison walls
Open the windows and open the doors
But its easy easy
Everything s gonna get really freaky
Alright on the night
Its gonna be a garden of earthly delights
Easy sleazy its gonna be smooth and greasy
Yeah easy believe me
Itll only be a memory you're trying to remember
To forget

Shooting the vaccine bill gates is in my bloodstream
Its mind control
The earth is flat and cold its never warming up
The arctics turned to slush
The second comings late
There's aliens in the deep state

We'll escape from these prison walls
Now were out of these prison walls
You gotta pay peter if you're robbing paul
But its easy easy everything s gonna be really freaky
Alright on the night
Were all headed back to paradise
Yeah easy believe me
It'll be a memory you’re trying to remember to forget
Easy cheesy everyone sing please please me
It’ll be a memory you're trying to remember to forget

Source: Target Liberty

Kunal Purohit - Wed Apr 14, 2021 13:36
  • US Navy’s decision to send patrol into New Delhi’s waters is a sign Biden administration wants to reiterate America’s position as a global leader
  • Such operations are common, but the fact that it was publicised ruffled India’s feathers – and that its weakness could have been exposed to China

A month after their leaders were among the participants in the first-ever Quad summit, a naval operation is threatening to drive a wedge between the United States and India.

Feathers were ruffled in New Delhi after the US Navy on Wednesday sent a warship into India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), without seeking prior approval. The patrol came while US presidential climate envoy John Kerry was in the Indian capital on a three-day visit to push New Delhi to take stronger action on climate change.

Stung by the suddenness of the operation, India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Friday registered a mild protest by implying that the operation was unauthorised, and adding that its concerns had been conveyed to Washington “through diplomatic channels”.

In response, American officials said the ship had simply “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity” by conducting an “innocent passage” through Indian waters.

WHY HAS INDIA PROTESTED THE OPERATION?

The US Navy 7th Fleet on Wednesday issued a press release saying it had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms” inside India’s EEZ, and that it had done so by sailing the USS John Paul Jones, a 9,000-tonne guided missile destroyer, through Indian waters without requesting prior consent from New Delhi.

The “prior consent” to which the US Navy refers is the bone of contention between the two countries. In its Friday statement, India said it believed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) “does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state” in either its EEZ or on the continental shelf.

Unclos defines a country’s EEZ as the area in which it has “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources”.

In response, the US said it did not agree with India, and that New Delhi’s claim was “inconsistent with international law”.

WHAT IS THE REAL STORY BEHIND INDIA’S PROTEST?

On the face of it, New Delhi’s protest was indeed about the American operation and its rejection of the Indian policy that such operations needed “prior consent”. However, analysts said the rebuke also had a lot to do with the manner in which the US publicised its operation.

“More than the FONOP, what possibly irked New Delhi more was the publicity the US Navy gave it,” said Sameer Patil, a fellow in the international security studies programme at Gateway House, a Mumbai-based think tank, pointing to Washington’s move to announce the operation in a press release.

“Previously, they’ve carried out such operations [in New Delhi’s EEZ] against Indian claims but they have never announced it.”

Data made public by the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps indicates that Washington has on multiple occasions since 1985 carried out FONOPs in Indian waters to oppose various of New Delhi’s maritime claims.

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE U.S. DECISION TO CONDUCT THE PATROL, AND WHY WAS IT ANNOUNCED?

The move is significant, but it is not uncommon. A closer look at FONOPs conducted by the US Navy over the years shows that they have been aimed at challenging many countries’ maritime claims, including partners and allies.

Between October 2019 and September last year, the US “challenged the excessive maritime claims” of 19 governments, including Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and mainland China.

The US Navy conducted a similar FONOP in Sri Lanka’s EEZ on April 3, just days before the operation in Indian waters, and also challenged South Korea’s “excessive baseline claim” on March 31.

Patil said simply conducting such operations might not have been good enough for Washington, and that such public posturing through announcements was critical as a sign the Biden administration was reiterating the US’ role as a global leader.

“Under Trump, there was a criticism of the US’ inward-looking turn,” he said. “These operations are a sign that they are committed and that they are back on the global stage.”

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA, AS WELL AS CHINA?

In its Wednesday announcement, the US said such FONOPs were “not about one country nor are they about making political statements”. But the reality might be slightly more nuanced.

Rachel Esplin Odell, a research fellow in the East Asia programme at the Quincy Institute think in Washington, wrote on Twitter that while the US’ statement was true, “it still picks and chooses” against whom it conducts FONOPs, and that it had not conducted formal operations against Australia or Canada “despite objecting to their ‘excessive’ claims”.

While this helps explain India’s aggrieved stance, some analysts also believe the US operations may end up exposing New Delhi’s vulnerabilities to China.

There have already been maritime run-ins between Beijing and New Delhi – in December 2019, a Chinese survey ship was ejected from Indian waters, while Indian fisherfolk have also complained to their government about the presence of Chinese trawlers.

Analyst Patil said the possibility of a similar Chinese operation to that of the US remained, “but if it does go ahead, it will evoke a sharp response from India, not just a diplomatic protest”.

Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, wrote for The Quint that such an exercise was also a signal for China.

“Beijing is being told that it should not get too excited when the US carries out the exercise in South China Sea – it is part of a global US practice to challenge those, even allies like India, who in its opinion make ‘excessive maritime claims’ beyond those specified by Unclos,” he wrote.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR INDIA-U.S. TIES?

While Patil said New Delhi would be “irked” and would realise how Washington “still does not understand Indian sensitivities”, there is unlikely to be any lasting damage to bilateral relations.

The two countries have seen an upturn in their relationship of late; US defence secretary Lloyd Austin recently chose India – calling it an “increasingly important partner” – for an international visit last month, along with traditional American ally Japan.

Last month’s Quad Leaders Summit also brought the two countries together, while the US and India last year signed the last of the three foundational military pacts, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which allow them to share geospatial intelligence and provide logistical support to each other’s militaries at army bases.

However, some analysts fear that the Modi administration might not have enjoyed the spectacle – the incident was reported extensively in Indian media, with many questioning the government’s response and its growing proximity to the US.

