Reader’s Links for December 14, 2020

Each day at just after midnight Eastern, a post like this one is created for contributors and readers of this site to upload news links and video links on the issues that concern this site. Most notably, Islam and its effects on Classical Civilization, and various forms of leftism from Soviet era communism, to postmodernism and all the flavours of galloping statism and totalitarianism such as Nazism and Fascism which are increasingly snuffing out the classical liberalism which created our near, miraculous civilization the West has been building since the time of Socrates.

This document was written around the time this site was created, for those who wish to understand what this site is about. And while our understanding of the world and events has grown since then, the basic ideas remain sound and true to the purpose.

So please post all links, thoughts and ideas that you feel will benefit the readers of this site to the comments under this post each day. And thank you all for your contributions.

This is the new Samizdat. We must use it while we can.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

110 Replies to “Reader’s Links for December 14, 2020”

    Dissident Iranian Journalist, Kidnapped in Iraq, Executed for ‘Corruption on Earth’
    BY RICK MORAN DEC 13, 2020 1:37 PM ET

    Rouhollah Zam, an Iranian journalist whose reporting on the anti-regime protests in 2017-18 won worldwide praise and kept citizens informed of what was happening in the streets of Tehran, was executed, according to state television.

    Zam was kidnapped by Revolutionary Guards while in Iraq in 2019 and brought back to Iran to stand trial. He was convicted of “corruption on earth,” which is a charge brought by the Iranian state for attempts to overthrow it.

    Zam had been living in Paris before he went back to the Middle East in 2019.


    Zam ran the site Amad News and coordinated a Telegram channel, both of which helped spread information during a wave of anti-regime protests that shook Iran in 2017 and 2018. He was living abroad in Paris at the time, but returned to the Middle East in 2019 and was arrested in Iraq by members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    It’s unclear exactly why Zam returned to the region, but Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tweeted Saturday that Zam was “reportedly lured to Iraq (from France), kidnapped, taken back to Iran, and tortured into confession. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.”

    Human rights groups across the world condemned Zam’s execution.

    The international human rights group Amnesty International argued Zam’s conviction stemmed from a “grossly unfair trial” and his execution — by hanging — was rushed following the Supreme Court ruling in a “reprehensible bid to avoid an international campaign to save his life.”

    “With the execution of Roohollah Zam, Iranian authorities join the company of criminal gangs and violent extremists who silence journalists by murdering them,” Committee to Protect Journalists program coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement Saturday. “This is a monstrous and shameful act, and one which the international community must not let pass unnoticed.”

    Those protests scared the life out of the Iranian regime. They led to the arrest and imprisonment of thousands of people on the flimsiest of evidence. Some protesters were taken into custody and never seen again. Zam and a small group of Iranian journalists reported on events surrounding the protests that were eventually brutally suppressed. The “official” death toll from the demonstrations was 21 but observers in cities outside of Tehran, where some protests saw hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, say the toll was far higher.


    About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as some members of the security forces and police.

    The toll of 1,500 is significantly higher than figures from international human rights groups and the United States. A Dec. 16 report by Amnesty International said the death toll was at least 304. The U.S. State Department, in a statement to Reuters, said it estimates that many hundreds of Iranians were killed, and has seen reports that number could be over 1,000.

    At one point, observers reported police firing directly into crowds of people. What’s truly amazing is the Iranian people knew what was happening and still turned out to protest. They were that angry at the regime.

  2. Espionage Emergency: China ‘Floods’ America with Spies
    Gordon G. Chang
    8-10 minutes

    China’s influence, intelligence and infiltration attempts are overwhelming America. China has hundreds — perhaps thousands — of agents in the U.S. identifying, grooming, supporting, influencing, compromising, and corrupting Americans in politics and other fields of importance to it. Pictured: China’s consulate in Houston on July 22, 2020, the day before the U.S. government closed it down for being a “hub of spying and intellectual property theft,” in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo by Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images)

    Revelations this month about U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, highlight Beijing’s complete penetration of American society.

  3. “The Electors are already here, they’ve been checked in.” Michigan State Police are blocking access to the Capitol, preventing the GOP Electors from getting inside.

  4. DAILY MAIL – Revealed: Bill Barr directly intervened to keep the Hunter Biden probe secret before the election by warning against issuing subpoenas and asking prosecutors if their staff could be trusted

    Barr sought to uphold existing DOJ policy against interfering in an election
    Cautioned against any moves that could go public such as a subpoena
    Came despite Trump and GOP lawmakers demanding Hunter probe
    Hunter Biden revealed last week his taxes were under investigation
    Democrats have accused Barr of acting like Trump’s ‘personal lawyer’
    Trump raged on Twitter that Barr ‘will do nothing’

    Attorney General Bill Barr used the force of his office to instruct prosecutors investigating Hunter Biden not to take any steps that might cause the probe to be publicly revealed in the run-up to the election.

    The directive, reported in the Wall Street Journal, was in keeping with existing Justice Department policy against taking investigatory steps close to an election that might interfere with it.

    Barr and his team took steps to ‘insulate’ the investigations, according to the report, even as President Donald Trump repeatedly demanded a probe of his political rival’s son.

    Those instructions were given orally in ‘conversations with prosecutors,’ according to the Journal, which would appear to suggest there is no paper trail for it. They included asking if staff members involved in the situation could be trusted.

