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Thu, 27 Feb 2020
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Bullseye

Debunking the smear that Assange recklessly published unredacted documents

julian assange headline news
This is a new section for my newly updated ongoing mega-article Debunking All The Assange Smears, a resource for debating 30 of the most common smears against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Use it, share it, and let me know if there's anything you think should be changed or added.

The prosecution in the Assange extradition trial has falsely alleged that WikiLeaks recklessly published unredacted files in 2011 which endangered people's lives. In reality the Pentagon admitted that no one was harmed as a result of the leaks during the Manning trial, and the unredacted files were actually published elsewhere as the result of a Guardian journalist recklessly included a real password in a book about WikiLeaks.

A key government witness during the Chelsea Manning trial, Brig. Gen. Robert Carr, testified under oath that no one was hurt by them. Additionally, the Defense Secretary at the time, Robert M Gates, said that the leaks were "awkward" and "embarrassing" but the consequences for US foreign policy were "fairly modest". It was also leaked at the time that insiders were saying the damage was limited and "containable", and they were exaggerating the damage in an attempt to get Manning punished more severely.

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Attention

Production of drugs in Afghanistan 35-folded after US invasion, according to official

afghanistan poppy field
Chief of the Iranian Anti-Narcotics Police Brigadier General Masoud Zahedian said that after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the production of narcotics in the country has sorely increased. It has had a 35-fold increase in Afghanistan after the US and its Western allies occupied the poor country and it has reached 6,400 tons from 185 tons, Zahedian told reporters in Rome on Saturday.

He said, "More than 3,800 Iranians have been killed and 12,500 others have been injured in the fight with drug traffickers."

In relevant remarks in January, Secretary-General of Iran's Drug Control Headquarters Brigadier General Eskandar Momeni lashed out at the US and the NATO, two main occupiers of Afghanistan, for encouraging and facilitating poppy cultivation and drug production in the poor country.

Speaking at the annual meeting of counter-narcotics police chiefs of the Law Enforcement Force, Momeni said US forces occupying Afghanistan no doubt facilitates the cultivation of illicit narcotics in that country. The highest rate of drug seizures in the history of Iran and the world belongs to this year [of the local calendar from March 2019 to March 2020], which shows an 18% increase compared to last year, he said.

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Stormtrooper

Gun-toting cops endanger students and turn schools into prisons

police resource officer school
"Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning."

— Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

Just when you thought the government couldn't get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties and the growing need to protect "we the people" against an overreaching, overbearing police state, the Trump Administration ushers in even more strident zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

The fallout has been what you'd expect, with the nation's young people treated like hardened criminals: handcuffed, arrested, tasered, tackled and taught the painful lesson that the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment) doesn't mean much in the American police state.

For example, in Florida, a cop assigned to River Ridge High School as a school resource officer, threatened to shoot a student attempting to leave school for a morning orthodontist appointment.

In Pennsylvania, school officials called in the cops after a 6-year-old with Down syndrome pointed a finger gun at her teacher.

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Beaker

A top-tier Chinese virology lab is unable to quell the coronavirus conspiracy theories around it


Comment: Suspicions are growing about the centrality of that BSL-4 WHO-approved biolab in Wuhan, China, to the Cornonavirus outbreak, which is why the media is running interference on it...


wuhan biolab

The WHO-certified and affiliated top tier BSL-4 bio-lab in Wuhan city, Hubei Province, central China... where it's almost certain the CoVid-19 virus escaped from
A Chinese state-owned virology lab in Wuhan, the epicenter of China's coronavirus epidemic, is finding it extremely hard to quell conspiracy theories proliferating around the institution — a sign of the sharply decreased level of public trust in the government since the outbreak of the virus.

At the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a subsidiary of the state-owned research institute the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), scientists carry out virus research at a lab with the highest level of biological containment available on the mainland. Its construction was approved in 2003, during China's last deadly coronavirus outbreak, SARS, and completed five years ago, according to Nature journal. The lab came under spotlight in late January, after Chinese scientists said the virus could have a connection to bats via an intermediary, such as some form of game sold at a seafood market in Wuhan. As the lab has researchers who study bat-related viruses, it became a target of online suspicion that coalesced into theories that the virus could have escaped from the lab, or be a bio-weapon gone wrong.


Comment: That isn't why it's suspicious. It's suspicious because those lab researchers were located at Ground Zero of the outbreak: the country's only BSL-4 lab!

All that stuff about bats, snakes, pangolins and the fish/wet market was probably disinformation in an effort to pawn blame for it off onto ordinary people.


Comment: The outbreak is not a 'conspiracy' per se. It's probably an accident. It's only a conspiracy insofar as they're not openly admitting that messing around with vaccines caused the very thing they're supposedly all about preventing.