Source: South China Morning Post

  • US Navy’s decision to send patrol into New Delhi’s waters is a sign Biden administration wants to reiterate America’s position as a global leader
  • Such operations are common, but the fact that it was publicised ruffled India’s feathers – and that its weakness could have been exposed to China

A month after their leaders were among the participants in the first-ever Quad summit, a naval operation is threatening to drive a wedge between the United States and India.

Feathers were ruffled in New Delhi after the US Navy on Wednesday sent a warship into India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP), without seeking prior approval. The patrol came while US presidential climate envoy John Kerry was in the Indian capital on a three-day visit to push New Delhi to take stronger action on climate change.

Stung by the suddenness of the operation, India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Friday registered a mild protest by implying that the operation was unauthorised, and adding that its concerns had been conveyed to Washington “through diplomatic channels”.

In response, American officials said the ship had simply “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity” by conducting an “innocent passage” through Indian waters.

WHY HAS INDIA PROTESTED THE OPERATION?

The US Navy 7th Fleet on Wednesday issued a press release saying it had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms” inside India’s EEZ, and that it had done so by sailing the USS John Paul Jones, a 9,000-tonne guided missile destroyer, through Indian waters without requesting prior consent from New Delhi.

The “prior consent” to which the US Navy refers is the bone of contention between the two countries. In its Friday statement, India said it believed the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) “does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state” in either its EEZ or on the continental shelf.

Unclos defines a country’s EEZ as the area in which it has “sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources”.

In response, the US said it did not agree with India, and that New Delhi’s claim was “inconsistent with international law”.

WHAT IS THE REAL STORY BEHIND INDIA’S PROTEST?

On the face of it, New Delhi’s protest was indeed about the American operation and its rejection of the Indian policy that such operations needed “prior consent”. However, analysts said the rebuke also had a lot to do with the manner in which the US publicised its operation.

“More than the FONOP, what possibly irked New Delhi more was the publicity the US Navy gave it,” said Sameer Patil, a fellow in the international security studies programme at Gateway House, a Mumbai-based think tank, pointing to Washington’s move to announce the operation in a press release.

“Previously, they’ve carried out such operations [in New Delhi’s EEZ] against Indian claims but they have never announced it.”

Data made public by the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps indicates that Washington has on multiple occasions since 1985 carried out FONOPs in Indian waters to oppose various of New Delhi’s maritime claims.

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE U.S. DECISION TO CONDUCT THE PATROL, AND WHY WAS IT ANNOUNCED?

The move is significant, but it is not uncommon. A closer look at FONOPs conducted by the US Navy over the years shows that they have been aimed at challenging many countries’ maritime claims, including partners and allies.

Between October 2019 and September last year, the US “challenged the excessive maritime claims” of 19 governments, including Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and mainland China.

The US Navy conducted a similar FONOP in Sri Lanka’s EEZ on April 3, just days before the operation in Indian waters, and also challenged South Korea’s “excessive baseline claim” on March 31.

Patil said simply conducting such operations might not have been good enough for Washington, and that such public posturing through announcements was critical as a sign the Biden administration was reiterating the US’ role as a global leader.

“Under Trump, there was a criticism of the US’ inward-looking turn,” he said. “These operations are a sign that they are committed and that they are back on the global stage.”

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA, AS WELL AS CHINA?

In its Wednesday announcement, the US said such FONOPs were “not about one country nor are they about making political statements”. But the reality might be slightly more nuanced.

Rachel Esplin Odell, a research fellow in the East Asia programme at the Quincy Institute think in Washington, wrote on Twitter that while the US’ statement was true, “it still picks and chooses” against whom it conducts FONOPs, and that it had not conducted formal operations against Australia or Canada “despite objecting to their ‘excessive’ claims”.

While this helps explain India’s aggrieved stance, some analysts also believe the US operations may end up exposing New Delhi’s vulnerabilities to China.

There have already been maritime run-ins between Beijing and New Delhi – in December 2019, a Chinese survey ship was ejected from Indian waters, while Indian fisherfolk have also complained to their government about the presence of Chinese trawlers.

Analyst Patil said the possibility of a similar Chinese operation to that of the US remained, “but if it does go ahead, it will evoke a sharp response from India, not just a diplomatic protest”.

Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, wrote for The Quint that such an exercise was also a signal for China.

“Beijing is being told that it should not get too excited when the US carries out the exercise in South China Sea – it is part of a global US practice to challenge those, even allies like India, who in its opinion make ‘excessive maritime claims’ beyond those specified by Unclos,” he wrote.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR INDIA-U.S. TIES?

While Patil said New Delhi would be “irked” and would realise how Washington “still does not understand Indian sensitivities”, there is unlikely to be any lasting damage to bilateral relations.

The two countries have seen an upturn in their relationship of late; US defence secretary Lloyd Austin recently chose India – calling it an “increasingly important partner” – for an international visit last month, along with traditional American ally Japan.

Last month’s Quad Leaders Summit also brought the two countries together, while the US and India last year signed the last of the three foundational military pacts, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which allow them to share geospatial intelligence and provide logistical support to each other’s militaries at army bases.

However, some analysts fear that the Modi administration might not have enjoyed the spectacle – the incident was reported extensively in Indian media, with many questioning the government’s response and its growing proximity to the US.

Source: South China Morning Post

Noah Weiland - Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:36

Injections of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine came to a sudden halt in much of the country on Tuesday after federal health agencies called for a pause in the vaccine’s use following the emergence of a rare blood clotting disorder in six recipients.

All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48 [ie, not at risk from the virus] and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.

Nearly seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far, and about nine million more doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said in a joint statement. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

While the move was framed as a recommendation to health practitioners, the impact was immediate. By Tuesday afternoon, virtually every state and the District of Columbia had announced a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine injections.

The federal government temporarily halted administration of the shots by the U.S. military, providers at federally-run sites and CVS and Walgreens, two pharmacy giants that participate in a federal vaccination program, officials said.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the F.D.A., said at a news conference Tuesday that the pause was only expected to last “a matter of days,” although she said the time frame depends on “what we learn in the next few days.” Dr. Schuchat said at the same briefing that the pause was enacted in part to “prepare the health care system to recognize and treat patients appropriately.”

