Blog Feeds

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Youth power – Don’t ask – Take

offsite link When the establishment betrays the people?s trust Anthony

offsite link The day Eoghan Harris went bad Anthony

offsite link Declining standards in Irish journalism Anthony

offsite link Mainstream media: Failing to speak truth to power Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

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

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

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

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

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

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Lockdown Skeptics

The Daily Sceptic

offsite link Does This Data From Public Health Scotland Show that Vaccine Effectiveness Against Death is Just 46%... Mon Aug 02, 2021 00:55 | Will Jones
A rough calculation based on recent death data from PHS suggests that, with 87% of deaths in the vaccinated, vaccine effectiveness against death may be considerably less than studies have suggested.
The post Does This Data From Public Health Scotland Show that Vaccine Effectiveness Against Death is Just 46%? appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link Tens of Millions of Brits Will Be Offered Pfizer Booster Vaccine This Autumn Sun Aug 01, 2021 13:31 | Michael Curzon
Millions of Brits will be offered a Pfizer vaccine booster later this year, even if their first two doses were from another provider, because it has proved to be more effective against the Delta Covid variant.
The post Tens of Millions of Brits Will Be Offered Pfizer Booster Vaccine This Autumn appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link Andrew Bridgen MP Criticises Government Over ?Serious Infringement on People?s Liberties? Threatened... Sun Aug 01, 2021 12:08 | Michael Curzon
Andrew Bridgen MP has criticised the Government for "trying to aggressively coerce young people" into getting 'jabbed' with threats of vaccine passports, but says the plans would not pass through the House of Commons.
The post Andrew Bridgen MP Criticises Government Over ?Serious Infringement on People?s Liberties? Threatened by Vaccine Passports appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link Australia Uses Helicopters and the Army to Enforce Lockdown Rules Sun Aug 01, 2021 11:07 | Michael Curzon
Australia is using its army to enforce strict 'Zero-Covid' lockdown measures, with helicopters flying over parts of the country telling rule-breakers: "You will be found and fines issued."
The post Australia Uses Helicopters and the Army to Enforce Lockdown Rules appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

offsite link News Round-Up Sun Aug 01, 2021 01:45 | Toby Young
A summary of all the most interesting stories that have appeared about Covid and other areas of warranted scepticism in the past 24 hours ? not just in Britain, but around the world.
The post News Round-Up appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.

Lockdown Skeptics >>

Voltaire Network
Voltaire, international edition

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

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

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

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

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

Voltaire Network >>

Jeffrey A. Tucker - Wed Aug 04, 2021 01:57

If you want an interesting encounter with human fury, hop on over to your local pharmacy. Hang out in the area where people are lined up for scheduled or walk-in Covid vaccines on this August 3, 2021, as the pressure to get the jab reaches a fevered pitch and the noncompliant are being blamed for the very existence of SARS-CoV-2. In a friendly way, ask what they are up to and what they expect. I guarantee you will get an earful.

At this late stage, everyone who wanted the vaccine, because they made their own free choice based on risk evaluation, has done so. The people who remain are facing forms of compulsion from work, travel demands, or are just sick of being treated like society’s vermin. And they are livid. They are dreading it. They feel badgered, hectored, tyrannized. No matter how many lectures they get from government officials – no matter how much Biden shames and blames them – they aren’t having it.

They will likely be angry forever. If government officials and media pundits really wanted to recruit a dedicated anti-vaccine army, this is a good way to go about it. Make people do things to their bodies against their own will and you engender a lifetime of resentment.

Some of these people have had Covid in the past. They know very well, because they can read in scientific journals, about the immunities that recovery confers. They suffered the illness but are being robbed of the payoff by elites who only trust the pharmacy. Of course, you will not hear about natural immunity on mainstream news channels because, for reasons that are lost on every medical professional, there is still near-silence on this topic in news coverage.

Neither the CDC nor the WHO is willing now to speak on one of the most remarkable scientific discoveries that came with the birth of modern times. It’s been wiped off the map of public culture for reasons that are still unclear.

Other holdouts have looked at the demographic data and noted that they are at astonishingly low risk for any severe outcomes from getting sick with this virus. They are willing to take this risk exactly as we take risks for catching any other respiratorial virus that exists on the planet earth and always has. Risking sickness – and gaining immunities from recovery – is part of life now and always has been, as bizarrely difficult as that seems to be to accept today.

Others have tricky health issues and worry about side effects. For others, the idea of taking this new jab using new technology just feels icky – and that is their human right to feel that way!

Nonetheless, these poor souls are being demonized. Listen to Trump’s former head of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Writing in the New York Times, he says “Whether such skepticism is rooted in political misgivings, conspiracy theories or lack of accurate and timely information, there are still millions of Americans unwilling to take the simplest of steps to end this pandemic.”

So there you have it. The only reason this man can imagine that people are not stepping up is that they are dumb or consumed with politics. This is ridiculous. On balance, no one is better than the individual at evaluating health benefits and risks than the individual in consultation with medical professionals, many of whom have very balanced opinions on this matter.

It makes no sense to anyone that he or she should turn over the decision over whether to get an injection to a career government bureaucrat who generally thinks that the American people are dumb as chickens.

As for a step to “end this pandemic,” based on the numbers, that is happening or has happened already, unless we are going for that pipe dream of total elimination rather than endemicity. Not even universal vaccination will achieve elimination, as even the CDC is saying now with the well-documented prevalence of breakthrough cases thanks to the Delta variant.

And speaking of that variant – yes, every such virus mutates and that is wholly normal, trading out severity for prevalence, as is usually the case – one man in the line I saw today flat out said it: “All this preaching about Delta, Delta, Delta, is merely to scare more people into compliance with their mandate.”

Interesting theory!

Let’s move on to the vaccine mandates. A month ago, those who speculated on this were denounced as crazy, paranoid conspiracy theorists. Apparently, last month’s conspiracy is this month’s reality. The governor of New York (under pressure not for destroying his state or condemning thousands of elderly citizens to their deaths by forcing Covid patients into nursing homes but rather for violations of workplace gender decorum) is demanding that private businesses impose exclusions of the unvaccinated. Many have complied, most with high proximity to powerful people – in the usual trajectory in which nominally private companies serve statist interests at some critical level of intervention.

Around the same day, media figures began to pester both the US president and the head of the CDC about the possibility of a national mandate. They both hedged their answers, effectively holding out a real possibility. They are both surrounded by fanatics who have decided that the unvaccinated are ignorant rubes who are dirty and deserve to be muscled. The only criticism they get within their own social circles is from people for whom there can never be enough mandates. They have never met someone who rejects a vaccine for principled or prudential reasons.

Now to the tender subject of New York City and its new city-wide mandate. It was imposed by executive order by the most unpopular mayor of that city in living memory. This man is literally despised, and New Yorkers are counting the days until he is gone and a new mayor takes his place. He has deployed a huge and draconian new order on one of the world’s great cities that could fundamentally change the entire experience.

There is nothing democratic or consensual about any of this. It’s a pure act of executive despotism of the sort one would otherwise think would be ruled out by the whole pro-choice ethos of American culture. But when lockdowns came so too ended the presumption of liberty and rights for people, and thus began an era when sheer political will and power can override every presumption about what makes a sociopolitical order great. We literally threw out centuries of precedent and presumptions about liberty into the thrash.

How well thought-out is this new order, set to go into effect in only two weeks and then enforced weeks later? Consider this from the Wall Street Journal. “Children under the age of 12, who cannot be vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would likely not be excluded from the program’s outlined indoor activities, Mr. de Blasio said, adding the policy would be worked through in the coming days and weeks.”

So Broadway shows of children’s plays are permanently banned? Families cannot eat in restaurants? Kids under 12 cannot go to indoor events at all? Is this serious? Media questioned New York officials about all of this, and it truly appeared as if the geniuses running the city had completely forgotten to think about children at all. The question alone seemed to take them by surprise. If they exempt them, there is already a problem. Why include a 12-year-old but exclude an unvaccinated 13-year old?

Regardless, this is an appalling and unthinkable amount of compulsion to impose for the sake of a vaccine that the willing have long ago accepted and about which the remainders have either grave doubts or hard-core opposition. People figure that it will be challenged in court but that takes time and money, and it is not at all clear how courts will respond.

In the end, though lawsuits are fabulous and there should be many more, I don’t see how they stop this tyranny. I’m not sure what precisely does but I know this much: a people and culture that acquiesces to this level of imposition is not well suited for the preservation of liberty or civilization in general. This really does feel like a new chapter in the history of American rights violations.

Every time we observe and experience these overreaches, based on no real science or even rationale, we are assured that this is the end. There is no real foul play here. This is not designed to prepare us for something worse. The boosters are not a thing. We won’t have to carry around a health passport with re-upped shots, and certainly there will not be a China-style social credit scheme in the US.

Sure. Just like there would be no lockdowns, promised Anthony Fauci in January 2020. It’s only two weeks. It’s only about hospital capacity. There will be no travel restrictions. Your churches will open soon. There will be no police enforcement of stay-at-home orders. There will be no mask mandates. There will be no vaccine mandates, no passports, no brutalization of the population. None of this will happen, they always said, and each time the promise has been nothing but a foreshadowing of another layer of compulsion.

These days the advance of statist impositions seems to be increasing by the hour, alongside the demonization of dissent. Yes, it is demoralizing. It is designed to do just that. If you give in, you are doing exactly what they intend.

The other day, Anthony Fauci in passing spoke about individual rights. Somehow he managed even to flip that idea on its head, saying that if you spread a respiratorial virus, you have imposed on individual rights, never mind that there is no precedent in the history of modern life for such a claim in law or practice. To be out and about in society and living a free life necessarily involves the circulation of both germs and the resulting bolstering of immunities that has made a mighty contribution to individual and global health. His principle would doom us all to the most dangerous status encountered by peoples in human experience: that of immunological naivete that turns even mild pathogens into mortal threats.

My mind races back often to those several days in the middle of March 2020, when governments dared trample on every tradition of law, liberty, and public health. What would this unleash, I wondered? Once governments have decided that it falls mainly to the police power to manage the trajectory of a virus with a 99.8% survival rate, and not anywhere close to that for healthy adults, what could be next? How will this tendency be contained if there is not some massive repudiation of such futile and destructive tactics?

Humanity has long known about the tendency of governments to resist admitting error. Very few ever do. That refusal is costing us dearly right now, as they added layer upon layer of compulsion as a cover for honestly coming to terms with the appalling failures of the last 18 months. There must be a reckoning, just as with other terrible public policies in the last century such as the Iraq War. They tend to come decades after the misdeed, only once one generation of ill-doers has passed the torch to another that at least fears a repeat of catastrophe.

Source: Brownstone Institute

If you want an interesting encounter with human fury, hop on over to your local pharmacy. Hang out in the area where people are lined up for scheduled or walk-in Covid vaccines on this August 3, 2021, as the pressure to get the jab reaches a fevered pitch and the noncompliant are being blamed for the very existence of SARS-CoV-2. In a friendly way, ask what they are up to and what they expect. I guarantee you will get an earful.

At this late stage, everyone who wanted the vaccine, because they made their own free choice based on risk evaluation, has done so. The people who remain are facing forms of compulsion from work, travel demands, or are just sick of being treated like society’s vermin. And they are livid. They are dreading it. They feel badgered, hectored, tyrannized. No matter how many lectures they get from government officials – no matter how much Biden shames and blames them – they aren’t having it.

They will likely be angry forever. If government officials and media pundits really wanted to recruit a dedicated anti-vaccine army, this is a good way to go about it. Make people do things to their bodies against their own will and you engender a lifetime of resentment.

