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This Week's Must Reads - 13 - 19 November 2023
A summary of this week's most interesting news, studies, reports and articles
I spend a lot of time each day gathering new information and interesting articles. I then pick the most interesting topic and write about it but that leaves a lot of information that I’m not sharing.
Below is a summary of all the best articles and information from this week. This weekly summary is a slimmed down version for all subscribers but more comprehensive daily summaries will be for paid subscribers only.
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"Clean" Air, Dirty Money, Filthy Politics. The Big Bucks Behind the UK's Anti-Car Policies & Air Pollution Panics. This second joint report produced by Climate Debate and Together and reveals how a small number of the world’s billionaires are shaping UK air pollution policies by funding partisan groups to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.
Net zero ‘will keep interest rates higher for longer’. Continued investment in green transition to push up cost of borrowing. Megan Greene, a member of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), said policymakers were likely to keep interest rates higher for longer because of the “green transition”. The American economist said a renewed focus on defence spending and net zero would require significant investment.
Global warming might not happen quite as fast as we thought – here’s why. Plants will absorb more carbon dioxide than predicted, meaning models could be overestimating the speed which the planet will heat up. Trinity College Dublin said its research painted an “uncharacteristically upbeat picture for the planet” after finding models had failed to take into account all the elements of photosynthesis.
For sale... the £1.1 BILLION flagship 'megalab' set up during Covid to defend Britain against future epidemics - after it has stood empty for 11 months. Announcing the project in November 2020, then-health secretary Matt Hancock said the laboratory ‘confirms the UK as a world leader in diagnostics’, capable of carrying out 300,000 tests a day. But three years later, the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory – named in honour of the renowned British scientist – stands empty, a monument to waste and incompetence, and up for sale on the property website Rightmove.
One in Five Experience Rebound COVID After Antiviral Drug, New Study Shows. A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found that one in five individuals taking nirmatrelvir-ritonavir therapy, commonly known as Paxlovid, to treat severe symptoms of COVID-19 had a positive test result and shed live potentially contagious virus following an initial recovery and negative test — a phenomenon known as virologic rebound. By contrast, people not taking Paxlovid experienced rebound only about 2 percent of the time.
Saltwater Gargling May Help Avoid COVID Hospitalization. Gargling and nasal rinsing with saltwater several times a day appeared to be associated with significantly lower COVID-19 hospitalization rates in a small, randomized, double-blind, controlled study. "The hypothesis was that interventions that target the upper respiratory tract may reduce the frequency and duration of upper respiratory symptoms associated with COVID 19," said Sebastian Espinoza, first author of the study.
Covid Mandates & Lockdowns
Why Delay the Pandemic Start Date? If many people had already been infected by, say, November or December 2019, why was it so important for officials to say this was not the case? Why was it so important to date the explosion of world spread to late March and April 2020? Wouldn’t the Same Nonsensical and Draconian ‘Mitigation’ Measures Have Happened … Just Earlier?
A COVID-19 vaccine reckoning is coming for the DOJ over federal mandates. The Justice Department has just posted a new jobs ad — it’s looking for eight new attorneys to defend the federal government in vaccine injury cases. Presumably, the hiring spree is in anticipation of a surge of COVID vaccine lawsuits, as people who were forced by government mandates to take the jab, and suffered serious side effects as a result, try to extract compensation from a system that is stacked against them.
The epidemiological impact of digital and manual contact tracing on the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the Netherlands: empirical evidence. (preprint) The Dutch government introduced the CoronaMelder smartphone application for digital contact tracing (DCT) to complement manual contact tracing (MCT) by Public Health Services (PHS) during the 2020-2022 SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. Modelling studies showed great potential but empirical evidence of DCT and MCT impact is scarce. Conclusions. The data suggest that the impact of DCT and MCT on the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in the Netherlands was limited.
Covid lockdowns were NO more effective than Swedish-style softer approach, major Oxford University-backed study suggests. Researchers modelled virus death and unemployment rates in response to different pandemic policies. Results showed imposing blanket shutdowns, which forced people to stay home and closed essential shops, squashed fatality rates for the virus. However, leaving people to adapt their own behaviour — similar to the controversial approach used in Sweden — was just as effective, data revealed.
