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Fri, 01 Dec 2023
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I became convinced lockdown was needed for "man-made" virus due to information from "friends outside Government", Michael Gove tells Covid inquiry

Michael Gove
The Government was not prepared for a man-made virus and should have been quicker and firmer in its response, Michael Gove told the Covid Inquiry today.

The Minister for the Cabinet Office during the pandemic added that his view on the need for lockdowns changed at the end of February 2020 due to information supplied by "friends outside Government".

His comments provide new support for the theory that Western Governments imposed lockdowns during March 2020 because its key decision-makers were convinced that the virus was man-made and possibly an escaped bioweapon.

Mr. Gove said he initially shared Boris Johnson's concerns about "overreacting" and the economic consequences.
At the very end of February, I was inclined to give substantial weight to the Prime Minister's concerns. It was only in the succeeding days that I became more and more convinced actually that action was required.

Comment: See also:


Magic Hat

The magician's hat, and the great simulacrum of palliative balm

Smoke rising
© thealtworld.com/public domain
The present hostage exchange is centred on Gaza. However, Israel has three fronts of hot conflict open.

The Magician steps onto the stage, his black cloak swirling about him. Centre stage, he flourishes his hat: It is empty. He punches it lightly to demonstrate its solidity. The Magician then picks up certain objects and places them into his hat. Into it goes Ansar Allah's seizure of an Israeli-owned vessel (the situation is being 'monitored'); into it goes the Iraqi strikes on U.S. bases (barely noticed by the main-stream media); into it too go the 1,000 missiles fired into northern Israel by Hizbullah; into it goes the hot war in the West Bank. The Magician turns to the audience - the hat is empty. But the audience knows those objects have a physical reality, but somehow they are magically obfuscated.

It is in this way that the western main-stream media maintains deterrence by playing down the state of war through what Malcom Kyeyune describes as "a simulacrum of peace" - of a gently subsiding conflict and the quieting deployment of (paraphrasing Kyeyune) a very "post-modern question": What exactly is the meaning of civilian 'non-combatant' anyway?

One aspect to the image of easing conflict is the hostage exchange that has been agreed. It is both real, and at the same time it underpins the simulacrum that once Hamas is annihilated, and the hostages released, then the problem of 2.3 million Palestinians can go into the magician's hat, and be eased from sight. For some, the hope is sincere and well intentioned - that once the fighting ceases, it will stay ceased, and that an end to the bombardment in Gaza might open a window to some political 'solution' - if it can be extended sine dei.

'Solution' being here but a polite word for the EU's attempted bribery of Egypt and Jordan. Reportedly, the EU President, Ursula von der Leyen, visited Egypt and Israel to present them with financial offers ($10bn for Egypt and $5bn for Jordan), in exchange for the dispersal of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip elsewhere - effectively to facilitate the evacuation of the Palestinian population from the Strip in line with Israel's aims of ethnically-cleansing Gaza.

Comment: Israel's big picture is evolving in ways it never imagined - to potential results it never considered.


Rocket

Scott Ritter: The end of US nuclear superiority

Minuteman
© Wikimedia Commons
LGM-30F Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in silo • 1980
As Russia modernizes its nuclear arsenal it is no longer interested in trying to patch up an arms control relationship with the U.S. based on the legacy of the Cold War.

On Nov. 1, the U.S. Air Force was forced to explosively "terminate" the flight test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This meant blowing it up in the air after it exhibited unspecified in-flight anomalies to engineers monitoring its progress.

The test launch, carried out by the U.S. Air Force's Global Strike Command, is, according to the Air Force, "part of routine and periodic activities intended to demonstrate that the United States' nuclear deterrent is safe, secure, reliable, and effective to deter 21st century threats and reassure our allies."

The U.S. Air Force maintains some 400 Minuteman III, stored in silos and ostensibly on 24-hour alert to respond to any potential strategic threat targeting the United States and/or its allies. The Minuteman III has been the land-based component of the "nuclear triad" of U.S. strategic deterrence (the other two being the sea component of Trident missiles onboard Ohio-class submarines and the air component of specially designated B-52 and B-2 manned bombers).

Comment: Checkmate.


Arrow Up

Not only can Trump win, right now he's the favorite to win

Trumphone
© Wikimedia Commons
Former US President Donald Trump
There's a strange disjunction in the discourse about the 2024 elections. On the one hand, when presented with the proposition "Trump can win," people will nod their heads sagely and say something along the lines of: "Of course he can; only a fool would believe to the contrary."

At the same time, whenever polling emerges showing that Donald Trump is performing well in 2024 matchups, a deluge of panicked articles, tweets (or is it "X"s?), social media posts, and the like emerge, reassuring readers that polls aren't predictive and providing a variety of reasons that things will improve for President Biden.

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Elections analysts seem to know that they are obliged to mouth the words that Trump can win, but deep down, they don't believe them. The notion that Biden is the favorite is deeply internalized, likely for a variety of reasons.

So let us set the record straight: Trump can win. Not in a "maybe if all the stars align and then Russia changes the vote totals (even somehow in states like Michigan that use hand-marked paper ballots)" kind of way. Just flat out: Trump can win.

Comment: Trump - like him or not. Biden - or not.


Star of David

Israel must face international court - Erdogan

Erdogan
© Global Look Press/IMAGO/Fotostand/Reuhl
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The military's attacks in Gaza are "unlawful," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres...