Some of these people have had Covid in the past. They know very well, because they can read in scientific journals, about the immunities that recovery confers. They suffered the illness but are being robbed of the payoff by elites who only trust the pharmacy. Of course, you will not hear about natural immunity on mainstream news channels because, for reasons that are lost on every medical professional, there is still near-silence on this topic in news coverage.

Neither the CDC nor the WHO is willing now to speak on one of the most remarkable scientific discoveries that came with the birth of modern times. It’s been wiped off the map of public culture for reasons that are still unclear.

Other holdouts have looked at the demographic data and noted that they are at astonishingly low risk for any severe outcomes from getting sick with this virus. They are willing to take this risk exactly as we take risks for catching any other respiratorial virus that exists on the planet earth and always has. Risking sickness – and gaining immunities from recovery – is part of life now and always has been, as bizarrely difficult as that seems to be to accept today.

Others have tricky health issues and worry about side effects. For others, the idea of taking this new jab using new technology just feels icky – and that is their human right to feel that way!

Nonetheless, these poor souls are being demonized. Listen to Trump’s former head of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Writing in the New York Times, he says “Whether such skepticism is rooted in political misgivings, conspiracy theories or lack of accurate and timely information, there are still millions of Americans unwilling to take the simplest of steps to end this pandemic.”

So there you have it. The only reason this man can imagine that people are not stepping up is that they are dumb or consumed with politics. This is ridiculous. On balance, no one is better than the individual at evaluating health benefits and risks than the individual in consultation with medical professionals, many of whom have very balanced opinions on this matter.

It makes no sense to anyone that he or she should turn over the decision over whether to get an injection to a career government bureaucrat who generally thinks that the American people are dumb as chickens.

As for a step to “end this pandemic,” based on the numbers, that is happening or has happened already, unless we are going for that pipe dream of total elimination rather than endemicity. Not even universal vaccination will achieve elimination, as even the CDC is saying now with the well-documented prevalence of breakthrough cases thanks to the Delta variant.

And speaking of that variant – yes, every such virus mutates and that is wholly normal, trading out severity for prevalence, as is usually the case – one man in the line I saw today flat out said it: “All this preaching about Delta, Delta, Delta, is merely to scare more people into compliance with their mandate.”

Interesting theory!

Let’s move on to the vaccine mandates. A month ago, those who speculated on this were denounced as crazy, paranoid conspiracy theorists. Apparently, last month’s conspiracy is this month’s reality. The governor of New York (under pressure not for destroying his state or condemning thousands of elderly citizens to their deaths by forcing Covid patients into nursing homes but rather for violations of workplace gender decorum) is demanding that private businesses impose exclusions of the unvaccinated. Many have complied, most with high proximity to powerful people – in the usual trajectory in which nominally private companies serve statist interests at some critical level of intervention.

Around the same day, media figures began to pester both the US president and the head of the CDC about the possibility of a national mandate. They both hedged their answers, effectively holding out a real possibility. They are both surrounded by fanatics who have decided that the unvaccinated are ignorant rubes who are dirty and deserve to be muscled. The only criticism they get within their own social circles is from people for whom there can never be enough mandates. They have never met someone who rejects a vaccine for principled or prudential reasons.

Now to the tender subject of New York City and its new city-wide mandate. It was imposed by executive order by the most unpopular mayor of that city in living memory. This man is literally despised, and New Yorkers are counting the days until he is gone and a new mayor takes his place. He has deployed a huge and draconian new order on one of the world’s great cities that could fundamentally change the entire experience.

There is nothing democratic or consensual about any of this. It’s a pure act of executive despotism of the sort one would otherwise think would be ruled out by the whole pro-choice ethos of American culture. But when lockdowns came so too ended the presumption of liberty and rights for people, and thus began an era when sheer political will and power can override every presumption about what makes a sociopolitical order great. We literally threw out centuries of precedent and presumptions about liberty into the thrash.

How well thought-out is this new order, set to go into effect in only two weeks and then enforced weeks later? Consider this from the Wall Street Journal. “Children under the age of 12, who cannot be vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would likely not be excluded from the program’s outlined indoor activities, Mr. de Blasio said, adding the policy would be worked through in the coming days and weeks.”

So Broadway shows of children’s plays are permanently banned? Families cannot eat in restaurants? Kids under 12 cannot go to indoor events at all? Is this serious? Media questioned New York officials about all of this, and it truly appeared as if the geniuses running the city had completely forgotten to think about children at all. The question alone seemed to take them by surprise. If they exempt them, there is already a problem. Why include a 12-year-old but exclude an unvaccinated 13-year old?

Regardless, this is an appalling and unthinkable amount of compulsion to impose for the sake of a vaccine that the willing have long ago accepted and about which the remainders have either grave doubts or hard-core opposition. People figure that it will be challenged in court but that takes time and money, and it is not at all clear how courts will respond.

In the end, though lawsuits are fabulous and there should be many more, I don’t see how they stop this tyranny. I’m not sure what precisely does but I know this much: a people and culture that acquiesces to this level of imposition is not well suited for the preservation of liberty or civilization in general. This really does feel like a new chapter in the history of American rights violations.

Every time we observe and experience these overreaches, based on no real science or even rationale, we are assured that this is the end. There is no real foul play here. This is not designed to prepare us for something worse. The boosters are not a thing. We won’t have to carry around a health passport with re-upped shots, and certainly there will not be a China-style social credit scheme in the US.

Sure. Just like there would be no lockdowns, promised Anthony Fauci in January 2020. It’s only two weeks. It’s only about hospital capacity. There will be no travel restrictions. Your churches will open soon. There will be no police enforcement of stay-at-home orders. There will be no mask mandates. There will be no vaccine mandates, no passports, no brutalization of the population. None of this will happen, they always said, and each time the promise has been nothing but a foreshadowing of another layer of compulsion.

These days the advance of statist impositions seems to be increasing by the hour, alongside the demonization of dissent. Yes, it is demoralizing. It is designed to do just that. If you give in, you are doing exactly what they intend.

The other day, Anthony Fauci in passing spoke about individual rights. Somehow he managed even to flip that idea on its head, saying that if you spread a respiratorial virus, you have imposed on individual rights, never mind that there is no precedent in the history of modern life for such a claim in law or practice. To be out and about in society and living a free life necessarily involves the circulation of both germs and the resulting bolstering of immunities that has made a mighty contribution to individual and global health. His principle would doom us all to the most dangerous status encountered by peoples in human experience: that of immunological naivete that turns even mild pathogens into mortal threats.

My mind races back often to those several days in the middle of March 2020, when governments dared trample on every tradition of law, liberty, and public health. What would this unleash, I wondered? Once governments have decided that it falls mainly to the police power to manage the trajectory of a virus with a 99.8% survival rate, and not anywhere close to that for healthy adults, what could be next? How will this tendency be contained if there is not some massive repudiation of such futile and destructive tactics?

Humanity has long known about the tendency of governments to resist admitting error. Very few ever do. That refusal is costing us dearly right now, as they added layer upon layer of compulsion as a cover for honestly coming to terms with the appalling failures of the last 18 months. There must be a reckoning, just as with other terrible public policies in the last century such as the Iraq War. They tend to come decades after the misdeed, only once one generation of ill-doers has passed the torch to another that at least fears a repeat of catastrophe.

Source: Brownstone Institute

The Babylon Bee - Tue Aug 03, 2021 23:42

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday that the Biden administration is committing to wage a war on COVID that will be as fast, efficient, and effective as the war on terror.

“Today, the Biden administration is pleased to declare an all-out war against COVID," Psaki said. “If the war on terror has taught us anything, it’s that if we set aside our political differences and spend a few dozen trillion dollars, there’s no end to what we can achieve in just 20 short years."

The plan is entitled “Two Decades To Stop The Spread,” and the crux of the program revolves around three initiatives:

1. Expand the Transportation Safety Administration from 50,000 employees to fifty million employees. This will allow for 100% virus screening at all public and private indoor spaces carried out with the efficiency and professionalism that we’ve all come to expect from the TSA.

2. Enhanced use of domestic drone surveillance for contact tracing purposes, as well as the repurposing of drone-mounted munitions to drop vaccines instead of explosives.

3. Expansion of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay to hold our most dangerous political prisoners, such as folks who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot or those who share misinformation on Facebook.

“With these initiatives in place, we believe we will quickly crush the virus and establish the first Galactic Empire for a safe and secure society!" Psaki said. Quickly correcting herself, she added, “Er, I mean we can get back to normal.”

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday that the Biden administration is committing to wage a war on COVID that will be as fast, efficient, and effective as the war on terror.

“Today, the Biden administration is pleased to declare an all-out war against COVID," Psaki said. “If the war on terror has taught us anything, it’s that if we set aside our political differences and spend a few dozen trillion dollars, there’s no end to what we can achieve in just 20 short years."

The plan is entitled “Two Decades To Stop The Spread,” and the crux of the program revolves around three initiatives:

1. Expand the Transportation Safety Administration from 50,000 employees to fifty million employees. This will allow for 100% virus screening at all public and private indoor spaces carried out with the efficiency and professionalism that we’ve all come to expect from the TSA.

2. Enhanced use of domestic drone surveillance for contact tracing purposes, as well as the repurposing of drone-mounted munitions to drop vaccines instead of explosives.

3. Expansion of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay to hold our most dangerous political prisoners, such as folks who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot or those who share misinformation on Facebook.

“With these initiatives in place, we believe we will quickly crush the virus and establish the first Galactic Empire for a safe and secure society!" Psaki said. Quickly correcting herself, she added, “Er, I mean we can get back to normal.”

Source: The Babylon Bee

Text may contain traces of satire

Mark Episkopos - Tue Aug 03, 2021 19:41

Russian and Chinese troops will hold a massive round of joint drills in August, the latest in a pattern of steadily deepening defense ties between Moscow and Beijing.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian announced on Thursday that Russia and China will hold joint military exercises in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northern China during the first half of August. “Based on the consensus reached between China and Russia, the Russian Armed Forces will take part in the drills West/Interaction-2021 that will run in China at the beginning and in the middle of August,” Wu Qian said. The spokesman added that the drills will be held at the army base in the Chinese town of Qingtongxia.

The drill’s underlying premise remains vague, with the Defense Ministry reportedly stating that the aim is to “strengthen and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China, maintain regional peace and stability and demonstrate the resolve to fight terrorism.” 10,000 military personnel will take part in the drills, which will also involve aircraft and artillery. Wu added that the drills will test joint reconnaissance, early warning, electronic warfare, and strike capabilities. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe invited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend the drills.

Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the joint drills in a subsequent statement, adding that the Russian military will be represented by the Eastern Military District: “Units of a large military formation of the Eastern Military District will take part in the West/Interaction 2021 joint Russian-Chinese operational/strategic drills that will run on the territory of the People’s Republic of China in mid-August pursuant to the accords reached between the defense ministries of both countries.” China has been a consistent participant in Russia’s major Eurasian drills, including Vostok-2018, Tsentr-2019, and Kavkaz-2020, but experts say this is the first time that Russian forces will join a large-scale China-hosted drill on Chinese soil. These will also be the first joint drills held in China since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese state news outlet Global Times framed the exercises in stark geopolitical terms, averring that the upcoming drills display “a high level of mutual trust between the two militaries while also eyeing security and stability in Central Asia as the United States irresponsibly withdraws troops from Afghanistan.” The article argued that the Biden administration’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan “has left a burden for neighboring countries” and that Russia and China need to “play their roles, jointly safeguard regional peace and stability, and prevent the development of terrorist forces in the region.”

The contours of Russian-Chinese cooperation in Afghanistan are already beginning to take shape. Both Beijing and Moscow have held high-level talks with the Taliban as the militant group inches closer to becoming the dominant actor in the country. Beijing has thrown its weight behind Russia’s ongoing efforts to secure the border between Afghanistan and Central Asia within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which counts both Russia and China as members.

