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Today’s News: February 05, 2021

Todays Headline News

World News

Down the drain: Covid-19 lockdowns forces British pubs to dump 87 million pints of beer

RT – Closures during Covid-19 lockdowns will force pub owners across the UK to dump nearly 87 million pints of beer, according to the latest calculations by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

The association has highlighted that the “heart-breaking” waste equals £331 million ($454 million) in sales, since barrelled beer that wasn’t sold by its best-before date is commonly returned to breweries, and then disposed of.

For pasteurized beers, including most lagers, that’s usually up to four months after delivery to pubs, while real ales and other unpasteurized beer normally expire after six to nine weeks.

BBPA chief Emma McClarkin has called for British authorities to allocate more help in the budget for pub owners, including by extending the VAT cut for the hospitality sector.

According to the association, the first lockdown made pub owners throw away around 70 million pints of beer. Bars reportedly bought less stock after reopening due to the real risk of wastage, and amid current restrictions introduced across the country.

In addition to the 70 million pints of beer already wasted, the body expects 10 million pints more to go the same way during the current lockdown.

UK government announces hotel quarantine for ‘red-list’ arrivals in effort to stem spread of Covid variants

RT – All arrivals into the UK from so-called ‘red list’ countries will have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days, in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19 variants from overseas, the government said on Friday.

From February 15, these passengers will be ordered to stay in their rooms at government-approved hotels, where they will be given three meals a day and will only be permitted to go outside if accompanied by a security guard.

The measures affect all incoming travellers, including UK residents who enter the UK from one of more than 30 countries on the UK’s travel-ban list, including Brazil, South Africa and other nations where Covid-19 variants have been detected.

Most foreign nationals from ‘red list’ countries are already banned from travelling to the UK.

Myanmar coup: Teachers join growing protests against military

BBC – A civil disobedience movement in Myanmar is gaining momentum with teachers and students protesting against Monday’s military coup.

Demonstrators at a university in the biggest city, Yangon, chanted support for jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and wore red ribbons, her party’s colour.

Ms Suu Kyi and other leaders have been held since the coup on Monday.

Earlier, the military detained another senior leader from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Although Ms Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since Monday, she is believed to be under house arrest, according to an NLD official.

Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has remained mostly calm in the aftermath of the coup, which has plunged the South East Asian country into uncertainty.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Federal Mask Cops To Start Targeting Travelers Today

Reason.com – Cue the federal mask cops. Americans are now required to wear masks in planes, trains, buses, subways, taxis, car services, boats, and transportation hubs, per a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that took effect today. Masks must be of a style approved by the federal government and must fit properly. Failure to comply will result in being prohibited from traveling, booted from the transit in question, and potential criminal penalties.

The order will be enforced by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and “other federal authorities,” as well as state and local officials. “To the extent permitted by law…federal agencies are required to implement additional measures enforcing the provisions of this Order,” the CDC says.

“CDC reserves the right to enforce through criminal penalties,” the agency adds, though it claims not to intend “to rely primarily on these criminal penalties.” The feds may also implement “additional civil measures enforcing the provisions” of the order (which “is not a rule within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act,” the CDC notes, “but rather is an emergency action”).

Creating a vast network of law enforcement officials empowered to enforce these mask rules will of course provide a handy new excuse for monitoring and surveilling citizens.

Meanwhile, deputizing federal agents, state authorities, and local cops to enforce transit mask rules will open up all sorts of new police harassment and abuse opportunities.

Only targeting people without masks might not seem to leave a lot of room for discriminatory enforcement. But the CDC order doesn’t just stop at people not wearing masks. In fact, it leaves a lot up to officials’ discretion.

For instance, travelers can take masks off while eating, drinking, or taking medication—leaving room for a lot of individual judgments in how long it’s reasonable or appropriate to remove a mask for during these activities, as well as misinterpretation in whether someone is allowed to have a mask on or off at a given moment.

The CDC order also says it’s not enough to simply wear a mask—it has to be a certain kind of mask. It can’t be a bandana, scarf, ski mask, or balaclava. It can’t fit too loosely or too tightly. It can’t contain an exhalation valve or be made from knitted fabrics, leather, plastic, or vinyl.

Again, that leaves a lot of room for authorities to choose who they target for enforcement.

Lockdown states suffer more COVID deaths on average

WND – The 11 U.S. states that did not impose lockdowns over the fall and winter in response to the coronavirus have fared better than states that did, an analysis of public data shows.

The U.K.-based website Lockdown Sceptics noted that the models one year ago predicting that nations, regions and states that didn’t impose lockdowns would face overrun hospitals and massive death tolls compared to those that did lock down turned out to be wrong.

It was a model published by Neil Ferguson of Imperial College of London forecasting 2.2 million American deaths from COVID-19 that prompted President Trump to initiate the “15 days to slow the spread.” White House coronavirus advisers Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx presented the study to Trump, urging drastic action.

But the website presented a chart that shows the COVID death toll per million people by state, with the no-lockdown states in red.

“If the doomsday models are correct, why don’t the bars for those states clearly stand out from the bars of the lockdown states in blue?” the website asks. “Furthermore, why are the top five states for Covid deaths lockdown states?

The analysis found the lockdown states on average had 5.6% more deaths than the no-lockdown states.

Pompeo on Biden declaring ‘America is back’: ‘Back to when ISIS controlled a caliphate’?

Ex-secretary of state insists allies knew Trump administration ‘had their back’

Fox – Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reacted Thursday to President Biden‘s declaration that “America is back” by asking if the commander-in-chief meant “back to when ISIS controlled a caliphate in Syria that was the size of Britain.”

“I hope not. President Trump and our team took that down,” Pompeo told “Fox News Primetime” host Trey Gowdy. 

Biden made his first major foreign policy address at the State Department earlier Thursday, vowing to “course-correct our foreign policy and better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership and adding “America cannot afford to absent any longer from the world stage.”

GOP two-step: Republicans keep faith with Donald Trump in backing of Marjorie Taylor Greene

USA Today – Between Reps. Liz Cheney and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republicans are doing a Donald Trump two-step – distancing themselves from the ex-president at times, moving closer to him at others.

In keeping Cheney, R-Wyo., in her leadership role, House Republicans essentially said they would not let Trump and his allies dictate how to handle disputes within the party.

In protecting Taylor Greene, R-Ga., meanwhile, Republicans also indicated they would not overtly alienate Trump and his most fervent supporters, even as Democrats try to lump them in with the insurrections who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Everyone has said things they wish they didn’t say, everyone has done things they wish they didn’t do,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, an outspoken Trump supporter. “So who’s next? Who will the cancel culture attack next?”

The Democratic-led House voted Thursday to remove Greene from two committees, citing past statements and social media posts that espoused conspiracy theories, suggested school shootings had been staged, and appeared to endorse violence against political opponents.

Election Tech Company Sues Fox News, Giuliani And Others For $2.7 Billion

NPR – Election technology company Smartmatic filed a massive lawsuit Thursday against Fox News, saying the network and some of its biggest on-air personalities made it into a villain and perpetuated false claims about the recent election.

The suit names Fox stars Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, as well as Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

The defamation and disparagement lawsuit seeks more than $2.7 billion, citing damage from what Smartmatic calls a “disinformation campaign” that was waged by people who were unhappy with President Biden’s victory – but who also hoped to profit from former President Donald Trump’s persistent and erroneous claims that the election was fraudulent.

“They knew the election was not stolen,” the company says it in a court filing. “They knew the election was not rigged or fixed. They knew these truths just as they knew the Earth is round and two plus two equals four.”

When reached for comment, a FOX News Media spokesperson said, “FOX News Media is committed to providing the full context of every story with in-depth reporting and clear opinion. We are proud of our 2020 election coverage and will vigorously defend this meritless lawsuit in court.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis crashes Big Tech’s power

‘Are oligarchs in Silicon Valley going to make those choices for us?’

WND – Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t waiting for the federal government to move against Big Tech censorship, announcing new regulations that include a ban on censorship of political candidates and mandatory opt-outs of content filters.

“What began as a group of upstart companies from the West Coast has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens, and they do this to an extent hitherto unimaginable,” he said in a speech Monday.

DeSantis said the Big Tech companies “have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.”

“Consequently, these platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections, and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech cartel,” he said.

#AOClied Trending – But Many Are Defending The Squad Member

Forbes – On Wednesday evening the hashtag #AOClied began to trend, after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) faced backlash over her initial claims about the January 6 Capitol Riot. The controversy began after the New York Congresswoman, commonly known as “AOC,” posted a video on social media that described a confrontation with Capitol Police at her office, which is located in the Capitol complex.

Soon after it was posted, many noted that her office is in the Cannon building, not the actual Capitol Building that includes the dome, as well as House and Senate chambers. It was in that building that rioters successfully breached on Jan. 6. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s offices in the Cannon building are accessible through underground tunnels, though the building was never breached.

The Daily Caller’s Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) was among those who reposted Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s video description of the events.

.@AOC describes a Capitol Police officer bursting into her office, says his presence “didn’t feel right” and that he was looking at her “in all of this anger and hostility.” Her staffer reportedly wondered if he would have to fight the officer.

In the video, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez described how she believed her life was at risk, and how she had to hide in a bathroom and remain silent, “I have never been quieter in my entire life.”

On Wednesday however, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who also has an office in the same building, shared a different take of the events from the Capitol breach on Jan. 6. Rep. Mace (@RepNancyMace) posted, “.@AOC made clear she didn’t know who was at her door. Breathless attempts by media to fan fictitious news flames are dangerous. My office is 2 doors down. Insurrectionists never stormed our hallway. Egregious doesn’t even begin to cover it. Is there nothing MSM won’t politicize?”

.@AOC made clear she didn’t know who was at her door. Breathless attempts by media to fan fictitious news flames are dangerous.

My office is 2 doors down. Insurrectionists never stormed our hallway. Egregious doesn’t even begin to cover it. Is there nothing MSM won’t politicize?

>> Related: AOC presses Twitter to censor hashtag comparing her to Jussie Smollett

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told her social-media followers she feared for her life during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, accusing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas of trying to have her murdered.

It turned out she wasn’t even in the Capitol building at the time, prompting a hashtag on Twitter comparing her to actor Jussie Smollett, who falsely claimed he was attacked by white men wearing MAGA hats.

Now, the leader of the socialist “Squad” in Congress is fighting back, urging her followers to “force Twitter and Facebook to take action and enforce their own rules” by censoring the hashtag #AlexandriaOcasioSmollet.

Lauren Boebert Receives D.C. Concealed Carry Permit

Breitbart – U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) received the Washington, DC, concealed carry permit she told Breitbart News she was pursuing in December.

On December 23, 2020, Boebert told Breitbart News her intentions were to “carry a firearm each day in D.C.”

She said, “I’ve already gone through the concealed carry firearm courses to obtain a Washington, DC, permit,” stressing that she would be her own security in dangerous, Democrat-run D.C.

On January 3, 2021, Boebert trolled Democrats in an Arsenal Media Group video which showed her walking through different parts of the city, showing how she would keep her Glock close-at-hand for self-defense.

On Thursday, The Hill reported Boebert got her D.C. concealed carry permit. D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee talked to reporters about Boebert’s pursuit of permit, saying, “A concealed carry permit was issued in that case.”

Contee added, “As we do with all our permits, if citizens are allowed to carry, then we grant them a permit. In this case, she was allowed to carry and she was granted a permit.”

On January 28, 2021, Breitbart News noted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) suggestion House Members who carry guns for self-defense are the “enemy within.”

Breitbart’s Joel Pollak tweeted:

.@SpeakerPelosi referred to certain members of Congress as the “enemy within.” When asked what she meant she said there are members who want to carry guns (like @RepBoebert who carries legally). So if you exercise your 2nd Amendment rights after a deadly riot, you are an “enemy.”

Economy & Business

Stimulus check update: Senate approves budget resolution toward $1.9T Covid relief, $1400 payments

Syracuse.com – The U.S. Senate has approved a budget resolution towards fast-tracking President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, including a third round of stimulus checks worth up to $1,400.

The Associated Press reports the measure passed, 51-50, after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, her first, around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Senators voted on amendments that would define the contours of the eventual bill for additional Covid-19 aid after a grueling all-night session.

Biden first proposed the $1.9 trillion relief package last month and shot down recent efforts by 10 Republican senators to reduce it to $618 million. Biden’s proposal included $400 in weekly unemployment benefits; $70 billion towards vaccination centers and Covid-19 testing; $130 billion to help schools reopen safely; $15 billion in small business grants; $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments; raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour (from the current rate of $7.25 an hour); reinstating paid sick leave; expanding the child care tax credit; and $15 billion to help states subsidize child care for low-income families along with a $25 billion fund to help child care centers in danger of closing.

Biden’s plan also includes $1,400 stimulus checks that, combined with the $600 direct payments issued in late December, will provide $2,000 to help Americans affected by the pandemic.

GameStop stock is plummeting but the Reddit rebellion is just beginning

CNN Business – No matter what happens next to shares of GameStop and AMC or the price of silver, average Joes and Janes are now an undeniable force to be reckoned with on Wall Street.

The short squeeze last week that propelled GameStop (GME) and other momentum investments popular with the Reddit crowd now appears to be on hold. GameStop plunged more than 50% Tuesday while AMC (AMC), silver prices and silver mining companies also fell sharply.

That’s partly due to trading restrictions from Robinhood and other brokers on how many shares of volatile stocks like GameStop, AMC (AMC), Express (EXPR) and Nokia (NOK) that retail investors can purchase in a single stock at a time.

But heavily shorted stocks could wind up rallying again. In fact, on Tuesday Mark Cuban urged members of Reddit’s WallStreetBets community to stay the course with stocks like GameStop.

Digital Currencies Are Changing the Money Landscape

Mises Institute – Government-mandated money in the form of legal tender is a historical anomaly. For much of mankind’s history private monies and quasi monies competed alongside each other. Now, again, a new era of private money competition is resurging and reshaping our world.

Money, finance, and banking are currently experiencing the “Great Unbundling.” Value chains within finance are being broken up across the spectrum. Customers or users are no longer obtaining their money services as an all-in-one package from a single universal bank but increasingly follow a best-in-class approach in which the best offers from many different providers are chosen.

This trend of the fragmentation of financial services has also been recognized by the tech giants of our time. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are all pushing into the financial sector. Amazon, for example, already offers loans and other financial services in some countries. Apple and Google Pay are already part of our everyday lives through iOS and Android devices. Facebook recently launched its payment system, Facebook Pay. WhatsApp’s payment system was already active in Brazil when it was halted by the Brazilian central bank (the service is bound to relaunch soon).

Energy & Environment

The Big Tech takeover of agriculture is dangerous

It will endanger the livelihood of the world’s small farmers and food workers and completely transform our food systems.

Al Jazeera – On January 15, Liu Jin, a 45-year-old driver for Alibaba’s food delivery platform in the Chinese city of Taizhou, set himself on fire in protest over unpaid wages. “I want my blood and sweat money back,” Mr Liu said in a video shared widely over social media.

Meanwhile, across the border in India, millions of farmers were refusing to vacate the streets of New Delhi. They had been protesting for months, stubbornly defying the central government’s attempt to impose reforms that would put them at the mercy of giant corporations.

The two protests may be different in form, but have something fundamental in common. Each expresses outrage over the takeover of food systems by some of the world’s largest technology companies. In China, Alibaba has been leading a wave of investments and takeovers by technology companies in the food system, most recently spending $3.6bn to acquire the country’s largest chain of hypermarkets. In India, similar moves are being made by companies like Amazon and Facebook, through the backdoor of e-commerce, to take over food distribution and retail in partnership with India’s wealthiest tycoons and the backing of the central government’s reforms.

Big Tech’s ambitions with food and agriculture go beyond China and India. They are global and extend to all aspects of the food system, including what is being called digital agriculture. While some see in this a means to bring new technologies to farming, technology does not develop in a bubble. It is shaped by money and power both of which the technology sector currently enjoys.

In a new report, our organisation GRAIN looks at how Big Tech is promoting industrial agriculture and contract farming and undermining agroecology and local food systems through its development of digital agriculture platforms. As the report shows, the consequences are particularly severe for small farmers in the Global South.

Just as with other sectors of the economy, large corporations – be they technology companies, telecommunications, food companies, agribusinesses, or banks – are racing to collect as much data as they can from all nodes of the food system and to find ways to profit from this data. These efforts are getting more and more integrated and connected through corporate partnerships, mergers and takeovers, enabling corporate capture of the food system.

Science & Technology

‘Smallest reptile on earth’ discovered in Madagascar

BBC – Scientists believe they may have discovered the smallest reptile on earth – a chameleon subspecies that is the size of a seed.

Two of the tiny lizards were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm.

This makes it the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles, according to the Bavarian State collection of Zoology in Munich.

Its length from top to tail is 22mm (0.86in).

The female is far bigger at around 29mm, the institute said, adding that other specimens were yet to be located, despite “great effort”.

“The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction,” said the Scientific Reports journal.

Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, said: “The nano-chameleon’s habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive.”

Researchers found that it hunts for mites on the rainforest floor and hides from predators at night in blades of grass.

In a blog post, Dr Mark Scherz, one of the researchers involved in the discovery, called it “a spectacular case of extreme miniaturisation”.

The forests where the Brookesia were located are still well connected with others across the north of the island, he said.

“So this tiny new chameleon violates the pattern of the smallest species being found on small islands. That suggests that something else is allowing/causing these chameleons to miniaturise,” he added.

In their report, scientists recommended that the chameleon be listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species to help protect it and its habitat.

Health

3 Types Of Food Costa Rican Centenarians Eat For Health & Longevity

MBG – Eating mostly unprocessed, unrefined, and nutrient-dense foods is a globally recognized way to bolster better health and vibrant vitality. As someone who has spent most of her life in Costa Rica, I can attest that in this corner of the world, eating a wholesome, simple diet is at the heart of the culture.

Home to some of the world’s longest-living people, this tropical nation is known for its Pura Vida lifestyle (“pure life” in Spanish). It’s also one of the five original Blue Zones—regions where people live the longest and healthiest—pinpointed by New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner

In The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes To Live To 100, Buettner explains how foods have enabled populations to evade chronic disease and sustain optimal wellness. And for centenarians (people who live into their 80s and frequently into their 90s and 100s) on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, it all starts with choosing real, nourishing foods. 

Although a diet specific to Costa Rican centenarians varies from other Blue Zones areas across the globe, these well-aged dwellers share some lifestyle and food commonalities that revolve around savoring the simple joys of life. Here’s a closer look at what Nicoya Peninsula residents eat to lead a long, healthy life:

1.They eat legumes every day.

  1. Their diet includes tortillas, rosquillas, and bizcochos.
  2. The fill their plate with plants

Johnson & Johnson asks FDA to authorize its Covid-19 vaccine

CNN – Johnson & Johnson officially asked the US Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine Thursday, taking forward the possibility of a third coronavirus vaccine for the US market.

“Today’s submission for Emergency Use Authorization of our investigational single-shot COVID-19 vaccine is a pivotal step toward reducing the burden of disease for people globally and putting an end to the pandemic,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.

The FDA has scheduled a public meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for Feb. 26. The independent group of experts will look at the data and make a recommendation that the agency takes into consideration when it makes a decision.

This means an EUA will not come before the end of the month, if the FDA decides to grant one. But adding a third vaccine to the mix would add both supply and flexibility to the struggling US efforts to vaccinate the population.

If the FDA decides to authorize the vaccine, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to discuss whether the vaccine should be given to Americans and if so, who should get it first.

How a Nutrient in Salmon Helps Fight Bacterial Infections

Mercola – Combined with the amino sulfonic acid taurine, past infections may help enhance your gut microbiome’s response to bacteria; taurine is found in salmon, seaweed, dark chicken meat and dairy products.

Taurine is not used in the creation of protein; adults are able to produce it, but infants can’t, so they require taurine in their diet for neurological development.

Taurine has an anti-inflammatory effect on your heart and skeletal muscle, may reduce complications linked to diabetes and is essential to metabolism.

Choose wild-caught Alaskan or sockeye salmon over the farmed variety as the wild-caught has significantly fewer contaminants and a better nutritional profile