The lockdowns of March 2020 shocked the American people and most public health agencies, not to mention infectious disease doctors.
The idea of school shutdowns, business closures, plus mandatory remote work and other restrictions have previously seemed inconceivable. It was especially remarkable to have such an “all-of-government” response to a virus that we already knew posed a threat mainly to the elderly and infirm.
Issues like public-health precedent, American legal tradition, and medical knowledge about dealing with respiratory viruses, not to mention natural immunity and collateral damage of lockdowns, were all thrown out the window.
Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s book The Real Anthony Fauci mentions a tabletop exercise called “Crimson Contagion” that ran from January through August, 2019. I had not previously heard of it and I found the mention remarkable, simply because it proves that not everyone was shocked by lockdowns.
They were not part of official planning documents of either the CDC or WHO but they were clearly in the plans of someone.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told The Times of Israel that the US should sell F-35 fighter jets to Arab countries that have normalized with Israel under the Abraham Accords in exchange for investments that could benefit the Palestinians.
The Trump administration promised 50 F-35s to the UAE as its reward for normalizing with Israel. The deal was held up due to concerns in Congress about Israel losing its military edge in the region if the UAE acquires the jets, which have never been sold to a US Arab ally.
The Biden administration ultimately said it supports the F-35 sale, which is part of a major $23 billion arms deal that includes Reaper drones and munitions, but the sale still hasn’t been finalized.
It appears that Hunter Biden was emailing Devon Archer information he received from a briefing his father and Vice President Joe Biden held earlier. Or the information may have come directly from top-secret documents.
A possible visit by US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to Taiwan would likely prompt a military response from mainland China, but milder than the one that followed former speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit, observers said.
The US Defence Department is preparing for McCarthy to visit Taiwan this spring, Punchbowl News reported, in what would be the second trip to the island by a US House speaker in less than a year.
A meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit last November was intended to pave the way for improved relations between the two nations, but a possible McCarthy visit has stoked new concerns of another deterioration in relations.
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Two articles I read Monday are typical of polarized, indeed antithetical, views on the Russia-Ukraine War.
At the British Guardian, Simon Tisdall says this is Europe’s moment to step up and support Ukraine in a righteous war against Putin. He concludes, with passion:
Zelenskiy is right. Risk-averse Nato has been too slow and too cautious from the start. To outpace tyranny, Europe must fight – and fight to win. Our common future depends on it.
Putin, the tyrant, must be stopped in Ukraine, or Poland and Germany could be next. Fighting to win means that Ukraine must be given not only hundreds of Leopard 2 tanks but also combat jets. The combination of tanks, jets, and related ancillary equipment will enable Ukraine to drive Russian forces out of the country in a quasi-Blitzkrieg operation. Victory to the West!
An Israeli group raising funds for Jewish extremists convicted in some of the country’s most notorious hate crimes is collecting tax-exempt donations from Americans, according to findings by The Associated Press and the Israeli investigative platform Shomrim.
The records in the case suggest that Israel’s far right is gaining a new foothold in the United States.
The amount of money raised through a U.S. nonprofit is not known. But the AP and Shomrim have documented the money trail from New Jersey to imprisoned Israeli radicals who include Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin and people convicted in deadly attacks on Palestinians.
This overseas fundraising arrangement has made it easier for the Israeli group, Shlom Asiraich, to collect money from Americans, who can make their contributions through the U.S. nonprofit with a credit card and claim a tax deduction.
Many Israeli causes, from hospitals to universities to charities, raise money through U.S.-based arms. But having the strategy adopted by a group assisting Jewish radicals raises legal and moral questions.
It wasn’t an ordinary strike. It wasn’t about better pay, and it wasn’t about better working conditions. Rather, it was about preventing an overthrow of the system of government that could easily wipe out the industry that employs and sustains them.
Hundreds of high-tech workers, perhaps as many as a thousand, participated in Tuesday’s hour-long strike – from 11 A.M. to noon – in one of the main industry hubs in Tel Aviv, just outside the Defense Ministry headquarters. They came carrying Israeli flags and signs that read “No democracy, no high-tech” and “No freedom, no high-tech.”
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday that an armed conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is "imminent," and called for reinforcing police forces and creating a national guard to operate within Israel's borders.
According to the far-right lawmaker, who spoke at a press conference alongside Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, the most common assessment by security officials is that "Guardian of the Walls 2 is imminent," referring to the name given by the IDF to the 2021 military conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.
"In such a scenario there is only one solution: strengthening the police and establishing a national guard," Ben-Gvir said, hinting that another nationwide wave of violence akin to the one experienced in Israel's mixed Jewish-Arab cities in 2021 is to be expected in case of another military conflict in Gaza.
In a piece of bizarre political theater, the US now officially recognizes a government in Venezuela that does not exist. Despite the termination of the government recognized by the US, State Department spokesman Ned Price assured a press briefing that "our approach has not changed." The US still considers the elected President illegitimate – an increasingly isolated position – and the assembly the unelected president led legitimate, though he no longer leads it, and they are no longer the assembly.