US Army asks troops who left over Covid mandate to come back as war looms. This comes as the US Military struggles to achieve targeted recruitment numbers due to years of "woke" political activism which has reportedly turned off its primary recruitment base. The Army issued a recent letter to "former service members" informing them that they can apply to return to service following the rescission of the vaccine requirement. The Army had enacted forced separations for unvaccinated service members early last year, and announced in early 2023 that they had rescinded the mandate for current service members and applicants.
The collapse in Treasury bonds now ranks among the worst market crashes in history. Since March 2020, Treasury bonds with maturities of 10 years or more have plummeted 46%, Bloomberg says. That's just under losses seen in the stock market when the dot-com bubble burst. The bond rout is worse than the one seen in 1981 when the 10-year yield neared 16%.
Billions Unaccounted for at 25 US Government Agencies. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that numerous government agencies had “discrepancies” in their 2022 budgets. Twenty-five agencies in total failed to properly report their expenditures to USAspending, which is intended to act as American’s guide to where their tax dollars are going. The GAO is now urging Congress to hold these agencies accountable. To the surprise of no one, COVID related spending reports contained the largest errors. In fact, the Treasury stated $231.5 billion was budgeted for the pandemic in their annual report, but only $36 billion was reported to USAspending.
The CPI Comes With Insane Assumptions. It is safe to assume that the government is overtly lying about the true level of price inflation throughout the economy. Earlier today the CPI prints for October hit the market and the "official" inflation numbers came in below expectations. This caused markets to rally across the board as the low print was taken as a signal that the Fed is properly taming inflation, which means that the likelihood of a reverse in interest rate policy has increased. One of the more egregious data points is health insurance costs, which the government is claiming have fallen by more than 30% since this time last year. All one has to do is look at the disability stats in the US over the last few years to deduce that this is pure data manipulation.
RFK details importance of bitcoin for U.S. freedoms, ‘It’s a guarantee of democracy’. “I really started investigating bitcoin and the more that I learned about it, the more I fell in love with it and fell in love with the community,” Kennedy recalled. “It’s democracy. It’s a guarantee of democracy, that decentralization.” Kennedy has made it clear that he would usher in a wave of bitcoin adoption and regulatory clarity for the crypto industry if elected, vowing to partially back the U.S. dollar with bitcoin and to make BTC gains exempt from capital gains taxes.
Where Have All the Foreign Buyers Gone for U.S. Treasury Debt? Overseas private investors and central banks now own about 30% of all outstanding U.S. government debt, down from roughly 43% a decade ago. Foreigners no longer have an insatiable appetite for U.S. government debt. That’s bad news for Washington. The U.S. Treasury market is in the midst of major supply and demand changes. The Federal Reserve is shedding its portfolio at a rate of about $60 billion a month. Overseas buyers who were once important sources of demand—China and Japan in particular—have become less reliable lately.
Sudden cardiac death affecting 12 young people every week – what is this ‘silent killer’? The charity Cardiac Risk in the Young estimates that every week, at least 12 people aged between 14 and 35 suffer sudden cardiac death – and 1 in 300 may carry the condition. A leading pathologist has told Channel 4 News they believe those figures are an under-estimate.
Can’t Think, Can’t Remember: More Americans Say They’re in a Cognitive Fog. Adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s are driving the trend. Researchers point to long Covid as a major cause. Richard Deitz, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, analyzed the data and attributed much of the increase to long Covid. “These numbers don’t do this — they don’t just start suddenly increasing sharply like this,” he said.
US life expectancy data prove ‘experts’ are literally killing us. America’s public health “experts” somehow missed the biggest crisis in recent history: the cratering of US life expectancy to near-three-decade lows, per recent data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s right! The last time Americans on average were living shorter lives than they are today was in 1996. The drop puts the US in the top six biggest declines globally and leaves us overtaken by almost every other developed nation.
First trial of ‘base editing’ in humans lowers cholesterol — but raises safety concerns. Super-precise gene-editing approach switches off a gene in the liver that regulates ‘bad’ cholesterol. The treatment has some side effects: participants experienced brief flu-like symptoms, including fever, headaches and body aches, as well as a temporary increase in liver enzymes, which returned to normal within days. But two of the ten participants experienced cardiovascular events: one died from a heart attack five weeks after receiving VERVE-101, and the other had a heart attack after one day.
