Retroactive Liberation

The Rebbe writes in a letter:

“From the time I was a schoolchild—and even before—a vision of the future exodus began to form in my mind:

Such an exodus that all the suffering of exile, the persecutions and mass destruction, 
will finally be understood.

And understood in the fullest sense, with a complete heart, to the point that we will look back and say thank you to G‑d for all that we went through.”

Igrot Kodesh, vol 12, pg. 414 (#4226). Written in 1956 to Zalman Shazar, then president of Israel.

Original: Tzvi Freeman – CHABAD

Hundreds protest inside Michigan’s state Capitol as governor seeks to extend emergency powers

Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered inside Michigan’s state Capitol in Lansing on Thursday objecting to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request to extend emergency powers to combat COVID-19, an appeal Republican lawmakers there have opposed.

The protest appeared to be the largest in the state since April 15, when supporters of President Donald Trump organized thousands of people for “Operation Gridlock,” jamming the streets of Lansing with their cars to call out what they said was the overreach of Whitmer’s strict stay-at-home order.

The slow reopening of state economies around the country has taken on political overtones, as Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with Trump’s re-election promoted such protests in electoral swing states, such as Michigan.

Many people at Thursday’s “American Patriot Rally”, including militia group members carrying firearms and people with pro-Trump signs, appeared to be ignoring state social-distancing guidelines as they clustered together within 6 feet of each other.

“Governor Whitmer, and our state legislature, it’s over with. Open this state,” Mike Detmer, a Republican U.S. congressional candidate running for the state’s 8th District spot held by Democrat Elissa Slotkin, told the crowd.

“Let’s get businesses back open again. Let’s make sure there are jobs to go back to.”

Police allowed several hundred protesters to peacefully enter the Capitol building around 1 p.m., where they crammed shoulder-to-shoulder near the entrance to legislative chambers, some carrying long guns, few wearing face masks.

People had their temperature taken by police as they entered. Inside, they sang the national anthem and chanted: “Let us work.”

Other speakers at the event, which had different organizers than the mid-April protest, questioned the deadliness of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

They also said Whitmer’s stay-at-home order violated constitutional rights, and urged people to open their businesses on May 1 in disregard of her order.


State authorities have warned that protesters could be ticketed for violating social-distancing rules. The mayor of Lansing, Andy Schor, said in a statement on Wednesday that he was “disappointed” protesters would put themselves and others at risk, but recognized that Whitmer’s order still allowed people to “exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.”

State legislative approval of Whitmer’s state of emergency declaration, which gives her special executive powers, is set to expire after Thursday.

She has asked for a 28-day extension, though Republican lawmakers in control of the statehouse who want to see a faster economic opening have signaled they could reject her request.

Regardless, Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is set to continue through May 15, though she has said she could loosen restrictions as health experts determine new cases of COVID-19 are being successfully controlled.

Whitmer has acknowledged that her order was the strictest in the country, but she defended it as necessary as Michigan became one of the states hardest hit by the virus, having already claimed 3,789 lives there.

Protesters, many from more rural, Trump-leaning parts of Michigan, have argued it has crippled the economy statewide even as the majority of deaths from the virus are centered on the southeastern Detroit metro area.

Many states, including Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Ohio, have already moved to restart parts of their economies following weeks of mandatory lockdowns that have thrown nearly one in six American workers out of their jobs.

Original: REUTERS – Reporting by Michael Martina in Detroit and Seth Herald in Lansing, Michingan

Russian Prime Minister Mishustin tests positive for coronavirus as national total tops 100,000 cases

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov will step in as interim head of government during Mishustin’s recovery.

It appears Mishustin – who replaced Dmitry Medvedev as Prime Minister in January – received the result of his test while at work. Earlier in the day, he headed a governmental session, conducted remotely. His diagnosis makes him the second major world leader known to have contracted the infection – after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“It just became known that the tests that I’ve passed for coronavirus gave a positive result,” Mishustin told the president “In this regard, and in accordance with the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor [the national health watchdog], I must self-isolate and comply with the instructions of doctors: I have to do this to protect my colleagues.”

“What’s happening to you now could happen to anyone,” Putin replied.

The President assured Mishustin that no major decisions would be taken without his input while he battles the infection. Putin also noted that members of the government are at particular risk during the Covid-19 crisis as direct contact with colleagues cannot be avoided. The Prime Minister has been working from his office at Moscow’s ‘White House.’

Mishustin told Putin that his cabinet will continue working uninterrupted, and that he’ll keep in touch with the president. “I’m planning to remain in active contact with my colleagues via phone and video conferences,” he said. The 54-year-old has played a major role – alongside Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin – in Russia’s response to the pandemic.

He also appealed to Russians “to take most seriously” the threat of coronavirus, encouraging everyone to stay home over the May holidays. Russia normally has two major celebrations at this time of year – Labor Day on May 1 and the annual May 9 celebration of Soviet Russia’s World War Two victory over Germany. It also informally marks the start of ‘dacha season’ in many parts of the country, with the roads traditionally packed as city dwellers head to their country boltholes.

According to Moscow daily Vedomosti, the Prime Minister and all his deputies take daily tests for coronavirus. Mishustin’s spokesman, Boris Belyakov, said that face-to-face communication between government members and the Prime Minister has been as limited as possible for the past few weeks. He added that that the government will continue to work as usual and that next week’s meetings will be held as planned. Belyakov also confirmed that Mishustin will be hospitalized.

Putin subsequently signed a decree making Belousov interim head of government. Belousov is a Moscow-native, like Mishustin, and has served in various positions, under both Putin and Medevedev, over the past two decades. Since 2013, he has been an economic advisor at the Kremlin.