Scientists with the F.D.A. and C.D.C. will jointly examine possible links between the vaccine and the disorder and determine whether the F.D.A. should continue to authorize use of the vaccine for all adults or modify the authorization, possibly limiting it to certain population groups. An emergency meeting of the C.D.C.’s outside vaccine advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.

The move could complicate the nation’s vaccination efforts at a time when many states are confronting a surge in new cases and seeking to address vaccine hesitancy. Regulators in Europe and elsewhere are concerned about a similar issue with another coronavirus vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University researchers, that has not been authorized for emergency use in the United States. At the news conference, Dr. Marks drew a connection between the two vaccines, saying the cases involving rare blood clots were very similar.

The vast majority of the vaccine supply in the United States comes from two other manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which together deliver more than 23 million doses a week of their two-shot vaccines. Federal officials stressed Tuesday that there have been no significant safety concerns about either of those vaccines.

But while shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been much more limited, the Biden administration had still been counting on using hundreds of thousands of doses every week. In addition to requiring only a single dose, the vaccine is easier to ship and store than the other two.

Mark D. Levine, a New York City councilman, lamented on Twitter that the pause would be a “huge setback” for the city’s vaccination program, which he said relies “entirely on J & J” to inoculate the homebound, reach small private doctors’ offices and supply mobile vaccination vans.

“NYC now has the biggest messaging challenge yet in vaccination,” he wrote. “We have to do everything possible to avoid a collapse in confidence in vaccination overall.”

Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said Tuesday the pause “will not have a significant impact” on the nation’s vaccination program, and that the administration will still “reach every adult who wants to be vaccinated.”

With the Johnson & Johnson setback, federal officials expect there will only be enough to cover fewer than 230 million adults, roughly 30 million shy of the total adult population. But a certain percentage of adults are expected to refuse shots, despite public campaigns to convince them, so the supply may cover all the demand.

Federal officials are concerned that doctors may not be trained to spot or treat the rare disorder if recipients of the vaccine develop symptoms of it. They said on Tuesday morning that a standard treatment for blood clots — use of an anticoagulant drug — could be dangerous or even fatal in such cases.

Dr. Schuchat, the C.D.C. official, said that the risk of dangerous blood clots was “very low” for people who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine more than a month ago.

“For people who recently got the vaccine within the last couple of weeks, they should be aware to look for any symptoms. If you receive the vaccine and develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment,” she said.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said, “We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to health care professionals and the public.”

The company also said it was reviewing these cases with European health authorities. “We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” the company said in its statement.

In the United States alone, 300,000 to 600,000 people a year develop blood clots, according to C.D.C. data. But the particular blood clotting disorder that the vaccine recipients developed, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, is extremely rare. Dr. Schuchat described the condition as “a severe strokelike illness linked to low platelet counts.”

All of the women developed the illness within about one to three weeks of vaccination, with a median time of nine days. The Nebraska woman who is now hospitalized is in her late 40s and developed blood clots two weeks after her shot, state health officials said.

Government experts are concerned that the blood clots are linked to an immune system response triggered by the vaccine. Federal officials said there was broad agreement in the senior ranks of the administration about the need to pause use of the vaccine while the cases are investigated.

Dr. Marks said that the federal government was not issuing an order to suspend the vaccine, adding that health providers may decide that for a particular patient, the benefits of a shot outweigh the risks. “We’re not going to stop that provider from administering the vaccine because it could be right,” he said.

The decision is a fresh blow to Johnson & Johnson. Late last month, the company discovered that workers at a Baltimore plant run by its subcontractor had accidentally contaminated a batch of vaccine, forcing the firm to throw out the equivalent of 13 million to 15 million doses. That plant was supposed to take over supply of the vaccine to the United States from Johnson & Johnson’s Dutch plants, which were certified by federal regulators earlier this year.

The Baltimore plant’s certification by the F.D.A. has now been delayed while inspectors investigate quality control issues, sharply reducing the supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The sudden drop in available doses led to widespread complaints from governors and state health officials who had been expecting much bigger shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine this week than they got.

States have been using the vaccine in a broad range of settings, including at mass vaccination sites and on college campuses. The vaccine’s one-shot approach has proved popular, and officials have directed it to transient, rural and isolated communities where following up with a second dose is more complicated.

It is common for regulators to investigate “safety signals” in new vaccines and other medical products. Very often, the signals prove not to be of concern. But the concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine mirror concerns about AstraZeneca’s, which European regulators began investigating last month after some recipients developed blood clots.

Out of 34 million people who received the vaccine in Britain, the European Union and three other countries, 222 experienced blood clots that were linked with a low level of platelets. The majority of these cases occurred within the first 14 days following vaccination, mostly in women under 60 years of age.

On April 7, the European Medicines Agency, the main regulatory agency, concluded that the disorder was a very rare side effect of the vaccine. Researchers in Germany and Norway published studies on April 9 suggesting that in very rare cases, the AstraZeneca vaccine caused people to make antibodies that activated their own platelets.

Nevertheless, the regulators argued, the benefit of the vaccine — keeping people from being infected with the coronavirus or keeping those few who get Covid-19 out of the hospital — vastly outweighed that small risk. Countries in Europe and elsewhere continued to give the vaccine to older people, who face a high risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19, while restricting it in younger people.

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson use the same platform for their vaccine, a virus known as an adenovirus.

On Tuesday, the Australian government announced it would not purchase Johnson & Johnson vaccines. They cited Johnson & Johnson’s use of an adenovirus. But there is no obvious reason adenovirus-based vaccines in particular would cause rare blood clots associated with low platelet levels.

AstraZeneca has not yet applied for an emergency use authorization in the United States.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use a different technology to produce immunity.

The first sign of concern about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine came on April 9, when the European Medicines Agency announced that it was investigating reports of four cases of blood clots in people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States. One case occurred in the clinical trial that took place before the vaccine was authorized. Three occurred in the vaccine rollout. One of them was fatal, the agency said.

The regulators described these reports as a “safety signal” — a cluster of cases requiring further investigation. But they said it wasn’t clear if the vaccine caused the clots.

Source: The New York Times

Injections of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine came to a sudden halt in much of the country on Tuesday after federal health agencies called for a pause in the vaccine’s use following the emergence of a rare blood clotting disorder in six recipients.