All to protect the 'settled sciences' (read: biotech industry) of genetics, viruses and vaccines. In reality, they understand very little about the elements they're fiddling with...


Snakes in Suits

Good riddance to Harvey Weinstein, a repugnant pig who brutalized both women and cinema

weinstein
© REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Harvey Weinstein has ruled Hollywood for the last three decades, harassing colleagues not only over sex, but also art; assaulting not only women, but also movies. His long and thuggish reign is finally over.

The first blockbuster that Harvey Weinstein produced was Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. In that movie there is a male rapist named Zed, who gets his comeuppance at the hands of one of his victims, crime boss Marsellus Wallace. Once Wallace escapes Zed's clutches, with the help of Butch (Bruce Willis), he promises to extract revenge on Zed by getting "medieval on his a**".

"Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead," Butch tells his girlfriend Fabienne, after he returns with Zed's chopper as a trophy.

Zed is Harvey Weinstein: grotesque and vile... and about to get payback for his depravity.

Clipboard

Hunter Biden files motion to postpone child support deposition

Joe and Hunter Biden
© REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Hunter Biden is seeking to delay an upcoming child support deposition in Arkansas until April, according to a motion his lawyer filed Tuesday.

Attorneys for former stripper Lunden Alexis Roberts, the mother of Biden's child, requested in an email on Feb. 17 that he appear in Little Rock next week for a deposition, but Biden said the request to appear in person was "unduly burdensome and oppressive."

"My client can be available April 1, 2020," Biden's attorney, Brent Langdon, wrote to Roberts's attorneys, court documents show. "My client cannot be available prior to that date."

Langdon added that a filing Sunday by Roberts's attorneys notifying that Biden's deposition would take place on March 5 was "unnecessary" and that it served to ignite "media attention" and to unreasonably "annoy, embarrass, or oppress" Biden.

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Evil Rays

Social contagion: Teenage transgender row splits Sweden as dysphoria diagnoses soar by 1,500%

transgender flag
For several days this week the veteran Swedish journalist Malou von Sivers will cover the same topic in every episode of her nightly TV chat show: the extraordinary rise in diagnoses of gender dysphoria among teenage girls.

Lukas Romson, one of the country's leading trans activists, is prepared for the worst. "There will be no serious trans activists in the show, because none of us trusts Malou at all," he says. "I'm afraid she'll just use us."

But the fact that a mainstream programme is devoting so much time to the issue demonstrates just how much the debate has shifted in Sweden over the past year. "It's been a very big change and very sudden," Romson adds. "Everyone - but especially young people - feels worse because of what they perceive as the media's hatred of them."

The immediate trigger for Von Sivers's themed week is a report from Sweden's Board of Health and Welfare which confirmed a 1,500% rise between 2008 and 2018 in gender dysphoria diagnoses among 13- to 17-year-olds born as girls.


Comment: Clearly there is more going on here than just a bunch of kids "realizing" they are the wrong gender. It's a social contagion. See the following, and the links in the comment there:

But it also reflects a rapid change in public opinion. Just a year ago, there seemed few official obstacles left in the way of young people who wanted gender reassignment treatment.

In the autumn of 2018, the Social Democrat-led government, under pressure from the gay, lesbian and transgender group RFSL, proposed a new law which would reduce the minimum age for sex reassignment medical care from 18 to 15, remove all need for parental consent, and allow children as young as 12 to change their legal gender.

Chart Bar

National poll shows Sanders surpasses Biden with African Americans

bernie sanders
© Getty Images
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has strengthened his lead in the 2020 Democratic presidential race and surpassed former Vice President Joe Biden in support from African American voters, according to a new poll.

The Reuters-Ipsos survey released Tuesday found Sanders's lead stretching into the double digits for the first time, with the senator holding an 11-point advantage in the race and a 3-point edge over Biden among black voters.

Overall, 26 percent of surveyed Democrats and independents said they would vote for Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist, while Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg (D) tied in a distant second with 15 percent support.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg garnered the backing of 10 percent of respondents. Four percent said they would vote for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), while 3 percent said they'd back billionaire activist Tom Steyer.

Sanders cemented himself as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination after a decisive victory at the Nevada caucuses last weekend. The victory came on the heels of a win in New Hampshire and a close second-place finish behind Buttigieg in Iowa.

The Vermont senator's continued rise in the latest Reuters survey corresponded with a significant increase in support from African American voters. Twenty-six percent of respondents in that demographic said they would back Sanders, a 7-point jump from a previous poll conducted between Jan. 29 and Feb. 19.

Fire

The Nobel Peace Prize is a sick joke

obama noble peace prize
It's very simple. The Nobel Peace Prize is just like most other awards. Sometimes its distributors get it right and sometimes they get it wrong. The people that win awards do not win them based off of objective scorecards about morality. They win these awards based off of media narratives.

