February 9, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 9:57 PM


Exclusive: Ukraine Releases 'Shock' Call With Giuliani As Trump's Second Impeachment Trial Begins (SIMON SHUSTER , FEBRUARY 9, 2021, TIME)

"Let these investigations go forward," Rudy Giuliani told the presidential headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine, his voice turning impatient. "Get someone to investigate this." On the other end of the line, hunched over a speakerphone, two Ukrainian officials listened in disbelief as Giuliani demanded probes that could help his client, then-President Donald Trump, win another term in office.

The 40-minute call, a transcript of which was obtained by TIME, provides the clearest picture yet of Giuliani's attempts to pressure the Ukrainians on Trump's behalf. The President's personal lawyer toggled between veiled threats--"Be careful," he warned repeatedly--and promises to help improve Ukraine's relations with Trump. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:58 PM


Deaths from fossil fuel emissions higher than previously thought (Leah Burrows, February 9, 2021, Harvard School of Engineering)

More than 8 million people died in 2018 from fossil fuel pollution, significantly higher than previous research suggested, according to new research from Harvard University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester and University College London. Researchers estimated that exposure to particulate matter from fossil fuel emissions accounted for 18 percent of total global deaths in 2018  -- a little less than 1 out of 5.

Regions with the highest concentrations of fossil fuel-related air pollution -- including Eastern North America, Europe, and South-East Asia -- have the highest rates of mortality, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Research.


Posted by orrinj at 6:49 PM


Bruce Castor: The Disaster Artist (TIM MILLER  FEBRUARY 9, 2021, The Bulwark)

Castor's argumentation was so indolent that it made Sleepy Joe Biden look like the Energizer Bunny on meth.

His substance was not much better, which Castor seemed to acknowledge in this admission against interest at the end of his statement:

"We changed what we were going to do on account that we thought the House impeachment managers' presentation was well done and I wanted you to know that we have responses to those things," he said.

Maybe he should have stuck with the original, because it is hard to summarize what exactly Castor's argument in defense of Trump was.

Don't take my word for it. Trump supplicant Alan Dershowitz literally told the gentle viewers of Newsmax, "There is no argument. I have no idea what he is doing." Newsmax cut away from the proceedings to spare their audience.

Posted by orrinj at 12:09 PM


U.S. Attorney Overseeing Hunter Biden Probe Asked to Stay On: Report (BRITTANY BERNSTEIN, February 9, 2021, National Review)

U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who is handling the investigation into the president's son, will stay on in his role, according to Fox News. It is standard practice for a new administration to request the resignation of all U.S. attorneys upon entering office.

John Durham, the U.S. district attorney in Connecticut who was appointed as special counsel to probe the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation, will resign from his post but remain on as special counsel.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


WHO's Covid mission in China gives first report (Patrick Smith, 2/09/21, NBC News)

The World Health Organization on Tuesday was providing the first details of its fact-finding mission to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first coronavirus cases were identified.

A member of the WHO expert team said the Chinese side granted full access to all sites and personnel they requested -- a level of openness that even he hadn't expected, the Associated Press reported.

Peter Daszak said team members had submitted a deeply considered list of places and people to include in their investigation and that no objections were raised.

"We were asked where we wanted to go. We gave our hosts a list ... and you can see from where we've been, we've been to all the key places," Daszak said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Axios-Ipsos poll: No shared path back to normal (Margaret Talev, 2/09/21, Axios)

Perhaps the most important measure of when people anticipate they can return to normal is on the question of resuming in-person gatherings with family and friends outside the home.

28% of overall respondents said they already have. That share surges for Republicans (42%), while it's dramatically less for Democrats (10%) and people 65 and older (15%).

22% of overall respondents say they're waiting for themselves and their family and friends to get the vaccine.

Getting everyone vaccinated is most important in the minds of respondents who had a bachelor's degree or higher (34%) and for seniors (29%).

It was least important as a cue among those with a high school degree or less (14%).

Given the health gains we're experiencing, why would we "return to normal," rather than maintaining sensible protective measures?

How COVID-19 is changing the cold and flu seasonMeasures meant to tame the coronavirus pandemic are quashing influenza and most other respiratory diseases, which could have wide-ranging implications. (Nicola Jones, 2/08/21, Nature)

In the Southern Hemisphere -- now past its winter -- seasonal influenza hardly struck at all. That looks as though it might happen in the north, too. Conversely, some common-cold viruses have thrived, and tantalizing evidence suggests that they might, in some cases, protect against COVID-19. [,,,]

In May, at the tail end of the first wave of COVID-19 deaths in many nations, and when some of the strictest lockdowns were in place, health workers noted an abrupt and early halt to the 2019-20 flu season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Palestinian elections and the West (Dr Youssef RizqaFebruary 9, 2021, MEMO)

The 2006 elections in Palestine were a difficult test for Hamas on the one hand, and for the EU and US on the other. Hamas entered the elections based on its programme of resistance, rejection of the Oslo Accords, and no recognition of Israel. The US and the West, including the EU, expected a victory for Fatah which would rein in Hamas and force it to accept negotiations and recognise Israel. The results were not what was expected, and Hamas won by a comfortable majority.

Israel, the US, and the West refused to recognise the Hamas government's legitimacy... [...]

Some European sources indicate that the EU has shifted from its previous position, with the exception of one of its member countries governed by an extreme right-wing party, as the majority intend to deal with Hamas in a different way than in 2006. This is especially if Hamas wins the elections and shows some flexibility towards accepting a two-state solution. The bloc would also be willing to deal with Hamas if it is in partnership with Fatah in the Palestinian Legislative Council and government, and if the government accepts the two-state solution.

The bottom line is that the EU countries are no longer adhering to the four conditions in their entirety, especially after last year's Arab normalisation deals, and the threats posed by the "deal of the century" against European intentions. This will also be the case given Hamas's experience in its de facto government and if the people re-elect it.

It can be said that Hamas's steadfastness and commitment to its position, as well as its defence of the Palestinian constants, have impressed some key people in the EU. This takes into account the fact that it had to govern the Gaza Strip despite a 15-year blockade. In doing so, it demonstrated its administrative capacity with relatively little, if any, corruption, and with a good degree of democratic practice. This has persuaded the EU to review its old positions and take a stance that allows it to deal with Hamas if it wins the elections or partners with Fatah in government. This not only suggests that Hamas serves the people well and that the Palestinian voters are highly appreciated, but also that the people are the decision-makers, inside Palestine as well as on the level of international relations.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Lost in the 'Gamestonks' mania - What is GameStop actually worth? (David Randall, 2/09/21, Reuters)

Analysts who cover GameStock see it worth on average $13.44 per share, a 78% drop from its current trading price, highlighting the wide gulf between how Wall Street and amateur investors view a stock that has become a symbol of the growing power of retail investors.

"I've worked on Wall Street for over 20 years and what is happening with GameStop is the most nonsensical, insane thing I've ever seen in my entire career," said Anthony Chukumba, a managing director at Loop Capital who covered the company for more than 10 years but recently dropped his coverage due to a lack of interest by institutional investors.

"GameStop at most is worth $10 a share," Chukumba said, given its declining market share. "We've seen short squeezes happen all the time but we've never seen a stock become so disconnected from the fundamentals."