Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Aren't Cybercommand And The Einstein Crew At DHS Culpable For The Solarwinds Fail?

politico  |  Pentagon officials are making an 11th-hour push to potentially break up the joint leadership of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, a move that would raise inevitable questions about Army Gen. Paul Nakasone's future as head of the country’s largest spy agency.

Five people familiar with the matter told POLITICO that senior Defense Department leaders are reviewing a plan to separate the two agencies, a move lawmakers and DoD had contemplated for years but had largely fallen by the wayside since Nakasone assumed command of both organizations in 2018. The Wall Street Journal reported that a meeting about the proposal is scheduled for this week. Defense One first reported the effort was afoot.

If successful, the move could create major upheaval just as national security officials try to determine the full scope of a monthslong hack of several major U.S. agencies — including Homeland Security Department and the nuclear weapons branch of the Energy Department — by Russia’s elite spy agency.

Trump “talking about trying to split up the cyber command from the national security agency, in the midst of a crisis to be talking about that type of disruption makes us vulnerable again,” House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Saturday night during an interview with CNN.

On Friday, Smith sent letters to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, warning them against severing the leadership of NSA and Cyber Command. The two agencies have shared leadership under a so-called dual-hat arrangement since the Pentagon stood up Cyber Command in 2009.

Nakasone has led the military’s top digital warfighting unit and the federal government’s largest intelligence agency for roughly two and a half years. He has re-imagined how both organizations can deploy their own hackers and analysts against foreign adversaries via a doctrine of “persistent engagement” — putting U.S. forces in constant contact against adversaries in cyberspace, including tracking them and taking offensive action.

The four-star is beloved by both Democrats and Republicans, especially after defending the 2018 and 2020 election from foreign interference. Some lawmakers even joke they wish they could put Nakasone in charge of more parts of the federal government.


Can Someone Tell Me What Russia Stood To Gain From The Solarwinds Exploit?

strategic-culture  |  Out of respect for the American electoral process being consummated, Russian President Vladimir Putin had waited until this week to make any comment. However, after the Electoral College executed its duties, Putin promptly telegrammed congratulations to Biden on his victory. The Russian leader expressed the hope that Russia and the United States would begin to normalize relations for the sake of global security.

Ominously, the auspicious occasion was immediately marred by a U.S. media frenzy alleging a massive cyber-assault on the heart of American government and industries. Russia was predictably blamed as the offender.

The Kremlin dismissed the claims as yet another anti-Russia fabrication. For the past four years, the U.S. media have regularly peddled sensational claims of Russian malfeasance, from alleged interference in elections, to alleged assassination programs against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, among many other such tall stories. Never has any verifiable evidence been presented to back up these lurid allegations. The cyber domain is a particular favorite for such anti-Russia claims, most likely because these stories are handily told without any real evidence. All that is required is for anonymous cyber security agents to be quoted. The abstract and arcane cyber world also lends itself to mystery for most people. In short, it is amenable to false claims because of its elusive technical nature.

Now, it is feasible that some kind of malign cyber event did indeed happen in the U.S. government departments, agencies, infrastructure and private sector as reported this week. Though, what is very much in doubt is the question of who actually carried it out. The U.S. media and anonymous officials are fingering Russia. But where is the proof of Russia’s culpability?

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security briefed members of Congress about the cyber-attacks. Senators emerged from the briefings fulminating against Russia. The second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, told media that “it was virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States”.

What is going on here is a classic case of “gas-lighting” whereby people are being manipulated to believe in something utterly false; for an ulterior agenda.

Edward Snowden, the courageous whistleblower formerly at the U.S. National Security Agency, has revealed with copious proof how the CIA and other American intelligence agencies have the technical capability to carry out cyber-assaults using digital signatures with the deliberate aim of falsely implicating other actors. That is, the ability to carry out digital false-flag attacks.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Kansas City Star, Negroe Leagues Recognition And $2.00 Will Get You A Large Coffee At QT...,

kansascity  |  Today The Star presents a six-part package. It is the result of a team of reporters who dug deeply into the archives of The Star and what was once its sister paper, The Kansas City Times. They pored over thousands of pages of digitized and microfilmed stories, comparing the coverage to how those same events were covered in the Black press — most notably by The Kansas City Call and The Kansas City Sun, each of which chronicled critical stories the white dailies ignored or gave short shrift.

Our reporters searched court documents, archival collections, congressional testimony, minutes of meetings and digital databases. Periodically, as they researched, editors and reporters convened panels of scholars and community leaders to discuss the significant milestones of Black life in Kansas City that were overlooked or underplayed by The Star and The Times.

Critically, we sought some of those who lived through the events the project explored. They include victims of the 1977 flood, and students (now long into adulthood) of the illegally segregated Kansas City Public Schools. We talked to retired Star and Times reporters and editors, many of whom, along with other colleagues in their time, recognized institutional inertia, and fought for greater racial inclusion.

Reporters were frequently sickened by what they found — decades of coverage that depicted Black Kansas Citians as criminals living in a crime-laden world. They felt shame at what was missing: the achievements, aspirations and milestones of an entire population routinely overlooked, as if Black people were invisible.

Reporters felt regret that the papers’ historic coverage not only did a disservice to Black Kansas Citians, but also to white readers deprived of the opportunity to understand the true richness Black citizens brought to Kansas City.

Like most metro newspapers of the early to mid-20th century, The Star was a white newspaper produced by white reporters and editors for white readers and advertisers. Having The Star or Times thrown in your driveway was a family tradition, passed down to sons and daughters.