FBI, CDC Ignored Concerns Over California-Based Chinese Biolab Containing Deadly Pathogens. Released by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday, the findings reveal how Chinese nationals have been conducting experiments on several deadly pathogens in a Reedley, California, biolab under the discretion of a Chinese man connected to Beijing’s communist government. During their inspection of the warehouse on May 3, CDC employees discovered that the Reedley Biolab housed “at least 20 potentially infectious agents,” including “the deadliest known form of Malaria,” HIV, Tuberculosis, and SARS-CoV-2 (otherwise known as Covid-19), among others.
Israel said seeking to appoint UK’s Tony Blair as Gaza humanitarian coordinator. With pressure on Jerusalem growing to do more for Strip’s civilians, Netanyahu reportedly hopes former British PM will take on task, providing war effort with greater legitimacy. Blair’s office said in a statement to Ynet that “Mr. Blair maintains an office in Israel and he continues to work on matters tied to Israel and the Palestinians.
US Is Quietly Sending Israel More Ammunition, Missiles. The Pentagon has quietly ramped up military aid to Israel, delivering on requests that include more laser-guided missiles for its Apache gunship fleet, as well as 155mm shells, night-vision devices, bunker-buster munitions and new army vehicles, according to an internal Defense Department list. The weapons pipeline to Israel is extending beyond the well-publicized provision of Iron Dome interceptors and Boeing Co. smart bombs. It continues even as Biden administration officials increasingly caution Israel about trying to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
Flagellantism Is the New Political Ritual. In a world governed by flagellantism, ugly formlessness rises to replace aspirational art and imaginative creativity. This is why public art is so depressing and why even the clothing we can afford at the store all looks dreary and uniform. In this world, too, gender differences disappear as luxurious signs of decadence we can no longer afford. Degrowth is the economic model of flagellantism, reducing consumption, embracing privation, acquiescing to austerity. We no longer declare recessions to be on their way because recession is the new way we live, the realization of the plan. The word recession implies a future of recovery, and that is not in the cards.
Identity politics and the retreat from reason. Afua Hirsch’s new book confirms that the narcissism of the new elites is undermining the Enlightenment. Fundamentally, this is a daft book. It bemoans Western capitalism while singing the praises of billionaires like Oprah Winfrey and Rihanna. (And the people, black and white, whose labour is exploited by Oprah’s media machine and Rihanna’s make-up machine? Shush! Don’t mention them.) It attacks cultural appropriation while telling the tale of this hyper-privileged Londoner who gets ‘adorned’ in the fashions of ancient Africans.
Europe’s New Digital Identity Wallet: Security or Tyranny? Last Wednesday, Thierry Breton, EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, proudly announced on Twitter/X that he had struck a deal with MEPs to create a European “digital identity wallet,” which would permit all EU citizens to have “a secured e-identity for their lifetime.” It does not require a wild leap of imagination to envisage the sorts of ways a European digital ID could be leveraged to erode the equality and freedom of Europeans, since the very same individuals that are the public face of this digital ID initiative were the ones who set in motion the most pervasive system of bio-surveillance in the history of Europe, namely the so-called “Covid digital certificates.”
Online disinformation : UNESCO unveils action plan to regulate social media platforms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO sounded the alarm on Monday about the intensification of disinformation and hate speech online, which constitutes "a major threat to stability and social cohesion". To put an end to this scourge she unveiled UNESCO's action plan, the result of extensive worldwide consultations and is backed by a global opinion survey underlining the urgent need for action.
WHO Cleaned Up Ebola Rape Scandal With $250 Payoff For Congolese Victims. When the World Health Organization went to the Congo between 2018 and 2020, nearly two-dozen workers for the UN agency preyed on more than 100 Congolese women - with dozens of staffers raping, sexually abusing, and otherwise harassing local women. One of the victims, identified in a UN report as "Jolianne," was believed to be 13-years-old. Other women say their attackers used no birth control, from which several pregnancies ensued. Some of the women were forced by their rapists to get abortions.
Why my Civil Service colleagues are celebrating the Rwanda ruling. An anonymous civil servant writes that any suggestion migration be reduced is met with horror in a defiant Home Office. Instead of dealing with the national crises facing Britain, including record legal and illegal migration, endless time is wasted. Senior staff hold events on Black History Month, Windrush and microaggressions. We are told to attend quarterly “away days” (held online usually, most of us are in the office just one day a week) where we are given prizes and are told by senior civil servants just how wrong any political or press criticism of our work is. In meetings nominally discussing policy, we are forced to listen to HR directors give lectures on diversity and hand out awards about inclusivity. We are patronised and treated like children. In spite of all this it wouldn’t matter if the Home Office was a finely oiled machine ready and eager to deliver on every possible government priority and determined to protect the UK’s borders. The clear messaging behind closed doors from the Treasury and other departments is that legal migration should be expanded to boost lacklustre economic growth.