All six were women between the ages of 18 and 48 [ie, not at risk from the virus] and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. One woman died and a second woman in Nebraska has been hospitalized in critical condition.

Nearly seven million people in the United States have received Johnson & Johnson shots so far, and about nine million more doses have been shipped out to the states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the C.D.C., said in a joint statement. “Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare.”

While the move was framed as a recommendation to health practitioners, the impact was immediate. By Tuesday afternoon, virtually every state and the District of Columbia had announced a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine injections.

The federal government temporarily halted administration of the shots by the U.S. military, providers at federally-run sites and CVS and Walgreens, two pharmacy giants that participate in a federal vaccination program, officials said.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the F.D.A., said at a news conference Tuesday that the pause was only expected to last “a matter of days,” although she said the time frame depends on “what we learn in the next few days.” Dr. Schuchat said at the same briefing that the pause was enacted in part to “prepare the health care system to recognize and treat patients appropriately.”

Scientists with the F.D.A. and C.D.C. will jointly examine possible links between the vaccine and the disorder and determine whether the F.D.A. should continue to authorize use of the vaccine for all adults or modify the authorization, possibly limiting it to certain population groups. An emergency meeting of the C.D.C.’s outside vaccine advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.

The move could complicate the nation’s vaccination efforts at a time when many states are confronting a surge in new cases and seeking to address vaccine hesitancy. Regulators in Europe and elsewhere are concerned about a similar issue with another coronavirus vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University researchers, that has not been authorized for emergency use in the United States. At the news conference, Dr. Marks drew a connection between the two vaccines, saying the cases involving rare blood clots were very similar.

The vast majority of the vaccine supply in the United States comes from two other manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which together deliver more than 23 million doses a week of their two-shot vaccines. Federal officials stressed Tuesday that there have been no significant safety concerns about either of those vaccines.

But while shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been much more limited, the Biden administration had still been counting on using hundreds of thousands of doses every week. In addition to requiring only a single dose, the vaccine is easier to ship and store than the other two.

Mark D. Levine, a New York City councilman, lamented on Twitter that the pause would be a “huge setback” for the city’s vaccination program, which he said relies “entirely on J & J” to inoculate the homebound, reach small private doctors’ offices and supply mobile vaccination vans.

“NYC now has the biggest messaging challenge yet in vaccination,” he wrote. “We have to do everything possible to avoid a collapse in confidence in vaccination overall.”

Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said Tuesday the pause “will not have a significant impact” on the nation’s vaccination program, and that the administration will still “reach every adult who wants to be vaccinated.”

With the Johnson & Johnson setback, federal officials expect there will only be enough to cover fewer than 230 million adults, roughly 30 million shy of the total adult population. But a certain percentage of adults are expected to refuse shots, despite public campaigns to convince them, so the supply may cover all the demand.

Federal officials are concerned that doctors may not be trained to spot or treat the rare disorder if recipients of the vaccine develop symptoms of it. They said on Tuesday morning that a standard treatment for blood clots — use of an anticoagulant drug — could be dangerous or even fatal in such cases.

Dr. Schuchat, the C.D.C. official, said that the risk of dangerous blood clots was “very low” for people who received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine more than a month ago.

“For people who recently got the vaccine within the last couple of weeks, they should be aware to look for any symptoms. If you receive the vaccine and develop severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment,” she said.

In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said, “We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to health care professionals and the public.”

The company also said it was reviewing these cases with European health authorities. “We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” the company said in its statement.

In the United States alone, 300,000 to 600,000 people a year develop blood clots, according to C.D.C. data. But the particular blood clotting disorder that the vaccine recipients developed, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, is extremely rare. Dr. Schuchat described the condition as “a severe strokelike illness linked to low platelet counts.”

All of the women developed the illness within about one to three weeks of vaccination, with a median time of nine days. The Nebraska woman who is now hospitalized is in her late 40s and developed blood clots two weeks after her shot, state health officials said.

Government experts are concerned that the blood clots are linked to an immune system response triggered by the vaccine. Federal officials said there was broad agreement in the senior ranks of the administration about the need to pause use of the vaccine while the cases are investigated.

Dr. Marks said that the federal government was not issuing an order to suspend the vaccine, adding that health providers may decide that for a particular patient, the benefits of a shot outweigh the risks. “We’re not going to stop that provider from administering the vaccine because it could be right,” he said.

The decision is a fresh blow to Johnson & Johnson. Late last month, the company discovered that workers at a Baltimore plant run by its subcontractor had accidentally contaminated a batch of vaccine, forcing the firm to throw out the equivalent of 13 million to 15 million doses. That plant was supposed to take over supply of the vaccine to the United States from Johnson & Johnson’s Dutch plants, which were certified by federal regulators earlier this year.

The Baltimore plant’s certification by the F.D.A. has now been delayed while inspectors investigate quality control issues, sharply reducing the supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The sudden drop in available doses led to widespread complaints from governors and state health officials who had been expecting much bigger shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine this week than they got.

States have been using the vaccine in a broad range of settings, including at mass vaccination sites and on college campuses. The vaccine’s one-shot approach has proved popular, and officials have directed it to transient, rural and isolated communities where following up with a second dose is more complicated.

It is common for regulators to investigate “safety signals” in new vaccines and other medical products. Very often, the signals prove not to be of concern. But the concerns about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine mirror concerns about AstraZeneca’s, which European regulators began investigating last month after some recipients developed blood clots.

Out of 34 million people who received the vaccine in Britain, the European Union and three other countries, 222 experienced blood clots that were linked with a low level of platelets. The majority of these cases occurred within the first 14 days following vaccination, mostly in women under 60 years of age.

On April 7, the European Medicines Agency, the main regulatory agency, concluded that the disorder was a very rare side effect of the vaccine. Researchers in Germany and Norway published studies on April 9 suggesting that in very rare cases, the AstraZeneca vaccine caused people to make antibodies that activated their own platelets.

Nevertheless, the regulators argued, the benefit of the vaccine — keeping people from being infected with the coronavirus or keeping those few who get Covid-19 out of the hospital — vastly outweighed that small risk. Countries in Europe and elsewhere continued to give the vaccine to older people, who face a high risk of severe disease and death from Covid-19, while restricting it in younger people.