Source: The National Interest

Russian and Chinese troops will hold a massive round of joint drills in August, the latest in a pattern of steadily deepening defense ties between Moscow and Beijing.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian announced on Thursday that Russia and China will hold joint military exercises in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northern China during the first half of August. “Based on the consensus reached between China and Russia, the Russian Armed Forces will take part in the drills West/Interaction-2021 that will run in China at the beginning and in the middle of August,” Wu Qian said. The spokesman added that the drills will be held at the army base in the Chinese town of Qingtongxia.

The drill’s underlying premise remains vague, with the Defense Ministry reportedly stating that the aim is to “strengthen and develop a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and China, maintain regional peace and stability and demonstrate the resolve to fight terrorism.” 10,000 military personnel will take part in the drills, which will also involve aircraft and artillery. Wu added that the drills will test joint reconnaissance, early warning, electronic warfare, and strike capabilities. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe invited Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend the drills.

Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the joint drills in a subsequent statement, adding that the Russian military will be represented by the Eastern Military District: “Units of a large military formation of the Eastern Military District will take part in the West/Interaction 2021 joint Russian-Chinese operational/strategic drills that will run on the territory of the People’s Republic of China in mid-August pursuant to the accords reached between the defense ministries of both countries.” China has been a consistent participant in Russia’s major Eurasian drills, including Vostok-2018, Tsentr-2019, and Kavkaz-2020, but experts say this is the first time that Russian forces will join a large-scale China-hosted drill on Chinese soil. These will also be the first joint drills held in China since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Chinese state news outlet Global Times framed the exercises in stark geopolitical terms, averring that the upcoming drills display “a high level of mutual trust between the two militaries while also eyeing security and stability in Central Asia as the United States irresponsibly withdraws troops from Afghanistan.” The article argued that the Biden administration’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan “has left a burden for neighboring countries” and that Russia and China need to “play their roles, jointly safeguard regional peace and stability, and prevent the development of terrorist forces in the region.”

The contours of Russian-Chinese cooperation in Afghanistan are already beginning to take shape. Both Beijing and Moscow have held high-level talks with the Taliban as the militant group inches closer to becoming the dominant actor in the country. Beijing has thrown its weight behind Russia’s ongoing efforts to secure the border between Afghanistan and Central Asia within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which counts both Russia and China as members.

Source: The National Interest

Kyle Mizokami - Tue Aug 03, 2021 15:10

The head of the U.S. Navy admits the service added too much untested tech to its latest and greatest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

When the Navy first built the Ford, it incorporated nearly two dozen new technologies, some of which are still giving the service headaches 4 years after the ship entered the fleet.

In a presentation recorded for August’s Sea Air Space exposition, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said adding 23 new features to the Ford was a “mistake” the Navy can’t afford to repeat.

THE STRANGE SAGA OF THE USS FORD

Gilday said he needs to take “a much more deliberate approach with respect to introducing new technologies to any platform”—preferably one that only introduces up to two technologies per ship and thoroughly tests them on land first.

The USS Ford is the inaugural ship in the Ford-class aircraft carriers, the first new class of aircraft carriers in 40 years. The Navy was eager to cram new tech into the Ford, including a new search radar, electromagnetically powered aircraft catapults to replace traditionally steam-powered catapults, a new aircraft recovery system, and 11 electromagnetically powered elevators designed to shuttle bombs and missiles from the ship’s magazine to waiting aircraft.

But technical problems with the new features led to $2.8 billion in cost overruns and delays, resulting in a total ship cost of $13 billion—not including the actual planes on the carrier.

Those delays meant the Navy only commissioned the Ford in 2017, despite laying it down in 2009. Even then, problems lingered, especially with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and the advanced weapon elevators (AWEs).

The ship’s first full deployment, originally scheduled for 2018, is now set for 2022.

As a result of the Ford fiasco, the Navy is building copies of new tech bound for its Constellation-class frigates on land to ensure they work properly, according to U.S. Naval Institute News. The Navy surprisingly didn’t do this for several pieces of key tech that went into the Ford. Gilday also said the last of the 11 AWEs will be operational sometime this year.

The Ford is currently in shock trials, a series of tests off the coast of Florida designed to ensure the ship can withstand shock and battle damage in wartime. The ship will then enter a maintenance period before its first deployment next year. Hopefully.

Source: Popular Mechanics

The head of the U.S. Navy admits the service added too much untested tech to its latest and greatest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

When the Navy first built the Ford, it incorporated nearly two dozen new technologies, some of which are still giving the service headaches 4 years after the ship entered the fleet.

In a presentation recorded for August’s Sea Air Space exposition, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said adding 23 new features to the Ford was a “mistake” the Navy can’t afford to repeat.

THE STRANGE SAGA OF THE USS FORD

Gilday said he needs to take “a much more deliberate approach with respect to introducing new technologies to any platform”—preferably one that only introduces up to two technologies per ship and thoroughly tests them on land first.

The USS Ford is the inaugural ship in the Ford-class aircraft carriers, the first new class of aircraft carriers in 40 years. The Navy was eager to cram new tech into the Ford, including a new search radar, electromagnetically powered aircraft catapults to replace traditionally steam-powered catapults, a new aircraft recovery system, and 11 electromagnetically powered elevators designed to shuttle bombs and missiles from the ship’s magazine to waiting aircraft.

But technical problems with the new features led to $2.8 billion in cost overruns and delays, resulting in a total ship cost of $13 billion—not including the actual planes on the carrier.

Those delays meant the Navy only commissioned the Ford in 2017, despite laying it down in 2009. Even then, problems lingered, especially with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and the advanced weapon elevators (AWEs).

The ship’s first full deployment, originally scheduled for 2018, is now set for 2022.

As a result of the Ford fiasco, the Navy is building copies of new tech bound for its Constellation-class frigates on land to ensure they work properly, according to U.S. Naval Institute News. The Navy surprisingly didn’t do this for several pieces of key tech that went into the Ford. Gilday also said the last of the 11 AWEs will be operational sometime this year.

The Ford is currently in shock trials, a series of tests off the coast of Florida designed to ensure the ship can withstand shock and battle damage in wartime. The ship will then enter a maintenance period before its first deployment next year. Hopefully.

Source: Popular Mechanics

Tiana Lowe - Tue Aug 03, 2021 13:58

Editor's note: By not following their own decrees the politicians are not only signaling they believe they are above the rules for plebs. They are also signaling they privately feel masks are stupid and not worth the bother, or else they would wear them for their own personal sake.


D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Partied Maskless Hours Before New Mandate Took Effect

When Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Thursday that she would reimpose a citywide indoor mask mandate beginning on Saturday at 5:00 a.m., some people wondered what the wait was for. (Many others wondered why the mandate was necessary at all, given that deaths and hospitalizations have both been in the single digits in recent weeks.)

Well, it appears that someone had a birthday to celebrate on Friday.

Social media sleuths have discovered pictures of the mayor and her friends partying without masks in a seemingly well-ventilated though partly indoor space. This was not a small, intimate gathering, either: Comedian Dave Chappelle even made an appearance. Bowser turns 49 on Tuesday.

Source: Reason Magazine


DC Mayor Bowser Officiates Maskless Indoor Wedding After Reinstated Mask Mandate

Fewer than 24 hours after Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated her 49th birthday with a DJ and comedian Dave Chappelle, she officiated a wedding at The Line DC, a four-star hotel in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of the city.

Despite the mayor's order, the wedding reception featured hundreds of unmasked guests served by dozens of wait staff, including a conspicuously unmasked Bowser.

Bowser, who was not sitting at the table designated for her during wedding toasts, did not wear a mask despite not actively eating or drinking. When approached by the Washington Examiner to explain why she was maskless at an event now legally obligated to enforce mask compliance, security blockaded the free press.

At least 3 out of 5 adults in the district and 3 in 4 seniors have been vaccinated. Even with the delta variant of the coronavirus, vaccination has proven eminently effective, even more so than masks. Of the nearly 400,000 district residents fully vaccinated against the pandemic, just four (all of whom were elderly or had preexisting conditions) died.

Source: The Washington Examiner

Editor's note: By not following their own decrees the politicians are not only signaling they believe they are above the rules for plebs. They are also signaling they privately feel masks are stupid and not worth the bother, or else they would wear them for their own personal sake.


D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Partied Maskless Hours Before New Mandate Took Effect

When Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Thursday that she would reimpose a citywide indoor mask mandate beginning on Saturday at 5:00 a.m., some people wondered what the wait was for. (Many others wondered why the mandate was necessary at all, given that deaths and hospitalizations have both been in the single digits in recent weeks.)

Well, it appears that someone had a birthday to celebrate on Friday.

Social media sleuths have discovered pictures of the mayor and her friends partying without masks in a seemingly well-ventilated though partly indoor space. This was not a small, intimate gathering, either: Comedian Dave Chappelle even made an appearance. Bowser turns 49 on Tuesday.

Source: Reason Magazine


DC Mayor Bowser Officiates Maskless Indoor Wedding After Reinstated Mask Mandate

Fewer than 24 hours after Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated her 49th birthday with a DJ and comedian Dave Chappelle, she officiated a wedding at The Line DC, a four-star hotel in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of the city.

Despite the mayor's order, the wedding reception featured hundreds of unmasked guests served by dozens of wait staff, including a conspicuously unmasked Bowser.

Bowser, who was not sitting at the table designated for her during wedding toasts, did not wear a mask despite not actively eating or drinking. When approached by the Washington Examiner to explain why she was maskless at an event now legally obligated to enforce mask compliance, security blockaded the free press.

At least 3 out of 5 adults in the district and 3 in 4 seniors have been vaccinated. Even with the delta variant of the coronavirus, vaccination has proven eminently effective, even more so than masks. Of the nearly 400,000 district residents fully vaccinated against the pandemic, just four (all of whom were elderly or had preexisting conditions) died.

Source: The Washington Examiner

Riley Waggaman - Tue Aug 03, 2021 08:58

It’s difficult to overstate the gargantuan levels of failure and fraud embodied by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. In the last few weeks, he has made the Hindenburg disaster look like a trifling fender-bender. 

As a quick refresher: At the end of June, Russia’s most enterprising mayor decided that indoor dining would be reserved for people with government-issued digital health passes. This ingenious policy led to a boom in the counterfeit medical certificates market, and also murdered 200 businesses in less than three weeks due to a severe lack of Muscovites willing to be QR-tagged. Facing political ruin, Sobyanin was forced to abandon his technocratic wet dream. 

Then, on July 30, another one of Sobyanin’s legendary "public health measures" was withdrawn: The city’s residents would no longer be "required" to wear gloves in shops or while traveling by taxi or in public transportation. The rule had been almost universally ignored since the first day it was introduced. Everyone knows this. Sobyanin knows this. And yet, for more than a year, Moscow’s mayor pretended that everyone was wearing gloves and that his policy (that everyone ignored) was actually saving lives. Meanwhile, he continued to periodically issue extortionary fines to ungloved and very unlucky metro passengers. 

You have to live in Moscow in order to fully appreciate the human trainwreck that is Sergey Sobyanin. But for those who don’t reside in this great city, we have meticulously compiled a timeline to help demonstrate the tragicomedy of Sobyanin’s "mandatory" gloves. Enjoy:

MAY 7, 2020

Sobyanin announces that starting on May 12, the use of masks, respirators or other respiratory protection, as well as gloves will be mandatory in shops, shopping centers, as well as when traveling by any type of public transport and in taxis.

The mayor helpfully explains that these new rules should not be viewed as restrictions. On the contrary, mandatory glove use represents “a huge step towards returning to ordinary life.”

Individuals caught in shops without having their hands wrapped in disposable plastic will be fined 4,000 rubles ($55). The penalty increases to 5,000 rubles if you are foolish enough to ride public transport without your life-saving gloves. This is not pocket change in a city where many workers are lucky to make 60k rubles ($825) a month. 

JULY 17, 2020

Sobyanin rakes in millions of delicious rubles from slapping fines on The Gloveless. By Juy 17, Moscow has issued 4,334 citations to shop employees and customers, totalling a very impressive 264.3 million rubles ($3.6 million). 

JULY 31, 2020

More than 6,000 businesses in Moscow have now been penalized for not strictly enforcing mask and glove rules, with total fines exceeding 300 million rubles. The mayor’s office triumphantly announces that two stores were closed due to “numerous violations.”

Sobyanin’s deputy claims that by early June, 94% of Muscovites were wearing masks and gloves in shops, but that this figure fell to 68% by mid-July. Quite a claim.

AUGUST 2020 - MARCH 2021

The mandatory glove rule is extended. Everyone keeps ignoring it. 

APRIL 8, 2021

Russians have started to neglect the government’s omnipotent Covid rules, which is unacceptable since coronavirus is "very cunning," says Anna Popova, head of Rospotrebnadzor, the federal agency charged with guarding consumer rights and public wellbeing. 

APRIL 18, 2021

A transport official claims that 70% of Muscovites are wearing gloves on the metro. Quite a claim. He says that the mandatory glove rule remains in place due to the "important recommendation" of medical experts, and urges the city's residents to continue using them.

Around 1,800 city employees are tasked with "informing passengers about the need to wear masks and gloves," as well as "monitoring compliance."

APRIL 19, 2021

"Now our citizens have become less responsible in observing the mask regime and other precautions in public transport, shopping centers, offices. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the incidence rates are now frozen within the same range and do not want to go down in any way," complains a senior Rospotrebnadzor official.

MAY 3, 2021

One of Sobyanin's underlings insists it is a scientifically proven fact that wearing gloves saves lives:

[M]asks and gloves are a certain obligatory attribute, as I always have a mask in my pocket. Therefore, the likelihood [of canceling the regime] is not very high yet ... After all, masks, gloves, [social] distance help save lives - this is already a proven fact

The official from the mayor's office further suggests that Moscow was able to avoid months of harsh lockdowns thanks in part to the mandatory glove rule. He promises that Moscow authorities will step up checks to ensure that residents are wearing their life-giving gloves when they go grocery shopping.

MAY 4, 2021

A virologist interviewed by state media laments that Russians "have largely ceased to comply with anti-epidemic measures," adding that there could be grave consequences if people continue to enjoy a "free lifestyle."

MAY 14, 2021

In a letter, business leaders beg the mayor's office to make masks and gloves voluntary, arguing that the mandatory rule was not enforceable.

The "vast majority" of Muscovites do not wear gloves, the letter states, describing the noncompliance as a "mass phenomenon."

The group of business leaders argue that the mayor's office should take charge of enforcing its own rules, as restaurants, shops and other enterprises cannot be expected to use "punitive force" to make customers wear gloves.

The letter's authors also point to the clear "lack of data on infection in the absence of gloves," noting that the World Health Organization recommends regular hand-washing over glove use. In fact, the WHO warns that prolonged use of gloves can actually accelerate the transmission of germs.

MAY 18, 2021

A transportation official reminds residents that around 2,000 city employees have been mobilized to ensure that Muscovites are wearing gloves — purportedly necessary in order to "prevent the spread of coronavirus."

The rule continues to be enforced with fines.

On the same day, authorities deny rumors that the glove mandate has been dropped, likely due to everyone ignoring it.

JUNE 9, 2021

Officials blame lack of compliance with the never-observed glove rule for a rise in Covid cases in Moscow. Due to the "worsening epidemiological situation" in Moscow, authorities will "strengthen control" over glove usage, a city official announces.

"Responsible behavior and adherence to all established norms and rules will allow us to avoid the growth of cases, as well as prevent the introduction of additional restrictive measures."

JUNE 11, 2021

Citing an increase in Covid infections, Rospotrebnadzor announces that it will take more aggressive measures to ensure compliance with "sanitary and epidemiological requirements" in Moscow. Government inspectors report that many workplace violations involve employees failing to wear gloves, while the businesses themselves do not require customers or visitors to don disposable hand-coverings. Rospotrebnadzor doesn't like this.

June 16, 2021

A specialist working for Moscow's health department claims that epidemiologists believe that the rise in new cases in Moscow is due in part to people failing to wear gloves.

"We urge everyone who uses public transport, visits crowded places to remember these simple rules. It is necessary to use masks, gloves, it is necessary to adhere to the principles of social distancing."

JULY 30, 2021

Sobyanin claims that Covid cases plummeted "thanks to mass [compulsory] vaccination and other preventative measures [like QR codes, which were abandoned after 3 weeks]." Hospitalizations in the city peaked around two weeks after he introduced his mandatory vaccination regime, while his short-lived digital health pass was rolled out just a few days before hospital occupancy began to stabilize in late June/early July. 

He does not explain how an increase in vaccination — a procedure which takes typically takes between 3-4 weeks to actually start being "effective" — accomplished this. But that is a different story for a different time. 

The good news is that gloves are no longer required in transport shops and other public places: Muscovites can finally "return to normal life" after dutifully obeying the rule for more than a year, Sobyanin writes. Hurray!

But our story doesn't end here.

Clearly eager to concoct some sort of semi-coherent reason for Sobyanin abruptly dropping the universally ignored rule after more than twelve months of evidence-starved claims and extortionary fines, Russian media runs the following story:

The decision of the Moscow authorities to abolish the mandatory wearing of gloves in transport and public places will not affect the incidence of coronavirus infection, experts interviewed by TASS said. 

[...]

According to virologist Yevgeny Timakov, wearing gloves did not affect the spread of COVID-19, and canceling their mandatory use in the summer is even useful. "Due to the lack of gloves, there is no increase in the incidence in any region. Therefore, the abolition of [mandatory] wearing of gloves is not significant at the moment. On the contrary, it is very difficult to wear gloves in the summer," Timakov told TASS.

In addition, gloves in the summer contribute to the appearance of skin diseases, recalled the doctor of medical sciences, doctor-immunologist Vladislav Zhemchugov.

“Dermatologists will have less work, because gloves are bad in such heat. The alternative was sprays, gels, various liquid preparations in sanitizers, which are much more effective, better and comfortable for people. But people should generally give up this habit, leaving the metro, for example, wiping their hands with napkins. This is effective not only in relation to coronavirus, but also in relation to many other diseases, "Zhemchugov emphasized.

Remarkable, isn't it? How many gloveless Muscovites were harassed and robbed by Sobyanin for committing the crime of not following a rule that had no scientific basis? 

How many small businesses were fleeced because they lacked the resources and personnel to enforce this comical mandate?

If Sobyanin is willing to lie openly about something as futile and juvenile as plastic disposable gloves, what else is he being untruthful about?

Questions, questions, questions...

At any rate, congratulations to the people of Moscow for humiliating this slimy coward. 

Riley Waggaman is Anti-Empire's Moscow Correspondent

It’s difficult to overstate the gargantuan levels of failure and fraud embodied by Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. In the last few weeks, he has made the Hindenburg disaster look like a trifling fender-bender. 

As a quick refresher: At the end of June, Russia’s most enterprising mayor decided that indoor dining would be reserved for people with government-issued digital health passes. This ingenious policy led to a boom in the counterfeit medical certificates market, and also murdered 200 businesses in less than three weeks due to a severe lack of Muscovites willing to be QR-tagged. Facing political ruin, Sobyanin was forced to abandon his technocratic wet dream. 

Then, on July 30, another one of Sobyanin’s legendary "public health measures" was withdrawn: The city’s residents would no longer be "required" to wear gloves in shops or while traveling by taxi or in public transportation. The rule had been almost universally ignored since the first day it was introduced. Everyone knows this. Sobyanin knows this. And yet, for more than a year, Moscow’s mayor pretended that everyone was wearing gloves and that his policy (that everyone ignored) was actually saving lives. Meanwhile, he continued to periodically issue extortionary fines to ungloved and very unlucky metro passengers. 

You have to live in Moscow in order to fully appreciate the human trainwreck that is Sergey Sobyanin. But for those who don’t reside in this great city, we have meticulously compiled a timeline to help demonstrate the tragicomedy of Sobyanin’s "mandatory" gloves. Enjoy:

MAY 7, 2020

Sobyanin announces that starting on May 12, the use of masks, respirators or other respiratory protection, as well as gloves will be mandatory in shops, shopping centers, as well as when traveling by any type of public transport and in taxis.

The mayor helpfully explains that these new rules should not be viewed as restrictions. On the contrary, mandatory glove use represents “a huge step towards returning to ordinary life.”

Individuals caught in shops without having their hands wrapped in disposable plastic will be fined 4,000 rubles ($55). The penalty increases to 5,000 rubles if you are foolish enough to ride public transport without your life-saving gloves. This is not pocket change in a city where many workers are lucky to make 60k rubles ($825) a month. 

JULY 17, 2020

Sobyanin rakes in millions of delicious rubles from slapping fines on The Gloveless. By Juy 17, Moscow has issued 4,334 citations to shop employees and customers, totalling a very impressive 264.3 million rubles ($3.6 million). 

JULY 31, 2020

More than 6,000 businesses in Moscow have now been penalized for not strictly enforcing mask and glove rules, with total fines exceeding 300 million rubles. The mayor’s office triumphantly announces that two stores were closed due to “numerous violations.”

Sobyanin’s deputy claims that by early June, 94% of Muscovites were wearing masks and gloves in shops, but that this figure fell to 68% by mid-July. Quite a claim.

AUGUST 2020 - MARCH 2021

The mandatory glove rule is extended. Everyone keeps ignoring it. 

APRIL 8, 2021

Russians have started to neglect the government’s omnipotent Covid rules, which is unacceptable since coronavirus is "very cunning," says Anna Popova, head of Rospotrebnadzor, the federal agency charged with guarding consumer rights and public wellbeing. 

APRIL 18, 2021

A transport official claims that 70% of Muscovites are wearing gloves on the metro. Quite a claim. He says that the mandatory glove rule remains in place due to the "important recommendation" of medical experts, and urges the city's residents to continue using them.

Around 1,800 city employees are tasked with "informing passengers about the need to wear masks and gloves," as well as "monitoring compliance."

APRIL 19, 2021

"Now our citizens have become less responsible in observing the mask regime and other precautions in public transport, shopping centers, offices. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the incidence rates are now frozen within the same range and do not want to go down in any way," complains a senior Rospotrebnadzor official.

MAY 3, 2021

One of Sobyanin's underlings insists it is a scientifically proven fact that wearing gloves saves lives:

[M]asks and gloves are a certain obligatory attribute, as I always have a mask in my pocket. Therefore, the likelihood [of canceling the regime] is not very high yet ... After all, masks, gloves, [social] distance help save lives - this is already a proven fact

The official from the mayor's office further suggests that Moscow was able to avoid months of harsh lockdowns thanks in part to the mandatory glove rule. He promises that Moscow authorities will step up checks to ensure that residents are wearing their life-giving gloves when they go grocery shopping.

MAY 4, 2021

A virologist interviewed by state media laments that Russians "have largely ceased to comply with anti-epidemic measures," adding that there could be grave consequences if people continue to enjoy a "free lifestyle."

MAY 14, 2021

In a letter, business leaders beg the mayor's office to make masks and gloves voluntary, arguing that the mandatory rule was not enforceable.

The "vast majority" of Muscovites do not wear gloves, the letter states, describing the noncompliance as a "mass phenomenon."

The group of business leaders argue that the mayor's office should take charge of enforcing its own rules, as restaurants, shops and other enterprises cannot be expected to use "punitive force" to make customers wear gloves.

