Tag Archive for: vaccine nationalism

Cartels issue color-coded wristbands to migrants. House to vote on stimulus today. China, Russia to build lunar base. UK denies EU’s vaccine export ban claim. 


Cartels issue color-coded wristbands to migrants

Border agents and immigration officials have noticed a curious trend among migrants being smuggled across the border. Migrants of all ages are arriving with plastic wristbands of various colors, which they often discard as soon as they cross into the US.

Matthew Dyman, a spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection, says the, “information on the bracelets represents a multitude of data that is used by smuggling organizations, such as payment status or affiliation with smuggling groups”.

Central American migrants hoping to reach the US border may pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to escort them safely. The people smugglers, or “coyotes”, in turn have to pay cartels for safe passage through various cartel-controlled territories when moving people through Mexico towards the border crossings. When part of the journey is completed, the coyote and migrants then receive new bracelets of a different color to show they’re paid up for the next leg of the journey. The final bracelet, purple in some cases, shows that the migrant has paid for passage across a cartel-controlled border crossing.

Failure at any stage by the coyote or migrants to adhere to this makeshift accounting system can have deadly consequences. One coyote told reporters that the cartels “are putting these (bracelets) on so there aren’t killings by mistake”.  In January, 40 migrants were massacred in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, TX.

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House to vote on stimulus today

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi expects to being the $1.9T stimulus bill for a vote in the House today. The Senate already approved the bill over the weekend, so the next stop after the House is the president’s desk. The White House says Biden will likely sign it later this week after a final check.

Most expect the bill to pass in the House along party lines, as it did in the Senate. Republicans in both houses have staunchly opposed the bill, despite 60% support among their voters. Democratic voter support is even higher at 76%.

Republicans argue that the bill is too expensive and that the worst of the COVID crisis has passed. Recent polls suggest this is not the case for many Americans, financially speaking.

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China, Russia to build lunar base

China and Russia have agreed to build a research station either on the surface or in orbit of the moon. Neither agency offered a timeline for the construction of the base. The China National Space Administration said that the base would be open to use by other countries as well. The CNSA statement said that the base would carry out “scientific research activities such as the lunar exploration and utilization, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiment and technical verification”.

Last month, probes from the US, China and the UAE all arrived in orbit of Mars within days of one another. This achievement, a first for China, signals the nation’s ambition to catch up to the technical achievements of the US. The announcement of the lunar base seems to echo this, since NASA announced plans last year to build a lunar base by the end of this decade.

China’s manufacturing has quickly achieved parity with other space exploring countries, but is well behind in innovation. The CNSA has worked extensively with Russia and other countries to kickstart its space propulsion program. China’s Shenzhou spaceships still closely resemble Russia’s Soyuz capsules.

But Congress has banned nearly all cooperation between CNSA and NASA. The US has repeatedly protested China’s policies encouraging technology theft and has concerns about the secretive, militaristic nature of China’s space program.

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UK denies EU vaccine export ban accusation

After the EU imposed vaccine export controls and blocked a shipment of vaccines to Australia, European Council President Charles Michel was “shocked” to hear the bloc accused of “vaccine nationalism”. In response, Michel accused the UK and US of imposing an “outright ban on the export of vaccines or vaccine components produced on their territory”.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called Michel’s claim false. Raab wrote to Michel demanding that he “set the record straight”. He wrote that the UK “has not blocked the export of a single COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components”.

In response, Michel tweeted that there are “different ways of imposing bans or restrictions on vaccines/medicines”, but did not elaborate.

The EU has faced criticism both for its comparatively slow vaccine roll-out and for its unilateral imposition of “export controls”. Most controversial of these was an override of Northern Ireland protocols in last year’s Brexit agreement. The proposed regulation would have allowed the EU to block vaccine transfers from Ireland to Northern Ireland. EU policymakers withdrew this proposal after an outcry.

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Dems tackle immigration. Jobless claims still climbing. 10 nations used 75% of all vaccines. Israel begrudgingly allows 2000 vaccines into Gaza.


New laws would give undocumented migrants path to citizenship

The White House and its allies on Capitol hill are moving ahead with proposals to tackle long-overdue immigration reform. Over the last 20 years, successive administrations have failed to formulate meaningful reforms. This vacuum has created immense backlogs and left millions at the mercy of capricious and fluctuating policies.

The White House plan is a multi-pronged approach aiming to streamline the immigration process, reduce barriers to citizenship, and bring millions of migrants already in the US into the mainstream.