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson use the same platform for their vaccine, a virus known as an adenovirus.

On Tuesday, the Australian government announced it would not purchase Johnson & Johnson vaccines. They cited Johnson & Johnson’s use of an adenovirus. But there is no obvious reason adenovirus-based vaccines in particular would cause rare blood clots associated with low platelet levels.

AstraZeneca has not yet applied for an emergency use authorization in the United States.

The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use a different technology to produce immunity.

The first sign of concern about Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine came on April 9, when the European Medicines Agency announced that it was investigating reports of four cases of blood clots in people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States. One case occurred in the clinical trial that took place before the vaccine was authorized. Three occurred in the vaccine rollout. One of them was fatal, the agency said.

The regulators described these reports as a “safety signal” — a cluster of cases requiring further investigation. But they said it wasn’t clear if the vaccine caused the clots.

Source: The New York Times

The Babylon Bee - Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:36

An intercepted transmission that appears to be from the year 2739 shows footage of Dr. Anthony Fauci -- or rather, just his head, which has been preserved in a jar. In the video from the future, Fauci says it's still not safe to go outside, go to movie theaters, or eat indoors.

"Honestly, even if you've been immunized and are quadruple-masking, per current recommendations, I don't think I would risk it," he said. "Although we eradicated the virus some seven centuries ago, we can't be too careful. We must remain vigilant."

"If we let up even a little bit, we could end up right back where we were in 2020."

Fauci also revealed that the alien invasion that occurred in 2471 was a "major setback" in the fight against the virus, as much of humanity refused to social distance while going to war against the creatures from the distant planet Graxon V.

"People were very careless during the War for Earth," he said. "We tried to get the troops to wear masks and such, but they continued to go outside and save humanity without the slightest care for COVID-19."

Despite the grim outlook for the pandemic 700 years in the future, Fauci says he is optimistic that he will remain in the public spotlight at least until the heat death of the universe.

Source: The Babylon Bee

An intercepted transmission that appears to be from the year 2739 shows footage of Dr. Anthony Fauci -- or rather, just his head, which has been preserved in a jar. In the video from the future, Fauci says it's still not safe to go outside, go to movie theaters, or eat indoors.

"Honestly, even if you've been immunized and are quadruple-masking, per current recommendations, I don't think I would risk it," he said. "Although we eradicated the virus some seven centuries ago, we can't be too careful. We must remain vigilant."

"If we let up even a little bit, we could end up right back where we were in 2020."

Fauci also revealed that the alien invasion that occurred in 2471 was a "major setback" in the fight against the virus, as much of humanity refused to social distance while going to war against the creatures from the distant planet Graxon V.

"People were very careless during the War for Earth," he said. "We tried to get the troops to wear masks and such, but they continued to go outside and save humanity without the slightest care for COVID-19."

Despite the grim outlook for the pandemic 700 years in the future, Fauci says he is optimistic that he will remain in the public spotlight at least until the heat death of the universe.

Source: The Babylon Bee

Sarah Knapton - Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:36

Almost a quarter of registered Covid deaths are people who are not dying from the disease, new official figures show, as the Government was urged to move faster with the roadmap in the light of increasingly positive data.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died "with" the virus rather than "from" an infection.

This means that, while the person who died will have tested positive for Covid, that was not the primary cause of their death recorded on the death certificate.

Other data also shows an increasingly positive picture of the state of the pandemic in the UK.

Daily death figures by "date of death" reveal that Britain has had no more than 28 deaths a day since the beginning of April, even though the government-announced deaths have been as high as 60.

This is because the Government gives a daily update on deaths based on the number reported that day, which can include deaths from days or weeks previously and therefore may not reflect the true decline in deaths. On Tuesday, the Government announced that there had been 23 further deaths.

Likewise, Oxford University has calculated that the number of people in hospital with an active Covid infection is likely to be around half the current published daily figure. Tuesday's official figure showed there were 2,537 Covid patients in hospital, with 230 new admissions.

However, despite the positive statistics, Boris Johnson issued a warning over the lifting of lockdown as he said it was the restrictions, not the vaccine rollout, that had predominantly kept Covid numbers low.

"It is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and in infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme," he said.

"People don't, I think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing. So yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown."

The Prime Minister cautioned that case numbers will rise in the coming weeks as people gather in pub gardens and visit shops again [No they won't, as they haven't in Texas, Arkansas...],  with Number 10 carefully watching changes in the data. But he added that "at the moment I can't see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we have set ourselves".

Tory MPs privately noted that Mr Johnson's comments on the vaccine struck a more cautious note than those used by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, in a letter issued on Tuesday to MP colleagues.

In that letter, parts of which The Telegraph has seen, Mr Hancock said "it is because of the success of the vaccination rollout", alongside falling infection cases and hospitalisations, that "we are able carefully to lift restrictions" across the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, brought forward the reopening of non-essential shops. The speeding up of her reopening timetable comes after Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, brought forward indoor mixing by a week.

MPs urged Mr Johnson to also be driven by the positive data. Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the Covid Research Group of Tory MPs sceptical about lockdown, told The Telegraph: "I know the Prime Minister is worried about case data in other countries. But we were promised the vaccine would break the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

"We've been told repeatedly it has done. So of course we're looking to the Prime Minister to follow the data so that we can end the other harms that come with restrictions and lockdown. The sooner we're talking about the crisis in cancer care, the sooner we'll be solving it."

Covid deaths now make up just 4.9 per cent of deaths registered in England and Wales, compared with 45 per cent in mid-January, according to the ONS.

Prof Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, said: "All the data is highly reassuring. There is becoming a case over the next couple of weeks to bring forward the reopening of hospitality, but that's offset with caution around big events.

"The issue is as we go about our daily lives there will be a slight increase in cases, but the key is not to panic. I think this over-cautiousness can be overcome by using a data-driven approach."

Experts also said it was clear that vaccination was having a "major" impact, with the death rate for over-60s now close to that of the under-60s despite being 43 times higher at the January peak.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said: "There's nothing in the death registration data that proves for certain that the differences in trends between older and younger people are caused by the vaccination, but vaccination must surely be playing a very major role.