But not in Black families. Their children grew up with little hope of ever being mentioned in the city’s largest and most influential newspapers, unless they got in trouble. Negative portrayals of Black Kansas Citians buttressed stereotypes and played a role in keeping the city divided.

Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article247928045.html#storylink=cpy

Teachers Unions Wreak Havoc And Get Away With It Under The Societal Radar

AIER |  On Monday, December 7th, North Carolina teachers did not show up in their classrooms, but instead logged onto Facebook and posted photographs of themselves dressed in red with the caption, “A show of solidarity with our colleagues.” This gesture was in defiance of the Orange County Superintendent’s call for teachers to return to schools and a way to protest school openings, on the grounds that it was too dangerous for teachers to do their jobs in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The local teacher’s union, Orange County Association of Educators, supported the movement in a Facebook post saying, “We have yet to hear sufficient rationale for how teaching from our classrooms helps our students, who can tell when our morale is low and our stress levels are high.”

Schools across the country – in New York City, DC suburbs, Pittsburgh, and so on – are closing again for fear that a new wave of infections will occur from holiday travel and more people staying indoors. In Orange County, the teachers are still unwilling to hold in-person classes even though the county is seeing a low positive test rate of 3.1%, well below the state’s positive test rate goal of 5%. 

It would be reasonable for teachers to oppose schools being open if Covid-19 posed a significant risk to students. However, we knew early on that the science demonstrates there is virtually no risk of severe illness or death to children. On April 22nd, a study from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found:

“Most children with COVID-19 presented with mild symptoms, if any, generally required supportive care only, and typically had a good prognosis and recovered within 1 to 2 weeks.”

Likewise, two months later, a study from the Lancet stated: “COVID-19 is generally a mild disease in children, including infants.”

In the US alone, only 254 young people under the age of 17 have died of Covid-19. This number accounts for roughly 0.085% percent of Covid-19 deaths in the United States.

At the same time, school closures cause great harm to children and teenagers, especially in the long term. 

School districts across the country are observing much higher class failure rates compared to previous years. Salt Lake City schools reported the percentage of students falling below grade level jumped from 23 percent in 2019 to 32 percent in the first trimester of 2020. In Fairfax County, Virginia, the number of students who have two or more failing grades has increased by 83%. Significant evidence shows that a truncated school year supplemented with online learning is vastly inferior to the education children get in-person. Virtual learning is particularly harmful to students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds who do not have sufficient resources to support their learning. 

Feminist Grievance: Antifa's Intersectional Nexus With The Public School Karenwaffen

Powerfully Unionized Fallen Professional Class Doesn't Trust The Science Or Believe The Experts

Slate |  “Teachers do not need to be sitting on a panel with a scientist, getting convinced to shut up and go with their position,” longtime union president and former Brookline High teacher Jessica Wender-Shubow told me recently. (She drew a distinction between individual teachers being asked to participate, which she didn’t support, and the union as a union getting an invitation—which didn’t happen.) She believed that parents didn’t understand the logistical realities of teaching, and the impossibility of getting perfect adherence from even the most perfect children. Brookline parents, she said, “are in in the business of ventilation and spacing. They decide what transmissibility looks like. They say the children are safe. But there are debates about that.”

The rest of the students, from third grade on up, returned in phases to Brookline’s school buildings for hybrid learning starting at the end of October. And then on Nov. 3—Election Day, and the day after the last group of students returned to in-person learning—the teachers went on strike. It was only for a day, and the kids weren’t scheduled to be there anyway; it was a professional development day for teachers. But the message was clear: The union wasn’t happy with the way reopening was going.

This fall, school reopening became a flashpoint, especially in blue America. The same public health experts who warned of the pandemic and had advocated closing everything in March made it increasingly clear that reopening schools was—if case counts were low, if testing were available, if buildings could be ventilated—a manageable risk, at least before it got cold and another wave of the virus hit. Reporting in places like the New Yorker showed how remote learning was likely to be a disaster for low-income students. Meanwhile, many teachers and labor allies were skeptical about the safety of reopening. States were facing budget crunches, Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos were advocating for blanket reopenings while refusing to provide funding or help, and states like Iowa and Georgia had refused to mandate masks in high schools.

But if there was any place that could do in-person learning safely, surely it was Brookline. The town was well resourced and civic-minded, and the state of Massachusetts had kept counts relatively low and hired a giant corps of contact tracers. The parents—at least a significant chunk of them—wanted it. (In Brookline, as everywhere, there were parents who were publicly leery about in-person schooling, but the ones clamoring for in-person learning seemed to be the loudest parental demographic.) And then there were those expert panels, which rivaled the state’s advisory board, especially Panel 4—“Public Health, Safety and Logistics.”

And yet for all that credentialing, when the 1,000 or so Brookline educators went on strike in November, it appeared to be an implicit response to Panel 4’s expert advice. Panel 4 had recently advised that 6 feet of distancing might be revisited in certain specific circumstances, especially given new science that showed the disease was less transmissible in younger children. Soon thereafter, the school district had refused to put language permanently guaranteeing 6 feet of distance into the union contract that was under (protracted) negotiation. “Six feet is just a proxy for how many people are in the classroom,” said Eric Colburn, a ninth grade English teacher who has worked in the district for 18 years. “I could easily be convinced it should be less in some cases, but I certainly think my union should be involved in making that decision.”