The Nobel Peace Prize was founded in 1901 by Alfred Nobel, an arms manufacturer. His family factory first gained notoriety for producing weapons for the Crimean War of 1853-1856. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and various other powerful explosives. These explosives were used to devastate people in conflicts such as the Spanish-American War.

After Nobel's brother died, because of a journalistic error, the public believed that Alfred Nobel had died. In his obituary, he was portrayed as an amoral businessman who made millions of dollars off of the deaths of others. His critics declared that "the merchant of death is dead" and that Alfred Nobel "became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before."

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Health

Coronavirus spreading in Iran, Bahrain locks down schools, Tokyo Olympics may be cancelled

iran virus masks
© EPA-EFE
Iranians wearing face masks walk in Tehran on February 24.
Iran's Health Ministry says the number of reported deaths linked to a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak in the country has increased by four to 19.

Ministry spokesman Kianush Dschahanpurat said on February 26 that a total of 139 people -- an increase of 44 from the previous day -- have tested positive for the virus in various parts of the country.

Jahanpour urged Iranians to avoid "nonessential travel," particularly to hard-hit areas of Iran.

He said 15 of the new COVID-19 cases surfaced in Qom Province; nine in Gilan; four in Tehran; three in Khuzestan; two each in Sistan and Baluchistan, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, and Fars; and one each in Markazi, Kermanshah, Ardebil, Mazandaran, Lorestan, Semnan, and Hormozgan.

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rohani acknowledged that it may take "one, two, or three weeks" to get control of the virus in Iran, which has posted the highest death toll from the virus outside of China.

There was no plan to quarantine any district or city, Rohani said, according to a transcript posted on the Iranian presidency's website.

Comment: A suspected case in a Canary Islands hotel with 1000 tourists caused its lockdown. An Italian doctor who recently stayed there tested positive for the virus. Cases in Italy surged from 222 to 283 yesterday. An Austrian high school was also locked down after fears a teacher - who had just returned from northern Italy - had the virus. Bahrain has ordered all schools and kindergartens to be shut down for two weeks after nine new cases were confirmed, bringing the total in Bahrain up to 17. All new cases in Bahrain were individuals who had arrived from Iran.

If the virus isn't brought under control in the next three months, the IOC may cancel the Olympic Games in Tokyo scheduled for the end of July. Meanwhile, the American CDC is warning Americans to prepare:
"It's not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, head of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.


"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," she added. "Disruption to everyday life might be severe."

Americans need to be prepared for schools and workplaces closing, and even elective medical procedures getting delayed, as the US healthcare system ramps up efforts to contain and control the spread of the virus in the coming weeks.

The CDC is operating "as if we are going to see community spread in the near term," Messonnier said. So far, the CDC has tested a total of 426 people and found 14 cases of COVID-19, twelve of which were travelers returning from China, and two were direct transmissions.

The US government is implementing an "aggressive containment strategy" and instituting extensive travel advisories, but this will get more difficult as the virus spreads in countries beyond China.

Messonnier explained that COVID-19 has fulfilled two out of three criteria to become considered a pandemic — causing illness that has resulted in death and sustained direct transmission — and is "moving closer" to the third, worldwide spread.
With any hope, the signs of a slow-down in new cases in China will be replicated in countries just starting to see cases. Everyone is not out of the woods yet, but it looks like the chances of runaway, exponential spread of the virus is low at this point. Until that happens, however, it's better safe than sorry. Also, a new WHO report speculates that two thirds of cases may have gone unreported:
A new report from a WHO infectious disease modeling team based at Imperial College London is estimating about two-thirds of Covid-19 cases worldwide have gone undetected. The analysis suggests the global spread of the novel coronavirus is significantly greater than the current volume of confirmed cases.

"We are starting to see more cases reported from countries and regions outside mainland China with no known travel history or link to Wuhan City," explains Natsuko Imai, one of the authors on the new report.
...
As of February 23, 2020, there are over 78,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the vast majority of which are concentrated in China. Prior studies have suggested most cases present with mild symptoms. Only a small minority of confirmed cases seem to progress into serious pneumonia-like disease, leading some researchers to suggest the virus may have spread wider than current numbers indicate.
...
The report concludes it is very likely a number of undetected chains of transmission have begun in many countries across the globe. Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus affirmed this growing concern during a recent WHO briefing.
...
While the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic may be a somewhat semantic one, based on the geographic spread of the disease, Nuzzo suggests the terminology does fundamentally affect how we deal with the virus on a local level.

"I am of the belief ... that we are in the early stages of a pandemic," said Nuzzo. "I think it's important for us to ... talk openly about whether containment of an epidemic is possible, or whether we are exacerbating pandemic spread, because my worry is we're diverting resources from the community level."
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