‘This was not a surprise’: Pentagon again fails annual audit of $3.8 trillion in military assets. The Pentagon has again failed its independent annual audit, mainly because defense officials could not provide auditors with enough information to form a full accounting evaluation, according to the Defense Department’s yearly financial report released Wednesday. The Pentagon has never passed the yearly audit. The first audit only became federally required in 2018 and the department has been trying to pass them ever since.
Converging Against the Criminocrats - Essays and Talks for the New International Resistance. The criminocracy has no values: it merely pretends to have them in order to gain support – think of greenwashing, for instance. These ultra-rich are not rich by chance or because they work harder or better than the rest of us. They are rich because they are criminals, who have, like dry rot, gradually taken over the whole structure of our societies. At the current time it is accelerating its agenda towards the initial target date of 2030 and, in moving faster, is running the risk of losing the support of principled people. We are seeing individuals all over the place deciding that their personal tipping-point has been reached and saying that they can no longer go along with what is happening. As the agenda is accelerated still further in reaction to this, including increased censorship and repression, so even more principled and uncorrupted people will react against it, in the name of their deeply-held values.
UN & Bill Gates Launch “50in5” Global Digital Infrastructure Plans. Last week the United Nations Development Program officially launched their new initiative promoting “Digital Public Infrastructure” (DPI) around the world. The “50in5” program – so-called because it aims to introduce DPI in fifty countries in the next five years – began with a live-streamed event on November 8th. In related news, on the exact same day the 50in5 program launched, the European Parliament and Council of Europe agreed on a new framework for a region-wide European Digital Identity (eID) system.
Physicists Create a Holographic Wormhole Using a Quantum Computer. The unprecedented experiment explores the possibility that space-time somehow emerges from quantum information, even as the work’s interpretation remains disputed. The wormhole emerged like a hologram out of quantum bits of information, or “qubits,” stored in tiny superconducting circuits. By manipulating the qubits, the physicists then sent information through the wormhole, they reported today in the journal Nature.
Chinese scientists bring record-breaking Stirling generator to life while Nasa’s patent stays on paper. A prototype for a thermoacoustic Stirling generator has passed a milestone, in good news for space and submarine sectors. But, though Nasa has a patent for a similar power system, it has not yet revealed any prototype or performance metrics. Chinese scientists have taken a step forward in the race for alternative energy with the development of the most potent thermoacoustic Stirling generator to date. Powered by heat, the highly efficient generator operates very quietly, which is ideal for applications where silence is critical, such as in submarines and the aerospace industry.
Shoes Could Have Emerged as Much as 150,000 Years Ago, Study Suggests. Footprints without toe-marks on rocky South African beaches from the Middle Stone Age could indicate that somebody was wearing shoes. When did we start to wear shoes? The earliest direct evidence are sandals made from grasses in Europe and Oregon about 10,000 years ago. But analysis of certain fossil tracks has hinted that footwear may have been used tens of thousands of years ago – and now a study revisiting previously found tracks in South Africa may throw back the timeline of footwear to as much as 150,000 years ago.
Archaeologists Unearth a Secret Lost Language From 3,000 Years Ago. A secret text has been discovered in Türkiye, scattered among tens of thousands of ancient clay tablets, which were written in the time of the Hittite Empire during the second millennium BCE. No one yet knows what the curious cuneiform script says, but it seems to be a long-lost language from more than 3,000 years ago. Experts say the mysterious idiom is unlike any other ancient written language found in the Middle East, although it seems to share roots with other Anatolian-Indo-European languages.
China unveils bold plan to mass-produce humanoid robots by 2025. The blueprint claims that the humanoid robots would be as "disruptive" as smartphones and would "reshape the world." According to the MIIT, the humanoid robots would reach an “advanced level” by 2025 and would be mass-produced by then. The ministry outlined its development goals in its roadmap, which also sparked a surge in the shares of Chinese robotics companies.