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Israel to be brought to an international court over its actions in Gaza amid the continued escalation between West Jerusalem and Hamas. The Israeli military continues to violate international law in full view of the international community, he told UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a phone call on Tuesday.

The two officials spoke ahead of the UN Security Council meeting on Gaza scheduled for Wednesday. The conversation was focused on solutions to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave and ways to achieve "lasting peace" in the region, the Turkish president's office said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

Erdogan also maintained that Israel "continues to blatantly trample on the international law, the law of war and the humanitarian law," the statement said, adding that the Turkish leader demanded West Jerusalem "be held to account before the international law for the crimes committed."

Comment: Erdogan: Benjamin Netanyahu, the 'Butcher of Gaza'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed in Gaza one of the worst atrocities of the century, making his mark in history a bloody one, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday. In his televised speech, he spoke out against the Israeli military operation in the Palestinian enclave.

Erdogan blasted "human rights violations and acts of war in Gaza" and the "apathy of most Western nations," stating that Türkiye "will exhaust all efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable under international law and moral responsibility."

Erdogan expressed his view that Netanyahu's actions in Gaza and the press they have elicited are "fueling anti-Semitism and endangering the safety of all Jews along with the Israeli people."



Putin

Western education systems degrading - Putin

Putin
© AP / Mikhail Klimentyev
Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia, November 27, 2023
Schools and universities in the West have abandoned the liberal arts in favor of gender studies and other "pseudosciences," Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked in a speech on Tuesday.

"In the West, they are now practicing not only the policy of 'cancel culture', but also the actual abolition of liberal arts education," Putin told a gathering of the World Russian People's Council in Sochi.

"As a result, both [Western] culture and education are becoming primitive," he continued. "Many classical subjects are simply thrown out of Western curricula, replaced by some kind of gender and similar sciences - pseudosciences, of course."

The phenomenon highlighted by Putin has also been extensively condemned by Western conservatives, who have decried attempts by left-wing academics to cancel the study of ancient Greece and Rome over the so-called "whiteness" of these ancient societies, and to insert transgender ideology into the fields of medicine, archaeology, and psychotherapy, among countless other examples.

Ornament - Blue

Lacking integrity and holiday spirit: White House Christmas tree toppled by wind

White house christmas tree
© AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib
A giant gust of wind reportedly toppled the U.S. National Christmas tree on Tuesday, just days before its scheduled lighting ceremony with President Joe Biden.

Reports showed that a giant crane had been employed to put the toppled tree back into its upright position. Typically, the trees are in the ground but, according to @rawsalerts, they had to be cut down this year due to a fungal outbreak.

"The National Christmas Tree, where President Joe Biden was scheduled to deliver the Christmas tree lighting, has been toppled over after a significant gust of wind occurred, according to the National Park Service," said @rawsalerts on X. "The incident on the White House Ellipse, and crews are actively working to carefully lift and secure the tree back into place. The National Park Service is currently evaluating the condition of the National Christmas Tree. Officials at the National Park state that the show will still go on as scheduled on Thursday."

Biohazard

No chance for renewal of nuclear accord with US - Moscow

RUSSIA SARMAT ICBM TEST
© Sputnik / Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
A Sarmat ICBM test launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in Russia.
The breakdown in the relationship with the US makes contacts even on an issue as vital as the strategic balance of power nearly impossible, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has told the Izvestia newspaper. The last surviving bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty is likely to expire, leading to a possible arms race, he predicted in an interview published on Wednesday.

New START, the latest iteration of a series of agreements that limited Moscow's and Washington's nuclear arsenals, was last renewed 'as is' in January 2021, days after Joe Biden was inaugurated as US president. Moscow suspended its participation in the agreement in February, citing US involvement in the Ukraine conflict and Kiev's attacks on Russian air bases hosting strategic bombers.

At this point, there is "no option" to continue New START or replace it, after it expires in February 2026, Ryabkov said.

Vader

Pentagon struggling to pay for Middle East buildup

F/A-18E Super Hornet  USS Gerald R. Ford Eastern Mediterranean Sea
© Jennifer Newsome / US NAVY / AFP
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launching from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, October 12, 2023.
The US military has to make do with a stopgap budget that freezes defense funding at the previous year's levels

The Pentagon is scrambling to find money to pay for a military buildup in the Middle East amid the Hamas-Israel conflict due to gridlock in the US Congress, which has so far been unable to approve full defense funding, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The US Department of Defense, along with many other federal agencies, is now operating under a stopgap funding bill which was signed by US President Joe Biden earlier this month to avert a potential government shutdown. The measure, which did not satisfy Biden's request for additional money for Israel and Ukraine, also freezes other types of defense spending at the previous year's levels.

Comment: Yet here's Janet Yellen saying it's all good:

Russia and China just have to sit back and watch the Empire implode.


Russian Flag

Western nations request meetings with Russia at OSCE, agree to open sanctioned-airspace for Lavrov to travel

lavrov

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Russia said on Monday there would be no meeting between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at an OSCE meeting in North Macedonia this week.

Lavrov had said earlier he would join the foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which includes Canada and the United States, in Skopje if Bulgaria opened its air space for him. He said some Western countries had requested meetings with him.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in February 2022, the West has sought to isolate Russia, and face-to-face meetings between senior ministers have been rare.

Comment: Investigative Journalist Kit Klarenberg had this to say:

See also: Wife of Ukraine's spy chief & several military intel officers poisoned with heavy metals