    The case reflects the deep pressures being navigated by the Justice Department in the wake of 2016 and Trump’s unprecedented and constant calls to investigate his opponents.

    Just days before the 2016 elections, then-FBI Director James Comey informed lawmakers that the bureau was investigating new emails uncovered on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. The disclosure provided another blow to the Clinton camp, and Hillary Clinton and other aides have cited Comey as helping cause her defeat.

    A 2012 policy is intended to keep the Justice Department away from actions that might steer a campaign.

    Democrats have blasted Barr throughout his term for several pivotal steps that appear to have benefitted Trump: withholding documents and testimony from Congress during impeachment; the release of a summary of the Mueller probe; and the decision to drop charges against Trump ally Mike Flynn, who the president pardoned after the election.

    Barr also made public comments in line with Trump’s concerns about the risk of voter fraud through mail-in ballots.

    In October, Republican lawmakers demanded a criminal probe of Hunter Biden, but the DOJ did not respond. Senate Republicans had conducted their own investigation, which they released shortly before the election – in a move that itself would mostly likely have broken Senate mores several years back.

    Trump has raged about Barr on Twitter since news of Hunter probe broke. Hunter Biden said last week he was being investigated for tax issues, and said an ‘objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.’

    Information purporting to show his dealings with top officials of Chinese energy giant CEFC were contained on a laptop that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post before the election.

    Trump on Saturday linked his complaints about Barr to his effort to overturn the election, a day after the Supreme Court refused to hear a Texas case where he sought to intervene.

    ‘IF Biden gets in, nothing will happen to Hunter or Joe. Barr will do nothing, and the new group of partisan killers coming in will quickly kill it all. Same thing with Durham. We caught them cold, spying, treason & more (the hard part), but “Justice” took too long. Will be DOA!’

    The Durham probe refers to the investigation by U.S. attorney John Durham, appointed by Barr to investigate alleged misconduct by the FBI in the Russia probe. That probe disappointed Trump by failing to produce any bombshells in the days before the election.

    Hunter Biden has faced a series of new revelations about his dealings, including that he failed to disclose $400,000 in payments from Ukrainian energy company Burisma on his 2014 tax returns, according to an email from his notorious subpoenaed laptop.

    Eric Schwerin, president of Biden’s firm Rosemont Seneca, sent the email on January 16, 2017, noting that Hunter Biden’s total income for 2014 was more than $1.2 million, according to NBC News.

    It follows confirmation earlier this week that the Justice Department is investigating Hunter Biden’s tax matters, including his lucrative dealings with China.

    ‘In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,’ says the email from Schwerin.

    The email notes that Biden’s 2014 income included the $400,000 from Burisma as well as income from Rosemont Seneca Advisors and a legal firm.

    It’s unclear from the email whether Biden went on to amend the tax return. His longtime attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from on Saturday.

    NBC News said that it obtained the email from Rudy Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello, who had access to the notorious laptop that Hunter Biden reportedly left in a Delaware repair shop.

    A federal prosecutor in Delaware subpoenaed the laptop’s contents as part of an ongoing probe.

    Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings became a point of contention during the election, after the New York Post ran reports about revelations from a discarded laptop.

    Biden’s campaign attacked the articles as Russian disinformation and smears.

    ‘Not one single solitary thing was out of line,’ Joe Biden insisted of his son’s dealings in the second presidential debate. ‘My son has not made money in terms of this thing about, what are you talking about, China.’

    Now, it has been revealed that the tax investigation into Hunter Biden was launched in 2018, the year before the elder Biden announced his candidacy for president.

    Hunter Biden confirmed the existence of the investigation on Wednesday, saying he learned about it for the first time the previous day.

    ‘I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors,’ he said in a statement.

    It isn’t clear which entities or business dealings might be tied up in the probe, though a person with knowledge of the matter said at least some of focus was on his past work in China.

    Federal investigators served a round of subpoenas on Tuesday, including one for Hunter Biden, according to another person familiar with the investigation.

    Investigators did not reach out until recently because of Justice Department practice against taking overt investigative actions in the run-up to an election, one of the people said.

    President Donald Trump lashed out at Attorney General Bill Barr over revelations that the Justice Department kept investigations into Hunter Biden secret leading up to the election.

    ‘Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden,’ Trump tweeted on Saturday morning from the White House.

    ‘Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!’ he continued.

    Another emails from 2017 shows that Hunter Biden requested keys from a property manager for his ‘office mates’, including his father Joe Biden and an ’emissary’ from a Chinese business partner.

    Joe Biden has repeatedly denied any involvement in his son’s foreign business dealings with China, which were this week revealed to be the target of a federal investigation.

    The September 20, 2017 email requests copies of keys from an office building manager in Washington DC for Joe and Jill Biden , along with Joe’s brother James Biden and ’emissary’ Gongweng Dong.

    The email, first reported by the Daily Caller and also obtained by Fox News, describes Dong as the emissary of Ye Jianming, the disgraced former chairman of Chinese energy company CEFC.