"I'm not complacent, and we must still be careful now that restrictions on what we can do are being lifted. But the news so far is good."

More than 32 million people have now had a vaccine in the UK, with the Government announcing on Monday that the target of offering a jab to all those over 50, care home residents, those who are classed as vulnerable and those who work in health or social care had been reached.

However, a new analysis based on the fact that NHS England has said 19 out of 20 of those most at risk have had the jab suggests 1.3 million vulnerable people have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine.

It is believed Mr Johnson's cautious message is being deliberately stressed now so that people will not be overly alarmed if Covid cases numbers begin to rise again throughout April.

He has said since first announcing his reopening roadmap in February that Covid cases would rise as restrictions eased. Downing Street believes the correct balance has been struck between limiting virus spread and helping businesses.

A well-placed senior government source downplayed any quickening of the reopening roadmap for England, stressing the current "earliest date" targets remained.

Source: The Telegraph

Almost a quarter of registered Covid deaths are people who are not dying from the disease, new official figures show, as the Government was urged to move faster with the roadmap in the light of increasingly positive data.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died "with" the virus rather than "from" an infection.

This means that, while the person who died will have tested positive for Covid, that was not the primary cause of their death recorded on the death certificate.

Other data also shows an increasingly positive picture of the state of the pandemic in the UK.

Daily death figures by "date of death" reveal that Britain has had no more than 28 deaths a day since the beginning of April, even though the government-announced deaths have been as high as 60.

This is because the Government gives a daily update on deaths based on the number reported that day, which can include deaths from days or weeks previously and therefore may not reflect the true decline in deaths. On Tuesday, the Government announced that there had been 23 further deaths.

Likewise, Oxford University has calculated that the number of people in hospital with an active Covid infection is likely to be around half the current published daily figure. Tuesday's official figure showed there were 2,537 Covid patients in hospital, with 230 new admissions.

However, despite the positive statistics, Boris Johnson issued a warning over the lifting of lockdown as he said it was the restrictions, not the vaccine rollout, that had predominantly kept Covid numbers low.

"It is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and in infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme," he said.

"People don't, I think, appreciate that it's the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing. So yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown."

The Prime Minister cautioned that case numbers will rise in the coming weeks as people gather in pub gardens and visit shops again [No they won't, as they haven't in Texas, Arkansas...],  with Number 10 carefully watching changes in the data. But he added that "at the moment I can't see any reason for us to change the road map, to deviate from the targets that we have set ourselves".

Tory MPs privately noted that Mr Johnson's comments on the vaccine struck a more cautious note than those used by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, in a letter issued on Tuesday to MP colleagues.

In that letter, parts of which The Telegraph has seen, Mr Hancock said "it is because of the success of the vaccination rollout", alongside falling infection cases and hospitalisations, that "we are able carefully to lift restrictions" across the UK.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, brought forward the reopening of non-essential shops. The speeding up of her reopening timetable comes after Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, brought forward indoor mixing by a week.

MPs urged Mr Johnson to also be driven by the positive data. Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the Covid Research Group of Tory MPs sceptical about lockdown, told The Telegraph: "I know the Prime Minister is worried about case data in other countries. But we were promised the vaccine would break the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

"We've been told repeatedly it has done. So of course we're looking to the Prime Minister to follow the data so that we can end the other harms that come with restrictions and lockdown. The sooner we're talking about the crisis in cancer care, the sooner we'll be solving it."

Covid deaths now make up just 4.9 per cent of deaths registered in England and Wales, compared with 45 per cent in mid-January, according to the ONS.

Prof Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, said: "All the data is highly reassuring. There is becoming a case over the next couple of weeks to bring forward the reopening of hospitality, but that's offset with caution around big events.

"The issue is as we go about our daily lives there will be a slight increase in cases, but the key is not to panic. I think this over-cautiousness can be overcome by using a data-driven approach."

Experts also said it was clear that vaccination was having a "major" impact, with the death rate for over-60s now close to that of the under-60s despite being 43 times higher at the January peak.

Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University, said: "There's nothing in the death registration data that proves for certain that the differences in trends between older and younger people are caused by the vaccination, but vaccination must surely be playing a very major role.

"I'm not complacent, and we must still be careful now that restrictions on what we can do are being lifted. But the news so far is good."

More than 32 million people have now had a vaccine in the UK, with the Government announcing on Monday that the target of offering a jab to all those over 50, care home residents, those who are classed as vulnerable and those who work in health or social care had been reached.

However, a new analysis based on the fact that NHS England has said 19 out of 20 of those most at risk have had the jab suggests 1.3 million vulnerable people have not yet taken up the offer of a vaccine.

It is believed Mr Johnson's cautious message is being deliberately stressed now so that people will not be overly alarmed if Covid cases numbers begin to rise again throughout April.

He has said since first announcing his reopening roadmap in February that Covid cases would rise as restrictions eased. Downing Street believes the correct balance has been struck between limiting virus spread and helping businesses.

A well-placed senior government source downplayed any quickening of the reopening roadmap for England, stressing the current "earliest date" targets remained.

Source: The Telegraph

Field Empty - Wed Apr 14, 2021 09:36

In a move that seems set to greatly complicate ongoing talks over the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, the Iranian government has announced it will install more new centrifuges, and will begin enriching uranium up to 60%, by far the highest they’ve ever attempted.

This seems destined to provoke a backlash from the West, and allegations that Iran is getting closer to the 90% enrichment level needed for weapons grade. This will be further pushed because Iran has no obvious use for 60% enriched uranium [except as pressure/bargaining chip], unlike its 20% enriched, which was used for medical isotopes.

From Iran’s perspective, the move is a response to this week’s sabotage at the enrichment site, which they are blaming on Israel. Iranian officials also warned the US on the latest incident, cautioning that sabotage and sanctions would never stop their legal program.

Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi has argued that Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA entitles Iran to take this action in the form of reprisal for what happened. Paragraph 36 indeed allows Iran to “cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA in whole or in part” over compliance issues from the other side.

This might be contested, as Israel isn’t a party to the JCPOA, and reprisals against them aren’t covered by the deal. It may be that they consider this a US sabotage by-proxy, and may not matter anyhow, since Iran has argued most of the parties are failing to meet their requirements.