On the Brookline schools’ Facebook group, the comments read like a church going through a schism. “I trust teachers to teach, and scientists to guide us on science,” wrote one person, capturing a common view among parents. “[T]he point is that teachers aren’t being heard, all I hear is how amazing panel 4 is, I get it, a collection of brilliant minds working diligently on the matter,” shot back another Brookline resident. “If you all trust your teachers so much open up your ears and listen to what they are telling everyone,” that commenter added. Wender-Shubow, in our conversation this past September, took pains to say that Panel 4 had the best intentions. But, she said, “what they don’t know is how you teach children.” Their expertise stopped at the schoolhouse door. These kinds of fights, she said, “were happening everywhere, with a group of privileged white parents who are extremely skilled at promoting their position. They are squeaky wheels who know how to operate within civil society.”

Economic And Cultural (Power) Discontents Of The Fallen Professional Classes


Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Revolutionary Struggle Is A Fight Between Movement And Inertia

caitlinjohnstone |  There's also the debate that's been raging in US left circles over the call initiated by commentator Jimmy Dore for House progressives to force a floor vote on Medicare for All legislation, a big part of the argument being that it's more important than ever to start pushing for a normal healthcare system in the United States right now. Millions of people are being thrown off their employer-provided insurance during the economic downturn and it is both a necessary and opportune time to either implement universal healthcare or at least draw public attention to which elected officials are standing in its way.

Both the campaign to get the US government to implement a proper healthcare system, and the fight to get meaningful financial support during the pandemic, will fail. Necessarily.

They will not fail because there's a lack of public support for these things. They will not fail because of the number of seats controlled by members of a given party in the House or the Senate. They will not fail because "It's just not realistic right now".

They will fail, ultimately, because an entire globe-spanning empire depends upon keeping Americans struggling financially.

The US has a system of deliberately institutionalized poverty because if wealth were more evenly distributed in the most powerful nation on earth, there'd be no ruling class to ensure the domination of the globe-spanning empire. Plutocrats wouldn't be able to use their massive wealth advantage to buy up influence over the political class and control public thought by purchasing mass media outlets and other mechanisms narrative control in order to ensure the continuation of the global status quo upon which those plutocrats have built their kingdoms. The system would belong to the people.

This is the real wall US progressives keep crashing into in their fight for economic justice in America. Ultimately their efforts to work within the official political system to implement economic justice fail because that system is set up to preserve economic injustice. It's not ultimately about this or that political faction or any one particular politician, it's the fact that there's a massive amount of power riding on the ability to keep Americans too poor and powerless to interfere in the operation of the nation which serves as the hub of a massive global empire.


Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose...,

strategic-culture  |  If we look at the late 20th and now the 21st century it is critical to acknowledge that the main means of coercion of the population of a given nation is comfort. Throughout all of human history from the point when we first started to slap together farm implements there has had to be some form of repression/coercion to keep the system, that we call society, on its feet. The serfs needed to toil, the knights needed to defend, the traders to trade and the elite to oversee it all. This is one of the paradoxes of Democracy, we created a system that tells us the people are in charge and free to do whatever they want when in reality society exists as it does, exactly because people cannot do what they want and do not have the power to topple the system.

Fancy textbooks call the willingness of individuals to submit to society “coercion”. Traditionally we, not surprisingly, think of this coercion in the most blunt and obvious form that is easy to understand – the police. In most nations there is an army for external threats, but the police have the same hierarchy of ranks, fancy uniforms and weapons only their enemy is you. The good news is they don’t want to kill you, just coerce you into enough obedience for society to function. After the truncheon club, many point the finger at religion or media as the great repressor. Many of our views and opinions are formed for us by these two factors and it cannot be denied that they shape our way of thinking, which can and does create coercion. Comfort though is usually not mentioned anywhere despite it being probably the most powerful form of repression we have ever seen, but this is not surprising.

Again, this isn’t to say that coercion/repression is a great evil. Without it, the complex societies that give us many benefits, could not stand and none of us wants to go live in a cave. And it is exactly this fact, that very few people are willing to go “live off the land”, that gives comfort so much power as a means of control. The overall global migration trend is for those with less to try to force themselves into countries with more, thus increasing their level of comfort. The migrants may not put it in these terms, but humans like all of God’s creatures tend to take the easy way out. Racoons prefer to attack the dumpster behind McDonald’s for food because it can’t fight back and is always available. This probably has a horrible effect on the racoons’ health but it is the most comfortable option. They become very dependent on the dumpster and would probably shriek in terror if the fast food “restaurant” was ever to be closed down forcing them to go back to dealing with food that can run/squirm away. And this sort of situation is what has happened in the decadent West.

Call It What You Like - But Complete Access To Digital DNA Has No Precedent

 wired |  In terms of the SolarWinds incident, the deterrence game is not yet over. The breach is still ongoing, and the ultimate end game is still unknown. Information gleaned from the breach could be used for other detrimental foreign policy objectives outside of cyberspace, or the threat actor could exploit its access to US government networks to engage in follow-on disruptive or destructive actions (in other words, conduct a cyberattack).

But what about the Department of Defense’s new defend forward strategy, which was meant to fill in the gap where traditional deterrence mechanisms might not work? Some view this latest incident as a defend-forward failure because the Defense Department seemingly did not manage to stop this hack before it occurred. Introduced in the 2018 Defense Department Cyber Strategy, this strategy aims to “disrupt or halt malicious cyber activity at its source.” This represented a change in how the Defense Department conceptualized operating in cyberspace, going beyond maneuvering in networks it owns, to operating in those that others may control. There has been some controversy about this posture. In part, this may be because defend forward has been described in many different ways, making it hard to understand what the concept actually means and the conditions under which it is meant to apply.

Here’s our take on defend forward, which we see as two types of activities: The first is information gathering and sharing with allies, partner agencies, and critical infrastructure by maneuvering in networks where adversaries operate. These activities create more robust defense mechanisms, but largely leave the adversary alone. The second includes countering adversary offensive cyber capabilities and infrastructure within the adversaries’ own networks. In other words, launching cyberattacks against adversary hacking groups—like threat actors associated with the Russian government. It isn’t clear how much of this second category the Defense Department has been doing, but the SolarWinds incident suggests the US could be doing more.

How should the US cyber strategy adapt after SolarWinds? Deterrence may be an ineffective strategy for preventing espionage, but other options remain. To decrease the scope and severity of these intelligence breaches, the US must improve its defenses, conduct counterintelligence operations, and also conduct counter-cyber operations to degrade the capabilities and infrastructure that enable adversaries to conduct espionage. That’s where defend forward could be used more effectively.

This doesn’t mean deterrence is completely dead. Instead, the US should continue to build and rely on strategic deterrence to convince states not to weaponize the cyber intelligence they collect.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Solarwinds, mRNA Vaccines, Lockdowns, Look What We Can Do To You Any Time....,

Slate |  To understand the difference between the SolarWinds compromise and the other high-profile cybersecurity incidents you’ve read about in recent years—Equifax or Sony Pictures or Office of Personnel Management, for instance—it’s important to understand both how the SolarWinds malware was delivered and also how it was then used as a platform for other attacks. Equifax, Sony Pictures, and OPM are all examples of computer systems that were specifically targeted by intruders, even though they used some generic, more widely used pieces of malware. For instance, to breach OPM, the intruders stole contractor credentials and registered the domain opmsecurity.org so that their connections to OPM servers would look less suspicious coming from that address.

This meant that there were some very clear sources that could be used to trace the scope of the incident after the fact—what had the person using those particular stolen credentials installed or looked at? What data had been accessed via the fraudulent domains? It also meant that the investigators could be relatively confident the incident was confined to a particular department or target system and that wiping and restoring those systems would be sufficient to remove the intruders’ presence. That’s not to say that cleaning up the OPM breach—or Sony Pictures or Equifax, for that matter—was easy or straightforward, just that it was a fairly well-bounded problem by comparison to what we’re facing with SolarWinds.

The compromised SolarWinds update that delivered the malware was distributed to as many as 18,000 customers. The SolarWinds Orion products are specifically designed to monitor the networks of systems and report on any security problems, so they have to have access to everything, which is what made them such a perfect conduit for this compromise. So there are no comparable limiting boundaries on its scope or impacts, as has been made clear by the gradual revelation of more and more high-value targets. Even more worrisome is the fact that the attackers apparently made use of their initial access to targeted organizations, such as FireEye and Microsoft, to steal tools and code that would then enable them to compromise even more targets. After Microsoft realized it was breached via the SolarWinds compromise, it then discovered its own products were then used “to further the attacks on others,” according to Reuters.

This means that the set of potential victims is not just (just!) the 18,000 SolarWinds customers who may have downloaded the compromised updates, but also all of those 18,000 organizations’ customers, and potentially the clients of those second-order organizations as well—and so on. So when I say the SolarWinds cyberespionage campaign will last years, I don’t just mean, as I usually do, that figuring out liability and settling costs and carrying out investigations will take years (though that is certainly true here). The actual, active theft of information from protected networks due to this breach will last years.


What'Chu Gone Do When They Tell You To Bend Over For Your Jab?

nakedcapitalism  |  It’s alarming and disheartening to see that the effort to combat Covid is becoming more and more politicized. It’s not just the elements that are inherently political, since they involve government decisions and allocations of resources, like whether to restrict international air travel, mandate quarantines, provide support to households and businesses for lost wages and revenues, and decide who gets first dibs on scarce supplies. It’s that the elements of the debate that the great unwashed public would really like to be in the hands of unbiased trustworthy experts are now as much subject to politics and fashion as whether Covid relief will be means-tested or not.

One of the side effects is Joe Biden making nonsensical statement like “Trust the science.” Science with respect to medicine is regularly a medieval art. Either practically or ethically, we can’t run large scale studies on representative populations. We’re often stuck with observation, experimental-level studies, and correlations as opposed to clear-cut causality. And too often, the people making those studies have reason to over-hype the results, even if it’s just to get their research noticed.

The situation is made worse with the high level of corruption in our society, starting with private equity rentierism in hospitals and emergency services. Experts have complained about corruption in scientific research for decades, to the degree that a lot of the public has become aware of it. Agnotology to muddy the mounting evidence against smoking, and later, against carbon emissions. Vioxx. Oxycontin. Overdiagnosis of behavioral disorders in children, accompanied by unprecedented administration of medications. In medicine, this is the direct result of drug companies and health care providers being more and more driven by commercial rather than patient interest.

Profit pressures have also degraded the doctor-patient relationship. More and more MDs work as employees rather than in their old configuration of independent small businessmen. Their corporate masters regularly not only dictate how many patients to see in the day, but also a lot of their treatment protocols. Allegedly, the latter is driven by the need to get more doctors to adhere to the standards of evidence-based medicine. Some practitioners retort that quite a few patients have problems that don’t fall tidily into adequately researched boxes, and clinicians need to be able to make judgement calls.

None of this is new, but it’s important to remember these issues as the debate over Covid policy continues. The US has backed itself into the corner of having to hope for a medical magic bullet due to our inability to mobilize a society-wide response to Covid. And it’s not just authoritarian China that has done better. Thailand, which has Bangkok, literally the most visited city in the world as its commercial center, has a population of 75 million and has had 60 Covid deaths. Yes that means 60 in total. Alabama, with 4.9 million people, had 56 Covid deaths yesterday.

Even parts of the West that had initial successes, as we know all too well, have backslid spectacularly, loosening up too much in the late summer and fall. And now that the disease is well entrenched, it seems just too daunting to have a strict lockdown for five to six weeks, pay people and business enough to get through a deep freeze, and put in place post lockdown measures with teeth, like serious fines for breaking quarantine (and support during quarantines, like stipends and delivery of food and other supplies). The purpose of this post is not to debate what that program might look like, but to posit that there is one, and that stop-and-go leaky lockdowns are likely to be as costly in human and financial terms in the long term.

So instead, the US is putting all its eggs in the Covid vaccine basket. That is coming at the expense of pursuing other approaches in parallel to reduce the health cost and societal damage of the disease.

About These mRNA Vaccines: You See, What Happened Wuz.....,

nakedcapitalism |  Earlier this week, we posted An Internal Medicine Doctor and His Peers Read the Pfizer Vaccine Study and See Red Flags [Updated]. Most readers responded very positively to the write-up by IM Doc, which included the reactions of the eight other members of his Journal Club who reviewed the article and its editorial, as they have done regularly with important medical journal articles. We have embedded the Pfizer article from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) below; the link to the editorial is here.

However, some took issue with IM Doc noting that two nurses in the UK had suffered anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially life threatening allergic reaction, after getting the Pfizer shot. IM Doc criticized the paper and editorial for not including or adding a discussion of any exclusion criteria, particularly since Pfizer’s proxies admitted that severe allergies were an exclusion criterion. From MedicalXpress:

Moncef Slaoui, who is the chief advisor to the US program for COVID vaccine and treatment development, told reporters, “Looking into the data, patients or subjects with severe allergic reaction history have been excluded from the clinical trial.

“I assume—because the FDA will make those decisions—that tomorrow this will be part of the consideration, and as in the UK, the expectation would be that subjects with known severe reactions, (will be asked) to not take the vaccine, until we understand exactly what happened here.”

Slaoui is the co-head of Operation Warp Speed and previously head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine department. Other media outlets and professional medical writers (see here and here for examples) picked up his statement that subjects with severe allergic reactions were excluded.

If you look at the article below, you will see that it is not searchable. That indicates an expectation that it would be read as a print out only. You will find it make no mention of “exclusion criteria”. Neither does the the separate editorial by NEJM editors. The article does does mention “protocols” in the text, twice, but does not have a link to where to find them, does not have a written URL, nor does it provide a name or location to assist in finding them.

Some critics argued that the protocol (which you need to search through to find the selection process for candidates, including the exclusion criteria, for the Phase III trials) could “easily” be found in the Supplemental Materials and further asserted that any regular reader of medical papers would be able to find then. The fact that IM Doc, who has been reading medical papers for 30 years, and his eight colleagues did not locate them is already significant counter-evidence, particularly since the NEJM’s media kit lists the publication’s audience solely as physicians. No doubt scientists read it too, but the eyeballs advertisers really want to reach are doctors, academics or scientists in the employ of competitors.

Tennessee Nurse Takes Pfizer Jab Then Loses Consciousness

 RT |  A nurse at a Tennessee hospital collapsed soon after taking a dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Though she recovered moments later, the mishap struck another blow to a public health initiative to promote trust in the new jab.

A nurse manager at the CHI Memorial hospital in Chattanooga, Tiffany Dover, was among the first to get the inoculation at the facility on Thursday. But as she spoke to media moments after receiving her first dose, Dover reported feeling “really dizzy” before fainting, as was captured in a live broadcast.

Fortunately, a doctor was there to break Dover’s fall, and after several minutes she was back on her feet, explaining that the reaction is not uncommon for her.

“It just hit me all of a sudden, I could feel it coming on,” Dover said. “I felt a little disoriented but I feel fine now, and the pain in my arm is gone.”

I have a history of having an overactive vagal response, and so with that if I have pain from anything, hangnail or if I stub my toe, I can just pass out.

Other medical staff at CHI Memorial said the adverse reaction was not linked to the ingredients in the vaccine, developed jointly by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech and approved earlier this month by the Food and Drug Administration.

“It is a reaction that can happen very frequently with any vaccine or shot,” said Dr. Jesse Tucker, a medical director at the hospital.

As public health officials around the country work to bolster confidence in the new vaccine – developed at breakneck speed and fast-tracked through emergency FDA authorization – the incident in Chattanooga was not the only major PR flop for Pfizer’s immunization this week. Following another vaccination publicity event at a hospital in El Paso, Texas on Tuesday, a nurse was apparently stuck with an empty syringe, prompting a flurry of questions and bewildered reactions online.




You Slaves REALLY MUST Demand A Higher Quality Of Propaganda

RT |  An El Paso, Texas, hospital tried to promote Covid-19 vaccination by turning its first doses into a media event, but the publicity stunt backfired when one of the nurses being inoculated was apparently stuck with an empty syringe.

Video of Tuesday’s vaccinations of five nurses at University Medical Center of El Paso showed the second nurse being jabbed with a needle, but the plunger won’t go down because it’s already at the bottom of the syringe. 

The video circulated on social media on Thursday, but rather than focusing on the embarrassing blunder, some observers suggested that posting the footage was an attack meant to diminish public confidence in vaccines.

For instance, when independent journalist Tim Pool tweeted the video on Thursday, Democrat strategist Nate Lerner said, “It’s really weird how anti-vaccine you are. You’ve been hanging out with Alex Jones too much, my guy.”

Another Democrat commenter also smelled an anti-vaxxer rat. “A mistake that probably happened because of the media attention,” he said of the botched shot. “The real question is, what are you trying to accomplish with this tweet? Furthering distrust in institutions that function great while still being susceptible to the occasional bit of human error?”

Friday, December 18, 2020

Secret Invisible Evidence Isn't Evidence...,

caitlinjohnstone |  Today we're all expected to be freaking out about Russia again because Russia hacked the United States again right before a new president took office again, so now it's very important that we support new cold war escalations from both the outgoing president and the incoming president again. We're not allowed to see the evidence that this actually happened again, but it's of utmost importance that we trust and support new aggressions against Russia anyway. Again.

The New York Times has a viral op-ed going around titled "I Was the Homeland Security Adviser to Trump. We’re Being Hacked." The article's author Thomas P Bossert warns ominously that "the networks of the federal government and much of corporate America are compromised by a foreign nation" perpetrated by "the Russian intelligence agency known as the S.V.R., whose tradecraft is among the most advanced in the world."

Rather than using its supreme tradecraft to interfere in the November election ensuring the victory of the president we've been told for years is a Russian asset by outlets like The New York Times, Bossert informs us that the SVR instead opted to hack a private American IT company called SolarWinds whose software is widely used by the US government.

"Unsuspecting customers then downloaded a corrupted version of the software, which included a hidden back door that gave hackers access to the victim’s network," Bossert explains, saying that "The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate." Its magnitude is so great that Bossert says Trump must "severely punish the Russians" for perpetrating it, and cooperate with the incoming Biden team in helping to ensure that that punishment continues seamlessly between administrations.

The problem is that, as usual, we've been given exactly zero evidence for any of this. As Moon of Alabama explains, the only technical analysis we've seen of the alleged hack (courtesy of cybersecurity firm FireEye) makes no claim that Russia was responsible for it, yet the mass media are flagrantly asserting as objective, verified fact that Russia is behind this far-reaching intrusion into US government networks, citing only anonymous sources if they cite anything at all.

And of course where the media class goes so too does the barely-separate political class. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin told CNN in a recent interview that this invisible, completely unproven cyberattack constitutes "virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States." Which is always soothing language to hear as the Russian government announces the development of new hypersonic missiles as part of a new nuclear arms race it attributes to US cold war escalations.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald is one of the few high-profile voices who've had the temerity to stick his head above the parapet and point out the fact that we have seen exactly zero evidence for these incendiary claims, for which he is of course currently being raked over the coals on Twitter. 

"I know it doesn't matter. I know it's wrong to ask the question. I know asking the question raises grave doubts about one's loyalties and patriotism," Greenwald sarcastically tweeted. "But has there been any evidence publicly presented, let alone dispositive proof, that Russia is responsible for this hack?"

Charles Carmakal Hasn't Seen Any Evidence Sufficient To Name The Solarwinds Threat Actor...,

bloomberg |  The hackers who attacked FireEye stole sensitive tools that the company uses to find vulnerabilities in clients’ computer networks. While the hack on FireEye was embarrassing for a cybersecurity firm, Carmakal argued that it may prove to be a crucial mistake for the hackers.

“If this actor didn’t hit FireEye, there is a chance that this campaign could have gone on for much, much longer,” Carmakal said. “One silver lining is that we learned so much about how this threat actor works and shared it with our law enforcement, intelligence community and security partners.” Carmakal said there is no evidence FireEye’s stolen hacking tools were used against U.S. government agencies.

“There will unfortunately be more victims that have to come forward in the coming weeks and months,” he said. While some have attributed the attack to a state-sponsored Russian group known as APT 29, or Cozy Bear, FireEye had not yet seen sufficient evidence to name the actor, he said. A Kremlin official denied that Russia had any involvement.

FireEye’s investigation revealed that the hack on itself was part of a global campaign by a highly sophisticated attacker that also targeted “government, consulting, technology, telecom and extractive entities in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” the company said in a blog post Sunday night. “We anticipate there are additional victims in other countries and verticals.”

The Department of Commerce confirmed a breach in one of its bureaus, and Reuters reported that the Department of Homeland Security and the Treasury Department were also attacked as part of the suspected Russian hacking spree.

Carmakal said the hackers took advanced steps to conceal their actions. “Their level of operational security is truly exceptional,” he said, adding that the hackers would operate from servers based in the same city as an employee they were pretending to be in order to evade detection.

The hackers were able to breach U.S. government entities by first attacking the SolarWinds IT provider. By compromising the software used by government entities and corporations to monitor their network, hackers were able to gain a foothold into their network and dig deeper all while appearing as legitimate traffic.


Congressional Democrats Liken Solarwinds Epic Fail To A RUSSIAN INVASION!

 c4isrnet |  The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat said Russia’s apparent hack into multiple government agencies is a “virtual invasion” that demands the U.S. show Russia and other adversaries there is “a price to pay” for breaching American systems.

In a Senate floor speech Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the U.S. needs to “respond in kind” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not a friend. A day earlier on CNN, he called the hack “virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States, and we should take it that seriously.”

“No, I’m not calling for an invasion myself or all-out war. I don’t want to see that happen, but it’s no longer a buddy-buddy arrangement between the United States and Vladimir Putin,” Durbin said Thursday. “When adversaries such as Russia torment us, tempt us, breach the security of our nation, we need to respond in kind.”