    ‘[P]lease have keys made available for new office mates: Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jim Biden, Gongwen Dong (Chairman Ye CEFC emissary),’ the email reads

    Hunter Biden

    Vice president’s son was well-known to be seeking business deals in China. He traveled there in 2013 on Air Force Two and introduced his father to a business partner, Jonathan Li. In 2017, after his father left office, he pursued a relationship with Ye Jianming

    Ye Jianming

    Chairman and founder of CEFC China Energy, 43. A wunderkind of the Chinese energy world. Gave Hunter a diamond in 2017 as they pursued a business relationship. But in November 2017 company was accused of bribery in Africa by the DOJ, and in March 2018 he was arrested in China, reportedly on the orders of Xi Jinping. Has not been seen or heard from since but a prosecution in 2018 saw a senior Communist leader accused of taking bribes from him

    Zang Jian Jun

    Senior executive at CEFC and also a senior figure in the China Chamber of International Commerce

    Tony Bobulinski

    Penn State wrestler and Navy veteran turned-California businessman, 48, who appears to have done other business in China. Unclear how he and Gilliar know each other. Other business ventures include an investment in a Chinese men’s clothing company called VLOV

    Rob Walker

    Bill Clinton administration official who is now co-founder of a technology-focused private equity firm, Pilot Growth. His wife Betsy Massey Walker was Jill Biden’s assistant when she was Second Lady

    James Gilliar

    British-born 56-year-old businessman based in the Czech Republic. Set up jc2r, the company which is in the emails, in 2015. It is no longer active. Gilliar appears to breed race horses with his wife, Erika and appears to also be an adviser to a holding company run by the leader of Abu Dhabi’s son

    James Biden

    Joe Biden’s younger brother and a serial entrepreneur who has long faced claims of profiting from his brother’s political career. He and Hunter were in business together in 2006 when they bought investment firm Paradigm Global Advisors which they unwound in 2010 after connections to a Ponzi fraudster emerged

    The Chairman and The Big Guy

    Said to be Joe Biden in many of the text exchanges although Hunter’s messages do not state this directly

  5. Crucial Logs Missing From Antrim County Dominion Voting Machines: Forensics Report
    By Ivan Pentchoukov
    December 14, 2020 Updated: December 14, 2020
    biggersmaller Print

    Crucial security and adjudication logs are missing from Dominion Voting Systems machines from Michigan’s Antrim County, according to a forensics report (pdf) released on Dec. 14 in compliance with a court order.

    “Significantly, the computer system shows vote adjudication logs for prior years; but all adjudication log entries for the 2020 election cycle are missing. The adjudication process is the simplest way to manually manipulate votes. The lack of records prevents any form of audit accountability, and their conspicuous absence is extremely suspicious since the files exist for previous years using the same software,” the report, authored by Russell Ramsland, states.

    “We must conclude that the 2020 election cycle records have been manually removed.”

  6. Over 1,400 Votes Changed During School Board Election in Michigan: Forensics Company Report
    By Jack Phillips
    December 14, 2020 Updated: December 14, 2020
    biggersmaller Print

    Allied Security Operations Group, which carried out a forensic audit of voting machines in Michigan’s Antrim County, claimed in a Monday report that more than 1,400 votes changed when they evaluated a Dominion ImageCast Precinct machine for possible hardware problems in a small town.

    “This is the most preliminary report of serious election fraud indicators. In comparing the numbers on both rolls, we estimate 1,474 votes changed across the two rolls, between the first and the second time the exact same ballots were run through the County Clerk’s vote counting machine—which is almost the same number of voters that voted in total,” the group said when they evaluated two tape rolls in Central Lake Township.

    Allied said that after its audit, it found that “742 votes were added to School Board Member for Central Lake Schools” and said that “657 votes were removed from School Board Member for Ellsworth Schools.”

    “There were incremental changes throughout the rolls with some significant adjustments between the 2 rolls that were reviewed. This demonstrates conclusively that votes can be and were changed during the second machine count after the software update. That should be impossible especially at such a high percentage to total votes cast,” the group wrote.

  7. Michigan Election Officials Dispute Audit Report Saying Antrim County Machines Made Errors
    By Jack Phillips
    December 14, 2020 Updated: December 14, 2020
    biggersmaller Print

    Michigan elections officials and representatives for Dominion Voting Systems disputed a report after a security group carried out a forensic audit of voting machines in Antrim County.

    Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater, in a court filing, said the report “makes a series of unsupported conclusions, ascribes motives of fraud and obfuscation to processes that are easily explained as routine election procedures or error corrections, and suggests without explanation that elements of election software not used in Michigan are somehow responsible for tabulation or reporting errors that are either nonexistent or easily explained,” reported the Detroit Free Press.

    It came as Allied Security Operations Group, the company that carried out the audit on behalf of an Antrim County plaintiff, William Bailey, wrote that “Dominion Voting System is intentionally and purposefully designed with inherent errors to create systemic fraud and influence election results.”

  8. U.S. Special Counsel John Durham is reportedly expanding his criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.

    Fox News anchor Bret Baier took to Twitter to report that Durham is adding more prosecutors to his team.

    “US Attorney John Durham, who AG Bill Barr tapped to investigate the origins of the Trump Russia probe, is expanding his team by adding additional prosecutors, and is making, ‘excellent progress,’ according to a federal law enforcement official familiar w/ the situation,” Baier tweeted.