Beyond 60% enrichment, which is a technical accomplishment, but otherwise of no obvious use, Iran also intends to install some 1,000 additional centrifuges at Natanz. These will be replacing those centrifuges damaged or broken in the sabotage incident. Iran says these centrifuges will have a 50% higher enrichment capacity than the original ones.

Source: Antiwar.com

In a move that seems set to greatly complicate ongoing talks over the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, the Iranian government has announced it will install more new centrifuges, and will begin enriching uranium up to 60%, by far the highest they’ve ever attempted.

This seems destined to provoke a backlash from the West, and allegations that Iran is getting closer to the 90% enrichment level needed for weapons grade. This will be further pushed because Iran has no obvious use for 60% enriched uranium [except as pressure/bargaining chip], unlike its 20% enriched, which was used for medical isotopes.

From Iran’s perspective, the move is a response to this week’s sabotage at the enrichment site, which they are blaming on Israel. Iranian officials also warned the US on the latest incident, cautioning that sabotage and sanctions would never stop their legal program.

Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi has argued that Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA entitles Iran to take this action in the form of reprisal for what happened. Paragraph 36 indeed allows Iran to “cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA in whole or in part” over compliance issues from the other side.

This might be contested, as Israel isn’t a party to the JCPOA, and reprisals against them aren’t covered by the deal. It may be that they consider this a US sabotage by-proxy, and may not matter anyhow, since Iran has argued most of the parties are failing to meet their requirements.

Beyond 60% enrichment, which is a technical accomplishment, but otherwise of no obvious use, Iran also intends to install some 1,000 additional centrifuges at Natanz. These will be replacing those centrifuges damaged or broken in the sabotage incident. Iran says these centrifuges will have a 50% higher enrichment capacity than the original ones.

Source: Antiwar.com

Schiff Gold - Wed Apr 14, 2021 08:36

The US government ran a budget deficit of $659.59 billion in March, pushing the budget shortfall to a record $1.7 trillion through the first half of fiscal 2021, according to the Treasury Department’s Monthy Treasury Statement.

The March budget deficit ranks as the third biggest monthly shortfall in US history, driving Uncle Sam the biggest half-year deficit ever.

Prior to last year’s stimulus-fueled $3.13 trillion deficit, the US government had only run annual deficits over $1 trillion four times, all during the Great Recession. Uncle Sam is already on the fast track to $2 trillion with six months left in the fiscal year. The previous record deficit for the first six months of a fiscal year was $829 billion set back in 2011.

Uncle Sam spent nearly a trillion dollars in March. The $927.21 billion in outlays last month brought total fiscal 2021 spending to a staggering 3.41 trillion.

Meanwhile, Treasury receipts in March came in at just $267.61 billion. That was a 13% increase over last year but didn’t come close to covering the massive spending spree.

And keep in mind, we’ve only just begun to see spending approved in the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Act” come down the pipeline.

On March 1, the US national debt eclipsed $28 trillion for the first time. Currently, that represents $85,255 of debt for every American citizen.

According to the National Debt Clock, the debt to GDP ratio stands at 130.02%. Despite the lack of concern in the mainstream, debt has consequences. Studies have shown that a debt to GDP ratio of over 90% retards economic growth by about 30%. This throws cold water on the conventional “spend now, worry about the debt later” mantra, along with the frequent claim that “we can grow ourselves out of the debt” now popular on both sides of the aisle in DC.

As Peter Schiff put it in a tweet, all of this government comes at a price.

We didn’t get $659 billion worth of government spending for free. The public will pay the balance through the inflation tax. That means consumer prices are headed much higher.”

The inflation tax will hit us as the Federal Reserve monetizes this massive debt.  That means more bond purchases and more money printing.

The Federal Reserve makes all of this borrowing and spending possible by backstopping the bond market and monetizing the debt. The central bank buys US Treasuries on the open market with money created out of thin air (debt monetization). This creates artificial demand for bonds and keeps interest rates low. All of this new money gets injected into the economy, driving inflation higher. We see this playing out before our eyes as the Fed continues to expand the money supply by record amounts.

The Fed had worked itself between a rock and a hard place. It has to print trillions of dollars to monetize the massive deficits. But that is causing inflation expectations to run hot. That is putting upward pressure on interest rates. But you can’t have rising rates when your entire economy is built on debt. The only way the Fed can hold rates down is to buy more bonds, which means printing more money, which means even more inflation. You can see the vicious cycle. At some point, there is a fork in the road and the Fed will have to choose. Step up and address inflation and let rates rise, which will burst the stock market bubble and collapse the debt-based economy, or just keep printing money and eventually crash the dollar.

Source: Schiff Gold

The US government ran a budget deficit of $659.59 billion in March, pushing the budget shortfall to a record $1.7 trillion through the first half of fiscal 2021, according to the Treasury Department’s Monthy Treasury Statement.

The March budget deficit ranks as the third biggest monthly shortfall in US history, driving Uncle Sam the biggest half-year deficit ever.

Prior to last year’s stimulus-fueled $3.13 trillion deficit, the US government had only run annual deficits over $1 trillion four times, all during the Great Recession. Uncle Sam is already on the fast track to $2 trillion with six months left in the fiscal year. The previous record deficit for the first six months of a fiscal year was $829 billion set back in 2011.

Uncle Sam spent nearly a trillion dollars in March. The $927.21 billion in outlays last month brought total fiscal 2021 spending to a staggering 3.41 trillion.

Meanwhile, Treasury receipts in March came in at just $267.61 billion. That was a 13% increase over last year but didn’t come close to covering the massive spending spree.

And keep in mind, we’ve only just begun to see spending approved in the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Act” come down the pipeline.

On March 1, the US national debt eclipsed $28 trillion for the first time. Currently, that represents $85,255 of debt for every American citizen.

According to the National Debt Clock, the debt to GDP ratio stands at 130.02%. Despite the lack of concern in the mainstream, debt has consequences. Studies have shown that a debt to GDP ratio of over 90% retards economic growth by about 30%. This throws cold water on the conventional “spend now, worry about the debt later” mantra, along with the frequent claim that “we can grow ourselves out of the debt” now popular on both sides of the aisle in DC.

As Peter Schiff put it in a tweet, all of this government comes at a price.