The letter's authors also point to the clear "lack of data on infection in the absence of gloves," noting that the World Health Organization recommends regular hand-washing over glove use. In fact, the WHO warns that prolonged use of gloves can actually accelerate the transmission of germs.

MAY 18, 2021

A transportation official reminds residents that around 2,000 city employees have been mobilized to ensure that Muscovites are wearing gloves — purportedly necessary in order to "prevent the spread of coronavirus."

The rule continues to be enforced with fines.

On the same day, authorities deny rumors that the glove mandate has been dropped, likely due to everyone ignoring it.

JUNE 9, 2021

Officials blame lack of compliance with the never-observed glove rule for a rise in Covid cases in Moscow. Due to the "worsening epidemiological situation" in Moscow, authorities will "strengthen control" over glove usage, a city official announces.

"Responsible behavior and adherence to all established norms and rules will allow us to avoid the growth of cases, as well as prevent the introduction of additional restrictive measures."

JUNE 11, 2021

Citing an increase in Covid infections, Rospotrebnadzor announces that it will take more aggressive measures to ensure compliance with "sanitary and epidemiological requirements" in Moscow. Government inspectors report that many workplace violations involve employees failing to wear gloves, while the businesses themselves do not require customers or visitors to don disposable hand-coverings. Rospotrebnadzor doesn't like this.

June 16, 2021

A specialist working for Moscow's health department claims that epidemiologists believe that the rise in new cases in Moscow is due in part to people failing to wear gloves.

"We urge everyone who uses public transport, visits crowded places to remember these simple rules. It is necessary to use masks, gloves, it is necessary to adhere to the principles of social distancing."

JULY 30, 2021

Sobyanin claims that Covid cases plummeted "thanks to mass [compulsory] vaccination and other preventative measures [like QR codes, which were abandoned after 3 weeks]." Hospitalizations in the city peaked around two weeks after he introduced his mandatory vaccination regime, while his short-lived digital health pass was rolled out just a few days before hospital occupancy began to stabilize in late June/early July. 

He does not explain how an increase in vaccination — a procedure which takes typically takes between 3-4 weeks to actually start being "effective" — accomplished this. But that is a different story for a different time. 

The good news is that gloves are no longer required in transport shops and other public places: Muscovites can finally "return to normal life" after dutifully obeying the rule for more than a year, Sobyanin writes. Hurray!

But our story doesn't end here.

Clearly eager to concoct some sort of semi-coherent reason for Sobyanin abruptly dropping the universally ignored rule after more than twelve months of evidence-starved claims and extortionary fines, Russian media runs the following story:

The decision of the Moscow authorities to abolish the mandatory wearing of gloves in transport and public places will not affect the incidence of coronavirus infection, experts interviewed by TASS said. 

[...]

According to virologist Yevgeny Timakov, wearing gloves did not affect the spread of COVID-19, and canceling their mandatory use in the summer is even useful. "Due to the lack of gloves, there is no increase in the incidence in any region. Therefore, the abolition of [mandatory] wearing of gloves is not significant at the moment. On the contrary, it is very difficult to wear gloves in the summer," Timakov told TASS.

In addition, gloves in the summer contribute to the appearance of skin diseases, recalled the doctor of medical sciences, doctor-immunologist Vladislav Zhemchugov.

“Dermatologists will have less work, because gloves are bad in such heat. The alternative was sprays, gels, various liquid preparations in sanitizers, which are much more effective, better and comfortable for people. But people should generally give up this habit, leaving the metro, for example, wiping their hands with napkins. This is effective not only in relation to coronavirus, but also in relation to many other diseases, "Zhemchugov emphasized.

Remarkable, isn't it? How many gloveless Muscovites were harassed and robbed by Sobyanin for committing the crime of not following a rule that had no scientific basis? 

How many small businesses were fleeced because they lacked the resources and personnel to enforce this comical mandate?

If Sobyanin is willing to lie openly about something as futile and juvenile as plastic disposable gloves, what else is he being untruthful about?

Questions, questions, questions...

At any rate, congratulations to the people of Moscow for humiliating this slimy coward. 

Riley Waggaman is Anti-Empire's Moscow Correspondent

Swiss Policy Research - Tue Aug 03, 2021 04:53

The latest data from Israel and the UK on covid vaccine effectiveness.

The latest data from Israel, which has used primarily the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, indicates that vaccine effectiveness against Delta coronavirus infection and symptomatic (“mild”) disease has dropped from about 95% to about 40%, whereas effectiveness against hospitalization and severe disease (i.e. low blood oxygen levels) remains at 80% to 90%.

Importantly, in people who got vaccinated already in January 2021 (primarily the elderly), protection against infection and mild disease may already have dropped to near 0%. Moreover, since the Delta covid outbreak is still accelerating in Israel, the effectiveness against hospitalization and severe disease may further decrease (due to lags in hospitalizations).

(Update: New data from Hebrew University shows that protection against severe disease has already dropped to 80%; compared to the original 96%, this results in a five-fold increase in residual risk.)

In the UK, which has primarily used the AstraZeneca DNA adenovector vaccine, the latest estimate by researchers at University College London indicates an effectiveness against infection of about 20% and a total effectiveness against severe disease of about 60%. In very senior citizens, the effectiveness against severe disease may be even lower (due to a weaker immune response).

(A substantially higher estimate by Public Health England, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on outdated data from early June. Interestingly, the British government hasn’t updated its data on AstraZeneca vaccine effectiveness since June 13. Update: New data from PHE confirms that effectiveness against infection has dropped below 20%.)

The Israeli data shown above indicates that effectiveness against infection and mild symptoms decreases rapidly over time and reaches near-zero levels after about half a year. Most likely, this is because covid vaccines do not achieve mucosal immunity (in contrast to natural infection) and serum antibody levels (i.e. antibodies in the blood) decrease within months.

Thus, the false promise of very high protection against “symptomatic infection”, found during official vaccine trials, was simply based on very high short-term serum antibody levels mimicking mucosal immunity. Conceivably, the pharmaceutical companies may even have known that this was just a (very lucrative) “flash in the pan” and not a lasting protective effect.

In contrast, protection against severe disease is achieved by lower serum antibody levels in combination with immunological memory (B cells) and cellular immunity (T cells). However, the Delta variant has already achieved partial immune evasion (as did Beta and Gamma, but not Alpha), and future coronavirus variants will likely achieve almost complete immune evasion.

Thus, vaccine protection even against severe disease will likely further decrease due to new variants, or, in the very worst case, will turn into antibody-dependent disease enhancement (ADE), if high levels of non-neutralizing antibodies aggravate the infection. Indeed, this is what happened in the case of vaccines against SARS-1 and dengue fever.

To prevent such a decrease in protection against severe disease, or to restore short-term protection against infection and mild disease, updated “booster shots” will likely become necessary. (Update: On July 29, Israel announced “booster shots” for people over 60 years of age.)

However, there is a very real risk that additional vaccinations, which inject or induce the coronavirus spike protein, could substantially increase the risk of serious cardiovascular and neurological adverse events, such as strokes, GBS and heart muscle inflammation. Globally, covid vaccines may already have killed tens of thousands of people. Alternatives include safer oral vaccine candidates or medically supervised, low-dose oral live virus challenges in low-risk people.

Furthermore, the millions of people who were told that vaccination will protect them against a coronavirus infection will soon have to realize (once again) that this is not the case: instead, most of them will get infected anyway. On the positive side, this may actually provide additional mucosal immunity to large parts of the population while being mostly protected against severe disease.

Indeed, data from Israel as well as recent studies all indicate that a previous coronavirus infection continues to offer the best protection against future infections and disease.

In contrast, vaccination cannot achieve “sterile immunity” against infection and infectiousness. Thus, the whole idea of “vaccination certificates” has become obsolete – at least from a medical and epidemiological perspective – and should be rejected: the claim that it’s just “the unvaccinated” that are driving outbreaks – a claim made by many authorities – is simply false.

For instance, just this week a “fully vaccinated” Australian managed to pre-symptomatically infect about 60 people at a party in the United States. Many similar stories have already been reported in Europe and Israel: fully vaccinated people can easily transmit the virus even to large groups. Hence, imposing “vaccination certificates” or “green passes” may only serve a political purpose.

(Update: New data from Israel shows that “only 20%” of fully vaccinated people have infected others in public spaces. While authorities claim that this is a success, in reality, it is not any different from unvaccinated people, thus confirming zero effectiveness against infection and transmission.)

In many countries, mass vaccination campaigns have themselves triggered large coronavirus outbreaks (“post-first dose spike”), possibly due to a combination of vaccine-induced temporary immune suppression and infections at large indoor vaccination centers visited by thousands of people. The vaccine-induced temporary immune suppression may also explain the frequently observed post-vaccination appearance of shingles (i.e. herpes zoster reactivation).

Concerning children, since covid remains mostly asymptomatic or mild in them anyway, and since vaccination cannot prevent infection and infectiousness, the vaccination of children and even of young low-risk adults becomes increasingly difficult to justify, especially given the very real vaccine-associated cardiovascular risks to them (e.g. teen myocarditis and cerebral blood clots).

A look at covid data in places like Israel, the UK and Portugal – which were first in Europe to experience the Delta variant summer wave – confirms that, while infections have skyrocketed, hospitalizations have remained rather low and deaths have remained very low so far. In contrast, in countries with a low vaccination rate – such as India, Russia, as well as many Asian and African countries, Delta covid deaths have reached all-time record levels. [That's a very strange thing to say. Actually, Russia's all-time record was during the winter. India's all-time record was recent but deaths have already collapsed since, besides its "all-time record" was still extremely low compared to heavily vaccinated developed countries.]

In conclusion, and as argued previously, vaccine protection against infection and “mild disease” has pretty much collapsed, whereas protection against severe disease and death remains at a reasonable level, with the partial exception of the most senior citizens and especially nursing home residents, some of whom have never mounted a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine. Moreover, future coronavirus variants will likely achieve additional immune evasion.

Given the current situation and outlook, it may once again be emphasized that research and implementation of early treatment options for high-risk patients – especially anti-viral, anti-inflammatory (immuno-modulatory) and anti-thrombotic treatment – should be a top priority.

Source: Swiss Policy Research

The latest data from Israel and the UK on covid vaccine effectiveness.

The latest data from Israel, which has used primarily the Pfizer mRNA vaccine, indicates that vaccine effectiveness against Delta coronavirus infection and symptomatic (“mild”) disease has dropped from about 95% to about 40%, whereas effectiveness against hospitalization and severe disease (i.e. low blood oxygen levels) remains at 80% to 90%.

Importantly, in people who got vaccinated already in January 2021 (primarily the elderly), protection against infection and mild disease may already have dropped to near 0%. Moreover, since the Delta covid outbreak is still accelerating in Israel, the effectiveness against hospitalization and severe disease may further decrease (due to lags in hospitalizations).

(Update: New data from Hebrew University shows that protection against severe disease has already dropped to 80%; compared to the original 96%, this results in a five-fold increase in residual risk.)

In the UK, which has primarily used the AstraZeneca DNA adenovector vaccine, the latest estimate by researchers at University College London indicates an effectiveness against infection of about 20% and a total effectiveness against severe disease of about 60%. In very senior citizens, the effectiveness against severe disease may be even lower (due to a weaker immune response).

(A substantially higher estimate by Public Health England, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, was based on outdated data from early June. Interestingly, the British government hasn’t updated its data on AstraZeneca vaccine effectiveness since June 13. Update: New data from PHE confirms that effectiveness against infection has dropped below 20%.)

The Israeli data shown above indicates that effectiveness against infection and mild symptoms decreases rapidly over time and reaches near-zero levels after about half a year. Most likely, this is because covid vaccines do not achieve mucosal immunity (in contrast to natural infection) and serum antibody levels (i.e. antibodies in the blood) decrease within months.