Eligible undocumented migrants (those already in the US before Jan. 1, 2021) could apply for temporary legal status. This will allow for work permits and deportation relief. This group would be eligible to apply for a green card in 5 years and citizenship in 8 years.

Some groups, including farmworkers and those brought to the US as children, would be immediately eligible to apply for green cards. The could then apply for citizenship in three years.

The administration also hopes to address the root causes of mass migrations from Central America. The proposal would give the White House $4 billion to combat violence, poverty and corruption in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Democratic proponents of the bills would have an uphill battle in the Senate. Filibuster rules mean that at least 10 GOP Senators would have to support it.

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Jobless claims continue to climb

Dismal employment numbers are dampening hopes of a recovery as nationwide COVID infections drop. New applications for unemployment benefits rose to 861,000 last week. This is an increase of 13,000 over the previous week. Employers have only added 49,000 more jobs in January after major cuts in December. Some have touted a recent drop in the unemployment rate from 6.7% to 6.4%. However, this is somewhat deceptive, as many are no longer counted since they have stopped looking for work.

As of Jan. 30, about 18.3 million people are receiving unemployment aid, down from 19.7 million the previous week. About three-quarters of those recipients are receiving checks from federal programs that kick in after state benefits expire (26 weeks in most states). This suggests most of these recipients have been out of work for more than 6 months. These long stretches of unemployment will make it difficult for these jobseekers to find new employment.

Although hiring has been sluggish, many sectors are showing overall signs of recovery. Factory production has risen for four straight months, and restaurant and retail sales jumped 5.3% in January. This is in part thanks to the recent $600 stimulus checks.

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10 nations have given 75% of all vaccines

Yesterday, UN leader Antonio Guterres decried rampant vaccine nationalism. Guterres says just 10 countries have used 75% of the world’s vaccines, saying it was “wildly unfair”. About 130 countries worldwide have not received a single dose.

Not only does this represent a global moral failing, it is also shortsighted and dangerous. While the world’s wealthiest countries race to vaccine all their citizens, the virus continues to multiply and mutate in the poorest countries. Eventually, this will give rise to mutations that will make the vaccines ineffective. There is already a danger of this with the South African variant, according to Pfizer. 

Guterres urges wealthy nations and pharmaceutical companies to work together to distribute vaccines more equitably.

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Israel begrudgingly allows 2000 vaccines into Gaza

Following an international outcry, Israel has decided at last to allow 2000 Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines into the Gaza strip. This is enough doses to vaccine 1000 of Gaza’s nearly 2 million people. While Israel leads the world in vaccinations, its government has received widespread criticism for not allowing vaccines into Palestinian-controlled areas. After an international backlash last week, Israel passed 5000 vaccines to the West Bank. Until now, Gaza has received none. 

Recent reports confirm the international communities worst suspicions that Israel’s government is attempting to use vaccines as leverage against Hamas. On Monday, some Israeli lawmakers advocated allowing vaccines into Gaza in return for concessions from Hamas. This includes information about captive soldiers being held by Hamas. Ahmad Tibi, an Arab minority MP, said even contemplating withholding vaccines from people who needed them for political reasons was unconscionable. “Your children will be ashamed,” Tibi said.

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Donald Trump and the KGB NEMiss.News


Ex-KGB spy: Trump was Kremlin asset for 40 years. EU hissy fit over AztraZeneca jabs may have global consequences. China: Taiwan independence means war.


Ex-KGB spy: Kremlin cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years

Yuri Shvets, a former KGB spy now living in the US, is a key source for journalist Craig Unger’s new book American Kompramat. Shvets currently works as a corporate security investigator and was a partner of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector who was assassinated in London in 2006. In the book, Shvets and Unger purport to fill in some gaps about Trump’s ties to Russia left unexplored by Robert Mueller’s investigation.

According to Shvets, Trump first came to the KGB’s attention when he married his first wife Ivana, a Czech model, in 1977. At the time, the KGB was casting a wide net in the West, targeting promising university students, or up-and-coming businessmen like Trump. The KGB had a policy of cultivating these assets in hopes they would one day rise to prominence on the American stage.

The charm offensive

In 1987, Trump and Ivana visited Moscow and St. Petersberg for the first time. During this trip, the KGB launched a “charm offensive”. Shvets says:

“[The KGB] had collected a lot of information on his personality so they knew who he was personally. The feeling was that he was extremely vulnerable intellectually, and psychologically, and he was prone to flattery.

“This is what they exploited. They played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality and believed this is the guy who should be the president of the United States one day: it is people like him who could change the world.”