    This tweet may be relevant in light of the above news:

  9. “CNN: 2006 Lou Dobbs Investigates – Democracy at Risk Smartmatic, Venezuela” DaveKracken – December 26, 2020

    CNN: 2006 Lou Dobbs Investigates – Democracy at Risk Smartmatic, Venezuela

  10. THIS IS HUGE: “It’s a Real Simple Fact to Prove that There Was Massive Fraud in This Election” – Inventor of QR Code Can Prove It
    by Joe Hoft – December 13, 2020

    Video Link: “BREAKING: Technology Expert Can Determine If Ballots are Legitimate or Fake in Seconds”
    Economic War Room with Kevin Freeman – December 11, 2020

    Exclusive interview with Jovan Hutton Pulitzer about his ability to digitally examine millions of ballots to scientifically prove if ballots are authentic or fake. He says we need to access the physical and digital ballots and within seconds can determine authenticity. His technology and approach have nothing to do with accessing the actual Dominion or other vendor machines.

    Tennessee Lawyer Fired for Saying Islam Isn’t a Peaceful Religion
    BY ROBERT SPENCER DEC 14, 2020 3:58 PM ET

    It’s the sort of thing that can make someone proud to be an American: Two Christians are on trial now in Algeria for “insulting the prophet and denigrating the precepts of the Muslim religion.” Imagine: on trial for expressing opinions that go against those of the elites. But that could never happen here, right? We have the freedom of speech in the U.S. We can say anything we wish, aside from calls for violence or criminal activity, and express our opinions, no matter how unpopular, without fear of reprisal, right?

    Wrong – as a recent incident in Tennessee illustrates.

    “Tennessee legal watchdog out after lawyer accused him of being an ‘anti-Muslim bigot’” was the headline in Saturday’s edition of the Nashville Tennessean, and of course everyone despises bigotry, so most people might be inclined to think that the legal watchdog in question was entirely in the wrong and justifiably fired. But the details, as is so often the case, makes all this a great deal more complicated.

    In the first place, the legal ethics watchdog, whose name is Jerry Morgan, was pressured to resign as disciplinary counsel for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility because Nashville lawyer Brian Manookian, who according to the Tennessean “was suspended from practicing law last year after the Board of Professional Responsibility said he violated ethics rules by sending threatening emails,” accused him of this Islamophobic bigotry.

    Manookian “said Morgan couldn’t do his job effectively because of multiple social media posts he made criticizing Muslims and the Islamic faith.” Manookian’s lawyer, Daniel Horwitz, claimed that Morgan’s judgment in Manookian’s case was tainted “because Manookian’s wife and children are Muslim,” and because Morgan has reportedly “made a slew of disparaging comments against Muslims on Twitter.”

    What disparaging remarks did Morgan make? Did he say that Muslims were “the most vile of created beings”? No, that’s what the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, calls non-Muslims (98:6). Did he call Muslims “apes and pigs”? No, that’s what the Qur’an calls Jews (2:63-65, 5:59-60, 7:166). Did he say Muslims were “unclean”? No, that’s what the Qur’an says of non-Muslims (9:28).

    So what egregious statements did Morgan actually make?

    As it turned out, he has been forced to resign for “praising President Donald Trump for ‘stopping Muslims’ and ‘talking big against Muslims,’” and “said Islam was not a peaceful religion and made comments linking the faith with violence and ‘Muslim terrorists.’”

    Morgan, a court filing claimed, also showed “extreme prejudice toward minorities,” displaying “disturbing views on ‘blacks,’ ‘illegals’ and their children, and the ‘slave’ mentality of minorities.” Even worse, he “has made countless statements evidencing extreme prejudice against ‘liberals,’ ‘Democrats,’ and attorneys who support the Democratic Party in particular.”

    On the basis of that, Horwitz intoned piously: “Allowing an extreme anti-Muslim bigot — whom Tennessee’s Board of Professional Responsibility has inexplicably employed and permitted to maintain prosecutions on our Supreme Court’s behalf — to undertake a prosecution against an attorney who has a Muslim family shakes confidence in the integrity of this entire proceeding.”

    Manookian and Horwitz prevailed: The Administrative Office of the Courts started an investigation of Morgan, and he resigned. However, as he took a victory lap on Friday, Horwitz “said Morgan’s ‘apparent termination’ was driven by bad publicity rather than the content of his social media posts.”

    That in a nutshell is why the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and allied organizations make a fuss when someone says something they don’t like: They know that most groups don’t have the stomach or the courage to stand up to the outrage mob, and so they will throw the putative offender under the bus just for the sake of peace.

    Jerry Morgan’s statements are presented in the Tennessean in a highly pejorative light (of course), but all he essentially did was support Trump’s travel ban on people entering the U.S. from jihadi hotspots and other places where officials cannot or will not provide adequate information about those wishing to enter; said Islam was not a religion of peace; linked Islam with violence, as Islamic jihadis do every day; and supposedly demonstrated prejudice against minorities and dislike of Democrats. The prejudice against minorities appears only to consist of disapproving of the “slave mentality” of some, which was likely a reference to their tendency to vote Democrat even against their own best interests.

    But such things cannot be said today. America reveres the freedom of speech, except when it doesn’t. Freedom of speech is fine for Leftists, but for anyone else, it’s an egregious offense for which one can be fired. What has happened to Jerry Morgan is a disquieting harbinger of worse to come.

  12. twitter @realDonaldTrump

    Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House.

    Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job!

    As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family…

    …Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General.

    Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!

  13. HOT AIR – Smartmatic Threatens To Sue Fox News, Newsmax, OAN For Defamation Over Election Claims

    I make no judgment about the specifics of their claims against the three networks, as I haven’t seen the allegedly defamatory reporting and Smartmatic doesn’t describe it in its press release. Mediaite has a copy of the letter the company sent to Fox, flagging statements made on the network by Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others.

    But as a general matter, I think the logic of the “Streisand effect” that typically discourages defamation suits doesn’t apply to the current moment, where companies like Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems are being ruthlessly demagogued by conspiracy theorists as culprits in systematic election fraud. This isn’t a case of people being “sloppy” in their recitation of facts and injuring the companies’ reputations. It’s an out-and-out smear campaign aimed at shifting blame for Trump’s defeat from the president himself to villains various and sundry.

    You can’t reason with that. You can’t appeal to their decency by warning them that the smears are hurting real people, damaging their businesses and even forcing some to go into hiding for fear of being murdered. The only thing that’s going to make smear merchants more circumspect about what they say is the prospect of a financial penalty. Smartmatic seems to have belatedly arrived at that conclusion too.

    According to Smartmatic’s demand letters, these organizations [Fox, Newsmax, OAN] could have easily discovered the falsity of the statements and implications made about Smartmatic by investigating their statements before publishing them to millions of viewers and readers. Smartmatic had nothing to do with the “controversies” that certain public and private figures have alleged regarding the 2020 U.S. election. Multiple fact-checkers have consistently debunked these false statements with stunning consistency and regularity.

    “They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence. This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections,” said Antonio Mugica, CEO of Smartmatic. “Our efforts are more than just about Smartmatic or any other company. This campaign is an attack on election systems and election workers in an effort to depress confidence in future elections and potentially counter the will of the voters, not just here, but in democracies around the world.”…

    Smartmatic’s only involvement in the United States in the 2020 election was as the manufacturing partner, system integrator, and software developer for Los Angeles County’s publicly owned voting system.

    They haven’t filed suit yet, just taken the first step of issuing formal demands for a retraction from each of the three networks. I’m curious to see if they do the same with Powell. Her pockets may not be as deep as News Corp’s but she’s the one who took these conspiracy theories mainstream. She linked Dominion with Smartmatic and then linked them somehow to Venezuela and Hugo Chavez at the infamous press conference she gave with Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis last month even though there’s no relationship between the companies. They’re actually competitors. And as the press release notes, Smartmatic’s product was barely used in this year’s election.

    As for why Smartmatic moved ahead against Fox News et al. today, the answer seems straightforward: The demagoguery aimed at the company by Trump fans across the country has begun to cost it business. Some potential clients may not trust their software anymore, others may simply not want to be associated with a firm that’s been demonized by millions of people. “I don’t think there is one customer in the world that has not come back to us to tell us either that this is a problem and this could endanger our future relationship – for existing customers – or that this could endanger a potential new contract,” said Smartmatic’s CEO, calling the threat to his company “existential.”

    Not all of the damage or potential damage done by the “stop the steal” hysteria is reputational. Like various election officials in Georgia and Michigan, members of the electoral college are under police protection today so that no one tries to murder them for doing their jobs:

    In Michigan, Democratic electors have been promised police escorts from their cars into the State Capitol, where on Monday they will formally vote for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    In Arizona, state officials are holding the vote at an undisclosed location for safety reasons, far from what is expected to be a heated hearing on election integrity issues that Republicans will conduct in the Statehouse.

    Even in Delaware, the tiny, deeply Democratic home state of the president-elect, officials relocated their ceremony to a college gymnasium, a site considered to have better security and public health controls…

    “Trump supporters did not get the same kind of vitriol in 2016,” said Khary Penebaker, a Democratic elector from Wisconsin who will be casting his vote for Mr. Biden at the State Capitol in Madison. “This is some scary stuff, man, and this is not what America is supposed to be like.”

    The Michigan legislature had to close its offices today because of “credible threats of violence” to the electors convening in the Senate chamber. A popular take among the commentariat is that the electoral college vote will finally give some Republican politicians cover to acknowledge that Biden won, which is probably true — sort of. I doubt we’ll ever hear Mitch McConnell say that Biden prevailed fair and square but we may get something out of him along the lines of “The process has played out and it’s clear that Joe Biden will be inaugurated.” But while the Republican establishment is reconciling itself to a Biden presidency (publicly, I mean — they were already reconciled privately on November 4), it may be that some small segment of Trump’s hardcore base is reconciling itself to other approaches. We’re at a fraught moment, one engineered by the president himself, and so there’s no reason to think Trump will say or do anything to make it less fraught. On the contrary, once the electoral college seals the deal he’s apt to become even more “erratic” — to borrow a polite term often used to describe his afflictions — as he’s forced to cope with the reality of defeat.

    I’ll leave you with this.
    twitter @therecount

    New York state electors Bill and Hillary Clinton cast their votes for Joe Biden.

    + video

  14. “A sacked Eton College tutor at the centre of a free speech row has today lost his appeal”

    I would have only fired him for being very boring.

    With memories of Google engineer James Damore raising this same point in 2017 in a memo arguing that Google had an under-representation of women as a result of women’s choices – a lesser interest in software engineering—rather than discrimination within the technology sector.

  15. Turkey Detains 11 over Abduction of Iranian Dissident

    “Turkey has detained 11 people involved in the abduction and smuggling to Iran of an Iranian dissident wanted by Tehran in connection with a deadly 2018 attack in southwestern Iran, Turkish authorities said on Monday.

    Habib Chaab, an Iranian ethnic Arab separatist leader, was drugged and kidnapped by a network working “on behalf of Iran’s intelligence service” after being lured into flying to Turkey by an Iranian intelligence operative, a senior official said.

    Iran’s state media said in November that Iranian intelligence ministry officers arrested Chaab over suspected involvement in a 2018 attack on a military parade that killed dozens of people, without saying when or how he was detained.

    Chaab, who was based in Sweden, was persuaded to fly to Turkey to meet a woman who, unknown to him, worked for Iranian intelligence, the Turkish official said.

    When he arrived in Istanbul, he went to a rendezvous point, where he was drugged and tied down, the official said. Istanbul police said Chaab was spirited from the city to Turkey’s eastern province of Van, and from there across the border into Iran.

    The 11 people were arrested two weeks ago, police said.

    The account of Chaab’s abduction was first reported by the Washington Post. There was no immediate public comment from Iran.

    Dissidents targeted

    Chaab’s detention comes one year after another Iranian dissident, Masoud Molavi Vardanjani, was shot dead on an Istanbul street. Two senior officials told Reuters that the killing was instigated by intelligence officers at Iran’s consulate in Turkey.

    Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk said the operation to detain the 11 suspected of abducting Chaab was also prompted by the seizure of other Iranian opposition figures.

    On Saturday, Iran executed dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017, Iranian state television reported. Zam was captured in 2019 after living in exile in France. Zam’s execution has stirred outrage in Europe.

    CNN Turk said Turkey’s intelligence agency had determined that there had been abductions, including that of Chaab, by people who formed Iran’s intelligence network in Turkey and who were linked to a convicted Iranian drug smuggler, Naji Sharifi Zindashti.

    Hurriyet newspaper said Chaab had been lured to Istanbul using his ex-wife, who asked to see him and promised to pay back debts to him. There he was put in a minibus and taken back to Iran by people linked to Zindashti, the paper said.

    An Iranian ethnic opposition movement called the Ahvaz National Resistance, which seeks a separate state in Iran’s oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, claimed responsibility for the 2018 attack that killed 25 people, almost half of them members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

    ISIS militants also claimed responsibility. Neither claim provided evidence.”

  16. 2 Greek Men Face Charges of Spying for Turkey

    “Greek authorities will press charges for espionage against two Greek citizens working on the southeastern island of Rhodes, police said Saturday.

    According to Greek media, the two men are believed to have been spying for Turkey.

    One of the suspects has been working aboard a ferry from Rhodes to the Greek island of Kastellorizo, just off the Turkish coast.

    The other was said to be working at the Turkish consulate in Rhodes.

    The tiny island of Kastellorizo, just two kilometers off the Turkish coast, lies in disputed waters that have been a source of escalating tensions between Turkey and Greece.

    CNN Greece reported that the man working on the ferry was reporting the position of Greek Navy ships, and providing other information concerning Greek army forces on the islands to the other suspect.

    According to the Greek police’s statement, the investigation that led to the charges ‘was conducted in close cooperation with the Greek National Intelligence Service, EYP.”

  17. US Imposes Iran-Related Sanctions on Two Individuals

    “The United States on Monday blacklisted two Iranian officials who it accused of involvement in the March 2007 disappearance of Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who the United States believes was abducted in Iran and died in captivity.

    In announcing that it had imposed sanctions on Mohammad Baseri and Ahmad Khazai of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, US officials told reporters that their public identification would lead to further information about Levinson.

    “The abduction of Mr. Levinson in Iran is an outrageous example of the Iranian regime’s willingness to commit unjust acts,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

    As a result of the sanctions, all property of the two men falling under US jurisdiction must be blocked and US persons are generally barred from dealing with them. Non-US persons risk being blacklisted for dealing with them and foreign banks could be punished for knowingly facilitating a significant transaction for them.

    In a conference call, US officials said all evidence the United States has gathered so far indicates that Levinson, who went missing on Iran’s Kish Island in the Gulf in 2007, likely died in captivity. One official, anticipating US President-elect Joe Biden’s expected effort to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran or to secure a wider agreement, said any deal must entail freeing US citizens “unjustly detained by Iran.”

    At least three US citizens are currently detained by Iran: Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi, and Morad Tahbaz.”

  18. US Sanctions Turkey over Russian Missile Defense

    “The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, setting the stage for further confrontation between the two nations as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office.

    The move comes at a delicate time in relations between Washington and Ankara, which have been at odds for more than a year over Turkey’s acquisition from Russia of the S-400 missile defense system, along with Turkish actions in Syria, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the eastern Mediterranean.

    The US had previously kicked NATO member Turkey out of its F-35 stealth fighter development and training program over the purchase, but had taken no further steps despite persistent warnings from American officials who have long complained about the purchase of the S-400, which they say is incompatible with NATO equipment and a potential threat to allied security.

    “The United States made clear to Turkey at the highest levels and on numerous occasions that its purchase of the S-400 system would endanger the security of US military technology and personnel and provide substantial funds to Russia’s defense sector, as well as Russian access to the Turkish armed forces and defense industry,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

    “Turkey nevertheless decided to move ahead with the procurement and testing of the S-400, despite the availability of alternative, NATO-interoperable systems to meet its defense requirements,” he said in a statement.

    “I urge Turkey to resolve the S-400 problem immediately in coordination with the United States,” he said. “Turkey is a valued Ally and an important regional security partner for the United States, and we seek to continue our decades-long history of productive defense-sector cooperation by removing the obstacle of Turkey’s S-400 possession as soon as possible.”

    The sanctions target Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries, the country’s military procurement agency, its chief Ismail Demir and three other senior officials. The penalties block any assets the four officials may have in US jurisdictions and bar their entry into the US. They also include a ban on most export licenses, loans and credits to the agency.

    The Turkish foreign ministry said there is no technical basis that the S-400 systems will endanger NATO defenses…”

  19. Turkey: French-origin terror suspect nabbed at border

    “Turkish border guards on Monday took into custody a suspected French-origin terrorist trying to cross into the country from its southern border with Syria, officials said.

    The suspect, sought with a red notice and identified only by the initials C.G., tried to enter the country’s southern Hatay province with a fake name, said Turkey’s National Defense Ministry in a statement.

    The suspect was involved in the Syrian group Firqat al-Ghuraba, which includes other French nationals, it added.

    Firqat al-Ghuraba, based in opposition-held areas in Idlib, northwestern Syria, is said to include many fighters from Europe.

    The suspect was taken to police in Reyhanli, Hatay, the ministry said.

    Later, a court remanded the suspect in custody, according to judicial sources.

    In November, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that so far this year Turkey has deported nearly 9,000 foreign terrorists.”

  20. Republican Electors Blocked From State Capitol in Michigan
    By Zachary Stieber
    December 14, 2020 Updated: December 14, 2020
    biggersmaller Print

    Republican electors in Michigan were blocked on Monday from accessing the state capitol in Lansing.

    Democratic electors were permitted to enter.

    Only people with appointments or those taking part in the Electoral College process were able to enter the building because it was ordered closed by legislators due to “credible threats of violence,” a Michigan State Police officer told Republican electors while blocking their entry, video footage from the scene showed.

    “We are electors,” the group of about a dozen said.

  21. Failing to Adjudicate Texas Lawsuit, Supreme Court Is Turning Constitution Into Two-Legged Stool
    Conrad Black
    Conrad Black
    December 14, 2020 Updated: December 14, 2020
    biggersmaller Print

    The refusal of the United States Supreme Court to hear the suit of Texas and 17 other states against four states, (Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), that were alleged not to have conducted fair presidential elections, on the grounds of Texas’ lack of standing, is a grievous abdication.

    The claim of Texas and the other states was that in failing to protect against fraudulent voting on a large scale that affected the results for each state, and cumulatively between the defendant states affected the outcome of the election of the president and vice president, this was a violation of Texas’s right to an adequate level of assurance that the constitutional process of selection of the president and vice president was truly followed.

    The attorney general of Pennsylvania called the Texas lawsuit a “seditious” attempt to disenfranchise the people of his state, and the Trump-hating media gave it the usual total-immersion in reflexive mockery.

    Official processes are not more important than the election of the president; no right is more fundamental than the assurance of the constitutional selection of the president. The Supreme Court’s decision can only be seen as another illustration of its determination under this notoriously controversy-averse Chief Justice (John Roberts), to avoid any judgment that might produce a partisan backlash.

  22. Greece sues NGOs for smuggling illegal immigrants

    “Greece has accused neighboring Turkey and several European non-profit organizations of deliberately being involved in the illegal smuggling of immigrants from Somalia to the Greek islands. According to Greece, some of them organize migrant journeys while disguising themselves as travel agencies.

    The Greek authorities became suspicious after the number of East African migrants entering the country suddenly began to increase rapidly. When numerous immigrants arrived on the Aegean island of Lesbos in early November, 142 of the 214 people came from Somalia.

    According to the Athenian newspaper Kathimerini, non-profit representatives reject this accusation, but the Greek government insists that the information is well-founded.

    “We have credible information that smugglers in Turkey are deliberately collecting migrants from Somalia and sending them to the EU via Greece,” said Notis Mitarakis, the Greek minister of immigration. He is a member of the new government in Athens, which, under the leadership of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has taken a sharper line on immigration since last year.

    Recently, when more than three dozen Somalis drowned while sailing from Turkey, one of the rescued migrants told how his entire journey took place under the direction of non-profits.

    NGOs are basically turning into travel agencies for migrants
    From what the Greek government describes, the efforts of the NGOs are like an organized trip through a travel agency. The details, as described by the British Times, show that they help arrange the details, leaving migrants without too much to worry about on their journey.

    Migrants must first obtain a Turkish visa, which is not complicated since Ankara has launched a “Go to Turkey and study” campaign in Somalia. According to Greek Minister Notis Mitarakis, Turkish representatives and representatives of humanitarian organizations help immigrants obtain a “student visa” on the spot in Mogadishu.

    The visa is not necessarily even expensive, with one rescued immigrant said he had paid only €100 for a trip to Turkey. The journey itself is, of course, many times more expensive. However, according to the Greek authorities, the rest of the amount would be matched by humanitarian organizations. In addition, according to local reporters, the bank accounts to which immigrants pay for arranging a trip are the same as those of illegal smuggling networks.

    Among the seven organizations that Greece suspects of illegal activity, Notis Mitarakis specifically mentioned two: the Al-Khair Foundation in London and the Aegean Boat Report Foundation in Norway. According to him, by smuggling people, they are violating Greek law.

    Immigrants are transported to key places on the Mediterranean coast after arriving in Turkey, from where they travel to the Greek islands with the assistance of non-profit organizations, Mitarakis described. Then they head to Athens, Berlin, or even as far as Calais.

    The head of the Norwegian foundation, Tommy Olsen, described the allegations as a targeted attack on his organization and denied that it would cooperate in any way with illegal human smugglers.

    However, it is not the first time Greece has accused NGOs of participating in migrant smuggling either, with dozens of NGO workers arrested by Greece and charged with helping smuggle migrants in recent months.

    NGO threat is growing
    However, the Greek government considers NGOs to be a big problem and wants to reduce similar risks in the future. For example, it will hire private contractors for auxiliary work in immigration camps. According to Mitarakis, they should not be relegated to the sidelines just because “there is some NGO Save the World that will ask for a million euros for cleaning the camp“.

    According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around 15,000 immigrants arrived in Greece this year, two-thirds of whom reached the Greek Aegean islands, where they stay in desperately crowded camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, and Samos.”

  23. paul j watson – Hotels Consider Requiring All Guests to Have COVID Vaccination

    No shot, no service.

    Hotels have now joined airlines in considering whether or not to mandate that all guests have proof of COVID vaccination before being allowed to stay.

    Several airlines have already announced plans to make the shot a compulsory condition of flying. According to anecdotal evidence, hotels and other forms of accomodation could follow suit.

    A reader of the LockdownSkeptics website reported that a hotel in Scotland which offers wildlife holidays is preparing to adopt the no vaccine, no service policy.

    “Should a vaccination programme be rolled out in the next few months, then it is likely we will require all guests to have been vaccinated before arrival,” states an item in the hotel’s newsletter.

    “2020 has undoubtedly have been a hard year for the hotel and they have already put in place a wide range of COVID-19 related “safety” measures which will have had significant cost and massively reduced their occupancy rates,” states the reader. “They will be balancing the requirements of both the Government and their customers, and, in respect of the latter, they clearly envisage that their customers will expect the highest possible levels of “safety” and will, on the whole, regard this vaccination requirement positively!”

    “I fear that, whatever the science and whatever Government might say, we are all going to be forced inexorably into a situation where “Vaccination Certificates”, de facto if not de jure, become necessary to lead even a reasonable life in the months (years?) to come.”

    As we highlighted earlier, according to Bill Gates, coronavirus restrictions will continue into 2022 and bars and restaurants will remain closed for four to six months.

    UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock also told MPs today that a “new variant” of COVID had been discovered, meaning the vaccine currently in production may not even be effective as the virus continues to mutate.


    France: World must “throw everything” and “the kitchen sink” to defeat COVID – OECD head

    OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria stressed that everything possible must be done in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, in Paris, on Monday.

    Speaking on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the OECD convention, Gurria stated, “Choosing between lives and livelihoods is a false dilemma,” stressing, “What you have to do is throw everything you’ve got, and the kitchen sink, you know, at the virus.”

    “If we shorten the life of the virus or the damage that the virus is doing, we will be able to pay a lower economic price, a lower social price, a lower governance price, a lower environmental price.”

    He remarked, however, that the “single most important intergenerational responsibility is to protect the planet” adding, “the question is not to lose sight of the medium and long-term issues” as a result of the battle against the pandemic.

  24. People joke Project Runway predicted future after contestant called Kovid made suit with mask in 2019

    A contestant’s design ended up being a red plaid suit with an accompanying face mask

    Rachel Brodsky
    Los Angeles
    Tuesday 01 December 2020 19:53

    The internet had a meltdown on Monday (30 November) over a recently unearthed clip from the 17th season of Project Runway, which appears to have – however accidentally – predicted the Covid-19 pandemic.

    On season 17 of the fashion design show, which aired in 2019, a designer named Kevin Kapoor participated in a “Head To Toe” challenge, which asked contestants to create a printed design look that covers the model’s entire body.

    Kapoor’s design ended up being a red plaid suit with an accompanying face mask, which, of course, wouldn’t be out of place in 2020. (Even more hilarious, the judges deemed the look “sick.”)

    Taken together, Kovid’s name (a Sanskrit word meaning “intelligent” or “poet”) and design strangely foreshadows future events.

    Kapoor hasn’t responded to requests for comment, but he did tweet a couple of laugh-cry emojis to indicate how funny he finds the coincidence.

  25. CBC – U.S. electoral college confirms Biden’s win; Barr resigns

    The U.S. electoral college has confirmed the results of November’s election, bringing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris one step closer to the White House.

    But U.S. President Donald Trump still refuses to concede defeat as Attorney General William Barr resigns.

    • CBC – Biden confirmed as U.S. president-elect by electoral college

      The U.S. electoral college has formally confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump with the expected final count of 306 to 232 electoral college votes.

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