Thus, the false promise of very high protection against “symptomatic infection”, found during official vaccine trials, was simply based on very high short-term serum antibody levels mimicking mucosal immunity. Conceivably, the pharmaceutical companies may even have known that this was just a (very lucrative) “flash in the pan” and not a lasting protective effect.

In contrast, protection against severe disease is achieved by lower serum antibody levels in combination with immunological memory (B cells) and cellular immunity (T cells). However, the Delta variant has already achieved partial immune evasion (as did Beta and Gamma, but not Alpha), and future coronavirus variants will likely achieve almost complete immune evasion.

Thus, vaccine protection even against severe disease will likely further decrease due to new variants, or, in the very worst case, will turn into antibody-dependent disease enhancement (ADE), if high levels of non-neutralizing antibodies aggravate the infection. Indeed, this is what happened in the case of vaccines against SARS-1 and dengue fever.

To prevent such a decrease in protection against severe disease, or to restore short-term protection against infection and mild disease, updated “booster shots” will likely become necessary. (Update: On July 29, Israel announced “booster shots” for people over 60 years of age.)

However, there is a very real risk that additional vaccinations, which inject or induce the coronavirus spike protein, could substantially increase the risk of serious cardiovascular and neurological adverse events, such as strokes, GBS and heart muscle inflammation. Globally, covid vaccines may already have killed tens of thousands of people. Alternatives include safer oral vaccine candidates or medically supervised, low-dose oral live virus challenges in low-risk people.

Furthermore, the millions of people who were told that vaccination will protect them against a coronavirus infection will soon have to realize (once again) that this is not the case: instead, most of them will get infected anyway. On the positive side, this may actually provide additional mucosal immunity to large parts of the population while being mostly protected against severe disease.

Indeed, data from Israel as well as recent studies all indicate that a previous coronavirus infection continues to offer the best protection against future infections and disease.

In contrast, vaccination cannot achieve “sterile immunity” against infection and infectiousness. Thus, the whole idea of “vaccination certificates” has become obsolete – at least from a medical and epidemiological perspective – and should be rejected: the claim that it’s just “the unvaccinated” that are driving outbreaks – a claim made by many authorities – is simply false.

For instance, just this week a “fully vaccinated” Australian managed to pre-symptomatically infect about 60 people at a party in the United States. Many similar stories have already been reported in Europe and Israel: fully vaccinated people can easily transmit the virus even to large groups. Hence, imposing “vaccination certificates” or “green passes” may only serve a political purpose.

(Update: New data from Israel shows that “only 20%” of fully vaccinated people have infected others in public spaces. While authorities claim that this is a success, in reality, it is not any different from unvaccinated people, thus confirming zero effectiveness against infection and transmission.)

In many countries, mass vaccination campaigns have themselves triggered large coronavirus outbreaks (“post-first dose spike”), possibly due to a combination of vaccine-induced temporary immune suppression and infections at large indoor vaccination centers visited by thousands of people. The vaccine-induced temporary immune suppression may also explain the frequently observed post-vaccination appearance of shingles (i.e. herpes zoster reactivation).

Concerning children, since covid remains mostly asymptomatic or mild in them anyway, and since vaccination cannot prevent infection and infectiousness, the vaccination of children and even of young low-risk adults becomes increasingly difficult to justify, especially given the very real vaccine-associated cardiovascular risks to them (e.g. teen myocarditis and cerebral blood clots).

A look at covid data in places like Israel, the UK and Portugal – which were first in Europe to experience the Delta variant summer wave – confirms that, while infections have skyrocketed, hospitalizations have remained rather low and deaths have remained very low so far. In contrast, in countries with a low vaccination rate – such as India, Russia, as well as many Asian and African countries, Delta covid deaths have reached all-time record levels. [That's a very strange thing to say. Actually, Russia's all-time record was during the winter. India's all-time record was recent but deaths have already collapsed since, besides its "all-time record" was still extremely low compared to heavily vaccinated developed countries.]

In conclusion, and as argued previously, vaccine protection against infection and “mild disease” has pretty much collapsed, whereas protection against severe disease and death remains at a reasonable level, with the partial exception of the most senior citizens and especially nursing home residents, some of whom have never mounted a neutralizing antibody response to the vaccine. Moreover, future coronavirus variants will likely achieve additional immune evasion.

Given the current situation and outlook, it may once again be emphasized that research and implementation of early treatment options for high-risk patients – especially anti-viral, anti-inflammatory (immuno-modulatory) and anti-thrombotic treatment – should be a top priority.

Source: Swiss Policy Research

Tanner Greer - Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:20

 

Over the last month or so we have seen several reports out of Afghanistan registering the shock of the Americans, the Afghani government, and even the Taliban itself with the speed at which the Taliban forces have captured the Afghani countryside.

I am surprised with this surprise. Last year I wrote a book review of sorts of Dexter Filkins’ Forever War, a 2006 on the ground account of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq over the preceding eight years. Here is how Filkins describes the the nature of warfare he witnessed the first time the Taliban tried to seize control of the entire country–and the first time they were defeated.

People fought in Afghanistan, and people died, but not always in the obvious way. They had been fighting for so long, twenty-three years then, that by the time the Americans arrived the Afghans had developed an elaborate set of rules designed to spare as many fighters as they could. So the war could go on forever.

Men fought, men switched sides, men lined up and fought again. War in Afghanistan often seemed like a game of pickup basketball, a contest among friends, a tournament where you never knew which team you’d be on when the next game got under way. Shirts today, skins tomorrow.

On Tuesday, you might be part of a fearsome Taliban regiment, running into a minefield. And on Wednesday you might be manning a checkpoint for some gang of the Northern Alliance. By Thursday you could be back with the Talibs again, holding up your Kalashnikov and promising to wage jihad forever. War was serious in Afghanistan, but not that serious. It was part of everyday life. It was a job. Only the civilians seemed to lose.

Battles were often decided this way, not by actual fighting, but by flipping gangs of soldiers. One day, the Taliban might have four thousand soldiers, and the next, only half that, with the warlords of the Northern Alliance suddenly larger by a similar amount. The fighting began when the bargaining stopped, and the bargaining went right up until the end. The losers were the ones who were too stubborn, too stupid or too fanatical to make a deal. Suddenly, they would find themselves outnumbered, and then they would die. It was a kind of natural selection.

One of the Afghan militia commanders with whom I traveled, Daoud Khan, was a master of this complicated game. He was portly and well dressed, and he ate very well. The Afghans spoke of him in reverent tones, but he didn’t seem like much of a warrior to me. He’d never fought for the Taliban himself, but thousands of his former soldiers were now in the Taliban ranks. Why kill them when he could just bring them back to his side? Khan captured his first city, Taloqan, without firing a single shot. He did it by persuading the local Taliban leader, a man named Abdullah Gard, to switch sides. Gard was no dummy; he could see the B-52s. I guessed that Khan had probably used a lot of money, but he never allowed me to sit in as he worked the Taliban chieftains on the radio. The day after Taloqan fell, I found Gard in an abandoned house, seated on a blue cushion on the floor, warming himself next to a wood-burning stove. His black Taliban turban was gone, and he had replaced it with a woolen Chitrali cap just like that of Ahmad Shah Massoud. “All along, I was spying on the Taliban,” Gard said, his eyes darting. No one believed him, but no one seemed to care.

On the first night of the long-awaited offensive against the Taliban, carried out at the urging of the Americans, the Alliance commanders bombarded the Taliban lines and then, as night fell, sent their men forward. Yet when I arrived the next morning, the Alliance soldiers stood more or less where they had the day before. They’d run, and then they’d run back. No one seemed surprised. “Advancing, retreating, advancing, that’s what you do in war,” Yusef, a twenty-year-old Alliance soldier, told me with a shrug. He was sitting in a foxhole. It wasn’t that the Afghans were afraid to fight, it was that they’d fought too much. And now, given the opportunity, they wanted to avoid it if they could.

“My dear, I am your brother, you know how much affection I have for you, there is really no point in resisting anymore,” Mohammad Uria, a Northern Alliance commander, said into his radio to a Taliban commander a few miles away. Of course, there were plenty of Taliban soldiers who wanted to fight forever. Fight to the death. They were the Pashtuns from Kandahar, for the most part, a different breed. “I’ve seen them run right into the minefields— they want to die,” Pir Mohammed said, shaking his head in awe. But where I was, in northern Afghanistan, many if not most of the Taliban soldiers weren’t from Kandahar, they were from the north— Tajiks and Uzbeks who’d switched sides when the fearsome Kandaharis rolled in. Now the northerners wanted to quit. The one group of people who really took fighting seriously were the foreigners— that is, the Americans and Al-Qaeda. They came to kill.1

Filkins traveled south to Kabul with the advance of the Northern Alliance, but the same dynamic played out in Pashtunistan. When the CIA inserted Hamid Karzai into Kandahar province to raise up hell, he was met by a large contingent of truck borne Taliban eager to squash the rebellion in its tracks. Special Forces A-team 574 called in airstrikes, five hundred Taliban died without managing to kill a single member of Karzai’s force, and every village elder in the province saw it happen. Pillars of Taliban rule the day before emerged as grateful liberated the day after.2

Thus when the New York Times reports that Taliban “fighters have directions to treat captured government soldiers with care and ultimately release them” in a bid for good will, we should not frame these happenings as an extraordinary attempt by the Taliban to “rebrand themselves” or “polish their image.”3 This is how they fought the first time around; this is how everybody in Afghanistan fought until we got there.

Our failure to understand this dynamic has had consequences. It was not just the village elders who were ready to sign on to Karzai’s project–both in the immediate aftermath of his 2001 victories and sporadically in 2002 Taliban leaders offered to quit armed resistance and join in with the new Afghani government. Karzai was in favor. Washington was not. Without consulting Karzai or the CIA folks running the show on the ground, Donald Rumsfeld announced via press conference that defeated Taliban would not be negotiated or cooperated with; when the CIA tried to press the issue through interagency channels a few months later, Dick Cheney shut the effort down.4

As Filkins wrote, the Americans came to Afghanistan to kill. With Al-Qaeda gone, Taliban were the only folks left on the target list. “The Bush administration’s message to the movement’s survivors and their backers [in Pakistani intelligence] was clear: The Taliban could expect no future in Afghan politics unless they fought for it.”5

Fought they have.

Source: The Scholar's Stage


Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006), 50-54.

Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan (New York: Penguin Books, 2018), 100; Carter Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 68, 72. PBS also has an interesting set of interviews with the special forces team that accompanied Karzai through the battle.

Najim Rahim and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Taliban Try to Polish Their Image as They Push for Victory,” New York Times (21 July 2021)

Coll, Directorate S, 101-2, 140-44; Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan, 73-76; 99-101.

Coll, Directorate S, 144.

 

Over the last month or so we have seen several reports out of Afghanistan registering the shock of the Americans, the Afghani government, and even the Taliban itself with the speed at which the Taliban forces have captured the Afghani countryside.

I am surprised with this surprise. Last year I wrote a book review of sorts of Dexter Filkins’ Forever War, a 2006 on the ground account of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq over the preceding eight years. Here is how Filkins describes the the nature of warfare he witnessed the first time the Taliban tried to seize control of the entire country–and the first time they were defeated.

People fought in Afghanistan, and people died, but not always in the obvious way. They had been fighting for so long, twenty-three years then, that by the time the Americans arrived the Afghans had developed an elaborate set of rules designed to spare as many fighters as they could. So the war could go on forever.

Men fought, men switched sides, men lined up and fought again. War in Afghanistan often seemed like a game of pickup basketball, a contest among friends, a tournament where you never knew which team you’d be on when the next game got under way. Shirts today, skins tomorrow.