Since February of 2019, the US has recognized the never elected Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, creating an already bizarre situation in which there were parallel governments in Venezuela: one recognized within the country and one recognized outside the country.
But the US plan failed in its goal of removing Nicolás Maduro from power. And after four years, the opposition in Venezuela decided to abandon the plan and move on. At the end of December, 2022, Venezuela’s opposition lawmakers by an overwhelming preliminary vote of 72-23, removed Guaidó from power and pulled the plug on his interim government. On December 30, three of Venezuela’s four main opposition parties supported the proposal to remove Guaidó.
In May 2019 Rudy Giuliani announced that he would travel to Ukraine to question leaders on the pay-for-play on the Biden Crime family.
After leaving office in 2017, Vice President Joe Biden Bragged about strong-arming the government of Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor.
Joe Biden made the remarks during a meeting of foreign policy specialists. Biden said he, “Threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.” Biden suggested during his talk that Barack Obama was also in on the threat.
In April 2019 John Solomon revealed what Biden did not tell his audience. Joe Biden had Shokin fired because he was investigating bribes to Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Shokin was investigating $3 million in funds that were being transferred out of Ukraine and into accounts in the United States at that time.
Joe Biden had him fired.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday appointed members to the select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government.
“The government has a responsibility to serve the American people, not go after them,” McCarthy said. “Unfortunately, throughout Democrats’ one-party rule in Washington we saw a dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”
A former Las Vegas Judge committed suicide a year after she resigned from her position after facing an ethics investigation.
Per the Clark County coroner’s office, Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to Andress-Tobiasson, she resigned in an attempt to avoid a complicated ethics investigation that started when she attempted to rescue her daughter from being allegedly sex trafficked.
Andress-Tobiasson troubles began when her 16 year old daughter started to work at Top Knotch, a clothing store that Andress-Tobiasso believed was running a prostitution ring that would recruit teenage girls.
In an act she believed would protect her daughter, Andress-Tobiasso reached out to local law enforcement to warn them about the store owner at the time, but she claimed she received no action.
This led to to Abdress-Tobiasso to reach out to Federal investigators which resulted in the Nevada’s Judicial Discipline Commission to launch an investigation into Andress-Tobiasso for breaching judicial rules.
European politician Věra Jourová warned Elon Musk from the World Economic Forum in Davos that Twitter will face “sanctions” if it does not shut down some forms of speech.
Jourová, the European Commission’s Vice President for Values and Transparency, told Euronews Next that Twitter may face penalties for enabling free speech in violation of European Union regulations. “The time of the Wild West is over,” she said.
“We will have the Digital Services Act [DSA]. We will have the Code of Practice as a part of this legislation,” Jourová said. “So, after Mr. Musk took over Twitter with his ‘freedom of speech absolutism’ – we are the protectors of freedom of speech as well. But at the same time, we cannot accept, for instance, illegal content online and so on. So, our message was clear: we have rules which have to be complied with, otherwise there will be sanctions.”
This would make a good TV thriller: a few years in the future, with the world in economic turmoil and the whole planet in a tense, uncertain mess, French-speaking Quebec finally breaks away from Canada in a dramatic, overwhelming referendum.
Canada grins and bears it. But then Quebec’s elected government is overthrown by ultra-nationalist fanatics, after violent riots in Montreal in which Chinese diplomats and politicians openly support the protesters. One minister from Peking is even recorded, on his phone, discussing the make-up of a new Quebec government with the Chinese ambassador to Montreal.
The new Quebec regime gives a hard time to the country’s remaining English-speakers, knowing perfectly well that this will infuriate English-speaking Canadians and Americans. It also makes a huge trade deal with Peking, and follows that by forming a military alliance.
Within a year or so, there are Chinese troops and aircraft in Montreal, just 370 miles from New York City. What’s more, China says it plans to site missile launchers in Quebec. It says these are purely defensive. But as it happens they could also be used to fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. ‘We wouldn’t do that,’ says China. But there is no treaty to stop it doing so.
What do you think the United States government would do in these circumstances?
The judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion has charged Lebanon’s then-prime minister, Hassan Diab, and two other former ministers with homicide with probable intent, according to a court summons seen by the Reuters news agency.
Other top officials, including the country’s public prosecutor and the head of the domestic intelligence agency, were also charged in connection with the blast, judicial sources said on Tuesday.
Judge Tarek Bitar, who has unexpectedly resumed an inquiry that has been paralysed by high-level political resistance, has scheduled questioning with Prosecutor General Ghassan Oweidat for February.
Pierre Gemayel, brother of a victim, told Al Jazeera that he was surprised but also happy with Bitar’s move.
“It is not normal [that for] more than one year the investigation is blocked; now we have a little hope that something is moving on,” he said.
Bitar’s efforts to interrogate top officials over the explosion, which killed at least 218 people and shattered parts of Beirut, have been hindered by factions including heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah.