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Today’s News: December 21, 2020

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World News

Mass Starvation Looms as Yemen’s Currency Nears Historic Freefall

Activist Post – Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent an end to the suffering in Yemen. Even those living in areas under the total control of the wealthy Gulf monarchies are facing levels of devastation that hearken back to the total destruction of European cities during World War II.

With no functioning government to provide residents with even basic assistance and facing a collapsed economy amid a famine that could soon beset all of Yemen according to the United Nations, the collapse of Yemen’s rial, particularly in Saudi-coalition-controlled areas, is proving to be the coup de grâce that will assure the country faces an apocalyptic level of destruction for years to come.

Her black eyes virtually absent and speaking in a muted voice that is difficult to pick up, Umm Abdu does her best to recount her story to MintPress. She was hiding a bony face and emaciated body in a voluminous black abaya robe and hijab. “I am starving myself to feed my children. It is very difficult to reach for this piece,” the illiterate mother of six muttered as she held a piece of Roti bread. Umm Abdu lives in a poor neighborhood in Taiz, a city in western Yemen under the control of some of the richest countries in the world.

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies.

The economy has already collapsed for virtually every Yemeni living in the south, except for the few who managed to profit by working with Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Savings accounts have long been exhausted and by end of November, the rial depreciated to an all-time low of 850 YR to a single U.S. dollar, leaving most of the population unable to afford even the most basic essentials. Like Umm Abdu, people are reducing portion sizes and skipping meals as a kind of “coping strategy index,” one of many tools used to measure food insecurity. Fruit, fish, and meat have become a rare commodity that most can only dream of.

“Even though there is food in the markets, I can’t afford it. Not because we don’t have money, but because of the crazy prices. So we decide to reduce food to keep our children alive,” one shopper told MintPress. However, that strategy may not be enough as food prices are near double where they were in the wake of the recent currency collapse.

According to International organizations, Yemen, particularly areas under the control of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, will return to alarming levels of food insecurity by mid-2020, and a catastrophic food security crisis is looming. They reported that by December 2020, the population facing high levels of acute food insecurity (what they termed IPC Phase 3 and above) would increase from 2 million to 3.2 million people.

Cash-Strapped Iraq Drastically Devalues Dinar As Fears Of Nationwide Unrest Grow

ZeroHedge  – According to the latest IMF forecasts, Iraq’s GDP will contract 12% this year, more than that of any other OPEC member under a production quota.

A global pandemic-induced demand slump (among other domestic issues) has pushed Iraq – under its OPEC membership – to slash oil production by over 12% year-over-year (however, Iraq, along with other nations such as Nigeria, has pumped above its quota on several occasions since then).

In the most recent sign of Baghdad’s growing desperation for cash as its economy unravels, Iraq sought an upfront payment of about $2 billion in exchange for a long-term crude-supply contract as state coffers dwindle and school teachers go unpaid.

As Bloomberg reports, the letter from SOMO, the Iraqi state-owned agency in charge of petroleum exports, was first reported by the Iraq Oil Report.

“SOMO, on behalf of the Ministry of Oil, has the interest to propose a long-term crude-supply deal in exchange for prepayment for a fraction of the total allocated quantity,” according to the letter, which was marked strictly confidential.

The anxiety is rising as officials fear a repeat of the upheaval last year that brought down the government and saw hundreds of protesters killed.

All of which has led to the decision to devalue the Dinar… drastically.

As Bloomberg’s Khalid Al-Ansary reports, the central bank reduced the official rate to 1,450 dinar per dollar, the first devaluation since 2003, it said in a statement. That’s from about 1,190 previously. Dollars will be resold to local banks at 1,460 dinar apiece.

Inflation imminent? or hyperinflation?

The embattled nation’s central bank is taking the steps to avoid depleting its foreign-currency reserves…

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who came to power in May, has warned that the government will struggle to pay civil servants without raising more debt.

Covid: Regulator approves first vaccine for EU states

BBC – The European Union’s medicines regulator has recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in the bloc’s 27 states.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorised the drug for the EU’s 446 million inhabitants after it went into circulation in the UK and in the US.

It is expected that the European Commission will formally approve the jab later on Monday.

Distribution could begin in some EU states as early as Sunday.

The U.K. has identified a new Covid-19 strain that spreads more quickly. Here’s what they know

NBC –  England’s top medical officer on Saturday announced that the U.K. has identified a new variant of the coronavirus that “can spread more quickly” than prior strains of the virus, leading Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose fresh restrictions on parts of the nation to control its spread.

“We’re learning about it as we go, but we already know enough, more than enough, to be sure that we must act now,” Johnson said during a press briefing on Saturday where he laid out fresh restrictions on London and other parts of England ahead of the Christmas holiday.

“When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense,” Johnson said.

The U.K. government first announced details of the new coronavirus strain on Monday last week, following an increase in cases in the southern and eastern parts of England. Just over 1,100 Covid-19 cases with the new variant had been identified as of Sunday, according to a statement from Public Health England.

Now, it’s thought that the new strain could be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease, Johnson said on Saturday, adding that it appears to be driving the rapid spread of infections. Johnson called on residents to refrain from traveling and “stay local” to prevent the new strain from moving around the country and abroad.

Scientists, MPs Ask ‘Where Is Evidence Of 70% More Contagious Mutant COVID?’

Infowars – As London and the entire South East of the UK was plunged into a fresh lockdown over the weekend, scores of countries have banned all travel to and from the UK, but scientists there are demanding to see any evidence that there is a 70% more contagious mutant strain of COVID, having not been shown anything by the government.

The Daily Mail reports that Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care, has expressed scepticism over the 70 per cent figure. 

“I’ve been doing this job for 25 years and I can tell you can’t establish a quantifiable number in such a short time frame,” Heneghan said.

“Every expert is saying it’s too early to draw such an inference,” the professor added.

“I would want to have very clear evidence rather than ‘we think it’s more transmissible’ so we can see if it is or not,” Heneghan continued.

“It has massive implications, it’s causing fear and panic, but we should not be in this situation when the Government is putting out data that is unquantifiable,” the professor further urged.

“They are fitting the data to the evidence. They see cases rising and they are looking for evidence to explain it,” Heneghan declared.

The ‘mutant strain’ has been circulating since September, according to the government, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson using it to justify literally cancelling Christmas.

However, Professor Heneghan emphasised that if this strain really is that much more contagious “we should be locking down the whole country”.

Within minutes of Johnson making the announcement that London and the South East would be locked down at midnight on Saturday, thousands of people crammed into train stations in an attempt to escape to other parts of the country.

While people in London are unable to travel, hundreds of flights from everywhere continued to land at and take off from the city’s airports over the weekend.

“Trying To Get The Hell Out” – Emergency Lockdown In London Triggers Mass Exodus

ZeroHedge – With more than 16 million Britons now required to stay at home as coronavirus lockdown went into effect on Sunday, tens of thousands of Londoners scrambled to get out of the capital Saturday night. 

Boris Johnson’s bombshell announcement to introduce Tier 4 restrictions in London and southeast England, to mitigate the spreading of a new strain of the coronavirus, sparked traffic jams and crowded train terminals as people made a mad dash out of the metro area before draconian new rules were imposed at midnight.

“Traffic data showed jams increasing inside London and its surrounds, and train prices were surging with increased demand,” The Independent said. 

Additionally, people fled on public transportation. For instance, by evening, train tickets sold out at several London stations, including Paddington, Kings Cross, and Euston.

Footage taken at London’s St Pancras station showed no social distancing was followed as people were only concerned about escaping the city by midnight. 

Last train out of Saigon. Queue at St Pancras as we wait to board the Leeds bound train. pic.twitter.com/cFDBDNnYFC

— Harriet Clugston (@HarrietClugston) December 19, 2020

A woman told the Press Association that she and her husband, along with their young son, made the “split decision” to leave the metro area for the coast to escape the new lockdown. 

A woman told the Press Association that she and her husband, along with their young son, made the “split decision” to leave the metro area for the coast to escape the new lockdown. 

“We just made the decision to leave based on the fact that my parents said come, and we couldn’t bear the thought of no fresh air and a toddler going rogue round a small flat for the foreseeable,” she said.

Other train stations in the metro area experienced “travel chaos.” 

Austria and Switzerland to impose new COVID-19 restrictions

Axios – Austria and Switzerland have both announced they will impose lockdown measures as novel coronavirus cases climb in each country.

The state of play: Austrian officials said the country will enter its third coronavirus lockdown after the Dec. 25 Christmas holiday, and 11 days after its second lockdown lapsed, Reuters reports.

  • Shops, restaurants, theaters, museums and schools will remain closed through at least the week of Jan. 18.
  • Mass COVID-19 tests will be administered between Jan. 15 and Jan .17 — those who test negative will be able to end their lockdown sooner. For those who do not get tested, lockdown will last until Jan. 24.
  • Ski resorts can continue to operate, but Austrian provinces will also have a say on whether they continue to run.

The Swiss government ordered all bars, restaurants, cultural venues and sports facilities to close beginning Dec. 22.

  • Stores can remain open with limited capacity and will be required to close at 7 p.m., on Sundays and public holidays.
  • Like Austria, the Swiss government is allowing states to decide whether to shutter skiing facilities.
    • During a press conference, health officials cautioned states, saying that “hospitals are full and putting a lot of people on snow slopes can lead to an increase in accidents and we need to be very careful.”
  • They recommend people stay home, keep social contact to a minimum and avoid unnecessary travel.

Worth noting: “If Europeans were to follow the World Health Organization’s advice, Christmas would have a very different feel this year,” ABC News writes.

  • The WHO on Wednesday recommended that religious gatherings be postponed or canceled.
  • The organization further advised that European countries consider “postponing, limiting or cancelling mass gatherings” in ski resorts.
  • “Gatherings should be held outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing. If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key,” WHO said.

COVID-19: Tanzania chooses local herbs over vaccine

Vanguard – Tanzania has reportedly said it has no plans to import COVID-19 vaccines, instead of pinning its hopes on research into “local herbs”.

In an interview with The East African newspaper, Health Ministry spokesperson Gerald Chami went on to cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of imported vaccines. He claimed that development has been too rapid for effective testing. COVID-19 vaccine tests meet rigorous international standards.

Tanzania’s approach to COVID-19 has been at odds with its East African neighbours, who have seen a recent surge in cases. The country stopped reporting new cases at the end of April, and President John Magufuli claimed that the country was virus-free. It was also one of the first countries to order Madagascar’s self-proclaimed, plant-based COVID-19 remedy in May, despite warnings that its efficacy was unproven.

Freedom of Information reveals Public Health Agency of Canada has no record of “SARS-COV-2” isolation performed by anyone, anywhere, ever

Fluoride Free Peel –  Freedom of Information request that I submitted to the Public Health Agency of Canada almost 6 months ago, requesting evidence that is absolutely essential (but not on its own sufficient) for establishing the existence of the alleged “COVID-19 virus” aka “SARS-COV-2”.

Without this step having been performed (followed by controlled experiments), there is no way to claim scientifically that the alleged “novel coronavirus” (blamed for widespread death/disease/lockdown measures) actually exists.

Without this step having been performed and followed by the necessary controlled experiments, all claims of this alleged virus are nothing but wild, unscientific, fraud-based speculation backed only by fraudulent science, fraudulent tests and fraudulent diagnoses.

And naturally this entire procedure must have been performed not just once, but replicated.

A colleague in New Zealand (Michael S.) and I have been collecting Freedom of Information responses from around the world (with assistance from a number of other request-submitters), and making them publicly available as evidence of the “COVID-19” fraud, conspiracy and terrorism that has been destroying lives and the economy world-wide this year, and used to usher in a vile globalist agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting or promoting public health.

Our wish is that all individuals responsible/complicit in this crime against humanity will be held accountable to the fullest extent lawfully possible.

Thus far, we have responses from roughly 40 institutions and offices around the world, yielding in total zero records describing the essential step of isolation aka purification.

All of these responses are publicly available here: https://www.fluoridefreepeel.ca/fois-reveal-that-health-science-institutions-around-the-world-have-no-record-of-sars-cov-2-isolation-purification/

The Public Health Agency of Canada has been long overdue in responding to this Freedom of Information request that was very clearly stated

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Bill de Blasio says mission is to ‘redistribute wealth’ in NYC school system

“A lot of people bristle at that phrase,” the New York City mayor said. “That is, in fact, the phrase we need to use.”

Fox – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a news conference Friday said he sees the redistribution of wealth as an important factor toward ending structural racism in education.

“I’d like to say very bluntly our mission is to redistribute wealth,” he said. “A lot of people bristle at that phrase. That is, in fact, the phrase we need to use.”

He added the city’s government needs to “more equitably redistribute resources” throughout the school system, which he said would include pre-K and 3-K for all and advanced placement courses in every high school.

The mayor said that minority students have been most affected by coronavirus school closures, adding his office would focus on closing the “COVID achievement gap,” that disproportionately hurts kids without access to tech resources while distance learning.

He went on to announce several admissions changes in the city aimed at fighting segregation in selective schools, including expanding diversity planning in every district, eliminating geographic priority for the next two years and expanding grant applications to more districts.

“We can never accept a broken status quo,” De Blasio said. “We can never go back to a past that didn’t work. … The COVID era has taught us that so clearly, and we need to do better and we will. And that means a commitment to fighting disparities and inequality in the life of New York City.” 

AG Barr says he sees no reason to name special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden or election fraud

USA Today – Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he saw no reason to appoint special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden or unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.

Barr, who is set leave office Wednesday, said he had no intention of making such appointments, even as President Donald Trump has weighed such actions.

The attorney general also said there was “no basis” for seizing voting machines to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

In the case of Hunter Biden, Barr said that the tax inquiry involving President-elect Joe Biden’s son’s was being handled “responsibly and professionally” by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

In Heavily Locked Down San Francisco, 360% More People Died From Overdoses Than COVID-19

NaturalBlaze – Stay home, save lives. This is the mantra many Californians have repeated and lived by for the last 10 months as their governor instituted some of the most draconian measures in the country. Watching their economy turn to shambles as thousands of businesses close their doors forever is making some folks grow weary of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and rightfully so.

Earlier this month, the city of San Francisco issued an order shutting down outside play for kids at playgrounds. Seriously. Even dating is banned unless it’s done masked, outside, and kiss free.

According to the order, residents can “meet with 1 other person who doesn’t live with you” to take a walk, “hang out at the park,” and play low-contact sports, such as golf, tennis, pickleball and bocce ball. However, couples cannot share equipment.

It’s utterly ridiculous.

Countless San Francisco businesses have closed their doors forever; and the city, whose population is nearly 900,000 has seen less than 200 coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic — 173 to be exact.

While folks aren’t dying from COVID-19 very often in the area, there is definitely a spike in deaths, and it is staggering. A record 621 people as of December 19 have died of drug overdoses in San Francisco. That is 360% more deaths than COVID-19.

As people lose their jobs, are forced to socially isolate, told to stay in their home by government, and face eviction thanks to the lockdowns, they often slip into a deep depression, turning to substance abuse or suicide as a way out.

Even more startling is that according to KTVU, the deaths from overdose could have been far higher if 3,000 people didn’t have their lives saved by Narcan this year. So far this year, partially thanks to the draconian measured handed down by authoritarians under the guise of “stopping the spread,” overdoses have skyrocketed over last year’s numbers by 50%. Only due to an increased availability of Narcan is that number not 100% or even 500%.

Sadly, San Francisco is not alone in their plight. As people watched their bank accounts dwindle, lost their livelihoods, and were forced to stay inside, cities across the country experienced a massive uptick in overdose and suicide deaths.

An article published this month in BMJ details how Chicago saw a massive increase in hospitalizations and deaths at the beginning of the lockdown. These people were not sick and dying with COVID-19, however, they were dying from overdose.

“For me, that was just shocking,” Richard Jorgensen the coroner for DuPage County in Illinois, told BMJ. Jorgensen told the Journal he expected a surge in hospitalizations and deaths and actually saw one, but it was not from coronavirus.

Andrew Yang raises eyebrows with call for proof-of-vaccination barcodes

‘Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated?’

Fox – Businessman and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang encountered some criticism on Friday after he suggested that Americans should have a downloadable bar code that verifies they’ve received the coronavirus vaccine.

“Is there a way for someone to easily show that they have been vaccinated – like a bar code they can download to their phone?” he asked on Twitter. “There ought to be.”

He added that it’s “[t]ough to have mass gatherings like concerts or ballgames without either mass adoption of the vaccine or a means of signaling.”

His comments prompted a wave of backlash with references to totalitarianism, particularly Nazi Germany.

Many responded to Yang with references to the yellow stars or tattoos persecuted Jews wore in Germany.

Yang’s comments touched a nerve as many were already concerned about government overreach through extended lockdowns during the pandemic.

Burisma admits in court that it bribed Joe and Hunter Biden 

NaturalNews (September 29th) – A developing story about the case of Ukrainian gas holding company Burisma against People’s Deputy of Ukraine Andriy Derkach has revealed that Burisma did, in fact, bribe Joe and Hunter Biden with large cash payments. The only question is how much did these two crooks receive?

In its dismissal of the claim, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv indicated that representatives from Burisma are only refuting the amount of money the company paid to Joe and Hunter Biden. Burisma is not, it is important to note, refuting that it did, in fact, pay these two some large sum of cash, which is still to be determined.

On his Facebook page, Derkach explained that Burisma has now admitted that it bribed Joe Biden, and “[a]s expected, Burisma lost.” Derkach says that Burisma bribed Joe Biden with a $900,000 lobbying lump sum, which the company is disputing solely due to the amount.

“The court separately noted: Burisma in its statement actually does not dispute the facts of payments – only their size,” Derkach further wrote. “That is, it agrees that it paid Biden and his son, but does not agree that these are the amounts. The fight against international democraturation (sic) continues – follow the announcement.”

In addition to bribing Joe Biden and his son, Burisma also reportedly paid off Alekander Kwa?niewski, a Polish politician and journalist; Alan Apter, who sits on Burisma’s board of directors; and Devon Archer, an American businessman who also sits on Burisma’s board.

Congressman Introduces Bill to End Civil Asset Forfeiture Nationwide, Allow Victims to Be Reimbursed

Free Thought Project – For decades now, federal government and their cohorts in law enforcement have been carrying out theft of the citizenry on a massive scale. We’re not talking about taxes, but an insidious power known as Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF).

The 1980s-era laws were designed to drain resources from powerful criminal organizations, but CAF has become a tool for law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to steal money and property from countless innocent people.

No criminal charge is required for this confiscation, resulting in easy inflows of cash for law enforcement departments and the proliferation of abuse. This phenomenon is known as “policing for profit.”

In a press release put out by Amash’s office, the Congressman explained the need for such a bill.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement use civil asset forfeiture to take billions of dollars in cash and property from private citizens each year without convicting the owners of any crime. Instead, the government brings a civil action against the property itself, alleging that the property is “guilty” of being connected to criminal activity. This allows the government to take property without needing to charge the owner with a crime, prove their guilt, or otherwise afford them all the rights of a criminal defendant. Often, the government gains ownership of such property automatically unless the owner files a claim for it within a short period of time. And when an innocent owner does file a claim, many jurisdictions put the burden of proof on the owner to prove their innocence, rather than requiring the government to prove their guilt.

By failing to protect property owners’ constitutionally secured rights, civil forfeiture often leads to forfeitures of property belonging to innocent people. In many cases, the property owner is not even accused of being involved in a crime; it suffices that their property was used by someone else who is alleged to have committed a crime.

Civil asset forfeiture is incompatible with due process, but the courts have failed to recognize that fact. The Civil Asset Forfeiture Elimination Act cures this historical error and restores Americans’ rights by eliminating civil asset forfeiture at the state and federal level.

“Civil asset forfeiture is a due process violation, and it always has been,” said Amash. “Its history is riddled with injustices not because it’s a valid practice that gets misused, but because its central premise—denying people their procedural rights—is inherently flawed. By ending it, my bill helps fulfill Congress’s obligation to stop rights violations at both the state and federal level, and it ends a practice that contributes to the frayed relationship between law enforcement and the public.”

Included in the text of the bill is a clause which allows citizens who have not been convicted of a crime to have their property returned to them. It also eliminates all forms of civil asset forfeiture.

‘‘No person shall be required, under the laws of the United States, to forfeit to the United States any property, real or personal, pursuant to a civil forfeiture proceeding, including a nonjudicial civil forfeiture proceeding,” the bill states.

Though this bill is nothing short of revolutionary, any lawmaker who opposes it exposes themselves as a thieving, due-process removing, tyrant. Thank you Justin Amash for fighting the good fight. It will be a sad day in the liberty movement when you leave Congress next session.

Economy & Business

Employers Can Now Legally Fire You for Refusing COVID Vaccine

Western Journal – Employers across the country have been given the legal authority to require employees to get the new coronavirus vaccine, according to legal guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The new guidelines say that because employers are entitled and required to ensure a safe workplace in which “an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace,” a company can require its employees to be vaccinated.

There are several factors that can affect whether an employer can require its employees to receive the vaccine, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The employer has to show that it is necessary for the job — usually for people working in high-risk environments — or that there is a “direct threat,” Community Legal Services’ Rhiannon DiClemente told the Inquirer.

Some states also have restrictions on requiring vaccines, so that will also affect whether employers can require the vaccine.

If employees do not want to get vaccinated, for religious or disability purposes, there are several steps that have to be taken to accommodate the request before they can be terminated.

“Employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under the EEO laws or other federal, state, and local authorities,” the EEOC guidelines read.

Requiring employees to get the vaccine does not violate the Americans with Disabilities because people do not need a medical exam to receive the vaccination, according to the EEOC, which enforces laws against workplace discrimination.

There are exceptions to this rule if employees have a disability or “sincerely held” beliefs that prevent them from getting the vaccine.

“If they do require it, an employee can make a request for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Title VII,” Helen Rella, a workplace attorney, told CBS News.

“If they do request the accommodation, the employer has an obligation to see if accommodation is possible.”

Accommodations include giving employees the option to work from home.

McConnell Says Congress Has Reached Agreement On COVID Relief Package

CBS – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday said Democrats and Republicans have “finalized a deal” on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. It’s unclear when they will vote on it, although the government is set to shutdown if a deal is not reached by midnight. 

“As our citizens continue battling this coronavirus this holiday season, they will not be fighting alone,” McConnell said Sunday on the Senate floor.

Democrats had objected to a proposal by Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would wind down three lending programs established by the Federal Reserve in the spring to address the economic toll of the pandemic. The disagreement threatened to derail talks over the massive $900 billion relief bill, which includes direct payments to taxpayers, expanded unemployment benefits and hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic-related aid.

The House and Senate convened Sunday afternoon and could vote on a relief and funding package by the end of the day. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told members to expect votes later in the day, and possibly “late into the evening.”

Congress passed a two-day extension of government funding that the president signed into law to avoid a government shutdown Friday night. That extension expires at midnight Sunday, meaning lawmakers would need to extend the deadline further if votes on the relief bill stretch into Monday. Leaders are hoping to combine the relief bill with the larger year-long $1.4 trillion spending package.

An aide to Toomey and a senior Democratic aide confirmed late Saturday that the two sides had reached an agreement on the language in Toomey’s proposal. Toomey said on a conference call on Sunday that he had agreed to narrow the language to apply only to the three lending facilities established by the CARES Act.

“I can tell you that, yes, we did narrow it,” Toomey said. “Because the Democrats made a fair point. That was too broad. And that might have captured facilities that we didn’t intend to capture, and so it was, yes, it was narrowed.”

Toomey also said he would support the final package: “Despite the significant reservations I have about some particular features, I think the good outweighs the bad and it is my intention, at this point, to vote for it.”

$15BN For Airlines, Corporate Meal Tax Breaks And Other Pork: What’s Inside The $900BN Stimulus Bill

Activist Post – With the latest $900 billion covid stimulus deal now done (which unless the Democrats win the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2 weeks will be the final covid stimulus bill according to Goldman), attention turns to what’s actually in it.

First: the good news – the bill will include a fresh round of benefits for small businesses as well as the usual one-time pittance for peasants, amounting to a $600 check. Here are the key components:

  • Direct payments of $600 to most Americans ($600 per adult and $600 per child); the amounts decrease for individuals with more than $75,000 in income and $150,000 for couples.
  • $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March. Expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue.
  • $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that provides grants forgivable loans to small businesses, arguably the most successful and also most abused program of the CARES act. This represents the bulk of the $325 billion the bill puts toward small businesses
  • $82 billion for education: includes $54.3 billion for K-12 schools and $22.7 billion for colleges; governors would get $4.05 billion to spend on education aid at their discretion. For-profit colleges would get $908 million for grants to students, and another $1.7 billion would be set aside for historically black colleges, tribal colleges, minority-serving institutions
  • $10 billion for child care.
  • 15 billion in grants for theater operators and owners of small performance venues.
  • $25 billion in rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions
  • $13 billion in funds for food-stamp and child-nutrition benefits.
  • $30 billion for the procurement and distribution of a Covid vaccine, as well as testing and tracing.
  • $1.8 billion in tax credits for businesses to provide paid leave.

Of course, as with any fiscal stimulus that is nearly $1 trillion, there will be lots of pork and other shady components, thrown into the bill. One such questionable kicker is the $15 billion in payroll assistance to airlines that will in theory allow them to return more than 32,000 furloughed workers to their payrolls through March 31, according Reuters. In reality, since there is no enforcement clause, we wouldn’t be surprised if many of the airlines continue to quietly layoff employees and use the funds to repurchase stock.

U.S. airlines furloughed more than 32,000 workers in October, after a six-month $25 billion bailout measure expired on Sept. 30. According to Reuters, airline workers would be paid retroactive to Dec. 1 and airlines would have to resume flying some routes they stopped after the aid package expired, congressional aides briefed on the talks said earlier. While airline workers could not be furloughed through March 31 as a condition of the assistance, airline lawyers will find countless loopholes around this contingency in the next 24 hours.

Unfortunately, even if it is used as intended, it won’t last airlines even 3 months at current cash burn rates: US carriers are losing $180 million in cash daily, with passenger volumes down 65% to 70% and cancellations rising, industry lobby Airlines for America said.

The new assistance program is expected to mirror the $25 billion program approved by Congress in March, which required larger airlines to repay 30% of the payroll grants over time and offer the government warrants. It is also expected to include minimum flight requirements. The aviation assistance comes after five months of furious lobbying – first by aviation unions and later by airline executives – who argued the industry (which repurchased over $50 billion of its own stock in recent years) desperately needed new government help as travel demand remains devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $45 billion COVID-19 transportation package is also set to include $1.75 billion for airports and $200 million for airport concessionaires and $2 billion for the private motorcoach, school bus and ferry industries. Aside from airlines, the stimulus will include $1 billion to the Amtrak railroad, $14 billion for public transit systems and $10 billion for state highways.  It is also expected to include significant changes to how the Federal Aviation Administration certifies new airplanes following two fatal Boeing Co 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people.

World Economic Forum: Digital Davos 2021 to Reveal ‘Great Reset Initiative’

Breitbart – The World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed its Davos 2021 Agenda, confirming the annual gathering of political and business elites next month will be a digital event heralding the public unveiling of its Great Reset Initiative.

In a preview to the digital “Davos Dialogues”, the WEF asserts, “The time to rebuild trust and to make crucial choices is fast approaching as the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems grow stronger around the world.”

The need for “global leaders to come together to design a common recovery path and shape the Great Reset” in the post-cornavirus world has never been stronger, it adds.

It then continues to set out the exact plan of WEF action to reshape the modern world in a pattern of its own design. The WEF says:

An entire week of global programming will be dedicated to helping leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year.

The Davos Agenda will also mark the launch of the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset Initiative and begin the preparation of the Special Annual Meeting in the spring. Each day will focus on one of the five domains of the Great Reset Initiative.

As Breitbart News reported, there has been much discussion as to the exact form the much-discussed Great Reset Initiative will take.

Last month in a WEF panel discussion, former Secretary of State John Kerry laid out one possible element.

He said President-elect Joe Biden is ready to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement — which threatens to eliminate more than a million American jobs — and be a driver of the ”Great Reset” whereby unelected global bureaucrats are looking to alter the world’s economy by abolishing money, private property, and democracy for the sake of a “New World Order,” according to James Delingpole.

“The notion of a reset is more important than ever before,” Kerry said. “I personally believe … we’re at the dawn of an extremely exciting time.”

Kerry dismissed the U.S. rejoining the Parish Climate Agreement as being “not enough.”

“I know Joe Biden believes this. It’s not enough just to rejoin [the Paris Climate Agreement] for the United States. It’s not enough for us to do just the minimum of what [the agreement] requires,” Kerry said. He went on:

The Biden administration will focus on every sector of the American economy. There will be a 2035 goal to achieve net neutrality with respect to power and production … we’re ready to come back in and help to lead and raise the ambition in Glasgow to accelerate this incredible capacity for a transformation in the private sector.

According to the WEF’s own publicity, the Davos Agenda will feature:

  • Heads of state and of government from the G20 and international organizations giving special addresses on the state of the world.
  • Industry leaders and public figures discussing in leadership panels how to advance and accelerate public-private collaboration on critical issues such as coronaviorus vaccination schemes and climate change, among others.
  • The Forum’s core communities, including its international business council, sharing their insight and recommendations from global, regional and industry initiatives in impact sessions.

The Davos Agenda will be held between 25—29 January, 2021.

Credit card company blacklists American Family Association from donation processing

The socially conservative organization is taking legal action against the processor for religious discrimination.

Life Site – The socially-conservative American Family Association (AFA) was recently forced to change credit card companies after one cut off service apparently over the group’s pro-life, pro-family views.

AFA president Tim Wildmon wrote Tuesday that the unidentified company AFA was using to process donations stopped doing so “without warning – overnight – the first week of December.”

Wildmon added that AFA is pursuing legal recourse for religious discrimination, but in the meantime has found a different credit card company; “however, the company that dropped us refuses to release the personal and credit card information to the new processing company.”