Sobyanin indicated on Thursday evening that the capital’s lockdown might be eased around the middle of May, as long as the situation with Covid-19 doesn’t worsen. Meanwhile, authorities in the southern Krasnodar region hope to open the holiday season from June 1.

There have been 106,498 confirmed Covid-19 cases registered in Russia so far, with 1,073 fatalities. The country has introduced strict lockdown measures to stem the spread of the highly contagious disease. Earlier this week, President Putin said that the restrictions will be prolonged at least until May 11.

Header: ©  Sputnik/Dmitry Astakhov/Pool via REUTERS

Source: RT

Chief prosecutor insists ICC has jurisdiction to probe war crimes in ‘Palestine’

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday reiterated her position that Palestine is a state for the purposes of transferring criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.

Dismissing the legal opinions of several states and dozens of international law scholars, Fatou Bensouda’s view, laid out in great detail in a 60-page document, could pave the way for an investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

“The Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” she wrote.

It is now up to a pre-trial chamber to rule on the matter. The three judges of that chamber — Péter Kovács of Hungary, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Benin — have no set deadline to hand down their decision but are expected to do so within 120 days.

On December 20, concluding a five-year preliminary examination of the “situation in Palestine,” Bensouda said she has “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed” in those regions by both the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas and other “Palestinian armed groups.”

At the time, she said that she herself believes the court indeed has jurisdiction to investigate possible war crimes in the regions, but, due to the controversial nature of the case, asked for a definitive ruling on the matter from a pre-trial chamber. Member states and independent experts were invited to weigh on the matter as well.

Israel has long argued that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the case not least because there is no sovereign Palestinian state that could delegate to the court criminal jurisdiction over its territory and nationals.

In February, the “State of Palestine” and seven other countries, as well as 33 international organizations and independent scholars of international law, submitted so-called amicus curiae (friend of the court) documents, offering their views on whether Palestine is a state that can transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.

“Such a wide variety of perspectives will afford considerable legitimacy to the Court’s ultimate decision,” Bensouda wrote.

Germany, Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Uganda all posited that Palestine cannot transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.

Even those countries that have formally recognized the “State of Palestine” along the pre-1967 lines argued that Palestine cannot necessarily be considered to have validly granted the ICC jurisdiction to probe war crimes allegedly committed in its territory.

On the other hand, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — but not a single individual state (expect Palestine itself) posited that Palestine was indeed a state that could confer jurisdiction to the Hague.

In the document she published Thursday, Bensouda reiterated that her position is not about the question of Palestinian statehood per se, but rather about whether the “State of Palestine,” which is a member of the ICC, can convey criminal jurisdiction to the court. In her view, Palestine indeed fulfills all required criteria to do that.

Originally, Bensouda was given a 30-day deadline to respond to amicus curiae submissions. But in March she requested that the pretrial chamber to grant her an additional month, “due to the effect of external circumstances on the operations of the Prosecution — specifically the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.”


Debunking Trump, US intelligence agencies say coronavirus not manmade

US intelligence agencies are debunking a conspiracy theory, saying they have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.

The statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the clearinghouse for the web of US spy agencies, comes as US President Donald Trump and his allies have touted the as-yet-unproven theory that an infectious disease lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, was the source of the global pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people worldwide.

In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm to the world about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. US officials have said the Chinese government should “pay a price” for its handling of the pandemic.

The new statement said, “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”

“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement added.

Trump on Thursday again blamed China for not doing enough to contain the coronavirus.

“We just got hit by a vicious virus that should never have been allowed to escape China,” he said during an Oval Office meeting with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Earlier this month, Trump addressed the lab theory saying, “More and more, we’re hearing the story.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added at the time, “The mere fact that we don’t know the answers — that China hasn’t shared the answers — I think is very, very telling.”

Pompeo also pressed China to let outside experts into the lab “so that we can determine precisely where this virus began.”

While Trump and Pompeo have made public statements speculating about the lab, a US intelligence official disputed the notion that there was any pressure on agencies to bolster a particular theory. The intelligence official was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Scientists say the virus arose naturally in bats. Even so, Pompeo and others have pointed fingers at an institute that is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It has done groundbreaking research tracing the likely origins of the SARS virus, finding new bat viruses and discovering how they could jump to people.

“We know that there is the Wuhan Institute of Virology just a handful of miles away from where the wet market was,” Pompeo said two weeks ago. The institute has an address 8 miles, or 13 kilometers, from the market that is considered a possible source.

US officials say the American Embassy in Beijing flagged concerns about potential safety issues at the lab in Wuhan in 2018, but they have yet to find any evidence the virus originated there nearly two years later.

The Chinese government said Thursday that any claims that the coronavirus was released from a laboratory are “unfounded and purely fabricated out of nothing.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang cited the institute’s director, Yuan Zhiming, as saying the lab strictly implements bio-security procedures that would prevent the release of any pathogen.

“I would like to point out again that the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, and it should be studied by scientists and professionals,” Geng said.

Geng also criticized US politicians who have suggested China should be held accountable for the global pandemic, saying they should spend their time on “better controlling the epidemic situation at home.”

But a Chinese government spokesman, Zhao Lijian, demonstrated that China was not above sowing confusion in the face of the pandemic. He tweeted in March the falsehood that the virus might have come from the US Army.

Trump, whose early response to the outbreak has been questioned, also pushed back on news reports that he was repeatedly warned about the virus by intelligence agencies. Trump said he was given the first intelligence briefing in “later January.” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar also briefed Trump on the threat by phone on January 18.

Header: US President Donald Trump listens during a meeting about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House, April 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Original: Zeke Miller – TOI

David Vongries takes over of the Kirki Customizer Framework

David Vongries, the owner of the Page Builder Framework theme, has taken over the project.

All of Kirki’s customizer controls, including those that were previously commercial/premium, are now open under the Kirki Framework GitHub organization.

Stathopoulos tweeted his decision to seek a buyer on April 8. “This is an announcement I never thought I’d make,” he wrote. “As much as it saddens me, I have decided to sell the Kirki #WordPress plugin. With 500,000+ installations and included in hundreds of themes I no longer have the ability – as an individual developer – to maintain it. And even though I had big dreams and wanted to facilitate things for the WordPress editor as well, the plugin has grown beyond me…It is no longer possible for a single person to maintain such a beast.”

David Vongries, the owner of the Page Builder Framework theme, has taken over the project.

All of Kirki’s customizer controls, including those that were previously commercial/premium, are now open under the Kirki Framework GitHub organization.

Stathopoulos tweeted his decision to seek a buyer on April 8. “This is an announcement I never thought I’d make,” he wrote. “As much as it saddens me, I have decided to sell the Kirki #WordPress plugin. With 500,000+ installations and included in hundreds of themes I no longer have the ability – as an individual developer – to maintain it. And even though I had big dreams and wanted to facilitate things for the WordPress editor as well, the plugin has grown beyond me…It is no longer possible for a single person to maintain such a beast.”

Stathopoulos did not want to let this passion project go to anyone. He wanted someone with the vision to see the project evolve. He had several offers for Kirki. Over 400,000 installations can make for a lucrative opportunity for someone with the right marketing skills. It would have been easy for him to take the highest bid and jump ship, but that is not his style.

“Kirki is a weird case,” he said. “It may have 400,000 installations and used by hundreds of themes both free and premium, but the actual ‘clients’ are the theme authors, not the end-users. That fact limits the potential for monetizing the plugin ethically. There were quite a few bids, some were high, some were low, but what surprised me is that a lot of them were not interested in helping the community in any way.”

Stathopoulos said the majority of the offers were from buyers with no interest in growing the plugin. Most of them seemed to be looking for a quick buck. He steered clear of them because he did not want to see end-users blasted with obtrusive ads, upsells, or spam.

Stathopoulos decided to sell to Vongries. The two had previously worked together on multiple occasions on the Kirki project and he felt it was the right move.

“Once I decided that he should get it, the process went pretty smooth, and there were no hiccups,” said Stathopoulos. “The hard part was deciding who should get it.”

Vongries was almost a natural choice as a new owner. He and his team had been using Kirki since its inception. “I think it’s an incredible framework and it makes working with the WordPress customizer so much easier,” he said.

The Future of Kirki

Over the past 18 months, Stathopoulos has rewritten the plugin and split it into around 50 Composer packages. The plan was to make these packages installable as individual components for plugin and theme authors. Instead of bundling the entire Kirki library, developers can use the pieces they need. At this point, these components should be stable, but they have not been widely tested by theme authors, who are accustomed to working with the full framework.

He was also excited about the potential move away from the customizer and working with full-site editing and global styles. Right now, it is unclear how the future of the Gutenberg project will impact the customizer. Many theme authors are now looking at it as a dying piece of the platform. Stathopoulos felt like there was still room to grow and transition into the new era.

“My vision for Kirki was to combine some things with full-site editing, and allow themes that were using Kirki to automatically get global styles when they land in WordPress core,” he said. “That would be truly amazing, and I’m sure it will be possible to do once there is an API for global styles. If [Vongries] goes in that direction, there’s definitely potential for monetization there, while at the same time he’ll help people build better things. Can you imagine a painless transition to global styles for themes that use Kirki? That would be a great thing to see!”

However, the project is out of the former owner’s hands now. It is Vongries’ vision that must lead the project moving forward.

“I respect Ari a lot and he has done an amazing job with Kirki,” said Vongries. “[Stathopoulos] said he would love to continue to contribute to the project, and he is more than welcome to do so.”

The immediate plan is to launch Kirki 4.0. It is nearly ready to roll out, awaiting some fine-tuning and final testing. Vongries and his team are also about to begin work on new extensions that bring more controls and functionality to the framework and, potentially, Gutenberg.

“We are going to explore how we can make the connection between the existing functionality in Kirki and the upcoming features in Gutenberg and Gutenberg in general,” he said. “At this point, we have some ideas about how we can adapt Kirki to the ever-changing WordPress platform. But for now, they are only ideas. We are certain that we will be able to provide a useful tool for developers, regardless of the direction WordPress and Gutenberg goes.”

Original: WordPress Tavern – Justin Tadlock

Experimental drug declared by US as first effective treatment against COVID-19

Scientists on Wednesday announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus — an experimental drug that can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients — in a major medical advance that came as the economic gloom caused by the scourge deepened in the US and Europe.

The US government said it is working to make the antiviral medication Remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible.

“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert. “This will be the standard of care.”

The news came as the US government reported that American output is shriveling at an alarming rate in the biggest and fastest collapse since the Depression. The virus has killed over 220,000 people worldwide since December, including about 60,000 in the US, and led to lockdowns and other restrictions that have closed factories and other businesses around the world.

Amid the shutdowns, the US said its gross domestic product, or output of goods and services, shrank at an annual rate of 4.8% in the January-March period, the sharpest quarterly drop since the global meltdown of more than a decade ago.

And the worst is yet to come: The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the GDP of the world’s biggest economy will plunge at a 40% annual rate during the three-month period that ends in June.

The latest figures on people applying for unemployment benefits in the US are set to be released Thursday, with economists estimating perhaps 1 in 6 American workers, or about 30 million people, have lost their jobs over the past six weeks.

The US unemployment rate for April will come out at the end of next week, and economists have forecast that it could range as high as 20% of the workforce — a level not seen since the Depression.

Confirmed infections globally reached more than 3.2 million, including 1 million in the US, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers of deaths and infections are believed to be much higher because of limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments.

Biotech company Gilead Sciences and the US government reported that in a major study, Remdesivir shortened the time it takes for COVID-19 patients to recover by four days on average —from 15 days to 11. Also, a trend toward fewer deaths was seen among those on the drug, Fauci said.

The study was run by the US National Institutes of Health and involved 1,063 hospitalized coronavirus patients around the world.

An effective treatment could have a profound effect on the outbreak, since a vaccine is probably a year or more away.

Economic damage, meanwhile, is piling up elsewhere around the world.

Globally, the United Nations’ main labor body raised its prediction of full-time-equivalent job losses in the second quarter to an estimated 305 million.

It also projected that 1.6 billion workers in the “informal economy,” including those working without proper contracts or oversight by government regulation, “stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed.” That is nearly half the global workforce of 3.3 billion people.

In Europe, almost every measure of the economy is in free-fall. Figures due to be released Thursday are expected to show a drop of about 4% in the first three months of the year in the eurozone, and an even steeper hit is projected this quarter. Unemployment is expected to rise to about 8% in March.

The figure would be worse if not for massive amounts of government support to keep millions of workers on payrolls. Government debts are exploding to cover the costs of such relief.

“The lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are taking an unprecedented toll on the European economy,” said Florian Hense, an economist at Berenberg Bank.

In Paris, aircraft maker Airbus reported a first-quarter loss of 481 million euros ($515 million), laid off thousands of workers and sought billions in loans to pull through the crisis.

Italy’s credit rating was lowered in the first downgrade of a major economy as a result of the crisis. Its rating stands just one level above junk bond status. Italy expects its economy to shrink by 8% this year.

Germany’s economy minister said the government is projecting a contraction of about 11% in GDP by the end of the quarter. But he also predicted a sharp recovery in 2021.

Many economists are skeptical the US economy will bounce back quickly later in the year, noting that the virus could flare up again or consumers and employees might be too worried to return to business as usual.

“The virus has done a lot of damage to the economy, and there is just so much uncertainty now,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

In other developments, British raised its death toll to more than 26,000 after adding more than 3,800 nursing home deaths that were previously not included.

With the crisis easing in places like Italy, France and Spain, European governments are turning their attention to rethinking public transportation to get their economies up and running again without setting off a second wave of infections.

Solutions include putting red stickers on the floor to tell bus passengers in Milan how far apart to stand. The Dutch are putting on longer, roomier trains. Berlin and many other cities are opening up more lanes to bicyclists. And in Britain, bus passengers are using the middle or rear doors to reduce the risk to the driver.

Source: AP – TOI

Mainstream narrative censors any attempt to contain HYSTERIA over COVID-19

On April 27th, the Daily Mail reported that COVID-19 may be up to 8 times deadlier than people think.

And that would mean a fatality rate of 0.85% in Italy and 0.5% in New York, and so on.

Official mortality in Italy is 13% – according to the same Daily Mail. Official mortality in China is 5.5%.

The official mortality rate announced by WHO was 3.4%.

Professor Nyal Ferguson, on the basis of whose predictions the UK turned its policy 180 degrees and switched from the Swedish version to the most severe quarantine and drones watching dog lovers in the wasteland, predicted 500 thousand corpses in the UK and 2 million corpses in the USA.

After, based on all these terrifying predictions and expert assessments, the whole West, not counting Sweden, plunged into a lockdown, antibody tests appeared. And then it became clear how many people actually got sick and what real mortality was.

Based on tests, the mortality rate in the county of Santa Clara, California sits between 0.12-0.2%.
In the county of Los Angeles, also in California – 0.18-0.36%.

In Gangelt, Germany – 0.37%.

In the state of New York – 0.58%, and in the city of New York – 0.86%, while 21% of the population there was already ill.

And then the Daily Mail comes along and says that the mortality may be up to 8 times higher, not the 3.4% that the World Health Organization estimates, but the 0.5%.

And reports such as this that give confusing, and unclear information, but to which a large number of people have access is common.

The situation is the same with medication for COVID-19 – on March 19th, US President Donald Trump announced that chloroquine – a well-known, cheap and old cure for malaria – also helps with coronavirus.

Dr. Didier Raoult, the famous French infectious disease specialist, creator and director of the Mediterranean University-Clinical Institute of Infectious Diseases, used it for treatment.

The results of Dr. Raoult and his institute were outstanding: by the end of March, only 10 of the 2,400 people who received treatment at his institute had died.

But, as soon as Trump said it would work, the medication suddenly became worthless and unusable.

Nevada Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak immediately banned the use of chloroquine for treating COVID-19 with his order, while Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer threatened doctors who used the medication with administrative sanctions.

As for Dr. Raoult – he was immediately accused of quackery, totalitarianism, and sexual harassment. But to be fair, he said that universal testing was needed and that both choloroquine and azithromycin should be used in the early stages of the disease, and then it was useless to apply them later on.

As such, Raoult may have not found the be-all end-all of COVID-19 treatments, but rather found that’s needed – proper testing.

Then, the above-mentioned governor’s orders were immediately supported by other studies, claiming that the medication shouldn’t be used.

A group of scientists analyzed the medical history of COVID-19 patients in a hospital for American veterans and published a terrifying preprint. 28% of those who received chloroquine died, and among those who did not, only 11% died. And then, the medication from not-very-effective in the later stages, turned into something that kills patients.

The thing is that no information was given about the study that’s being propagated, at least Raoult provided some evidence.

An additional adverse effect of this study was that chloroquine has been consumed for over 80 years. This is the oldest and well-proven cure for malaria. It is produced in tons. Its wholesale price for Africa is 4 (in words – four) cents. It is included in the WHO list of essential medicines, which includes only the safest and most needed medicines. And it claimed that it kills people.

For 80 years, chloroquine has been a cheap, common, safe generic. And only when it turned out that the medicine was priced at 4 cents, it was established that it couldn’t cure COVID-19 because it would potentially be too cheap and accessible.

Another promising drug was Remdesivir, an Ebola drug developed by Gilead Sciences. And what? On April 23rd, WHO “accidentally” posted on its website test results that showed that Remdesivir was no good.

The tests were carried out so incorrectly that WHO had to immediately remove the article from the site and even claim that it got there “by mistake”.

But the deed was done. Gilead shares crashed. Explanations by its scientists that the WHO-provided clinical trials were incorrect, did not interest anyone.

Media informed the whole world that the drug did not work in the “gold standard” trials, and the trials themselves had to be interrupted due to side effects.

The trick of all these stories is that trials by all medical rules – double blind randomized – cannot be done at all in an epidemic. And to conduct them is immoral. During the epidemic, the doctor will not leave a whole group of patients without a medicine that, he thinks, can help them, only to check if this medicine works.

At the same time, the epidemic removed barriers to the quality of information – and articles and preprints began to appear on professional websites that would never have been reviewed.

It’s a Catch-22 situation: any positive news wouldn’t be taken into account because didn’t pass the “double-blind randomized test” while negative news would be immediately shared, because in an epidemic you want to get to the most audience, and it’s easier to believe fearmongering, since the climate itself facilitates it.

And it is possible that the vaccine testing would undergo the same treatment.

Many “live” vaccines tend to stimulate the innate immune system and thereby protect not only from the disease from which the vaccine works, but also from a wide range of infections in general.

The stimulation mechanism is sufficiently proven and studied.

Especially remarkable in this sense is not even the BCG vaccine, but the live polio vaccine, which has been used for a long time in developing countries, where it not only protected against poliomyelitis, but also reduced infant mortality from other infections by 30%.

In the USSR, the same vaccine reduced the incidence of influenza by 75%.

This live vaccine, perhaps, could serve as a serious defense throughout, for example, the year and a half, during which the vaccine itself against the virus is being developed. The vaccine costs 10 cents.

The famous virologist and founder of the Global Virus Network, Dr. Robert Gallo, best known for his discovery of HIV, announced the start of clinical trials of the polio vaccine against COVID-19.

A vaccine that is already ready, which costs 10 cents, which will radically reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, and there are no side effects from it (in children – one case in three million, despite what the anti-vaxxers say).

WHO – rightly – stated that it does not recommend the use of a live polio vaccine against coronavirus.

As the number of antibody tests grew and it became clear that 20-25% of the population was already infected in New York. And there was a danger, of people returning to the streets.

And on April 24th, the WHO stated that it is categorically against lifting quarantine for those who have been ill, because it has “no data” that all people develop stable immunity. In some patients, WHO warns, antibody levels are very low, and tests can give a false-positive result. Therefore, even those who have been ill cannot go to work.

So, does that mean that vaccination also doesn’t work? If, according to WHO, even after an illness there is no guarantee that antibodies will be produced, how will they be produced after vaccination?

That is, the recommendation by WHO is translated like this: There is no cure for this disease.

That is, the WHO, of course, did not check, but there are a couple of preprints saying that there’s no cure, and it cannot ignore such important evidence.

Basically, people should sit at home and, more importantly, generally keep quiet.

If people want to work so as not to starve to death, just call them a fascist.

If they raise the question that people without work will get drunk, get on drugs, commit suicide, just call them a fascist, covidiot.

If they attempt to timidly stutter that closed hospitals will lead to a monstrous increase in mortality from cancer, from cardiovascular diseases, from diseases of the kidneys, liver, once again, just call them a fascist and covidiot.

This isn’t to say that COVID-19 is not a serious pandemic. It is an astounding test of the strength healthcare systems, as seen in France and Italy, which occupy the 1st and 2nd position in the WHO ranking, and of the US, which occupies the 37th position.

And Italy and France appear to be passing the test, while the US seems to be failing entirely.

All of the listed above paints a very stark picture.

This is no longer an attempt to solve a real problem, but rather an attempt to make the problem unsolvable, and the control and power of the bureaucrats is eternal.

UK spy agency handed extra powers to access info from NHS IT systems during Covid-19 pandemic

The National Health Service (NHS) has been instructed by Hancock to hand over information to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), granting the spy agency powers it did not have previously, under the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Officials have justified the decision, saying it was taken to bolster the NHS’s cyber defenses. It ostensibly means that GCHQ now has powers to order the NHS to disclose any information concerning “the security” of its networks and information systems.

The latest development, authorized by Hancock’s department earlier this month, is the latest sign of GCHQ gaining more influence during the Covid-19 crisis. The agency is already advising NHSX, the unit driving the digital transformation of the public healthcare system, on the creation of its new coronavirus contact-tracing app.

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre, a subsidiary of GCHQ, insisted that the new directions “do not seek to authorize” access to patient data. Whether that will ease the worries of those concerned about the apparent increase in the UK government’s surveillance measures is debatable.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for British PM Boris Johnson confirmed that the controversial NHS contact-tracing app will be a “key part” of the government’s Covid-19 surveillance program going forward.

The app, which has been designed to notify people if they were in close contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, could be available within weeks. However, privacy campaigners have warned it could see the public “coerced” into sharing personal data about their movements.

Original: RT

WHO: Sweden, which avoided mass coronavirus lockdowns, should be ‘model’ for the world

A top official from The World Health Organization (WHO) praised Sweden on Wednesday as a “model” for the rest of the world, in fighting the novel coronavirus.

“I think if we are to reach a new normal, I think in many ways Sweden represents a future model of — if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns,” Dr. Mike Ryan said while speaking to reporters from Geneva.

Ryan, who serves as executive director of WHO’s Emergencies Program, praised Sweden’s health care system and credited it with making all the right moves from the beginning of the outbreak.

“They’ve been doing the testing, they’ve ramped up their capacity to do intensive care quite significantly,” he added. “And their health system has always remained within its capacity to respond to the number of cases that they’ve been experiencing.”

Ryan claimed the backlash Sweden has faced for its seemingly lax policies on social distancing is an unfair criticism.

“Sweden has put in place a very strong public policy around social distancing, around caring and protecting for people in long term care facilities and many other things,” he said.

“What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of citizens to implement physical distancing and to self-regulate.”

Sweden’s population of over 10 million people saw a one-day jump in its death rate 10 days ago, and has a total of 2,355 as of Wednesday, according to the WHO.

Sweden’s totals still remain low in comparison with the rest of Europe, as countries such as Italy, the U.K., Spain and France have all experienced more than 24,000 fatalities.

Original: Fox News – Frank Miles contributed to this report

Prof. Shuki Shemer: ‘Children’s role in spreading contagion is zero’

Assuta Hospital Chairman and former Health Ministry Director Prof. Shuki Shemer this morning in a Reshet Bet interview expressed support for the decision to open schools gradually.

“This disease is an adult disease,” Professor Shemer noted. “Ninety percent of the deceased are over the age of 60. In Israel, there are isolated cases.”

“The question is whether children become infected,” Professor Shemer added, noting that “children are infected less, but they do become infected. The question in the field of illness is a statistical question; obviously you cannot deal with what will happen with one or two individual patients.

“Now the question is whether they have a role in transmitting the disease to parents and teachers, and the answer is that their role is almost nil. Infection in children is almost nil; that’s what we know from world literature,” he argued.

He says this disease is very different from influenza: “If we assume it’s comparable to influenza, where the disease spread very strongly in children, the flu is much more severe, they’re much more contagious. When I was Health Ministry Director in 2000 there was a terrible flu epidemic in Israel, and then there was a teacher strike and the epidemic stopped.”

Shemer emphasized that: “The answers are statistical, but the harm will be measured in very low percentages.”

He further stated that it might have been better to wait another week before opening school: “I personally think that since we started the closure a week ago, if they waited another week it wouldn’t have been any big disaster.”

Original: Arutz Sheva – Mordechai Sones

Israel Defense Ministry COVID-19 procurement operation concludes

The Israel Defense Ministry Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP) has concluded a month-and-a-half since the launch of its COVID-19 procurement operation.

Under the direction of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, and in coordination with the National Security Council and Health Ministry, the Defense Ministry launched an extensive international procurement and delivery program to provide essential equipment to medical teams on the front line of the fight against the pandemic.

The DOPP worked in cooperation with Defense Ministry delegations to the U.S. and Germany, as well as with the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D), among other bodies in the Defense Ministry.

The following summarizes the achievements of the operation thus far:

– 811 ventilators out of the thousands that have been acquired and that will be delivered to Israel’s medical system by the end of the summer;
– 61 million surgical masks (3 layers);
– 930,000 advanced N95 masks;
– 1.4 million waterproof protective suits and about 403,000 disposable gowns for medical teams;
– About 1 million testing kits;
– Reagents for about half a million tests;
– About 800,000 plastic protective screens for medical teams;
– Over 30 Ministry of Defense cargo flights landed in Israel since the beginning of the operation.

DOPP Deputy Director General Avi Dadon said: “The cooperation between the Defense Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office, the NSC, and the Health Ministry is what led us to a scenario in which our warehouses are full of medical equipment and tens of millions of medical items are currently being produced – only a month-and-a-half since we joined the national effort against the pandemic.

“While the equipment is produced and delivered, we are simultaneously preparing for a possible next wave of infection. As such, we will invest hundreds of millions of NIS in the Israeli industry to ensure our independence in the production of medical equipment to prepare for any future scenario.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Trump told Saudis: Cut oil supply or lose U.S. military support

As the United States pressed Saudi Arabia to end its oil price war with Russia, President Donald Trump gave Saudi leaders an ultimatum.

In an April 2 phone call, Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that unless the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) started cutting oil production, he would be powerless to stop lawmakers from passing legislation to withdraw U.S. troops from the kingdom, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The threat to upend a 75-year strategic alliance, which has not been previously reported, was central to the U.S. pressure campaign that led to a landmark global deal to slash oil supply as demand collapsed in the coronavirus pandemic – scoring a diplomatic victory for the White House.

Trump delivered the message to the crown prince 10 days before the announcement of production cuts. The kingdom’s de facto leader was so taken aback by the threat that he ordered his aides out of the room so he could continue the discussion in private, according to a U.S. source who was briefed on the discussion by senior administration officials.

The effort illustrated Trump’s strong desire to protect the U.S. oil industry from a historic price meltdown as governments shut down economies worldwide to fight the virus. It also reflected a telling reversal of Trump’s longstanding criticism of the oil cartel, which he has blasted for raising energy costs for Americans with supply cuts that usually lead to higher gasoline prices. Now, Trump was asking OPEC to slash output.

A senior U.S. official told Reuters that the administration notified Saudi leaders that, without production cuts, “there would be no way to stop the U.S. Congress from imposing restrictions that could lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces.”

The official summed up the argument, made through various diplomatic channels, as telling Saudi leaders: “We are defending your industry while you’re destroying ours.”

Reuters asked Trump about the talks in an interview Wednesday evening at the White House, at which the president addressed a range of topics involving the pandemic. Asked if he told the crown prince that the U.S. might pull forces out of Saudi Arabia, Trump said, “I didn’t have to tell him.”

“I thought he and President Putin, Vladimir Putin, were very reasonable,” Trump said. “They knew they had a problem, and then this happened.”

Asked what he told the Crown Prince Mohammed, Trump said: “They were having a hard time making a deal. And I met telephonically with him, and we were able to reach a deal” for production cuts, Trump said.

Saudi Arabia’s government media office did not respond to a request for comment. A Saudi official who asked not to be named stressed that the agreement represented the will of all countries in the so-called OPEC+ group of oil-producing nations, which includes OPEC plus a coalition led by Russia.

“Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia have played an important role in the OPEC+ oil cut agreement, but without the cooperation of the 23 countries who took part in the agreement, it would not have happened,” said the Saudi official, who declined to comment on the discussions between U.S. and Saudi leaders.

The week before Trump’s phone call with Crown Prince Mohammed, U.S. Republican Senators Kevin Cramer and Dan Sullivan had introduced legislation to remove all U.S. troops, Patriot missiles and anti-missile defense systems from the kingdom unless Saudi Arabia cut oil output. Support for the measure was gaining momentum amid Congressional anger over the ill-timed Saudi-Russia oil price war. The kingdom had opened up the taps in April, unleashing a flood of crude into the global supply after Russia refused to deepen production cuts in line with an earlier OPEC supply pact.

On April 12, under pressure from Trump, the world’s biggest oil-producing nations outside the United States agreed to the largest production cut ever negotiated. OPEC, Russia and other allied producers slashed production by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 10% of global output. Half that volume came from cuts of 2.5 million bpd each by Saudi Arabia and Russia, whose budgets depend on high oil-and-gas revenues.

Despite the agreement to cut a tenth of global production, oil prices continued to fall to historic lows.

U.S. oil futures dropped below $0 last week as sellers paid buyers to avoid taking delivery of oil they had no place to store. Brent futures, the global oil benchmark, fell towards $15 per barrel – a level not seen since the 1999 oil price crash – from as high as $70 at the start of the year.

The deal for supply cuts could eventually boost prices, however, as governments worldwide start to open their economies and fuel demand rises with increased travel. Whatever the impact, the negotiations mark an extraordinary display of U.S. influence over global oil output.

Cramer, the Republican senator from North Dakota, told Reuters he spoke to Trump about the legislation to withdraw U.S. military protection from Saudi Arabia on March 30, three days before the president called Crown Prince Mohammed.

Asked whether Trump told Saudi Arabia it could lose U.S. military support, U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told Reuters the president reserved the right to use every tool to protect U.S. producers, including “our support for their defense needs.”

The strategic partnership dates back to 1945, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Saudi King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud on the USS Quincy, a Navy cruiser. They reached a deal: U.S. military protection in exchange for access to Saudi oil reserves. Today, the United States has about three thousand troops in the country, and the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet protects oil exports from the region.

Saudi Arabia relies on the United States for weapons and protection against regional rivals such as Iran. The kingdom’s vulnerabilities, however, were exposed late last year in an attack by 18 drones and three missiles on key Saudi oil facilities. Washington blamed Iran; Tehran denied it.


Trump initially welcomed lower oil prices, saying cheap gasoline prices were akin to a tax cut for drivers.

That changed after Saudi Arabia announced in mid-March it would pump a record 12.3 million bpd – unleashing the price war with Russia. The explosion of supply came as governments worldwide issued stay-home orders – crushing fuel demand – and made clear that U.S. oil companies would be hit hard in the crude price collapse. Senators from U.S. oil states were infuriated.

On March 16, Cramer was among 13 Republican senators who sent a letter to Crown Prince Mohammed reminding him of Saudi Arabia’s strategic reliance on Washington. The group also urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to investigate whether Saudi Arabia and Russia were breaking international trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with oil.

On March 18, the senators – a group that included Sullivan of Alaska and Ted Cruz of Texas – held a rare call with Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Cramer called the conversations “brutal” as each senator detailed the damage to their states’ oil industries.

“She heard it from every senator; there was nobody that held back,” Cramer told Reuters.

The Saudi embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

Cramer said the princess relayed their comments to officials in Saudi Arabia, including the energy minister. The senators told the princess that the kingdom faced rising opposition in the Senate to the Saudi-led coalition that is waging a war in Yemen against Houthi rebels.

Saudi and U.S. officials have said the Houthis are armed by Iran, which Tehran denies. The backing of Senate Republicans over Yemen had proved crucial for Saudi Arabia last year. The Senate upheld Trump vetoes of several measures seeking to end U.S. weapons sales and other military support to Saudi Arabia amid outrage over the Yemen conflict, which has caused more than 100,000 deaths and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Cramer said he made a phone call to Trump on March 30, about a week after he and Sullivan introduced their bill to pull U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia. The president called Cramer back the same day with Energy Secretary Brouillette, senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the call, the senator said.

“I said the one person that you don’t have on the call that can be very helpful is Mark Esper,” the defense secretary, Cramer recounted, saying he wanted Esper to address how U.S. military assets in Saudi Arabia might be moved elsewhere in the region to protect U.S. troops.

The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on whether Esper was involved in discussions of pulling military assets out of Saudi Arabia.


Trump’s oil diplomacy came in a whirlwind of calls with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin starting in mid-March. The Kremlin confirmed Putin’s conversation with Trump and said they discussed both oil supply cuts and the coronavirus pandemic.

On the April 2 call with Prince Mohammed, Trump told the Saudi ruler he was going to “cut them off” the next time Congress pushed a proposal to end Washington’s defense of the kingdom, according the source with knowledge of the call. Trump also publicly threatened in early April to impose tariffs on oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

After the conversation with the Saudi crown prince, and another the same day with Putin, Trump tweeted that he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut output by about 10 million barrels, which “will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!”

Riyadh and Moscow later confirmed they had restarted negotiations.

On April 3, Trump hosted a meeting at the White House with senators Cramer, Cruz, and Sullivan, and oil executives from companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp , Occidental Petroleum Corp and Continental Resources.

During the public portion of the meeting, Cramer told Trump that Washington can use the billions of dollars it spends defending Saudi Arabia on other military priorities “if our friends are going to treat us this way.”

The prospect of losing U.S. military protection made the royal family “bend at the knees” and bow to Trump’s demands, a Middle Eastern diplomat told Reuters.

After prolonged and fractious negotiations, top producers pledged their record output cut of 9.7 million bpd in May and June, with the understanding that economic forces would lead to about 10 million bpd in further cuts in production from other countries, including the United States and Canada.

Trump hailed the deal and cast himself as its broker. “Having been involved in the negotiations, to put it mildly, the number that OPEC+ is looking to cut is 20 Million Barrels a day_” he tweeted shortly after the deal.

Riyadh also took credit. Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz told Reuters at the time that the crown prince had been “instrumental in formulating this deal.”

Original: HAARETZ

Israel Tax office hit in suspected arson attack amid economic protests

Police on Wednesday were investigating a possible arson attack against a government building in a Tel Aviv suburb that was suspected of being linked to protests calling for greater economic assistance to small businesses hurt by coronavirus-related restrictions on commerce.

The building in Holon houses the local branches of the state Tax Authority and National Insurance Institute, the government agency in charge of unemployment benefits.

The building was lightly damaged in the fire overnight; there were no injuries.

The suspected vandals also spray-painted “the blood of the self-employed is not worthless” on the building, in an apparent reference to ongoing protests by the self-employed and small businesses for greater government financial support amid the pandemic.

No arrests have been made.

National Insurance Institute employees who went to the building after the fire said they found two Molotov cocktails at the scene, Channel 13 news reported.

“The attempt to damage the offices… is in itself a criminal act and the timing, on the evening of the 72nd Independence Day of the state, only adds to its severity,” the Tax Authority was quoted saying by the network.

It also condemned the attack in light of “the tremendous effort that Tax Authority workers are investing to help make it easier for businesses with an emphasis on the self-employed.”

Some small business owners have held protests in recent weeks calling for the government to provide greater financial relief to weather the economic fallout caused by the imposition of far-reaching restrictions meant to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Amid complaints it was not doing enough to help businesses, the government last week approved an NIS 8 billion ($2.27 billion) plan to increase support for self-employed Israelis and small business owners.

With the number of new infections in the country decreasing, the government has began easing restrictions on economic activity, with most businesses allowed to reopen as of Sunday if they adhere to health directives.

However, malls and open-air markets remained shuttered, prompting protests Sunday by stall owners at Jerusalem’s famed Mahane Yehuda market against the continued closure.

Despite the new, more relaxed rules, small businesspeople expressed concerns about their future economic viability, claiming that they were being allowed to resume operations only under onerously restrictive conditions that would deter most customers, solely so that the state can justify denying them compensation for their losses.

As of this week, the unemployment rate in Israel was at 27.4 percent with over 1.4 million Israelis out of work, up from a record low of under 4% before the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Source: TOI Staff

Mandelblit tells High Court ‘no legal impediment’ to Netanyahu serving as PM

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit tells the High Court of Justice he sees no legal impediment to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked with forming the government.

The court is set to issue a ruling on a petition on the matter next week.

A High Court decision passed in the 1990s bars ministers from serving if they are under criminal indictment, but the law and previous rulings say nothing about a prime minister. The petition urges judges to rule that an indicted politician cannot serve as prime minister.

Netanyahu is indicted in three corruption cases, including bribery in one of them.

Dozens of protesters rallied Thursday outside the High Court against petitions to disqualify Benjamin Netanyahu from serving as prime minister while facing criminal charges.

Around 100 people, many waving Israeli flags and maintaining mandatory social distancing, staged a demonstration against what they called court intervention in the democratic process.

The court is scheduled on Sunday to hear petitions from several non-profit advocacy groups against a coalition government deal reached by Netanyahu and Blue & White head Benny Gantz.