On Tuesday, you might be part of a fearsome Taliban regiment, running into a minefield. And on Wednesday you might be manning a checkpoint for some gang of the Northern Alliance. By Thursday you could be back with the Talibs again, holding up your Kalashnikov and promising to wage jihad forever. War was serious in Afghanistan, but not that serious. It was part of everyday life. It was a job. Only the civilians seemed to lose.

Battles were often decided this way, not by actual fighting, but by flipping gangs of soldiers. One day, the Taliban might have four thousand soldiers, and the next, only half that, with the warlords of the Northern Alliance suddenly larger by a similar amount. The fighting began when the bargaining stopped, and the bargaining went right up until the end. The losers were the ones who were too stubborn, too stupid or too fanatical to make a deal. Suddenly, they would find themselves outnumbered, and then they would die. It was a kind of natural selection.

One of the Afghan militia commanders with whom I traveled, Daoud Khan, was a master of this complicated game. He was portly and well dressed, and he ate very well. The Afghans spoke of him in reverent tones, but he didn’t seem like much of a warrior to me. He’d never fought for the Taliban himself, but thousands of his former soldiers were now in the Taliban ranks. Why kill them when he could just bring them back to his side? Khan captured his first city, Taloqan, without firing a single shot. He did it by persuading the local Taliban leader, a man named Abdullah Gard, to switch sides. Gard was no dummy; he could see the B-52s. I guessed that Khan had probably used a lot of money, but he never allowed me to sit in as he worked the Taliban chieftains on the radio. The day after Taloqan fell, I found Gard in an abandoned house, seated on a blue cushion on the floor, warming himself next to a wood-burning stove. His black Taliban turban was gone, and he had replaced it with a woolen Chitrali cap just like that of Ahmad Shah Massoud. “All along, I was spying on the Taliban,” Gard said, his eyes darting. No one believed him, but no one seemed to care.

On the first night of the long-awaited offensive against the Taliban, carried out at the urging of the Americans, the Alliance commanders bombarded the Taliban lines and then, as night fell, sent their men forward. Yet when I arrived the next morning, the Alliance soldiers stood more or less where they had the day before. They’d run, and then they’d run back. No one seemed surprised. “Advancing, retreating, advancing, that’s what you do in war,” Yusef, a twenty-year-old Alliance soldier, told me with a shrug. He was sitting in a foxhole. It wasn’t that the Afghans were afraid to fight, it was that they’d fought too much. And now, given the opportunity, they wanted to avoid it if they could.

“My dear, I am your brother, you know how much affection I have for you, there is really no point in resisting anymore,” Mohammad Uria, a Northern Alliance commander, said into his radio to a Taliban commander a few miles away. Of course, there were plenty of Taliban soldiers who wanted to fight forever. Fight to the death. They were the Pashtuns from Kandahar, for the most part, a different breed. “I’ve seen them run right into the minefields— they want to die,” Pir Mohammed said, shaking his head in awe. But where I was, in northern Afghanistan, many if not most of the Taliban soldiers weren’t from Kandahar, they were from the north— Tajiks and Uzbeks who’d switched sides when the fearsome Kandaharis rolled in. Now the northerners wanted to quit. The one group of people who really took fighting seriously were the foreigners— that is, the Americans and Al-Qaeda. They came to kill.1

Filkins traveled south to Kabul with the advance of the Northern Alliance, but the same dynamic played out in Pashtunistan. When the CIA inserted Hamid Karzai into Kandahar province to raise up hell, he was met by a large contingent of truck borne Taliban eager to squash the rebellion in its tracks. Special Forces A-team 574 called in airstrikes, five hundred Taliban died without managing to kill a single member of Karzai’s force, and every village elder in the province saw it happen. Pillars of Taliban rule the day before emerged as grateful liberated the day after.2

Thus when the New York Times reports that Taliban “fighters have directions to treat captured government soldiers with care and ultimately release them” in a bid for good will, we should not frame these happenings as an extraordinary attempt by the Taliban to “rebrand themselves” or “polish their image.”3 This is how they fought the first time around; this is how everybody in Afghanistan fought until we got there.

Our failure to understand this dynamic has had consequences. It was not just the village elders who were ready to sign on to Karzai’s project–both in the immediate aftermath of his 2001 victories and sporadically in 2002 Taliban leaders offered to quit armed resistance and join in with the new Afghani government. Karzai was in favor. Washington was not. Without consulting Karzai or the CIA folks running the show on the ground, Donald Rumsfeld announced via press conference that defeated Taliban would not be negotiated or cooperated with; when the CIA tried to press the issue through interagency channels a few months later, Dick Cheney shut the effort down.4

As Filkins wrote, the Americans came to Afghanistan to kill. With Al-Qaeda gone, Taliban were the only folks left on the target list. “The Bush administration’s message to the movement’s survivors and their backers [in Pakistani intelligence] was clear: The Taliban could expect no future in Afghan politics unless they fought for it.”5

Fought they have.

Source: The Scholar's Stage


Dexter Filkins, The Forever War (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006), 50-54.

Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan (New York: Penguin Books, 2018), 100; Carter Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021), 68, 72. PBS also has an interesting set of interviews with the special forces team that accompanied Karzai through the battle.

Najim Rahim and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Taliban Try to Polish Their Image as They Push for Victory,” New York Times (21 July 2021)

Coll, Directorate S, 101-2, 140-44; Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan, 73-76; 99-101.

Coll, Directorate S, 144.

German Foreign Policy - Mon Aug 02, 2021 17:20

With its deployment of the frigate Bayern to East Asia on Monday, Germany is joining the rapid expansion of western war maneuvers in China's close vicinity.

In the fall, the frigate Bayern will conduct operations for monitoring US sanctions against North Korea and subsequently set off for home through the South China Sea.

The UK Carrier Strike Group led by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth had entered the South China Sea already yesterday, after joint exercises also with warships from India and Singapore.

Following naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in early April, the French armed forces have conducted joint air combat exercises with US jets in Hawaii this month and specially relocated several Rafale fighter jets to its overseas territory French Polynesia in the middle of the South Pacific.

The US air force is currently holding a maneuver that experts view as a realistic trial-run for war with China under contemporary conditions. High-ranking US military officials suggest that war is possible in the near future.

The Tour of the Frigate Bayern

This coming Monday, the frigate Bayern will set off for its tour to East Asia scheduled to last more than half a year. On its way, the frigate will first participate in NATO's Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean and then in the EU's Operation Atalanta at the Horn of Africa. After its passage through the Indian Ocean, the tour continues through the Strait of Malacca; port-calls were also planned in allied Australia.[1]

The official highlight will be its participation in monitoring UN sanctions against North Korea. In this context, according to the German government, the frigate Bayern will contribute to the "assessment of the maritime situation" by "observing and reporting suspicious activities and by establishing contact with suspicious ships."[2]

On its return cruise, the frigate will transit the South China Sea. It will, however, refrain from the most severe forms of provocation, such as transiting the Taiwan Strait and entering the twelve-mile zones around the islands claimed by China.[3]

According to reports, the German government is seeking to negotiate a stopover in a Chinese port. It is not clear whether Beijing will accept this purported gesture of de-escalation.

Permanent Presence in Asia

While the frigate is embarking, the armed forces of other western powers are intensifying their operations in both the South China Sea and the Pacific.

Yesterday, the UK Carrier Strike Group led by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth entered the South China Sea. The Strike Group that was joined by war ships from the Netherlands and the USA, and US F-35 fighter jets as well, had previously conducted exercises with the armed forces of Malaysia, Thailand and India and most recently with Singapore's navy, after being only partially operational due to various cases of Covid-19 and technical problems.[4]

More joint exercises with warships from third countries are planned over the next few days and weeks. The Strike Group will continue its tour through the South China Sea to the Philippine Sea, for a joint exercise with Japanese armed forces, before heading home.[5]

In late August, London will also deploy two patrol boats to Asia, where, according to the British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, the British Navy plans to permanently station two war ships.[6]

Complex Combat Operations

The French military is also expanding its activities in Asia. In early April, for example, together with the militaries of the "Quad" countries (the USA, Japan, Australia, India) France conducted a joint naval maneuver ("Le Perouse") in the Bay of Bengal (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]), and around three weeks ago the "Heifara-Wakea" combat exercise in the middle of the Pacific was ended. Initially, the exercise had involved 3 Rafale fighter jets, an A330 MRTT refueling aircraft, and 2 A400M cargo planes sent from France to Tahiti, with a single stopover at Travis Air Force Base outside San Francisco.

Tahiti is the main island of France's overseas territory of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. That is where France maintains one of its two Pacific Ocean military bases - the other is in the Southwest Pacific, in New Caledonia.

The French pilots, who had been flying two sorties daily during the maneuvers, finished the exercises with a joint training with US F-22 stealth jets taking off from a base on Hawaii, to the north of French Polynesia.

The maneuver was a rousing success, according to Gen. Philippe Lavigne, the Chief of French Air and Space Force (FASF): "it proved that it is possible to cooperate with allies," to demonstrate the type of operational credibility needed in high end conflicts in the increasingly competitive Pacific.[8]

"Operation Pacific Iron"

On the other hand, the US military has just redeployed more than two dozen F-22 "Raptor" stealth fighters, ten Boeing F-15E fighter bombers as well as two C-13J "Hercules" cargo planes to the "Operation Pacific Iron" maneuvers in the Western Pacific.

In the event of war, the F-22s would be immediately engaged at the very beginning of combat, to take out enemy air defenses. Experts point out that usually a maximum of 12 of these planes simultaneously participate in exercises[9] - an indication that "Pacific Iron" is of extraordinary significance. Another special feature lies in the fact that the planes will not be taking off from larger US bases in Japan and South Korea, or Guam, but rather from smaller airports on Guam or on the island of Tinian in the Marianas.[10]

This is how the US Air Force is taking into account the fact that China's military, with its powerful missile forces, is capable of comprehensibly destroying enemy runways in a very short time. Therefore, so as not to lose combat strength, the US Air Force is now redeploying its F-22s to various smaller airfields. It practices "precisely the operations, that it would carry out in the event of a major crisis or a war," as the former Australian Air Force officer, Peter Layton (today, an expert at the Griffith Asia Institute) was quoted.[11]

War - Already in 2024?

The intensification of western maneuvers and their growing focus on combat missions, which are highly realistic under current circumstances, coincide with prognoses by high-ranking US military officials, predicting that a war between the United States and China is probable in the near future.

For example, recently NATO's former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Ret. Adm. James G. Stavridis, was quoted with the prognosis that "our technology, network of allies and bases in the region, still overmatch China" - for now.[12] However, "by the end of the decade - if not sooner" the People's Republic "will be in a position" to "challenge the US" at least "in the South China Sea." Recently Stavridis published a novel in which he depicted a fictional war erupting between the USA and China in 2034.[13]

In the meantime, he considers "we may not have until 2034 to prepare for this battle - it may come much sooner." Some of his colleagues in the military are predicting that "it is not about 2034," the Big War could come earlier - possibly even "2024 or 2026."[14]

Source: German Foreign Policy

 

[1] See also Die neue deutsche Kanonenbootpolitik (II).

[2] Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Sevim Dağdelen, Heike Hänsel, Michael Brandt, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion Die Linke. Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 19/30092. Berlin, 21.05.2021.

[3] See also Die neue deutsche Kanonenbootpolitik (III).

[4] HMS Queen Elizabeth And Carrier Strike Group Pass Through Singapore Strait. forces.net 26.07.2021.

[5] UK Carrier Strike Group conducts exercise with Republic of Singapore Navy. gov.uk 27.07.2021.

[6] Britain to Permanently Deploy 2 Warships in Asian Waters. voanews.com 20.07.2021.

[7] See also Manöver in Ostasien.

[8] Murielle Delaporte: Inside The 'Laboratory Of Premieres' For French Air Power. breakingdefense.com 12.07.2021.