Later this week, Wildmon followed up with an update that “after several communications from our attorney – and after the prayers of many believers – the processing company has finally agreed to transfer the necessary personal and credit card information.”

“We are still considering taking legal action for the revenue we lost and for the manpower hours spent trying to fix this mess,” he wrote. “If we decide to pursue a lawsuit, we will let you know the name of the company that discriminated against AFA.”

Credit card companies discriminating against conservatives, thereby threatening their ability to conduct the most basic operations, is nothing new. In 2018, Visa and Mastercard temporarily cut off donation processing services to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, at the best of the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). 

That move was reversed after public outcry, but SPLC has persisted in its mission to label mainstream conservative organizations as “hate groups” deserving of ostracization from society, from social media to payment services to fundraising platforms.

Nothing less than new laws against political discrimination by technology companies can preserve conservatives’ freedom, Breitbart technology expert Allum Bokhari argued.

“Competition is impossible when your website can be kicked off the internet, your app can be banned from smartphones, and your financial backers can be banned from supporting you through the web,” he wrote. “A progressive racket now governs big tech, preventing Americans from exercising freedom of speech and freedom of association. 

“Liberty-minded lawmakers must act,” he warned. “More importantly, they must act before the Democrats — who have no intention of preserving internet freedom, and in fact, want to restrict it – do.”

Science & Technology

Twitter Says It Will REMOVE All Posts Claiming Vaccines Can Harm People

Despite widespread reports of health workers having allergic reactions to Pfizer shot

Summit News – Twitter has declared that it will remove all posts that suggest there are any “adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations,” despite reports already emerging of health workers getting sick from taking Pfizer’s coronavirus shot.

Twitter announced that beginning next week it will memory-hole any posts that “invoke a deliberate conspiracy” or “advance harmful, false, or misleading narratives” about vaccines.

“Using a combination of technology and human review, we will begin enforcing this updated policy on December 21, and expanding our actions during the following weeks,” the company proclaimed.

Twitter added that it will be monitoring posts about vaccinations “in close consultation with local, national, and global public health authorities around the world.”

The tech company will also wipe any posts that suggest vaccines “are used to intentionally cause harm,” or “control populations,” or are “unnecessary.” 

The statement also notes that posts will be scrubbed if they contain “false claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations.”

Exactly what “debunked” means was not clarified. Presumably it means any claims about vaccines that Twitter disagrees with.

The New York Times and others reported Wednesday that healthcare workers in Alaska have been hospitalized with a serious allergic reaction after taking Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Christmas star: Jupiter and Saturn set to align in the night sky

BBC – Jupiter and Saturn are set to cross paths in the night sky, appearing to the naked eye as a “double planet”.

The timing of this conjunction, as the celestial event is known, has caused some to suggest it may have been the source of a bright light in the sky 2,000 years ago.

That became known as the Star of Bethlehem.

The planets are moving closer together each night and will reach their closest point on 21 December.

Keen stargazers in the UK will have to keep a close eye on the weather to avoid an astronomical disappointment.

“Any evening it’s clear, it’s worth grabbing a chance, because the weather doesn’t look great,” Dr Carolin Crawford from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy told the BBC.

If there is a gap in the winter gloom, both planets will appear in the southwest sky, just above the horizon shortly after sunset.

McDonald’s Restaurants Are Putting Cameras, Sensors, and AI Technology in Their Dumpsters

Activist Post – McDonald’s restaurants are putting cameras in their dumpsters and trash containers in an effort to improve their recycling efforts and save money on waste collection.  Nordstrom department stores are doing this as well.

From CNN:

Here’s why some McDonald’s restaurants are putting cameras in their dumpsters

By Rachel Metz, CNN Business

(CNN Business) Jason Gates spends a lot of his time thinking about trash, and how we can generate less of it.

Since 2013 his San Francisco-based startup, Compology, has used cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor what’s thrown into dumpsters and trash containers at businesses such as McDonald’s restaurants and Nordstrom department stores. The point is to make sure dumpsters are actually full before they’re emptied and to stop recyclable materials like cardboard from being contaminated by other junk so it, too, doesn’t become waste.

“We’ve found that most businesses and people have the right intentions about recycling, but oftentimes they just don’t know what the proper way to recycle is,” Gates, CEO of Compology, told CNN Business’ Rachel Crane.

To help them do it correctly, Compology puts trash-monitoring cameras and sensors inside industrial waste containers. The cameras take photos several times each day and when the container is lifted for dumping. An accelerometer helps trigger the camera on garbage day.

AI software analyzes the images to figure out how full the container is and can also let a customer know when something is where it shouldn’t be, such as a bag of trash tossed into a dumpster filled with cardboard boxes for recycling. Gates said the company’s cameras can cut the amount of non-recyclable materials thrown in waste containers by as much as 80%.

Read full article

While this seems like a noble effort toward efficiency and environmental preservation, it’s worth mentioning that the same type of technology can eventually be used for compulsory garbage sorting and waste disposal that targets individual people themselves, not only the trash. Trends in A.I. waste management could easily become far more invasive as “smart bins” proliferate as part of the Internet of Things. This can even be extended into a social credit system, as was discussed in Smithsonian Mag back in 2017:

A Smart Recycling Bin Could Sort Your Waste for You

Wimalaratne and his team envision the smart bins as working like this: a consumer goes to a Starbucks and orders a latte in a paper cup (or a juice in a plastic bottle, or a milk in a carton, etc.). Once he’s finished, he goes up and taps his phone against the bin, registering his identity with the bin app via Bluetooth. He then holds his cup over the bin’s cameras, which take two photos. The computer vision identifies the material and lights up the correct area of the bin. The user then gets a reward via the app. That reward would depend on the bin’s owner or sponsor. In a Starbucks, for example, it could be points towards a free coffee. But it could be anything: charity donations, free merchandise and so on. If the user didn’t want to use the app or register his identity, he could simply use the computer vision to help them know where to toss his cup.

The foundation for this has been laid in China, as reported by China Daily:

The era of compulsory garbage sorting begins

Shanghai’s regulation requires people to sort trash into four categories – dry garbage, wet garbage (kitchen waste), recyclables and hazardous waste. Individuals who fail to do so may be fined up to 200 yuan ($29.11), while companies and institutions face fines of up to 50,000 yuan…

By 2022, every city at the prefecture level and above should have at least one district where all household garbage is classified, and by 2025 they should have their own household garbage sorting and disposal systems. (Source: China Daily)

From Xinhua:

With the prevalence of smartphones, many cities in China, including Shanghai, have established a “green account” system. Each time a resident dumps garbage in compliance with regulations, they will collect a certain amount of “green points,” which can be later used to exchange for living goods.

Health

CDC Issues New Guidelines, Launches Probe After 1000s Negatively-Affected Following COVID-19 Vaccination

ZeroHedge – Thousands of people have been unable to work or perform daily activities, or required care from a healthcare professional, after getting the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of Dec. 18, 3,150 people reported what the agency terms “Health Impact Events” after getting vaccinated.

The definition of the term is: “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work, required care from doctor or health care professional.”

As The Epoch Times’ Zachary Stieber reports, the people reporting the negative effects reported them through V-safe, a smartphone application. The tool uses text messages and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins and allows users to quickly tell the CDC if they are experiencing side effects.

The CDC and Pfizer, which produces the vaccine with BioNTech, didn’t respond to request for comments.

The information was presented by Dr. Thomas Clark, a CDC epidemiologist, to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, an independent panel that provides recommendations to the agency, on Saturday.

The CDC said that 272,001 doses of the vaccine were administered as of Dec. 19. That means most people who were vaccinated did not experience negative effects.

The CDC has identified six case reports of anaphylaxis, or severe allergic reaction, that occurred following vaccination with the new vaccine, Clark reported. Other case reports were reviewed and determined not to be of anaphylaxis.

In an update on Friday, the agency stressed that anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine should not get that vaccine. People with severe allergic reactions to other vaccines should consult their doctor about getting the new vaccine while those with a history of anaphylaxis not related to vaccines “may still get vaccinated.”

“CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications – such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex – may still get vaccinated,” the CDC said.

“People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, or who might have a milder allergy to vaccines (no anaphylaxis) – may also still get vaccinated.”

Anyone who experiences anaphylaxis after getting the first vaccine should not get the second shot, the CDC said. COVID-19 vaccines are meant to be given across two doses, spaced about three weeks apart.

At least five healthcare workers in Alaska experienced adverse reactions after getting the Pfizer vaccine, the Anchorage Daily News reported. One of two experiencing adverse reactions at the Bartlett Regional Hospital required treatment at the hospital for at least two nights.

An Illinois hospital halted vaccinations after four workers suffered adverse reactions.

Dr. Peter Marks, the director of Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told reporters in a call on Thursday night that the agency is working with the CDC, and colleagues in the United Kingdom, on probing the allergic reactions.

“We’ll be looking at all of the data we can from each of these reactions to sort out exactly what happened. And we’ll also be looking to try to understand which components of the vaccine might be helping to produce them,” he said.

Noting that he was speculating, Marks said it’s known that polyethylene glycol – a component present in both the Pfizer vaccine and one from Moderna that regulators approved earlier in the day – can be associated, uncommonly, with allergic reactions.

“So that could be a culprit here. And that’s why we’ll be watching very closely,” he said. “But we just don’t know at this point.”

Both vaccines have “systemic side effects,” which are “generally mild,” Marks said.

They go away after a day. According to the FDA website, the most commonly reported side effects include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, and chills. The agency said they go away after several days.

One volunteer in Pfizer’s late-stage clinical trial experienced an allergic reaction. Two people in Moderna’s phase 3 clinical trial experienced anaphylactic reactions, the company said during a meeting on Thursday. But the data showed the benefits outweigh the risk, FDA officials said, as they granted emergency use authorization to the vaccines about seven days apart.

People who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting vaccinated, according to the CDC.

If someone experiences a severe allergic reaction against getting a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination providers are supposed to provide rapid care and call for emergency medical services. The person should continue to be monitored in a medical facility for at least several hours.