With agents having planted the idea that Trump should enter politics, Trump lost no time doing just that upon his return to the US. He began exploring a run for president and even held a campaign rally. On September 1, he took out a full-page ad in three major national papers headlined: “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure”.

In the ad, Trump offered pointed criticisms of President Reagan’s military policy. Many of these were talking points Shvets alleges were fed to him by the Kremlin agents.

According to Shvets, the ad’s publication both stunned and delighted the KGB higher-ups:

“It was hard to believe that somebody would publish it under his name and that it will impress real serious people in the West but it did and, finally, this guy became the president.”

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EU hissy fit over AztraZeneca jabs continues

The three-way spat between the EU, UK, and vaccine producer AstraZeneca is getting uglier and may have global consequences.

The EU has published a redacted version of their August contract with the pharmaceutical company. The EU claims the contract is an unambiguous and iron-clad guarantee of delivery of 300 million doses of the vaccine upon approval by the EU. AstraZeneca disputes this, citing language in the contract that requires the firm to make its “best effort” to deliver the vaccines in a specific timeframe.

AZ has attributed the delay to production problems at two EU plants, one in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. CEO Pascal Soirot pointed out earlier this week that the UK signed its contract with AZ a full three months before the EU, which gave the company more time to shake out bugs at its two UK production facilities.


Nevertheless, on the dubious strength of this contract, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen reiterated a demand that AZ redirect doses made in the UK to fulfill its EU obligations. Von der Leyen also threatened to retaliate if AZ does not give in to the EU’s demands.

Individual EU states could revise export authorizations to block export of vaccines produced within their borders to non-EU countries. This would also impact the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, produced in Germany. The UK has a 40 million-dose order with Pfizer, which also predates the EU’s order with the firm. The EU’s temper tantrum could also prevent fulfilment of orders by the US, Australia and other non-EU countries.

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China threatens war over US support for Taiwan independence

After taking office, President Biden promised that the US would continue to support Taiwan. Seemingly in answer to this, China conducted two separate flyovers with warplanes over the Taiwan Strait. Beijing has now threatened Taiwan’s pro-independence leadership that further attempts to breakaway from China would “mean war”.

These fighting words weren’t explicitly directed at the US. However, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has recently made similar statements regarding US military activity in other disputed areas China claims as its own.

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domestic terror threat high NEMiss.News



Feds warn of domestic terror threat. Dems float Trump censure. China begins anal swab COVID test. EU-UK vaccine squabble continues.


Feds: threat of politically-motivated violence remains high

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a heightened terrorism threat warning to the law enforcement community. The bulletin warns that the threat of politically-motivated right-wing terrorism will remain high for weeks to come. The agency says that the attention garnered by the Capitol riot may embolden extremist elements still seething after Donald Trump’s election defeat.

DHS did not address any specific known plots, but merely advised law enforcement to stay on its toes. This bulletin is significant because it essentially equates these extremist uprisings to acts of domestic terrorism. This is a classification federal agencies have long shied away from, even in the wake of the Capitol riot.

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Senate Dems look to censure Trump as impeachment alternative

After all but 5 GOP Senators voted this week to block an impeachment trial against Donald Trump, Democratic hopes of a conviction are waning. The trial is still scheduled to go ahead on Feb. 9, but Democrats, and some Republicans, are looking for a more feasible and less divisive alternative.

Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Susan Collins are putting together a motion to censure Donald Trump. A Congressional censure, they stay, is a more viable option to hold Trump officially accountable for his part in inciting the Capitol riot. It would also not require a two-thirds vote as an impeachment conviction would. Sources indicate Kaine and Collins may include wording in the censure barring Trump from holding high office again. However, it’s unclear whether or not this ban would be as enforceable as one following an impeachment conviction.

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China introduces anal swab COVID test

Chinese health officials have begun using anal swabs to test people it considers to be at “high-risk” for COVID. The method is more accurate than nasal swabs as COVID virus can live longer in the colon than in the respiratory tract. However, officials say the anal test will not be used as widely as other testing methods as it is “not convenient”.

For now, the method is reserved for people living in areas considered to have a high risk of transmission. China is introducing more stringent testing protocols and travel restrictions ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in early February. Last year, that event contributed to a massive spread of the still-emerging epidemic as millions traveled to be with loved ones for the celebration.

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EU demands UK-made vaccines from AstraZeneca amid row

The failure of British-Swedish vaccine producer AstraZeneca to meet hoped-for EU production and distribution targets has triggered an all-out vaccine rivalry between the EU and UK. The vaccine is produced in two UK sites and two EU facilities. Production at the UK facilities has been humming along nicely, while the two EU sites have been falling behind. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot attempted to cool tempers earlier this week by explaining that the UK had signed their contract three full months ahead of the EU, allowing more time for production hiccups to shake out.

EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides dismissed this explanation, saying, “We reject the logic of first come, first served”. Kyriakides demanded yesterday that AstraZeneca redirect doses produced in the UK to meet the firm’s obligations to the EU. Only last week, the EU said they were considering a ban on exporting any EU-made doses to outside countries, which now includes the UK.

Unsurprisingly, AstraZeneca and the British Home Secretary Michael Gove have rejected this baffling and hypocritical demand. Gove says the UK will only send vaccines to the EU if they have a surplus. In response, Belgium has dispatched inspectors to a Belgian AstraZeneca facility, looking for evidence that vaccines produced there had been diverted to the UK.

Unable to resist a rare opportunity to direct a thinly-veiled and well-deserved jibe at his EU rivals, British PM Boris Johnson says, “I’m confident of our supplies and we’ll keep rolling out vaccines as fast we possibly can. I am very pleased at the moment that we have the fastest rollout of vaccines in Europe by some way”.


NEMiss.News Deal with it


Dems collapse on filibuster fight, call it a “win”. US firms use COVID to bust unions while raking in paycheck protection money. That and more below.


Dems collapse on filibuster fight, call it a “win”

Since the inauguration, the Senate has been at a standstill as party leadership attempted to work out a power-sharing agreement. GOP leader Mitch McConnell held the talks hostage over Democratic Chuck Schumer’s plan to end the filibuster.

Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate, with a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie breaker. If the filibuster is not done away with, most legislation will require 60 votes to pass, making it possible for Republicans to hold up President Biden’s legislative agenda.

McConnell had previously waived filibuster rules to approve President Trump’s three Supreme Court appointees. But McConnell has never been shy about embracing legislative double standards. Preserving the filibuster now guarantees he holds onto some power as Minority Leader.

And it appears he will get his way again. Two Democratic Senators, Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), have stated they do not support ending the filibuster. With that assurance, McConnell has withdrawn his objection and ended the stalemate. Schumer’s camp is billing this as a “win”, and it certainly is… for McConnell.

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Firms use COVID to union bust while raking in paycheck protection money

Firms across the US, such as Amazon and Trader Joe’s, are using the pandemic as an excuse to undermine unions in their workplaces. High unemployment and a teetering economy have given employers the upper hand. Workers in numerous sectors have found themselves locked out of workplaces or replaced with non-union labor. All the while, employers are still taking $millions in paycheck protection money from the COVID stimulus packages intended to prevent mass layoffs.

The loss of wages and benefits has already pushed many workers to the edge. If firms succeed in doing away with collective bargaining rights under the cover of the pandemic, the consequences will reverberate through the labor market and US economy for years to come.

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Supply bottlenecks stirring “vaccine nationalism”

Earlier this month, Pfizer said it would be temporarily halting deliveries of vaccine doses to the EU due to manufacturing issues. Another major manufacturer, AstraZeneca, is also facing supply and delivery hiccups in the EU. The British-Swedish multinational now says it will not be able to honor its delivery agreements with EU countries for March.

The exact reason for these manufacturing bottlenecks remains unclear, and the lack of transparency has incensed EU leaders. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that “Europe invested billions to help develop the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines. To create a truly global common good”. She and other EU leaders are now demanding the firm make good on its obligations.

To safeguard the European supply, Germany’s Health Minister is proposing that the EU block exports of the vaccines. This block would also affect the UK, which has recently exited the EU. The calls to block exports of the vaccine, which was developed with the help of UK’s Oxford University, has prompted warnings from British health officials against “vaccine nationalism”.

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Scottish leader vows new independence referendum

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is laying the groundwork for a new referendum to allow Scots to decide if they want to remain part of the UK. In 2014, Scots voted 55%-45% to remain in the UK. The referendum was billed at the time as a once-in-a-generation event. But the political equation changed dramatically when the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. At the time of the Scottish referendum, no such possibility had even appeared on the horizon.

In the 2016 referendum, Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the EU. Having been dragged out against its will, Scotland’s economy is now taking a major hit in the new UK-EU trade agreement. Polls show that a narrow majority of Scots now favor leaving the UK, and Sturgeon hopes to capitalize on that. By moving ahead with a vote, Sturgeon will be butting heads with British PM Boris Johnson, who has pledged to block any new Scottish referendum. A binding referendum requires the approval of the British government.

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