[9] Gerd Portugall: US-Luftwaffe zeigt ihre "Muskeln" im Westpazifik. behorden-spiegel.de 16.07.2021.

[10] Brad Lendon: US Air Force to send dozens of F-22 fighter jets to the Pacific amid tensions with China. edition.cnn.com 26.07.2021.

[11] Matthias Koch: Der Adler erschreckt den Drachen. rnd.de 27.07.2021.

[12] James Stavridis: It's not too soon to prepare for a sea war in Asia. politico.com 13.05.2021.

[13] See also Rezension: "2034".

[14] See also The Big War.

With its deployment of the frigate Bayern to East Asia on Monday, Germany is joining the rapid expansion of western war maneuvers in China's close vicinity.

In the fall, the frigate Bayern will conduct operations for monitoring US sanctions against North Korea and subsequently set off for home through the South China Sea.

The UK Carrier Strike Group led by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth had entered the South China Sea already yesterday, after joint exercises also with warships from India and Singapore.

Following naval exercises in the Bay of Bengal in early April, the French armed forces have conducted joint air combat exercises with US jets in Hawaii this month and specially relocated several Rafale fighter jets to its overseas territory French Polynesia in the middle of the South Pacific.

The US air force is currently holding a maneuver that experts view as a realistic trial-run for war with China under contemporary conditions. High-ranking US military officials suggest that war is possible in the near future.

The Tour of the Frigate Bayern

This coming Monday, the frigate Bayern will set off for its tour to East Asia scheduled to last more than half a year. On its way, the frigate will first participate in NATO's Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean and then in the EU's Operation Atalanta at the Horn of Africa. After its passage through the Indian Ocean, the tour continues through the Strait of Malacca; port-calls were also planned in allied Australia.[1]

The official highlight will be its participation in monitoring UN sanctions against North Korea. In this context, according to the German government, the frigate Bayern will contribute to the "assessment of the maritime situation" by "observing and reporting suspicious activities and by establishing contact with suspicious ships."[2]

On its return cruise, the frigate will transit the South China Sea. It will, however, refrain from the most severe forms of provocation, such as transiting the Taiwan Strait and entering the twelve-mile zones around the islands claimed by China.[3]

According to reports, the German government is seeking to negotiate a stopover in a Chinese port. It is not clear whether Beijing will accept this purported gesture of de-escalation.

Permanent Presence in Asia

While the frigate is embarking, the armed forces of other western powers are intensifying their operations in both the South China Sea and the Pacific.

Yesterday, the UK Carrier Strike Group led by the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth entered the South China Sea. The Strike Group that was joined by war ships from the Netherlands and the USA, and US F-35 fighter jets as well, had previously conducted exercises with the armed forces of Malaysia, Thailand and India and most recently with Singapore's navy, after being only partially operational due to various cases of Covid-19 and technical problems.[4]

More joint exercises with warships from third countries are planned over the next few days and weeks. The Strike Group will continue its tour through the South China Sea to the Philippine Sea, for a joint exercise with Japanese armed forces, before heading home.[5]

In late August, London will also deploy two patrol boats to Asia, where, according to the British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, the British Navy plans to permanently station two war ships.[6]

Complex Combat Operations

The French military is also expanding its activities in Asia. In early April, for example, together with the militaries of the "Quad" countries (the USA, Japan, Australia, India) France conducted a joint naval maneuver ("Le Perouse") in the Bay of Bengal (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]), and around three weeks ago the "Heifara-Wakea" combat exercise in the middle of the Pacific was ended. Initially, the exercise had involved 3 Rafale fighter jets, an A330 MRTT refueling aircraft, and 2 A400M cargo planes sent from France to Tahiti, with a single stopover at Travis Air Force Base outside San Francisco.

Tahiti is the main island of France's overseas territory of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. That is where France maintains one of its two Pacific Ocean military bases - the other is in the Southwest Pacific, in New Caledonia.

The French pilots, who had been flying two sorties daily during the maneuvers, finished the exercises with a joint training with US F-22 stealth jets taking off from a base on Hawaii, to the north of French Polynesia.

The maneuver was a rousing success, according to Gen. Philippe Lavigne, the Chief of French Air and Space Force (FASF): "it proved that it is possible to cooperate with allies," to demonstrate the type of operational credibility needed in high end conflicts in the increasingly competitive Pacific.[8]

"Operation Pacific Iron"

On the other hand, the US military has just redeployed more than two dozen F-22 "Raptor" stealth fighters, ten Boeing F-15E fighter bombers as well as two C-13J "Hercules" cargo planes to the "Operation Pacific Iron" maneuvers in the Western Pacific.

In the event of war, the F-22s would be immediately engaged at the very beginning of combat, to take out enemy air defenses. Experts point out that usually a maximum of 12 of these planes simultaneously participate in exercises[9] - an indication that "Pacific Iron" is of extraordinary significance. Another special feature lies in the fact that the planes will not be taking off from larger US bases in Japan and South Korea, or Guam, but rather from smaller airports on Guam or on the island of Tinian in the Marianas.[10]

This is how the US Air Force is taking into account the fact that China's military, with its powerful missile forces, is capable of comprehensibly destroying enemy runways in a very short time. Therefore, so as not to lose combat strength, the US Air Force is now redeploying its F-22s to various smaller airfields. It practices "precisely the operations, that it would carry out in the event of a major crisis or a war," as the former Australian Air Force officer, Peter Layton (today, an expert at the Griffith Asia Institute) was quoted.[11]

War - Already in 2024?

The intensification of western maneuvers and their growing focus on combat missions, which are highly realistic under current circumstances, coincide with prognoses by high-ranking US military officials, predicting that a war between the United States and China is probable in the near future.

For example, recently NATO's former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Ret. Adm. James G. Stavridis, was quoted with the prognosis that "our technology, network of allies and bases in the region, still overmatch China" - for now.[12] However, "by the end of the decade - if not sooner" the People's Republic "will be in a position" to "challenge the US" at least "in the South China Sea." Recently Stavridis published a novel in which he depicted a fictional war erupting between the USA and China in 2034.[13]

In the meantime, he considers "we may not have until 2034 to prepare for this battle - it may come much sooner." Some of his colleagues in the military are predicting that "it is not about 2034," the Big War could come earlier - possibly even "2024 or 2026."[14]

Source: German Foreign Policy

 

[1] See also Die neue deutsche Kanonenbootpolitik (II).

[2] Antwort der Bundesregierung auf die Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Sevim Dağdelen, Heike Hänsel, Michael Brandt, weiterer Abgeordneter und der Fraktion Die Linke. Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 19/30092. Berlin, 21.05.2021.

[3] See also Die neue deutsche Kanonenbootpolitik (III).

[4] HMS Queen Elizabeth And Carrier Strike Group Pass Through Singapore Strait. forces.net 26.07.2021.

[5] UK Carrier Strike Group conducts exercise with Republic of Singapore Navy. gov.uk 27.07.2021.

[6] Britain to Permanently Deploy 2 Warships in Asian Waters. voanews.com 20.07.2021.

[7] See also Manöver in Ostasien.

[8] Murielle Delaporte: Inside The 'Laboratory Of Premieres' For French Air Power. breakingdefense.com 12.07.2021.

[9] Gerd Portugall: US-Luftwaffe zeigt ihre "Muskeln" im Westpazifik. behorden-spiegel.de 16.07.2021.

[10] Brad Lendon: US Air Force to send dozens of F-22 fighter jets to the Pacific amid tensions with China. edition.cnn.com 26.07.2021.

[11] Matthias Koch: Der Adler erschreckt den Drachen. rnd.de 27.07.2021.

[12] James Stavridis: It's not too soon to prepare for a sea war in Asia. politico.com 13.05.2021.

[13] See also Rezension: "2034".

[14] See also The Big War.

RT - Mon Aug 02, 2021 14:36

 

Editor's note: Sky News Australia is COVID Rouge all the way, but offers one show that is somewhat skeptical. Not a radical show, just the kind of fare you might encounter on FOX. But even being pro-Covidian all the way, but offering a small counterweight to the cult is too much for YouTube. Your editorial policy has to be pro-mind virus all the way, or they will make you change it.


YouTube has suspended one of the largest media companies in Australia, local Sky News, from posting on its platform for allegedly breaching Covid-19 misinformation policies. It has also reportedly had some of its videos removed.

The one-week suspension was issued following a review of Sky News Australia’s “old videos,” the channel announced on Sunday. Under the terms of the temporary ban, for seven days, YouTube will allow no videos or livestreams to be posted by the channel, which has 1.86 million subscribers, and some earlier videos about coronavirus have been reportedly permanently deleted from the platform.

The ban was issued after some of its online content had been reportedly found to include videos that “denied the existence of Covid-19.” “Numerous” such videos have been removed from the channel, so as not to “cause real-world harm.”

“Specifically, we don’t allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19, or that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson told the Guardian Australia, adding that no “sufficient countervailing context” has been provided in the allegedly offending media reports. [Ie, you can't ever report on, or even mention, those things at all, without also including the regime-mandated view of them.]

According to YouTube’s policies, a week-long suspension counts as one strike. If three such warnings are issued over the course of 90 days, a channel is permanently removed from the platform.

Sky News Australia, which is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia, said it acknowledged YouTube’s “right to enforce its policies,” but “expressly rejects that any host has ever denied the existence of Covid-19 as was implied.” Its digital editor, Jack Houghton, has called the suspension a “disturbing attack” on both human and media rights.

Suggesting that YouTube had disagreed with Sky News Australia’s reporting on the debate about anti-Covid measures such as mask-wearing and lockdowns, Houghton said he “wondered” why other controversial videos on the issue remained on the platform. “I am yet to be informed of President Joe Biden’s YouTube and Facebook ban after uttering this false sentence: ‘You’re not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations,’” he argued.

Source: RT

 

Editor's note: Sky News Australia is COVID Rouge all the way, but offers one show that is somewhat skeptical. Not a radical show, just the kind of fare you might encounter on FOX. But even being pro-Covidian all the way, but offering a small counterweight to the cult is too much for YouTube. Your editorial policy has to be pro-mind virus all the way, or they will make you change it.


YouTube has suspended one of the largest media companies in Australia, local Sky News, from posting on its platform for allegedly breaching Covid-19 misinformation policies. It has also reportedly had some of its videos removed.

The one-week suspension was issued following a review of Sky News Australia’s “old videos,” the channel announced on Sunday. Under the terms of the temporary ban, for seven days, YouTube will allow no videos or livestreams to be posted by the channel, which has 1.86 million subscribers, and some earlier videos about coronavirus have been reportedly permanently deleted from the platform.

The ban was issued after some of its online content had been reportedly found to include videos that “denied the existence of Covid-19.” “Numerous” such videos have been removed from the channel, so as not to “cause real-world harm.”

“Specifically, we don’t allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19, or that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson told the Guardian Australia, adding that no “sufficient countervailing context” has been provided in the allegedly offending media reports. [Ie, you can't ever report on, or even mention, those things at all, without also including the regime-mandated view of them.]

According to YouTube’s policies, a week-long suspension counts as one strike. If three such warnings are issued over the course of 90 days, a channel is permanently removed from the platform.

Sky News Australia, which is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia, said it acknowledged YouTube’s “right to enforce its policies,” but “expressly rejects that any host has ever denied the existence of Covid-19 as was implied.” Its digital editor, Jack Houghton, has called the suspension a “disturbing attack” on both human and media rights.

Suggesting that YouTube had disagreed with Sky News Australia’s reporting on the debate about anti-Covid measures such as mask-wearing and lockdowns, Houghton said he “wondered” why other controversial videos on the issue remained on the platform. “I am yet to be informed of President Joe Biden’s YouTube and Facebook ban after uttering this false sentence: ‘You’re not going to get Covid if you have these vaccinations,’” he argued.

Source: RT

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