Durbin’s remarks came hours before President-elect Joe Biden issued an announcement that he had instructed his team to learn as much as possible about the breach. He vowed a tough response, beyond expanding investment in cyber defense.

“But a good defense isn’t enough; we need to disrupt and deter our adversaries from undertaking significant cyber attacks in the first place,” Biden said in a statement. “We will do that by, among other things, imposing substantial costs on those responsible for such malicious attacks, including in coordination with our allies and partners. Our adversaries should know that, as President, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber assaults on our nation.”

This week brought the disclosure of a global cyberespionage campaign that penetrated multiple U.S. government agencies by compromising a common network management tool from the company SolarWinds used by thousands of organizations. Russia, the prime suspect, denied involvement.

Cybersecurity investigators said the hack’s impact extends far beyond the affected U.S. agencies, which include the Treasury and Commerce departments. Defense contractors like General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries were on SolarWinds’ client list, but those two firms have declined to comment.

SolarWinds counts all five military services, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency among its clientele, and the New York Times reported that the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and parts of the Pentagon were compromised.

Congressional Democrats have generally been more vocal about the hack than Republicans, pointing fingers at President Donald Trump, who fired Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency chief Christopher Krebs in November. As Washington continued to assess the extent of the hack, Democrats criticized Trump’s silence on the matter.

“We need to gather more facts. But early indications suggest Pres Trump’s tepid response to previous cyber transgressions by Russian hackers emboldened those responsible,” Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed said in a tweet Wednesday. He is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat and sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.



Russian Hackers Are EVERYWHERE!!!

theintercept |  State-sponsored hackers believed to be from Russia have breached the city network of Austin, Texas, The Intercept has learned. The breach, which appears to date from at least mid-October, adds to the stunning array of intrusions attributed to Russia over the past few months.

The list of reported victims includes the departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; the Pentagon; cybersecurity firm FireEye; IT software company SolarWinds; and assorted airports and local government networks across the United States, among others. The breach in Austin is another apparent victory for Russia’s hackers. By compromising the network of America’s 11th-most populous city, they could theoretically access sensitive information on policing, city governance, and elections, and, with additional effort, burrow inside water, energy, and airport networks. The hacking outfit believed to be behind the Austin breach, Berserk Bear, also appears to have used Austin’s network as infrastructure to stage additional attacks.

While the attacks on SolarWinds, FireEye, and U.S. government agencies have been linked to a second Russian group — APT29, also known as Cozy Bear — the Austin breach represents another battlefront in a high-stakes cyber standoff between the United States and Russia. Both Berserk Bear and Cozy Bear are known for quietly lurking in networks, often for months, while they spy on their targets. Berserk Bear — which is also known as Energetic Bear, Dragonfly, TEMP.Isotope, Crouching Yeti, and BROMINE, among other names — is believed to be responsible for a series of breaches of critical U.S. infrastructure over the past year.

The Austin breach, which has not been previously reported, was revealed in documents prepared by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, or MSTIC, and obtained by The Intercept, as well as in publicly available malware activity compiled by the site VirusTotal. “While we are aware of this hacking group, we cannot provide information about ongoing law enforcement investigations into criminal activity,” a spokesperson for the city of Austin wrote in response to a list of emailed questions.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that a state-sponsored hacking group had breached the Treasury and Commerce departments, sparking an emergency weekend meeting of the National Security Council. The Washington Post later attributed the attacks to Cozy Bear, citing anonymous sources, and reported that the group breached the agencies by infecting a software update to Orion, a popular network management product made by SolarWinds, a firm based in Austin. “Fewer than 18,000” users downloaded the malicious software update, which has been available since March, SolarWinds said in a federal securities filing on Monday. The Intercept has seen no evidence that the Austin breach and the SolarWinds hack are related.


Look What We Can Do to You Any Time We Fucking Want

consentfactory |  Even if one accepts the official “science,” you do not transform the entire planet into a pathologized-totalitarian nightmare in response to a health threat of this nature.

The notion is quite literally insane.

GloboCap is not insane, however. They know exactly what they are doing … which is teaching us a lesson, a lesson about power. A lesson about who has it and who doesn’t. For students of history it’s a familiar lesson, a standard in the repertoire of empires, not to mention the repertoire of penal institutions.

The name of the lesson is “Look What We Can Do to You Any Time We Fucking Want.” The point of the lesson is self-explanatory. The USA taught the world this lesson when it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. GloboCap (and the US military) taught it again when they invaded Iraq and destabilized the entire Greater Middle East. It is regularly taught in penitentiaries when the prisoners start to get a little too unruly and remember that they outnumber the guards. That’s where the “lockdown” concept originated. It isn’t medical terminology. It is penal institution terminology.

As we have been experiencing throughout 2020, the global capitalist ruling classes have no qualms about teaching us this lesson. It’s just that they would rather not to have to unless it’s absolutely necessary. They would prefer that we believe we are living in “democracies,” governed by the “rule of law,” where everyone is “free,” and so on. It’s much more efficient and much less dangerous than having to repeatedly remind us that they can take away our “democratic rights” in a heartbeat, unleash armed goon squads to enforce their edicts, and otherwise control us with sheer brute force.

People who have spent time in prison, or who have lived in openly totalitarian societies, are familiar with being ruled by brute force. Most Westerners are not, so it has come as a shock. The majority of them still can’t process it. They cannot see what is staring them in the face. They cannot see it because they can’t afford to see it. If they did, it would completely short-circuit their brains. They would suffer massive psychotic breakdowns, and become entirely unable to function, so their psyches will not allow them to see it.

Others, who see it, can’t quite accept the simplicity of it (i.e., the lesson being taught), so they are proposing assorted complicated theories about what it is and who is behind it … the Great Reset, China, the Illuminati, Transhumanism, Satanism, Communism, whatever. Some of these theories are at least partially accurate. Others are utter bull-goose lunacy.

They all obscure the basic point of the lesson.

The point of the lesson is that GloboCap — the entire global-capitalist system acting as a single global entity — can, virtually any time it wants, suspend the Simulation of Democracy, and crack down on us with despotic force.

The Elites Used Greece - Post 2008 - As A Model Of Just How Far They Can Push

thebellows  |  On January 19, 2020, Washington state reported the first US case of coronavirus. By the end of March, 245 million Americans were under stay-at-home restrictions to “flatten the curve.” Mainstream news terrorized the public with exponential graphs, threats of a medical supply shortage, and displays of hygiene theater. Appeals to science were weaponized to enforce conformity, and the media portrayed anti-lockdown protesters as backwards, astroturfed white nationalists bent on endangering the public. 

Today millions of Americans have fallen into poverty or are on the verge of destitution. Stimulus money has largely been used as a handout to corporations, and over 160,000 small businesses have closed. In March and April 30 million Americans filed for unemployment. Now temporary job losses are becoming permanent. 12 million unemployed people may see their benefits lapse even if Congress passes a new aid deal. Homelessness is spiking, 11.4 million households owe $70 billion in back rent and fees, and 40 million people are at risk of eviction. In some states, food bank lines stretch for miles, and 1 in 4 children are expected to experience food insecurity. 

Meanwhile, Walmart and Target reported record sales. Amazon tripled its profits and Jeff Bezos made $70 billion. Billionaires have collectively made over $1 trillion since March. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft now make up 20% of the stock market’s total worth. The tech industry has achieved an unparalleled level of wealth and dominance. Data, which has been more valuable than oil since 2017, is expected to expand its economic footprint.

Unemployment, hunger, institutional breakdown, and the destruction of social bonds are not symptoms of a virus. They are the indirect violence of class warfare. The pandemic is a convenient scapegoat for the largest upward wealth transfer in modern human history. Under the pretext of a public health policy, elites have successfully waged a counterrevolution that will result in the erosion of working conditions and quality of life for generations to come. 

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Death, disease, and pandemics have always been part of human life and they always will be. 2.8 million Americans die every year and 56 million people die worldwide. Each year 1.3 million people die of tuberculosis, 445,000 die of malaria, and 290,000-650,000 die of influenza. In 1968 1-4 million people died in the H2N3 influenza pandemic, during which businesses and schools stayed open and large events were held. 

Indefinite closures have never before been used as a disease control method on a global scale. These experimental restrictions were shaped by the discredited Imperial College Model which predicted 2.2 million US deaths. Many epidemiologists and doctors questioned these doomsday projections and pointed out that there was not sufficient data to justify lockdowns. The virus has a low mortality rate, especially for people under 65, and 94% of US covid deaths have occurred with comorbidities. Most statistical analysis does not show lockdown measures to be an effective strategy for reducing mortality.

In March unprecedented policies were rationalized through shocking stories and videos from northern Italy. The region’s crowded ICUs were presented as a warning for the rest of Europe and the US. Unknown to many was the fact that Lombardy had been severely impacted by ongoing privatization efforts and a shrinking hospital system regularly overwhelmed by influenza. This omission by mainstream media played a key role in developing the mythology that economic shutdown could magically eradicate a virus. In reality lockdowns have accelerated a cycle of austerity and created a self-fulfilling prophecy of perpetual crisis.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Fang Fang Bang Bang: Not Just For Hunter Biden Any More...,

nypost |  As we try to come to terms with the extent of Chinese influence over the Biden family, a leaked database of registered members of the Chinese Communist Party has exposed a mass infiltration of American companies — with serious national security implications. 

Boeing, Qualcomm and Pfizer are just three US companies that have employed dozens of CCP members in their Chinese facilities, the database reveals. 

As well, three female employees of the US consulate in Shanghai have been identified in the list of 1.95 million party members that was leaked to an international group of legislators, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which includes Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). 

All CCP members swear an oath to “fight for communism throughout my life, be ready at all times to sacrifice my all for the party and the people, and never betray the party [and] guard party secrets, be loyal to the party.” 

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said yesterday: “CCP agents have no place in US government facilities, and this report should serve as a much-needed wake-up call to Washington, DC, and corporate executives, who continue to welcome the Chinese government with open arms. 

“[It] is just more evidence of the extent to which the CCP has successfully infiltrated American companies and government.” 

While none of the people listed in the database have been identified as spies, mounting concerns in the State Department about the CCP have resulted in tightened visa rules for its members earlier this month. CCP members and their immediate families now are limited to one-month, single-entry US permits. 

The database was verified by international cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0, which found it was originally leaked on encrypted messaging app Telegram in 2016. It was passed on to IPAC six weeks ago by a third party. 

“We have high confidence this list is authentic,” Internet 2.0 co-founder David Robinson, a former Australian army intelligence officer, told me Sunday. 

“Someone — an insider, a dissident — managed to get physical access to the server [in Shanghai] from outside the building. They didn’t have to hack it over the internet.” 

Each data entry contains the CCP member’s name, ethnicity, place of birth, education level, identification number and, in some cases, a phone number and address.  Fist tap Dale