We didn’t get $659 billion worth of government spending for free. The public will pay the balance through the inflation tax. That means consumer prices are headed much higher.”

The inflation tax will hit us as the Federal Reserve monetizes this massive debt.  That means more bond purchases and more money printing.

The Federal Reserve makes all of this borrowing and spending possible by backstopping the bond market and monetizing the debt. The central bank buys US Treasuries on the open market with money created out of thin air (debt monetization). This creates artificial demand for bonds and keeps interest rates low. All of this new money gets injected into the economy, driving inflation higher. We see this playing out before our eyes as the Fed continues to expand the money supply by record amounts.

The Fed had worked itself between a rock and a hard place. It has to print trillions of dollars to monetize the massive deficits. But that is causing inflation expectations to run hot. That is putting upward pressure on interest rates. But you can’t have rising rates when your entire economy is built on debt. The only way the Fed can hold rates down is to buy more bonds, which means printing more money, which means even more inflation. You can see the vicious cycle. At some point, there is a fork in the road and the Fed will have to choose. Step up and address inflation and let rates rise, which will burst the stock market bubble and collapse the debt-based economy, or just keep printing money and eventually crash the dollar.

Source: Schiff Gold

Dave DeCamp - Wed Apr 14, 2021 07:36

According to a report from The Washington Post, President Biden will keep US forces in Afghanistan beyond the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. Sources told the Post that Biden plans to complete the withdrawal by September 11th. The White House confirmed the report in comments to reporters by an unnamed administration official.

The Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on US and NATO forces if foreign troops remain in the country after May 1st, and it’s not clear if the Taliban agreed to the deadline extension. Since the US-Taliban deal was signed in February 2020, no US soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan.

A “person familiar with the deliberations” told the Post that Biden does not want to restart fighting with the Taliban. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest,” the person said, adding, “We’re going to zero troops by September.”

There are officially 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although some reports say the number is closer to 3,500. On top of the US presence, there are 7,000 other coalition troops in the country, mostly NATO forces.

The warring sides in Afghanistan have been reviewing new peace proposals that were put forward to jump-start negotiations as the deadline loomed. Since the US-backed Afghan government is entirely reliant on foreign aid, its collapse is expected after the US pulls out, which is used by the hawks as a justification for prolonging the war, but it serves as an example of what a failure the US intervention in Afghanistan has been.

According to the Post, the Biden administration will continue to keep providing aid to the Afghan government and its military, but it’s not clear how far that assistance will go.

Source: Antiwar.com


Taliban Won’t Attend Peace Talks Until US Leaves Afghanistan

It is an announcement that’s been coming for awhile, but in pushing back the pullout date in Afghanistan from May 1 to 9/11, the Biden Administration finally clarified its expectations on America’s longest war, but is also throwing another spanner in the works of the peace process which may make future dates tougher to deal with.

The effort to sell everyone on this pullout delay is that the peace process is behind schedule. The Istanbul conference was meant to kickstart that process, but that’s not going to happen now, because the Taliban is boycotting all such conferences until the US makes good on withdrawing.

This puts the whole process into serious doubt, as it’s not clear how an Afghan peace deal can be reached without getting the Taliban to the table, and in delaying the pullout is keeping the Taliban away, a predictable result given how important that May 1 date was to the Taliban.

It’s not impossible that they will be able to engage the Taliban more seriously in the future, but this probably depends on the newly set September 11 date being taken seriously, and not just another step down the road.

That’s a tough sell, because it seems unlikely anything will happen from May to September, and if Biden wanted to lay the groundwork for staying in Afghanistan, it’s hard to see how he could’ve done so more easily than renege on the first date, and set a second date that’s designed to fail.

Source: Antiwar.com

According to a report from The Washington Post, President Biden will keep US forces in Afghanistan beyond the May 1st deadline that was set by the US-Taliban peace deal. Sources told the Post that Biden plans to complete the withdrawal by September 11th. The White House confirmed the report in comments to reporters by an unnamed administration official.

The Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on US and NATO forces if foreign troops remain in the country after May 1st, and it’s not clear if the Taliban agreed to the deadline extension. Since the US-Taliban deal was signed in February 2020, no US soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan.

A “person familiar with the deliberations” told the Post that Biden does not want to restart fighting with the Taliban. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest,” the person said, adding, “We’re going to zero troops by September.”

There are officially 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although some reports say the number is closer to 3,500. On top of the US presence, there are 7,000 other coalition troops in the country, mostly NATO forces.

The warring sides in Afghanistan have been reviewing new peace proposals that were put forward to jump-start negotiations as the deadline loomed. Since the US-backed Afghan government is entirely reliant on foreign aid, its collapse is expected after the US pulls out, which is used by the hawks as a justification for prolonging the war, but it serves as an example of what a failure the US intervention in Afghanistan has been.

According to the Post, the Biden administration will continue to keep providing aid to the Afghan government and its military, but it’s not clear how far that assistance will go.

Source: Antiwar.com


Taliban Won’t Attend Peace Talks Until US Leaves Afghanistan

It is an announcement that’s been coming for awhile, but in pushing back the pullout date in Afghanistan from May 1 to 9/11, the Biden Administration finally clarified its expectations on America’s longest war, but is also throwing another spanner in the works of the peace process which may make future dates tougher to deal with.

The effort to sell everyone on this pullout delay is that the peace process is behind schedule. The Istanbul conference was meant to kickstart that process, but that’s not going to happen now, because the Taliban is boycotting all such conferences until the US makes good on withdrawing.

This puts the whole process into serious doubt, as it’s not clear how an Afghan peace deal can be reached without getting the Taliban to the table, and in delaying the pullout is keeping the Taliban away, a predictable result given how important that May 1 date was to the Taliban.

It’s not impossible that they will be able to engage the Taliban more seriously in the future, but this probably depends on the newly set September 11 date being taken seriously, and not just another step down the road.

That’s a tough sell, because it seems unlikely anything will happen from May to September, and if Biden wanted to lay the groundwork for staying in Afghanistan, it’s hard to see how he could’ve done so more easily than renege on the first date, and set a second date that’s designed to fail.

Source: Antiwar.com

Anti-Empire >>

© 2001-2021 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy