Will we end up having booster jabs forever? Here’s everything you need to know

A year after Britain became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine, the arrival of the Omicron variant has brought with it a new focus: the booster rollout. And, if comments from Pfizer’s chief executive are any indication, it’s a campaign that may never end.

“Based on everything I have seen so far,” Dr Albert Bourla said yesterday, “I would say that annual vaccinations… are likely to be needed to maintain a very robust and very high level of protection.”

The UK says it has pre-empted this booster-filled next phase, announcing this week that it has bought enough shots for two more per person, with 54 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and 60 million from Moderna to “future proof” the vaccination programme. But will we be having them forever? Will everyone need one, or just vulnerable groups? And what would a years-long rollout mean for the health service? Here’s what we know so far…

When will COVID booster jabs be given?

All adults should be invited to book a booster shot before the end of January, with the lag between the second and third doses being halved from six months to three.

How often will booster shots be needed?

Professor Saul Faust, leader of a trial looking at the effectiveness of seven different boosters given after two doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jabs, says that anyone willing to answer this in certain terms is just “speculating”.

“At this point we don’t know,” Prof. Faust, professor of paediatric immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, explains.

“No one can know at this stage whether we will need boosters every year.”

He says that levels of immunity seen in people after a third dose was much higher than after the first two, adding that the vaccines elicited a broad T-cell response (a key part of the immune system, alongside antibodies).

“Even though we don’t properly understand its relation to long-term immunity, the T-cell data is showing us that it does seem to be broader against all the variant strains, which gives us hope that a variant strain of the virus might be able to be handled – certainly for hospitalisation and death if not prevention of infection – by the current vaccines,” Prof. Faust says.

Which booster should I get?

Prof. Faust’s study, published in The Lancet, which looked at the AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, Janssen, Valneva and CureVac jabs, found that while all worked well as a third dose, some were more effective than others.

“The RNA (Pfizer and Moderna) were very high, but there were also very effective boosts from Novavax, Janssen and AstraZeneca as well.”

Will the vaccine need tweaking to make it more effective?

The flu jab needs to be reformulated every year because a different strain circulates each season.

It’s an imperfect solution because scientists have to make an educated guess as to which strain is likely to be dominant in advance – some years they miss the mark, meaning vaccine efficacy is as low as 10 per cent.

It’s too early to say whether COVID jabs will have to undergo the same process.

The vaccines we’re using at the moment were all developed to work against the original Wuhan or “wild” variant, and we know from the past year that they’re effective against alpha and delta strains. But whether that means they’ll be effective against all future variants is another question.

Should I wait for an Omicron version of the vaccine?

“No,” says Prof. Faust. “People need to have boosters as quickly as they can.”

Scientists at the UK Health Security Agency are currently looking at samples from Prof Faust’s study to see how well the omicron variant can be neutralised by vaccines, so it might be that our current boosters are good enough. Levels of immunity in young people from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines “are high,” he adds.

Will a future vaccine replace the need for boosters?

There are several trials underway that are testing vaccines that work against multiple variants – to remove the need to tweak a vaccine every year. But scientists don’t know how long immunity from these “variant-busting” vaccines will last, so an annual top up may still be required.

What will this mean for the NHS?

GPs, pharmacies, hospitals and even the military have been roped into this “Great British vaccination effort,” as the Prime Minister described it. Still, there are concerns about the capacity of the health service to tackle other conditions while deploying a vaccination campaign twice the size of the flu jab rollout, which covers roughly 30m people a year. Reports suggest health secretary Sajid Javid and NHS bosses are in talks with GP representatives about relaxing rules which mean family doctors have to do regular health checks for people with conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

But Dr. Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, says that a booster campaign would be “good value for money”, but without proper funding and training it could overwhelm the health system.

“We need to have a forward vision,” he adds. “This thing is not going away, and because it’s not going away we need to invest in our primary care networks and community pharmacists.”

Paul Mainwood, an analyst tracking the UK’s vaccine rollout, added that the cost of the current programme “is negligible compared to the cost of

  • a) a new lockdown,
  • b) crashing NHS capacity in about two months.”

Who is likely to receive an annual booster?

All over-18s will soon be able to book an appointment due to the Omicron strain, but in future – when we know more about variants and immunity – it may be that only those over the age of 50 will be eligible, as they are with flu.

How long before vaccine fatigue kicks in?

While some have raised concerns that seemingly never-ending vaccinations could hit take-up, Dr. Pankhania says that “in my many years of administering vaccines, I haven’t come across anyone saying they’re fed up after having too many jabs.”

What about global vaccine supplies?

Much of the planet still does not have access to coronavirus vaccines – only three per cent of shots rolled out worldwide have been administered in Africa, for instance. Many experts are concerned that the current scramble will only make things worse.

“The only real way to truly end the threat of the virus here at home is to get first and second doses everywhere as fast as possible,” says Romilly Greenhill, UK Director at The ONE Campaign.

“Unless the Government hears that wake-up call, there is a real danger that relying on booster jabs alone is simply a holding pattern rather than a genuine strategy to end the pandemic.”

Could the booster rollout coincide with the flu jab programme?

It could; studies have shown that having a COVID and flu jab at the same time is safe, and has no impact on their efficacy. But while flu is particularly potent between September and February, the COVID jab can be more easily paced throughout the year, says Dr Pankhania. “That should make it much easier… [as] it’s not as onerous as doing it within three months.”

Source: Anne Gulland – The Telegraph

Watch: US spy plane ‘forced flight from Israel to change course’

The American reconnaissance aircraft was “chaotically” crossing civilian aviation routes in the area on Friday and ended up approaching an Airbus jet at a dangerously close distance, according to the agency.

At some point, “there were less than 20 meters between the two planes in the vertical line,” he insisted. Air traffic control reportedly ordered the civilian plane to descend 500 meters and take a safer flight level.

Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency declined to comment on the incident when approached by the media.

The incident was likely caused by one of the two US spy planes that were spotted near Russian borders on the day.

Russian Su-27 and Su-30 fighters were engaged to escort them away from the country’s airspace. The American planes were identified as a Boeing RC-135V Rivet Joint and a Bombardier CL-600 Artemis, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Source: RT

US intelligence finds Russia making plans for Ukraine offensive

President Joe Biden pledged on Friday to make it “very, very difficult” for Russia’s Vladimir Putin to take military action in Ukraine as US intelligence officials determined that Russian planning is underway for a possible military offensive that could begin as soon as early 2022.

The new intelligence finding estimates that the Russians are planning to deploy an estimated 175,000 troops and almost half of them are already deployed along various points near Ukraine’s border, according to a Biden administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the finding.

It comes as Russia has picked up its demands on Biden to guarantee that Ukraine will not be allowed to join the NATO alliance.

The official added that the plans call for the movement of 100 battalion tactical groups along with armor, artillery and equipment.

Intelligence officials also have seen an uptick in Russian propaganda efforts through the use of proxies and media outlets to denigrate Ukraine and NATO ahead of a potential invasion, the official said.

Asked about the intelligence finding as he set out for the presidential retreat at Camp David on Friday evening, Biden reiterated his concerns about Russian provocations.

“We’ve been aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re gonna have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden said.

The risks of such a gambit for Putin, if he actually went through with an invasion, would be enormous.

US officials and former US diplomats say while Putin clearly is laying the groundwork for a possible invasion, Ukraine’s military is better armed and prepared today than in past years, and the sanctions threatened by the West would do serious damage to Russia’s economy.

It remains unclear if Putin intends to go through with what would be a risky offensive, they say.

Earlier Friday, Biden pledged to make it “very, very difficult” for Putin to take military action in Ukraine and said new initiatives coming from his administration are intended to deter Russian aggression.

“What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do,” Biden told reporters.

The Kremlin said Friday that Putin would seek binding guarantees precluding NATO’s expansion to Ukraine during the call with Biden. But Biden sought to head off the demand.

“I don’t accept anyone’s red line,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials also warned that Russia could invade next month.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told lawmakers Friday that the number of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Russia-annexed Crimea is estimated at 94,300, warning that a “large-scale escalation” is possible in January.

US intelligence officials estimate closer to 70,000 troops are deployed near the border, according to an unclassified intelligence document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The intelligence findings were first reported by The Washington Post.

There are signs that the White House and Kremlin are close to arranging a conversation next week between Biden and Putin.

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters Friday that arrangements have been made for a Putin-Biden call in the coming days, adding that the date will be announced after Moscow and Washington finalize details. The Russians say a date has been agreed upon, but declined to say when.

Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have also tentatively agreed to have a call next week, according to a person close to the Ukrainian president who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said administration officials have “engaged in the possibility” of a Biden-Putin call. White House officials did not respond to a request for comment on the expected Zelensky call.

“It certainly would be an opportunity to discuss our serious concerns about the bellicose rhetoric, about the military buildup that we’re seeing on the border of Ukraine,” Psaki said of a potential Biden-Putin call.

Biden did not detail what actions he was weighing.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met Thursday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Sweden, said the US has threatened new sanctions. He did not detail the potential sanctions but suggested the effort would not be effective.

“If the new ‘sanctions from hell’ come, we will respond,” Lavrov said. “We can’t fail to respond.”

Psaki said the administration would look to coordinate with European allies if it moved forward with sanctions. She noted that bitter memories of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that had been under Ukraine’s control since 1954, are front of mind as the White House considers the way forward.

“We know what President Putin has done in the past,” Psaki said. “We see that he is putting in place the capacity to take action in short order.”

Deep differences were on display during the Blinken-Lavrov meeting, with the Russia official charging the West was “playing with fire” by denying Russia a say in any further NATO expansion into countries of the former Soviet Union.

Zelensky has pushed for Ukraine to join the alliance, which holds out the promise of membership but hasn’t set a timeline.

Blinken this week said the US has “made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high-impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past.”

He did not detail what sanctions were being weighed, but one potentially could be to cut off Russia from the SWIFT system of international payments. The European Union’s Parliament approved a nonbinding resolution in April to cut off Russia from SWIFT if its troops entered Ukraine.

Such a move would go far toward blocking Russian businesses from the global financial system. Western allies reportedly considered such a step in 2014 and 2015, during earlier Russian-led escalations of tensions over Ukraine.

Then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said it would be tantamount to “a declaration of war.”

But some US government officials say Putin also could be seeking attention and concessions from Biden and other Western leaders, using the military escalation to force Russia back into a central role in world affairs as it had in the days of the Soviet Union.

“They are seriously envious for superpower status and… the parity to the United States that existed during the Cold War. That’s what this is all about,” said John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine.

An invasion is possible, but more likely, “they provoke a crisis, they get concessions from us, and then they reduce the crisis. Right? And that, I think, is probably their objective,” Herbst said Friday.

Source: AP via TOI

WHO says NO Omicron deaths reported yet, as variant spreads worldwide

The Omicron variant has been detected in 38 countries but no deaths have yet been reported, the World Health Organization said on Friday, as authorities worldwide rushed to stem the heavily mutated COVID-19 strain’s spread amid warnings that it could damage the global economic recovery.

The United States and Australia became the latest countries to confirm locally transmitted cases of the variant, as Omicron infections pushed South Africa’s total cases past three million.

The WHO has warned it could take weeks to determine how infectious the variant is, whether it causes more severe illness and how effective treatments and vaccines are against it.

“We’re going to get the answers that everybody out there needs,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said.

The WHO said on Friday it had still not seen any reports of deaths related to Omicron, but the new variant’s spread has led to warnings that “it could cause more than half of Europe’s COVID cases in the next few months.”

The new variant could also slow global economic recovery, just as the Delta strain did, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.

“Even before the arrival of this new variant, we were concerned that the recovery, while it continues, is losing somewhat momentum,” she said.

“A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence.”

A preliminary study by researchers in South Africa, where the variant was first reported on November 24, suggests it is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains.

The emergence of Omicron was the “ultimate evidence” of the danger of unequal global vaccination rates, Red Cross head Francesca Rocca said.

South African doctors said there had been a spike in children under five admitted to hospital since Omicron emerged, but stressed it was too early to know if young children were particularly susceptible.

“The incidence in those under-fives is now second-highest, and second only to the incidence in those over 60,” said Wassila Jassat from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

In the US, two cases involved residents with no recent international travel history – showing Omicron is already circulating inside the country.

“This is a case of community spread,” the Hawaii Health Department said.

US President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his plans to battle COVID-19 during the winter, with new testing requirements for travelers and a surge in vaccination efforts.

All incoming travelers will need to test negative within a day of their flights, and rapid tests that cost $25 will be covered by insurance and distributed free to the uninsured.

Australia on Friday reported three students in Sydney had tested positive for the variant, despite a ban on non-citizens entering the country and restrictions on flights from southern Africa, with multiple countries rushing to limit travel from the region in the past week.

“It’s quite a kick in the nuts,” said Sabine Stam, who runs a South African tour company and whose customers are demanding refunds. “Everyone is too scared to set a new travel date,” she said.

In Norway, officials said at least 13 people who contracted COVID-19 after an office Christmas party in Oslo last week had the Omicron variant — though so far they have only had mild symptoms, city health official Tine Ravlo told AFP.

But the government ushered in restrictions in greater Oslo after fears of the cluster surfaced.

On Friday, Malaysia also reported a first Omicron infection in a foreign student arriving from South Africa on November 19. Sri Lanka also announced its first case, a citizen returning from South Africa.

Russia’s federal statistics agency Rosstat, meanwhile, said that nearly 75,000 people died of coronavirus in the country in October, making it the deadliest month of the pandemic.

The new variant poses a major challenge to ending the pandemic.

Rising Delta cases had already forced European governments to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, curfews or lockdowns, leaving businesses fearing another grim Christmas.

Belgian authorities said on Friday that primary schools would close a week early for the Christmas holidays.

Germany’s regional leaders agreed new measures including a ban on fireworks at new year parties to discourage large gatherings.

Ireland said it will close nightclubs and reintroduce social distancing in some settings over Christmas and the New Year.

In the UK, ministers have been expressing divergent opinions, not only on the idea of hosting parties, but also on the kind of conduct deemed acceptable.

“For what it’s worth, I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe,” said one minister, Therese Coffey.

Source: AFP via TOI

Anti-vaccine ad by Orthodox group briefly takes over Crown Heights bus stop

Compared to the rest of New York City, the residents of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood have both been hit harder by COVID-19 and more reluctant to vaccinate themselves against the virus.

Those statistics have prompted a group called the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association to put up a series of ads encouraging their neighbors — including a large population of Hasidic Jews — to get the shot.

But on Thursday, that effort briefly spawned another public-health challenge: an imitation of the ad campaign that instead advocated against vaccination with “false and misleading data”.

The “false ads” were put up by another Jewish group that opposes the vaccines, “based on misinformation”. It was not approved by the MTA and was quickly removed once photos of it surfaced on social media, according to The New York Times.

The anti-vaccine ad copied the diction and format of the pro-vaccine campaign, listing the “Top Ten reasons NOT to get vaccinated against COVID-19.” The first reason reads (again, “falsely”), “It could kill you.”

The ad by the anti-vaccine group is part of a years-long effort by a small group of Haredi Orthodox Jews to advocate against vaccines – first against the measles vaccine and, recently, against COVID immunization.

Many leading Orthodox authorities and umbrella groups across the spectrum of Orthodoxy have urged their communities to get vaccinated, producing public messaging campaigns and issuing Jewish legal rulings.

But the anti-vaxx movement in the United States has found Orthodox backers.

Instead of the shot, the anti-vaccine group’s website promotes unapproved treatments like Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, which the FDA cautions against.

The group’s website says its members are “Standing for Truth, Medical Freedom, and G-d Awareness.”

They’re not the only Orthodox activists to oppose vaccination in the name of Judaism. Earlier this year, a Florida rabbi offered to give religious exemptions to anyone — Jewish or not — hoping to sidestep a vaccine mandate.

Source: Ben Sales – New York Jewish Week via JTA – TOI

Senior IDF Intelligence Officer: Israel’s Iran Policy a ‘Colossal Failure’

Over 40 years, Israel has consistently misunderstood Iran, its interests, and its leaders.

Now former senior IDF intelligence officer, Maj. Danny Citrinowicz, has come forward to warn the emperor has no clothes, and that Israeli policy has been misguided. dangerous and ineffectual. His critique is scathing and convincing.

Citrinowicz characterized Jerusalem’s policy on Iran as a “failure,” and lamented his government’s decision to ignore the shift taking place in the Islamic Republic that he…identified [in 2013].

By encouraging the Trump administration to withdraw from the deal and to impose “maximum pressure” sanctions against Tehran, Israel helped dramatically weaken a more moderate force and blunt the impact of that shift…

Now, Citrinowicz…Israel and Iran are on a “collision course,” with Tehran as emboldened and aggressive as ever.

Unlike Rouhani, Iran’s newly elected president Ebrahim Raisi does not prioritize a return to the nuclear deal and believes Tehran can withstand US sanctions thanks to growing alliances with Russia and China…

“Iran will only change its strategy if it feels like the regime is in real jeopardy,” Citrinowicz said.

“And they believe that the only country capable of really threatening them is the US, not Israel. The only thing threats from Israel will do is push us toward some sort of confrontation.”

He was dismissive of previous attacks attributed to Israel on Iran’s nuclear program, arguing that they at best delayed Tehran’s efforts and at worst led the regime to double down in its effort, craftily evading inspections in the process.

The former head of research at the Military Intelligence Directorate also warned that a more significant strike from either Israel or the US would lead to a regional war, which would include retaliation on Israel’s northern border from Hezbollah.

Citrinowicz also derided the “maximum pressure” sanctions regime imposed by the US and its allies:

“…It was a catastrophe. It was very naïve to think that they could force the regime to choose between its survival and its nuclear program. Because backing down from its nuclear ambitions means losing its independence, in a way.”

“…During Trump they [sanctions] were a hopeless cause.”


  • (a) you didn’t have Russian support,
  • (b) you didn’t have Chinese support, and
  • (c) the Iranians already knew how to cope with the maximum pressure campaign.

“They already established a well-oiled system to bypass the sanctions…As a result, the maximum pressure campaign has made no difference.”

The former intelligence analyst is downbeat regarding Israel’s ability to influence matters, including the current negotiations, due to its unrealistic expectations:

“Israel’s ability to influence the negotiation is slim to none. Israel is still thinking in terms of zero enrichment…That’s like talking about achieving a COVID infection rate of zero. It’s no longer relevant, but Israel still is adopting this position.”

“Israel is caught in a policy toward Iran in which no one has the political maneuverability to think differently, and I don’t see anyone changing this because then they don’t want to be considered a “lefty.””

“…The bottom line is that Israel has never been in a worse place against Iran.”

To add insult to injury, even Israeli threats to attack Iran as a last resort seem empty:

“…Israel’s threatening to use force. But I think it’s irrelevant. Because bombing Iran now [wouldn’t prevent it from reaching a bomb]. As for sanctions, you need the international community [which Israel doesn’t have]. Israel can [take certain actions], but I doubt that it will have an effect. In the past when the Mossad targeted the nuclear facility in Natanz, it played into Iran’s hands because Iran then challenged and limited inspections there.”

Citronowicz also warns against Israeli delusions that it can not only attack Iran without outside support, but that it can also defend itself from the subsequent counterattack without outside (US) assistance:

“[Take the slogan] “Israel can protect itself by itself.” Yes, theoretically, it’s true. But let’s assume that we attack Iran. We’ll subsequently find ourselves in a war on our northern border. Do you think that we can wage this war alone without help from the Americans? I doubt it.”

“So yes, we can say for political reasons that “we’ll defend ourselves by ourselves,” but practically it’s not accurate. It’s not like we can do whatever we want. To say, ‘We’ll always reserve the right to act independently’ — yeah, I agree with that too, but do you think we could act independently without our biggest ally? It doesn’t work like that. It’s too complex.”

Here he derides Israel’s ignorance of Iranian leaders and the country’s interests, as they define them:

“I think they don’t understand this [Iran]. They don’t understand the nuances. Iran is not a monolith. [Parliament Speaker Ali] Larijani is not like Raisi. And I’m sorry, but they don’t wake up in the morning and think about how to destroy Israel. It doesn’t work like that in Iran. But we’re imprisoned [by the politics of this all], and everything gets mixed up.”

“In Israel, when the Iranian president is moderate, they tell you that he’s weak and a puppet. When the president is an extremist, they say that he decides everything and eats cake after ordering people to their deaths. It’s a basic misunderstanding of the Iranian system.”

“Because at the end of the day it’s not just about pushing them back, further from a bomb, but also strengthening those in the regime who believed in the agreement. Now, we’ve found ourselves in a catastrophe, which could lead to war.”

“…One of the main problems in our research of Iran is that we do not understand Iran. What’s worse, we make incorrect working assumptions about Iranian goals and strategy based on very shaky knowledge…”

Zvi Barel, writing in Haaretz, reinforces Citrinowicz’ characterization of the abject failure of both Israeli policy and the sanctions regime. In particular, Barel offers a telling comparison between the strangulation (“maximum pressure”) imposed by sanctions on the Iranian people, and Israel’s siege of Gaza:

“Israel should have internalized this lesson [the failure of Iran sanctions] a long time ago, since for 14 years it has been conducting a hopeless miniature version of applying “maximum pressure” in the Gaza Strip. The rationale for imposing a suffocating blockade on Gaza has changed over the years, but in principle, the blockade was meant to prevent Hamas from threatening Israel militarily, to stop its armament and even to generate a revolution in which an impoverished, frustrated and desperate public toppled it.”

In contrast to the conflict with Iran, Israel has on endless occasions brutally exercised its “military option.”

And the result?

Israel, with its Arab partners, is trying to reach a long-term agreement with Hamas, which will include the lifting of sanctions, providing assistance in economic rehabilitation and the building of an infrastructure that would motivate Hamas to hold its fire.

Such an agreement, Israel understands, will not grant it recognition by Hamas nor change its ideology nor lead to its disarmament.

In other words, Israel’s decade-plus siege against Gaza has produced nothing for Israel.

Clearly, the only fully successful negotiation with Hamas will offer the latter far more than it offers Israel. Which indicates the utter failure of the policy from its inception.

Iran, on the other hand, if Israel accepted the JCPOA, would offer it far more than the current punitive sanctions regime does. Israel would stave off for years, if not longer, an Iranian nuclear weapon.

It could conceivably in the future also negotiate for restraint in Iran’s pursuit of its interests outside its own borders (Yemen, Syria, the Gulf, etc).

Continuing the current economic strangulation of Iran will likely lead to rapid nuclearization. The choice seems clear.

The Iranian Bomb that Never Was

Israel has been warning since 1984 that Iran was on the cusp of nuclear capability–and proven wrong every time. The result of all this faulty analysis is mutual hostility and misunderstanding. Israeli leaders believe Iran is lying when it claims it will not build a bomb.

Further it believes Iran is hellbent for the Bomb and needs to be stopped by force. Iran believes its enemies will never negotiate in good faith or fully implement any agreement they sign, so it does go hellbent to achieve nuclear threshold status.

Further, Bibi Netanyahu’s successful lobbying campaign leading to Trump abandoning the JCPOA agreement, goaded Iran into speeding up its nuclear enrichment program, and away from compromise and restraint.

The constant lies, the constant distortions, the constant overblown headlines are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Enmity between nations is as much what we project onto the enemy as what that enemy really is or does. In this case, 40 years of wishful thinking has transformed Iran into the enemy Israel made it out to be. But not necessarily what it really is. Therein lies the tragedy.

Though the renewed nuclear talks commenced this week, there is so much bad blood that they appear doomed to failure.

The US and Israel are running out of policy options. It becomes more likely Israel or the US might resort precipitously to Plan B, the military option, which would mean regional disruption and catastrophe.

Source: Richard Silverstein – Tikun Olam

Viganò: ‘Those who resist the NWO will have the help and protection of God’

There is a man that in this moment terrifies the hierarchy of the anti-Catholic church of Bergoglio. This man has been the object of tremendous and evil attacks by the mainstream media. They have been trying to smear him and depict him as a criminal or like someone who is putting in great danger to society. This man is Archbishop Viganò.

His Excellency has become like a polar star of hope for those Catholics and even non-believers who have thirst for justice and common sense in this upside-down world. Viganò has been speaking calmly but his gentle voice has terrified the powerful people of the world.

Viganò has exposed the Great Reset and the plan to destroy mankind. He clearly denounced the infiltration of Freemasonry into society and into the Church.

In other words, Vigano’s guilty is the one of having said the truth like a humble pastor of God.

In this interview that His Excellency granted us, he once again tells us in what kind of historical period we are living. He also consoles us by reminding us that being persecuted for loving God and having Faith is the greatest honor that we may have. This is probably why so many people look at this man in this historical period. He’s one of the few pastors that can speak simply to the hearts of the common men. Here you can find his words addressed to any one of us.”

Your Excellency, in recent days you have been the victim of harsh attacks in the Italian media, and the attacks seem to be increasing in intensity. Massimo Giannini, editor of La Stampa of Turin, went so far as to call you a “scoundrel.” Another prominent Italian journalist, Bruno Vespa, said God should “forgive you” for your statements about the vaccines and the so-called pandemic. Could you explain why Italy’s mainstream media increasingly seems to consider you a sort of “public enemy”? Why are they seemingly so afraid of you?

As I have previously noted, it is typical of any totalitarian regime to seek to delegitimize any and every form of dissent, at first by ridiculing the adversary, making him the object of derision so as to discredit him before the eyes of the public opinion.

Then, after delegitimizing the person as pathological, or in need of psychiatric care, suggesting that the adversary is mentally unstable who should be hospitalized in a mental institution. Finally, this process ends with the complete criminalization of all dissenters. In this way, the regime creates the necessary premises to separate all its adversaries from civil society.

Lies, insults and personal attacks — like the most recent that I have received from the Italian magazine “Venerdì” (published by the newspaper “La Repubblica”) – are part of this charade, a type of theatrical production in which the “high priests” of COVID tear their vestments, lamenting every objection to their lies. We should recall that “La Stampa” and “La Repubblica” belong to the Elkann family, a family related to the Rothschilds since the 1500s. As a matter of fact, John Elkann wrote the preface to Klaus Schwab’s book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, in which the WEF (World Economic Forum) chairman describes the “Great Reset” in minute detail. In their adherence to the official narrative, the spokesmen for the elite also end up employing this tactic of discrediting and smearing those who oppose them, a typical practice of conspiratorial groups.

Certainly, given the deafening silence of the bishops and the propaganda of Santa Marta (Editor’s Note: the residence of Jorge Bergoglio), it is clear that a discordant voice that denounces the ongoing coup d’état being carried out by the globalist élite irritates and seems intolerable for those who ask for an unreasoning approval to their contradictory declarations.

In this context, the Italian media has gone so far as to send spies to attend the Masses celebrated by those priests, like Fr. Giorgio Ghio, who are denouncing the harm caused by the vaccines and the general anti-Christian spirit that seems to becoming ever more to dominate Western society. It seems that the spirit of the real, traditional Church is not only not dead, but even being rekindled. Do you believe that the globalist power is particularly afraid of this renewal of the traditional Catholic faith?

I would like to point out first of all that intrusion by the civil authorities in Church affairs is in direct violation of the Concordat between the Holy See and the Italian Republic. Moreover, the Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) does not have any authority to negotiate with the government protocols and agreements, so such agreements, in so far as agreed to by those who have no right to negotiate or ratify such agreements, have no validity whatsoever.

Having said that, I think that every priest has the right, or rather the duty, to warn his faithful about the real danger – not at all merely hypothetical – represented by the inoculation of this experimental medical product.

This is especially the case when the entire psycho-pandemic farce clearly aims to lead toward the establishment of a dictatorship, whose purpose is to control the citizens through a violation of their constitutional and natural rights under the guise of a health emergency.

The submission of the Catholic Hierarchy, of the Episcopal Conferences, of the Bishops and the Priests to this official narrative, is so brazen and servile as to make evident that infiltration by the “deep church” that I have denounced many times.

This infiltration began at least 70 years ago, and today has become quite obvious due to its arrogance and to its persecution of all dissenting voices concerning both the alleged pandemic emergency and the even graver doctrinal, moral, and disciplinary deviations (of the present Church leadership) and the disturbing complicities of this leadership with the “deep state.”

This blatant betrayal by the Church’s pastors has sparked, as also has occurred in the area of civil government, a spontaneous opposition from the “base,” from the people, both ordinary lay people, and ordinary priests, and this opposition has concerned, significantly, both the response to the pandemic and the crisis of the Church hierarchy.

On one hand, we have the promoters of the “Great Reset” with their anti-Catholic and anti-Christic ideology, supported by the Bergoglian church. On the other hand, we have those who are standing against the New World Order and who see their moral values and vision fulfilled in the perennial Catholic magisterium and in the traditional Catholic liturgy. The two cities, the City of the Devil and the City of God: the division is always the same because the opposing forces are drawn up based on positions that are ontologically opposed and inimical to one another.

A Russian Colonel who once served in the Soviet secret services, Vladimir Kvachov, has called the pandemic as a sort of “terrorist operation” that has been expressly conceived to enforce a global population reduction and usher in a global dictatorship.

In an article published by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2010 whose title is “Operation Lockstep”, the outbreak of a pandemic is expressly mentioned.

This pandemic allows world governments to implement authoritarian and repressive measures against personal freedom that are essential to move toward a one-world government. These restrictive measures are basically the same that we have been seeing enforced during the last year and a half, such as face masks and social distancing, which have brought mass psychosis and social hate seemingly unprecedented in Western societies. Do you think that this entire situation is an engineered crisis conceived by the globalist powers to drag mankind towards a state of constant fear and pave the way for the global Leviathan?

I do think so, and I have been saying this since the beginning of the psycho-pandemic, when in May 2020 I exposed the dangers and the absurdities of this grotesque farce. I am quite familiar with the scenarios of the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as with the ones depicted by the “Great Reset” of the World Economic Forum (WEF), whose president met the former Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, in November of 2019 and the present Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, just a few days ago. Likewise, I am also aware of the UN plan called Agenda 2030.

This operation required meticulous preparation and needed the participation of large parts of the public institutions and the private sectors, including the complicity of the Judiciary, of law enforcement and the media.

These combined efforts are a real coup d’état and the pandemic is just a pretext – the profasis – through which is introduced the seeming inevitability of the violation of fundamental rights and the consequent establishment of the totalitarian regime of the New Order. In this New Order the pandemic superstition reigns supreme, with its magicians, its vaccine temples, its irrational rituals and its excommunications of sinners vitandi (“to be avoided” or “to be shunned”) — those who do not agree to give up their reason even before apostatizing from their Faith in order to embrace this insane ideological madness.

In the “Great Reset” society that Your Excellency has denounced on numerous occasions, the “transhumanist” ideology plays a fundamental role. Modern technology is advancing at a very fast pace and we are now speaking openly about the possibility of controlling human behavior through brain microchip implants. One who favors this new model of “human/robot” is Klaus Schwab, a character whom we have met in the previous questions, the head of the World Economic Forum. Do you think that the final purpose of transhumanism is really this, to deprive man of his God-given free will?

Transhumanism is a hellish project, in which the Devil mocks the creation of God by perverting and corrupting it. Obedience to the “easy yoke” of the Law of God is replaced by the enslavement and submission to Satan’s tyranny, in which there is no tolerance for good and everyone is forced to commit evil, accept evil, and legitimize evil. And despite the fact that only God can read our consciences, Satan tries to violate the sanctuary of our inner spiritual part in order to control it and induce us to commit evil even against our own will. In his recent book, The Great Reset, Klaus Schwab wrote the following:

“We are also studying new ways to use and implant internal devices that monitor our levels of activity, the hematochemical values and the ways in which these can be associated to wellbeing, to mental health, and to productivity at home and at work. We are also learning better the functioning of the brain and witnessing exceptional developments in the neurotechnology area.”

It is a delirium that only Lucifer can conceive, and it is destined to complete failure because of it Antichristic matrix, its defying of the divine Kingship of Jesus Christ. It is a delirium where the creature, rebelling against the divine laws, pretends to reach the place of the Highest and repeats, with the same disgraceful determination, the “Non serviam” (“I will not serve”) of Lucifer.

Satan is simia Dei (“an ape of God”): in everything that he does to keep us away from God and drag us toward Hell, we can always see his mocking attempt to imitate the Savior, to usurp His sovereignty, to pervert His teachings and to steal souls from Him.

The Devil wants to be worshipped in the place of God. He wants the Antichrist to rule over the world and subjugate mankind to his tyranny by replacing the Church of Christ with the anti-Church of Satan, which is the Religion of Mankind, an ecumenical and ecological one.

In your videos and articles, you have spoken about the threat represented by the New World Order (NWO). Several statesmen and prime ministers, such as George H. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Nicolas Sarkozy, and David Rockefeller – just to name a few– used this expression in their public statements. These politicians describe the NWO as a sort of “Eden” we all should aim for. During the COVID crisis, we have been often hearing these words. Can you explain the idea that drives the New World Order and why the vaccines play a very important role in the fulfillment of this goal?

The New World Order is neither New nor Order: it represents the foolish ambition of Satan to overthrow the providential plan of God, to cancel the true Religion that leads to eternal salvation and finally to replace the “ordo christianus” (“the Christian order”) with infernal chaos.

In this disorder, the lie replaces the Truth, injustice and abuse of power replace justice, whim instead of obedience to the law of God, death instead of life, illness instead of health, the legitimization of Evil and the condemnation of Good, the persecution of good people and the praising of evil ones, ignorance in the place of culture and wisdom, ugliness and horror instead of beauty, division and hatred instead of harmony and love.

Satan doesn’t want to be worshipped by adopting the qualities of God, but by demanding to be an object of adoration through everything that is evil, obscene, false, absurd, and monstrous. He seeks complete subversion, a subversion ontologically devilish and Antichristic: a “New Order” obtained by means of a global coup d’état imposed under the guise of an engineered planned emergency.

The vaccine campaign, lacking any scientific validity, serves first of all as the apparent legitimization for implementing global tracking and controls, today under the pretext of limiting COVID spread (a pretext which is false, because, among other reasons, the vaccinated can still become infected and be contagious). But tomorrow, this campaign aims to expand its reach, extending the “Green Pass” to include information used in a “social credit system” to confront a “green emergency,” which will be likewise false and specious. The “Green Pass” is being conceived as something like the Mark of the Beast mentioned in the Apocalypse of Saint John to allow or forbid people to buy, sell, travel, spend, eat and live.

Secondly, the inoculation of people with an experimental genic serum that provokes a weakening of our natural immune system represents a very grave crime, because it turns ordinary healthy people into chronically ill people, and consequently into customers of the health care companies and private care. This situation hugely inflates the profits of the globalist élite and brings a general impoverishment of the population. Even this aspect, apparently secondary, reveals the subversive character of the “Great Reset,” because the “Great Reset” does not represent only an attack against the health of an individual, but also an attack against the national security of the States, because their armed forces are harmed by the side effects of the vaccine, while the not-vaccinated soldiers are banned from active duty. I think that this is a point not enough considered by those who are analyzing the present crisis, and it shows the malice of those who.

Once in power, cooperate for the destruction of nations in order to subjugate them to the New Order.

Speaking again about the New World Order, Your Excellency said in one of your videos that Vatican II played a fundamental role in the early 1960s in paving the way for this plan. In this regard, the Council may be considered as the event that built a “new liberal Church” separated from the Catholic tradition. This “liberal Church” has embraced the spirit of the modern world, rather than trying to contain it. Essentially, the institution that should have been the “katechon,” the force that impeded the manifestation of the Antichrist, instead became the spokesman and promoter of the Antichrist. Is it possible to say the masonic forces that infiltrated the Church planned this transition? Do you think that the present Church is living the apostasy predicted by Leo XIII in 1884, and predicted by other relevant prophecies such as the ones of Fatima in 1917 and Akita in 1973?

As one of the main characters of Vatican II (1962-1965), Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens said, the conciliar revolution represented “the 1789 of the Catholic Church” [Editor’s note: The year 1789 was the beginning of the French Revolution which overthrew the entire pre-French Revolution society.] In this view, ever since Vatican II, the Church has embraced the revolutionaries’ principles, liberal ideology, Communism, collectivism, and more generally “the spirit of the world”; gender theory, and the dissolution of Christianity, not only in the doctrinal area but also in the moral and cultural area, that is, as the vital element of Christian Civilization. This betrayal was accomplished in ways not unlike the ones that were used by the masonic Lodges against the Catholic Monarchies, and it was realized through an infiltration plan that was unfolded on two fronts: one ideological, and one practical.

On the ideological side, we witnessed the corruption of orthodoxy through heresies and philosophical errors of which we are still suffering the nefarious consequences; on the practical side, we witnessed the corruption of people’s morality, subjecting individuals to passions to dominate them, enslaving them to their own vices in order to blackmail them, promoting the most corrupt to the highest posts of institutions which, through their outrageous conduct, were delegitimized and discredited. What kind of credibility may the Church claim in matters of moral sexuality when its highest prelates are corrupt perverts? What kind of credibility may the Church claim, when officials of the Holy See are implicated in financial scandals and obscure market speculations?

Therefore, a return to Tradition is necessary, and to those values that have today been removed and forgotten, such as honesty, the sense of duty, fidelity, love of Country, honor, discipline.

It would be a return to the ordo christianus in the civil sphere, which would involve a radical reform of the States; the same should be done in the ecclesial sphere with the removal of the false pastors and the restoration of everything that was destroyed by the ideological fury of Vatican II.

If we want to end the hard test that Providence is demanding of us, it is fundamental that we remove the cause of the chastisements that the Lord is inflicting upon us. And the inner cause is this entire Antichristic system that was conceived by masonic principles and by the Revolution.

We must restore authority as an expression of the power of Christ, and we must give a moral and spiritual education to those who govern us. It is certainly a hard task, but we should do it if we really want to transmit to our children the values that make them good Christians and good citizens, accountable before God and desirous of obeying Him, of proclaiming Him King, and of giving Him public honors. Once we have acknowledged Him again as King, Our Lord will not allow His children to perish in battle, and He will reward them with a great victory. However, until we understand the error that lies at the base of the present horrors, we cannot hope in the intervention of God.

Recently, Bergoglio has clearly said that it will be necessary to give birth to the “Great Reset,” and he has also pointed out that there will not be a return to normal.

Bergoglio has turned himself into an apostle of the universal religion desired by the masonic lodges, whose ultimate goal is to completely remove Christianity. Does it have sense to state that Bergoglio is the natural conclusion of Vatican II? Do you think that the apostasy of the Church, which was foreseen in several prophecies and in the visions of the Venerable Holzhauser, has already reached its peak and is close to its conclusion?

Bergoglio is one of the most convinced adherents of the globalist religion: he embraces all of its goals, he pushes its plans, he promotes its doctrines, and he fights its enemies. If he were not to have the role that he has within the ecclesial hierarchy, he could be considered the prophet of the New World Order and the main enemy of the Church of Christ. The fact that he is universally considered as the head of the Church shows us an evident contradiction, an extremely grave conflict of interests, a blatant betrayal of the authority he possesses.

The same ways that allowed him to replace the outgoing Benedict XVI reveal the intervention of forces hostile to the Church. The manipulations of the so-called Saint Gallen mafia are a direct proof of this hostile intervention, planned beforehand also by the “deep state,” as emerges from the emails of John Podesta, who spoke about a “springtime of the Church” in which the Church would embrace the spirit of the world and abandon the proclamation of the Gospel.

This “pontificate” is the coherent application of the principles of Vatican II, as Bergoglio himself has proudly claimed. Everything that he has said and done since 2013 is aligned with the errors woven into various ambiguous passages of the Conciliar texts, from his intransigent silences to his misleading ambiguities.

But like everything that comes from the Devil, this project has no hope to succeed and serves only to allow us to understand a very clear truth that we are still not able to recognize: the only hope of Salvation rests in the complete embracing of the Catholic Faith, as Our Lord taught it to the Apostles and as the Holy Church has proposed it for belief for 2000 years.

All the errors, all the attempts to adapt the faith to the mentality of this age, all the compromises to carve out a place for the Church in the world, and all the betrayals in exchange for power come from Satan, and as such are destined to failure.

If Christ the King will return to reign in the Church, even before coming back to reign in civil society, He will grant the Church good and holy Pastors, a courageous Pontiff who will denounce apostasy, fight errors, gather around the Cross of Christ the good. Because the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is also destined to suffer Her own Passion, but in the dignity and wholeness of Her being, precisely, the Bride of the Immaculate Lamb, and not the concubine of the eternal defeated.

This is why I hope and pray that Providence would grant the world a time of peace and conversion, in order to lead back the Pastors and the Flock to fidelity to the Gospel, so that they will be able to face with dignity the final persecution before the Universal Judgement. If this propitious time were to be ushered in by the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, I think that we could truly read the present facts in that eschatological vision that finds fulfillment in the victory of Christ over the Devil.

Your Excellency has launched a public appeal in recent days in which you call for the formation of an “anti-globalist Alliance.” Do you think that the headquarters of this alliance should be Italy, a country that is historically hated by Freemasonry and by the globalist powers?

Italy is a nation blessed by God and by the presence of the papacy. Its civilization — represented by the historical, cultural and artistic legacy of its cities, but also united in the bond of the Catholic Faith – has always been the object of the dissolving action of satan and his servants.

Freemasonry hates Italy, hates its glorious history, which is intrinsically tied to the birth of Christianity, first, and then its later spread. Freemasonry also hates the traditions of this country, which are impregnated by Christianity, hates its art, deeply Christian, hates its culture and civilization, which is an eloquent voice of the power of the Faith in influencing every walk of life. It hates its Saints, who through their preaching and their example drew away from hell millions of souls; it hates its people, whose character seems still to hint to show that authenticity and passion that is profoundly Catholic, expressed by small gestures, by generosity, by a moral sense that is truly Christian.

This is why I believe Italy should have a key role in the opposition against the tyranny of the New Order, by proposing itself as a natural headquarters for this World Anti-Globalist Alliance. And considering the fact that the return of a Catholic Monarch seems quite hard to imagine in this moment, I think that the form of government of the pre-Union Communes and States [Editor’s note: the form of government of the Italian city states prior to the Union of Italy in 1870] could greatly inspire those who would like a reform of Italian civil society aligned with Christian principles and, at the same time, compatible with the needs of modern society. In this regard, I think in particular at The Allegory of Good Government fresco in Siena’s town hall [Palazzo Comunale], in which the theological Virtues enlighten and guide the cardinal and civic Virtues.

Many people are suffering serious personal problems due to the discrimination caused by the “Green Pass” that was enforced by Draghi’s government. Many people are giving up their jobs and salaries to avoid taking this vaccination, and many others are protesting in the streets against this unprecedented authoritarian society. What would you like to say to those who are suffering the consequences of this dystopic society and to those who are giving in to loss of hope, indeed, to desperation?

I would like to answer with the words of Our Lord: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John, 16, 33).

To those who are suffering their own discrimination and the one of their beloved ones; to those who were forced to take a vaccination because the civil authority shamefully blackmailed them, with the outrageous complicity of the ecclesial authority; to those who with courage refuse to surrender to illegitimate and tyrannical laws; to those who are deprived of their means of support due to their coherence, I say this: you are the proof that the strength and the violence of Evil can possibly affect you in your belongings, in your body and in your family; but they cannot ever, ever, strip away from you the peace of having stayed loyal to the Lord.

Do you think that the martyrs were people gifted with special powers? The real martyrs were, are, and will be persons like you and I, persons with a thousand flaws maybe, but driven by the love for Christ, that is, driven by Charity, who are ready to sacrifice their lives in order to not renounce that supernatural and divine love. And if they were able, with the help of God, to face death accompanied by horrible pains, do you think that you today are not able, under the mantle of the most holy Virgin Mary, to stand up against these tyrants, as cruel as they are cowardly? Feel honored by the privilege that is granted to you of meriting Heaven: your fidelity, your strength against the impositions of a hostile power, will merit you the help and protection of Heaven even in the littlest things.

Remain in the Grace of God, which is the only good that no one can ever take away from you: all the rest will be in the hands of Her whom we invoke as the Help of Christians. And when the Virgin intervenes, Hell trembles.

Source: Cesare Sacchetti – The Eye of the Needle

More Evidence that the COVID Conspiracy Theory Is a Fact

The coercive practices of restricting movement of people and compulsory COVID vaccination are spreading throughout formerly free countries.

Germany has now joined Austria, Italy, and Australia in resurrecting the Third Reich.

The rush to totalitarianism is inexplicable according to the official narrative.

All health authorities now acknowledge that the mRNA “vaccines” do not prevent infection and do not prevent the vaccinated from spreading the infection.

This is the reason that the vaccinated are told they need booster shots every 6 months and need to continue wearing the ineffective masks. Why booster shots protect when the previous shots don’t is not explained.

Neither is it explained why the emphasis is on protecting against a virus that has a very low mortality, killing primarily those with existing morbidities who are not effectively treated.

In contrast, the adverse vaccine reporting systems in the US, UK, and EU reveal a larger number of deaths and injuries from the “vaccine” than from COVID. We also have evidence that the young who are not endangered by COVID are seriously endangered by the vaccine with vaccinated children and young, healthy sports stars dropping dead from heart attacks.

We also have evidence that the “vaccine” attacks the innate human immune system, making the vaccinated less able to ward off all viruses and diseases such as cancer.

In other words, all evidence is against vaccination. There is no evidence in favor of it.

So why the coercion to force dangerous vaccination that only does harm?

It is simply not possible that public health agencies in Austria, Italy, Germany, and Australia are unaware of the evidence that the COVID “vaccines” are a total failure and a danger.

Are all public health officials bought off by bribes from Big Pharma, or is the suspicion that a reduction in world population is underway a fact instead of a conspiracy theory?

Source: Paul Craig Roberts

Bennett: ‘Not every decision we make is perfect, Gilat knows how to run our family’

PM Naftali Bennett on Friday responded once again to the criticism levelled against him over a trip abroad taken by his wife, Gilat, and their children, just one week after Bennett urged Israelis not to fly abroad due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In a post on Facebook published before the start of Shabbat, Bennett wrote,

“One last word about my family’s trip on a holiday abroad: First, I am open to criticism, and in this case I also accept it. Not every criticism is a personal attack, and not every decision of ours is perfect. But it’s important to me that you know something about Gilat: She’s the most charming and kind-hearted person I know, and like many parents, she, we both have a desire to make our children as happy as possible, especially in light of a difficult year in which their lives were completely turned upside down.”

“And in general – Gilat is a woman who knows how to handle herself and our family. As you saw, we conducted this issue in complete transparency, we announced the trip at our initiative and all the rules that apply to any other family, will also apply to my family. From the airport – to quarantine.”

“I wish all the vacationers a safe and healthy return. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah, Naftali Bennett,” concluded the Prime Minister.

Bennett responded to the uproar on Wednesday and said his family “is subject to exactly the same rules that apply to all Israeli citizens. I understand the criticism, but since Friday we have learned more about the variant and in which countries it is spread, and the Coronavirus Cabinet has made decisions on which countries to travel and under what conditions.”

Bennett also wrote on Facebook,

“My family (without me, I am staying with you …) was supposed to go on vacation during the Hanukkah holiday in a country that turned out to be red. The holiday was immediately canceled, and after the new rules became clear, they booked a holiday to a country to which it is permitted to travel. Everyone goes out according to all the restrictions and of course will stay in isolation as required. The citizens of Israel are just as important to me as my children.”

MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) criticized the Bennett’s family’s trip on Wednesday and wrote that “after advising Israeli citizens not to fly abroad – Bennett’s wife and children take off for a vacation abroad. This is how it is when political lies became the norm and personal example is trampled on. Such chutzpah.”

After Bennett published his response to the criticism, Katz wrote,

“Bennett’s explanation for his family’s trip abroad, contrary to the warnings he gave to the public, is worse than the act itself.”

“Since Friday we learned more about the ‘variant’. So why did you not update the public and not change the recommendation? Zero credibility.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Eitan Biran returns to Italy after Supreme Court rejects appeal from mother’s family

Eitan Biran, a 6-year-old boy who was orphaned in a cable car crash in Italy, returned to the country on Friday, days after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from his Israel-based family.

Biran — who was living in Italy at the time of the cable car crash in May that killed his parents, his younger brother and his great-grandparents — has become the subject of a bitter custody fight between his Italy-based paternal family and his Israel-based maternal family.

A lawyer from the maternal family oversaw the transfer at the airport, where Biran was accompanied on the flight by his aunt and two cousins.

“After 84 days since he was illegally taken from his home, he returns to his daily routine, his medical framework and his educational treatments, to his friends in the neighborhood, his school, the community he grew up in, and his loving cat Oliver,” said a statement from the Italian family.

After an Italian court temporarily granted the paternal family custody, Biran’s maternal grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, secretly smuggled the boy to Israel via Switzerland, prompting claims of kidnapping.

An Israeli court ruled earlier this month that Biran must be returned to Italy, but the transfer was delayed after his family appealed to the Supreme Court.

Following the ruling, the Peleg family said it would continue to fight “in every legal way” to return the child to Israel. It was not immediately clear what legal options were available following the Supreme Court ruling.

Attorneys for Aya Biran, his paternal aunt, welcomed the ruling, calling it “the end of an unfortunate episode” and expressing sorrow that the boy had been ripped away from his normal life after the tragedy and forced to endure months of upheaval.

An Italian court issued an international arrest warrant for Peleg earlier this month, and he was summoned for questioning by Israeli police and released under restrictions.

Another Israeli man, Gabriel Abutbul Alon, who is accused of driving Peleg and Biran in a rental car to Switzerland, was also named in the arrest warrant.

Italian prosecutors accused Peleg and Alon of having planned and executed the crime “with lucid premeditation and meticulous organization.” Peleg maintains that he was operating in the best interests of the boy and seeking to carry out his parents’ wishes.

Last week, Alon was arrested by police in Cyprus.

Law enforcement officials said they believed Alon’s extradition to Italy could take some time if he opts to fight it during court proceedings.

Source: TOI

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A drone’s best friend: Biden administration refuses to ban killer robots

The US prefers a “non-binding code of conduct” regarding Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS, aka killer robots), State Department official Joshua Dorosin said at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday.

His insistence on leaving the Pentagon’s hands free to produce autonomous killer robots stands in line with years of US policy, which has long opposed a global moratorium on LAWS, denouncing the use of a “legally-binding instrument” to halt the development of autonomous death bots.

LAWS have already been deployed during war to track and kill without human involvement.

However, other countries have indicated they are willing to renounce autonomous weapons systems. New Zealand declared on Tuesday that it would join an international coalition to ban the systems, arguing that “the prospect of a future where the decision to take a human life is delegated to machines is abhorrent.”

New Zealand Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Phil Twyford applauded his country’s decision to make the move. Meanwhile, Institute for Ethics in AI Director John Tasioulas found the Biden administration’s refusal to budge from its embrace of the killer technology “sad but unsurprising.”

“The emergence of autonomous weapons systems and the prospect of losing meaningful human control over the use of force are grave threats that demand urgent action,” a report by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic released ahead of the UN meeting declared.

It would be difficult if not impossible to select and engage targets without meaningful human control on a battlefield dominated by autonomous robots, Human Rights Watch Senior Arms Researcher Bonnie Docherty warned, citing instinctive human opposition to “the idea of machines making life-or-death decisions” – particularly the inability to discern between combatants and civilians.

Fears of killer robots have intensified as countries adopt advanced robotics technology, from Boston Dynamics’ four-legged dog bots – beloved by police departments and feared by the citizens whose streets they share – to full-on artificial intelligence.

Facial recognition has also run up against public outcry, with some cities opting to ban it altogether, while companies like Amazon reach out to authorities in an effort to be the first to market the terrifying tech.

The bots have been used on the battlefield, reportedly in terrorist incidents in the Middle East and by the Australian military, among others.

While entities deploying such systems may keep them quiet to avoid spooking the populace, human rights groups like Amnesty International have sought to raise their profile with grisly public awareness campaigns such as a recent contest’ to see if a ‘target’ could avoid being detected by a killer AI in 10 seconds.

Source: RT

COVID-19 : un Conseil de défense le 6 décembre pour discuter de potentielles mesures restrictives

De nouvelles restrictions liées à la cinquième vague de COVID-19 seront-elles annoncées ce 6 décembre ?

«Le président de la République a décidé de convoquer un nouveau Conseil de défense et de sécurité nationale sur la crise sanitaire pour voir s’il y a lieu de prendre des mesures complémentaires dès lundi [6 décembre] en fin de matinée», a de fait déclaré le Premier ministre, Jean Castex, lors d’une visite à l’hôpital d’Angoulême le 2 décembre.

«La cinquième vague de la pandémie est particulièrement forte [et] la situation est préoccupante», a relevé Jean Castex, en citant des chiffres orientés à la hausse, dont une «progression de 60% des cas constatés en une semaine».

«Nous restons extrêmement vigilants», a abondé le ministre de la Santé Olivier Véran, en s’appuyant sur les modélisations de l’Institut Pasteur qui promettent 3 000 malades du COVID-19 en réanimation mi-décembre, contre près de 2 000 actuellement.

«Nous ne laisserons pas la pression monter trop haut» dans les hôpitaux, a souligné Olivier Véran, répondant à une question sur un possible retour des jauges dans les établissements recevant du public, à commencer par les cafés et restaurants.

En attendant, Jean Castex a renouvelé ses appels à la vaccination, en assurant que «personne ne [serait] laissé sans possibilité de faire son rappel avant l’échéance du 15 janvier», date à laquelle le pass sanitaire commencera à ne plus être valable pour les personnes n’ayant pas reçu d’injection complémentaire dans les temps impartis.

«Il y a toutes les doses qu’il faut», a insisté le chef du gouvernement, en ajoutant que «de nombreux créneaux de rendez-vous vont ouvrir dans les prochains jours».

Au 2 décembre, plus d’un million Français de plus de 65 ans n’avaient reçu aucune dose.

Depuis l’ouverture de la dose de rappel à tous les Français de plus de 18 ans après les annonces du 25 novembre, «un total de 4,5 millions de rendez-vous ont été pris» s’est félicité Jean Castex.

Il a également relevé que le nombre de premières injections repartait à la hausse, alors que six millions de Français éligibles, dont 1,2 million de plus de 65 ans, n’ont toujours reçu aucune dose.

Le chef du gouvernement effectuait d’ailleurs sa première sortie après dix jours d’isolement, ayant lui-même contracté le COVID la semaine dernière.

«J’ai eu deux doses vaccinales, et ceci explique probablement le fait que je n’ai eu que des symptômes extrêmement légers», a-t-il fait valoir.

Originaux: RT – FR

Xenobots – ‘Living’ Robots – Reproduce for First Time

In an event that’s either wildly exciting or singularly troubling (or some combination of both), scientists have engineered the world’s first self-replicating “living” robots.

The creatures are both capable of spawning new versions of themselves and fully controllable by programming.

The technology – or life – constitutes the most recent evolution of “xenobots”, the world’s first robots created from living cells.

Researchers at the University of Vermont first used stem cells from frogs to accomplish the feat in January 2020.

Xenobots: the building blocks of robot life

“These are novel living machines,” University computer scientist and roboticist Joshua Bongard stated when his team first created xenobots.

He went on to confirm the novelty:

“They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”

To fabricate the creatures, an algorithm simulated the results of combining a few hundred of the embryonic frog cells at random.

The scientists then programmed the algorithm to generate desired outcomes: locomotion, for instance.

After months of optimization, the team selected a few of the most promising designs to build – using microscopic forceps and electrodes to parse out actual living cells.

  • The YouTube video below offers several cogent visual aids to explain the whole process.

Xenobots, which take their name from their African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) progenitors, were the result.

Skin cells worked as structural scaffolding; heart cell contractions propelled movement.

From there, the team configured them into different shapes (like the oddly cute Pac Man below) to suit various purposes. Experiments performed to determine their programmable capabilities (in fluid) have proved fascinating.

How xenobot reproduction works

Now, Bongard and his colleagues have given their bizarre minions another essential marker of life. Xenobots now reproduce — though not via any of the conventional means.

Instead, researchers discovered that if they simply put enough of them together in a petri dish, their collective movements generated a cloud of loose frog cells in the solution.

Once enough of those cells accumulated, the team observed that an aggregated heap of about 50 cells became the original organisms’ de facto offspring.

The consolidated group could swim by itself — and as it did so among the rest of the creatures in the dish, it began to generate its own offspring.

It’s called spontaneous kinematic self-replication, and it’s been observed before – but never in living multicellular systems.

According to Bongard’s team, the xenobots have adopted it with impressive (or alarming) efficiency.

“This form of perpetuation, previously unseen in any organism, arises spontaneously over days rather than evolving over millennia,” the researchers observed in a recent paper.

They also noted that they could accelerate the effect with artificial intelligence. Using AI to simulate conditions that would promote reproduction proved feasible. But the paper also explains that the organisms’ ability to reproduce self-kinematically without genetic modification highlights biological life’s radical adaptability.

Implications: What on earth will robotic life forms do?

What it will mean in the world the rest of us live in is, for now, unclear.

For now, xenobots are basic and relatively harmless. But they might prove to be the ancestors of highly efficient bio-weapons or androids that experience the biological urges to survive and reproduce.

Equally likely, though, they’ll be utilized to help mitigate some of our most pressing global threats. Their biodegradability is an obvious advantage for applications like pollution clean-up.

“We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can’t do, like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque,” Tufts University biologist Michael Levin said.

Bongard’s team may be a long way away from deploying xenobots outside the lab – they can’t eat, and programming is a work in progress.

But the closing gist of the paper indicates that opening your mind to the idea of coexistence with living robots may be the best course of action. After all, reproduction is the gateway to evolution.

The research “suggests that future technologies may, with little outside guidance, become more useful as they spread,” and the team explains “that life harbors surprising behaviors just below the surface, waiting to be uncovered.”

Source: Sam Anderson – EXPLORERSWEB

Europeans express dismay as Iran walks back compromises at Vienna nuke talks

European diplomats expressed “disappointment and concern” on Friday after five days of international negotiations in Vienna on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Iran submitted two draft proposals that appeared to undo months of dialogue.

Senior diplomats from the E3 group of Britain, France and Germany expressed “disappointment and concern after thoroughly and carefully analyzing Iranian proposed changes to the text negotiated during the previous six rounds,” which took place earlier this year.

“Tehran is walking back almost all of the difficult compromises crafted after many months of hard work,” they said, adding that the Iranian delegation had demanded “major changes.”

They went on to say it was “unclear how these new gaps can be closed in a realistic timeframe.”

The latest round of talks began on Monday between the E3, Iran, China and Russia, with the United States participating indirectly.

The talks were paused on Friday afternoon, with diplomats to consult with their governments and reconvene next week, officials said.

The diplomats were aiming to revive the 2015 deal, which began unraveling in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to start exceeding limits on its nuclear program the following year.

The diplomats said the delegations needed to “return to capitals to assess the situation and seek instructions, before reconvening next week to see whether gaps can be closed or not.”

“Our governments remain fully committed to a diplomatic way forward. But time is running out,” they said.

Iran said on Thursday it had submitted two draft proposals for the nuclear agreement.

On Thursday, Iran’s lead negotiator Ali Bagheri said the proposals concerned two main issues facing the 2015 accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

“The first document sums up the Islamic republic’s point of view concerning the lifting of sanctions, while the second is about Iran’s nuclear actions,” Bagheri told state television.

“Now the other side must examine these documents and prepare itself to hold negotiations with Iran based on these documents.”

Extreme and maximalist

An E3 diplomat told Israel’s Walla news that the draft on sanctions relief was extreme and maximalist, with the Iranians increasing their sanctions relief demands in comparison to agreements reached with the Rouhani government last June.

The talks had resumed in the Austrian capital on Monday after Iran paused them in June following the election of ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

The diplomat also told Walla that Iran had backtracked on the nuclear draft too, removing all the previously agreed compromise language on steps to roll back its nuclear program.

“The Iranians have been told their proposals are not serious and they are to go back to Tehran and get further instructions,” the diplomat said.

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said the talks would “most likely” resume on Monday.

But French President Emmanuel Macron warned there could be a longer break in the talks, which only resumed on November 29 after a five-month break.

Speaking on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, just across the Gulf from Iran, the French president said it “should not be excluded” that this round of talks “does not reopen swiftly.”

Including the Gulf states and Israel

In comments likely to please his Gulf hosts but anger Iran, Macron said a broader framework might benefit the talks on bringing Washington back into the deal.

He appeared to suggest bringing the Gulf states and even Israel into the talks, although having Iranian and Israeli envoys at the same table would seem inconceivable.

“I think everyone is conscious of the fact that not talking, not trying to find a new framework on both nuclear and regional issues, weakens everybody and is a factor in increasing confliction,” the French president said.

“It is also important to reengage a slightly broader dynamic and involve regional powers as well,” he added.

“It is difficult to reach an agreement if the Gulf states, Israel and all those whose security is directly affected are not involved.”

On Thursday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for an “immediate cessation” of the nuclear talks, accusing Iran of “nuclear blackmail.”

In a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Bennett called instead for “concrete measures” to be taken against the Islamic republic.

The goal of the JCPOA is to make it practically impossible for Iran to build an atomic bomb, while allowing it to pursue a civilian nuclear program. Iran denies wanting a nuclear arsenal.

Blinken said Thursday it was not too late for Iran to revive the 2015 deal, but cautioned that hopes for the success of the talks were wearing thin.

“I think in the very near future, the next day or so, we’ll be in a position to judge whether Iran actually intends now to engage in good faith,” Blinken told reporters in Stockholm on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

“I have to tell you, recent moves, recent rhetoric, don’t give us a lot of cause for optimism.”

“But even though the hour is getting very late, it is not too late for Iran to reverse course,” Blinken added.


War: What Israel talks about when it talks about striking Iran’s nuclear program

Nearly one year ago, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi stood on stage at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv and announced that he had ordered the military to begin preparing renewed plans for a strike on Iran’s nuclear program.

“Iran can decide that it wants to advance to a bomb, either covertly or in a provocative way. In light of this basic analysis, I have ordered the IDF to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to the existing ones. We are studying these plans and we will develop them over the next year,” Kohavi said.

He added: “The government will of course be the one to decide if they should be used. But these plans must be on the table, in existence and trained for.”

Since then, the IDF has done just that, with the air force and Military Intelligence, in particular, preparing themselves for such an operation, stepping up training exercises and focusing tremendous resources on intelligence collection. Billions of additional shekels have been poured into the defense budget specifically to prepare for strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

And over the past year, Israeli officials have regularly repeated calls for what they describe as a “credible military threat” against Iran’s nuclear program, in speeches, press conferences, media interviews and private meetings with allies, arguing that it is necessary in order to gain leverage in the ongoing negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

By its own estimates, the IDF is still at least months away from being fully prepared to conduct such a strike, though officials say that a more limited version of its plans could be carried out sooner.

But the focus of these discussions has generally been on the strike itself against Iran’s nuclear facilities, an operation that would indeed be far, far more complicated and difficult than any other the IDF has conducted, including its raids to target Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and Syria’s in 2007.

In each of those missions — Operation Opera and Operation Outside the Box — a single sortie containing a relatively small number of fighter jets conducted the bombing.

But unlike in both of those cases, Iran does not have one nuclear facility that one group of planes could take out in a single strike, but many that are spread throughout the country, which would therefore require extraordinary levels of coordination to ensure that all of the sites were hit at the same time.

Making this more difficult is the fact that many of the facilities are buried deep underground, making them all but impenetrable to attacks from the air, particularly the Fordo reactor, where Iran recently began enriching uranium to 20 percent levels of purity with advanced centrifuges, in the latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The United States does have the massive bunker-busting ordnances needed to strike such facilities — the 13,600-kilogram (30,000-pound) GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) — but Washington has so far refused to provide them to Israel.

In any case, what’s more, selling the incredibly heavy bomb to Jerusalem would not do much good, as the Israeli Air Force does not have an aircraft capable of carrying it, and nor does it even have the airfield infrastructure needed to support the aircraft that could carry it.

To circumvent these limitations and to demonstrate the seriousness of an Israeli threat of attack, some current and former officials in the US have floated the idea of selling or leasing to Israel one of the three American heavy bombers capable of carrying the MOP — the B-52, B-1, or B-2.

Doing so, however, faces a number of legal and logistical challenges, as the B-52 and B-2 are both effectively barred from sale under America’s New START treaty with Russia and the B-1 may also not be fully capable of containing the MOP within its bomb bays.

Iran has also invested heavily in its air defenses, both purchasing advanced systems from Russia and developing its own domestically produced capabilities.

But while the complexities of an Israeli operation should not be overstated, they are ultimately problems that can be resolved with enough time and resources.

After a strike

Though Israeli officials are willing to discuss the efforts to overcome these challenges and develop the capabilities needed to conduct such a strike, typically left unmentioned is what happens afterward, which is of far greater significance.

In 1981 and in 2007, there was effectively no immediate retaliation by Iraq and Syria, respectively, though Baghdad’s response did come a decade later – to a certain extent – with its Scud missile attacks on Israel during the First Gulf War. This is not expected to be the case with Iran, several Israeli defense officials have told The Times of Israel.

For decades, Tehran has been building up a number of proxies throughout the region, the most formidable of which is Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a terrorist group with an arsenal of rockets, missiles and mortar shells that matches and even surpasses many Western states’. These foreign proxies are meant to insulate Iran from attack by its enemies. To wit: Israel can’t attack Iran if it is busy fighting off rocket fire and invasion attempts by Hezbollah from Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia similarly couldn’t attack Iran if it were facing the Houthis in Yemen.

The Israeli military firmly believes that this network of proxies would be brought to bear against Israel if it conducts a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. And Israeli projections for what a war against Hezbollah and allied militias in the region would look like are unnerving: thousands of projectiles raining down on Israeli population centers, hundreds killed, severe damage to infrastructure and major utilities knocked out of service.

That is not to say that Israel would never conduct a strike on Iran for fear of attack from its proxies, but that any decision to do so would have to be weighed not against the military’s ability to carry out the operation, but against the potentially devastating prospects of what would follow the raid.

“The military option needs to be on the table. It is, of course, the last thing that we want to use, but we don’t have the luxury of not preparing ourselves for the options,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday, in an on-camera interview with the Ynet news site.

Jerusalem’s concern is that a nuclear-armed or even nuclear-threshold Iran would be able to act with even greater impunity in the region, arming its proxies and more deeply entrenching itself in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

But Israeli officials have been loath to set a specific condition under which it would conduct a strike. This is due, in part, to the fact that the considerations lie not only in Iran’s capabilities, but in the balance between the threats facing Israel and Israel’s ability to counter them.

Asked if uranium enrichment to the level of 90 percent purity – generally regarded as “weapons-grade” – would prompt an Israeli attack, Gantz refused to comment on Thursday.

“I don’t like setting red lines that afterward I’d have to come and explain myself [if I didn’t uphold them]. We are tracking the Iranian process every day. There will be a point in time when the world, the region, and the State of Israel will have no choice but to act,” he said.

The Israel Defense Forces has been making strides to prepare itself for the multi-front war that is liable to follow a strike on Iran, holding a number of large-scale exercises simulating such a conflict in recent months and investing roughly NIS 1 billion ($315 million) toward training for next year.

The military is also working to improve its air defenses, particularly in northern Israel, in an effort to prevent the worst of the damage from rocket barrages and drone strikes in a future conflict.

But the propensity of Israeli officials to discuss the technical aspects of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities belies the true calculus at play in deciding whether to carry it out: it’s not about the strike, but the war that follows.

Source: Judah Ari Gross – TOI