Tesla solar panels were going to change the world. What happened? In 2016, Elon Musk stepped onstage to show us the home of the future. As well as a battery in its two-car garage, the future home had solar roof tiles in a choice of slate grey or Tuscan red. Seven years later, having won its lawsuit over the purchase of Solarcity, what was once a pillar of the Tesla strategy has been pushed further and further into the background. Not much is said any more about the status of the Solar Roof, nor Tesla’s solar efforts more generally. Neither “Solar” nor “Energy Generation” garnered a mention in the company’s Q3 2023 earnings call. To be fair, there are a few reasons why Tesla might want to offer a nuanced view of its once-vaunted solar business. Across the solar industry, the bloom is well and truly off the rose.
Chinese researchers claim they can break 2048-bit RSA using quantum computers, entire tech world at risk. In a startling claim, some Chinese researchers have claimed that they can break 2048-bit RSA encryption using existing quantum computers. If true, the claim will remake the entire tech world and internet as it will put at everything digital at a risk. The claim from Chinese researchers comes as a shock to the entire cyber security community. Needless to say, given the nature of the claims, most experts are treating it is implausible until more proof can be offered.
Ukrainian military officer coordinated Nord Stream pipeline attack. Roman Chervinsky, a colonel in Ukraine’s special operations forces, was integral to the brazen sabotage operation, say people familiar with planning. Chervinsky did not act alone, and he did not plan the operation, according to the people familiar with his role, which has not been previously reported. The officer took orders from more senior Ukrainian officials, who ultimately reported to Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s highest-ranking military officer, said people familiar with how the operation was carried out.
It’s Time to End Magical Thinking About Russia’s Defeat. Putin has withstood the West’s best efforts to reverse his invasion of Ukraine, and his hold on power is firm. The U.S. and its allies need a new strategy: containment. Putin has reason to believe that time is on his side. At the front line, there are no indications that Russia is losing what has become a war of attrition. The Russian economy has been buffeted, but it is not in tatters. Putin’s hold on power was, paradoxically, strengthened following Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed rebellion in June. Popular support for the war remains solid, and elite backing for Putin has not fractured.
Children are given flu vaccine to protect adults. CHILDREN are being used as human shields against influenza, the UK Health Security Agency has admitted. The government organisation, responsible for public health protection, says that the live attenuated flu mist is administered primarily to protect babies and the elderly, as children and teenagers are at very low risk of dying of influenza. They derive little benefit from the shot which, like all medical interventions, comes with risks. A UKHSA spokesman said: ‘Vaccinating [children] also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people.’ [Does it even protect adults?]
Millions of Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases in 2021, Files Show. Newly obtained files show U.S. officials knew of more than five million COVID-19 cases in the vaccinated. While so-called breakthrough cases are already a known phenomenon—starting within days of the first shots being rolled out—the files, obtained from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show the amount of vaccine failure was much higher than previously known.
Chickenpox vaccine to be offered to all babies and toddlers. Chickenpox cases were significantly reduced during the pandemic due to social restrictions, meaning there is currently a larger pool of children than usual without immunity. The JCVI said the vaccine should be added to the childhood immunisation programme, with a dose at 12 months and 18 months.
Concerns over informed consent for pregnant women in Pfizer’s RSV vaccine trial. Some experts have criticised Pfizer for not informing pregnant women in its trial of maternal respiratory syncytial virus vaccine that trials of a similar vaccine were halted over a potential risk of preterm birth. Others think that notification would have been premature and caused unnecessary anxiety. Charles Weijer, bioethics professor at Western University in London, Canada, told The BMJ that informing pregnant women in Pfizer’s trial about GSK’s results would have allowed women who had not yet received the jab to consider whether they still wanted to get it and women who had already received it to seek additional medical advice and follow-up. “Any failure to provide new and potentially important safety information data to trial participants is ethically problematic,” Weijer said.
Vaccine could have tripled Iceland’s Covid death rate. NOW that the numbers are in, the Icelandic Chief Medical Officer (CMO) claims vaccination against Covid-19 reduced the probability of death from the disease by half, compared with no vaccination. But the actual figures tell a very different story, and the method used to arrive at this conclusion is questionable to say the least. The actual reduction in deaths is negligible at best, and the most worrying result is how those fully vaccinated (two doses) were almost three times more likely to die from the disease than the unvaccinated. In summary, only 20 lives were potentially saved in Iceland by Covid-19 vaccination, while 60-70 may have been lost to the disease in the vaccinated. When we take into account the number of deaths reported following vaccination, the overall result of the experiment is likely to be negative.
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