Monday, March 08, 2021

U.S. Accuses Russia of Launching a Disinformation Campaign Against Pfizer Vaccine

U.S. officials believe that Russia is carrying out a disinformation campaign to discredit the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Russian intelligence has been trying to cast doubt on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in an effort to boost their own Sputnik V vaccine.

Four publications acting as fronts for Russian intel agencies have been publishing disinformation, trying to convince Americans that the approval of the Pfizer vaccine was rushed and shortcuts were taken.

“We can say these outlets are directly linked to Russian intelligence services,” an official at the State Department’s Global Engagement Center told the newspaper. “They’re all foreign-owned, based outside of the United States. They vary a lot in their reach, their tone, their audience, but they’re all part of the Russian propaganda and disinformation ecosystem.”


Russia announced a successful coronavirus vaccine in August, but Sputnik V was approved under questionable circumstances. It was released before it went through phase 3 trials. In the United States, phase 3 is a requirement before a drug or vaccine can be vetted and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The rushed timeline led health officials to speculate whether the Kremlin coerced vaccine makers into putting out Sputnik V quickly to gain a leg up in the global race for a cure to the novel coronavirus.

China is still in the game as well, inking vaccine deals with several countries. But it goes without saying that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the gold standard and are in the most demand around the world.

The problem for other countries is getting their hands on some. The U.S. is “vaccine hoarding” according to the WHO because we are choosing to vaccinate our own citizens before giving it away to others. Here’s where Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine can make inroads in this massive market, and Russian intelligence is doing all they can to help.

Wall Street Journal:

“The emphasis on denigrating Pfizer is likely due to its status as the first vaccine besides Sputnik V to see mass use, resulting in a greater potential threat to Sputnik’s market dominance,” says a forthcoming report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a nongovernmental organization that focuses on the danger that authoritarian governments pose to democracies and that is part of the German Marshall Fund, a U.S. think tank.

The foreign efforts to sow doubts about the vaccine exploit deep-seated anxieties about the efficacy and side effects of vaccines that were already prevalent in some communities in the U.S. and internationally. Concern about side effects is a major reason for vaccine hesitancy, according to U.S. Census Bureau data made public last month.

In addition, Russian state media and Russian government Twitter accounts have made an effort to openly disparage and sow doubts about the cost and safety of the Pfizer vaccine.

The Russians have dismissed any idea that the FSB or GRU are engaged in disinformation against the COVID vaccines but the publications mentioned by the State Department have deep ties to Russian intelligence and it’s not likely that they would be conducting this kind of campaign without the approval of top intelligence officials.

Russia can do its worst but its credibility on the vaccine issue leaves much to be desired.


As an Industry Faces Destruction, It Grows a Voting Coalition

Imagine if you had a job. A good job, one that required skill and critical thinking and had a broad impact in the community where you lived. A job you didn’t just show up to do. It was a job you were good at, and because of it, you were able to provide a roof over your family’s head, put your children through college or help pay for their wedding, and once a year, it gave you the ability to carve out a week or two to take the family on vacation.

Now imagine that job becomes the center of political debate, one far removed from the Laurel Mountains, where this town sits. Within two decades, your profession goes from being championed by the Democratic Party and labor officials to one that they want to destroy.

John Fisher and Harvey Charles were standing outside of the Acosta Mine mechanic station here in Somerset County. Both still had traces of coal dust on their hands and faces. Both had just finished their shifts and were cleaning up themselves and their equipment. Fisher works in the mine; Charles transports the coal.

Fisher has been doing this job since 1989, when he returned home after serving four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. The 52-year-old says he travels 67 miles one way every day from his home in Cherry Tree in Clearfield County to do his job at the mine.

He describes his day, which begins not with walking into the mine, but crawling.

“I get here, what? 4:30 a.m. Make sure everything’s running. Then, I go underground and fix what’s broken. All over, in the pots, in the slop, in the bad roof, in the good roof.” He explains all the vulnerabilities that exist in a mine that require monitoring and daily repairs.

Here, metallurgical coal gets mined. It is used exclusively for the steel production that supports the construction of bridges, roads, highways, homes, factories, distribution centers, churches and other businesses supporting the country’s infrastructure and economy.

Fisher explains the core business here is producing and selling metallurgical coal to domestic and international steel and coke (a porous fuel) producers: “It’s a good living. I like what I do, or I would not be doing it.”
So does Charles, who says he’s been in the industry since 1987. “Right out of high school, I followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather.”

“I used to be the maintenance foreman. Now I’m just a truck mechanic,” he said of his job to make sure all of the massive dump trucks used to haul the coal out of the hollow are in working order.

They acknowledge their industry is in the center of a political storm and their fate does not rely on how many improvements the industry does to make it clean. “Politicians and the press need a good guy and a bad guy to either win a race or tell a story. We used to be the good guys that everyone stood up for,” Fisher says and then shrugs.

“Now we are the bad guys.”

Pick up the daily newspaper and you will find mining will get blamed for everything from the growth of the deer tick population to last year’s mild winter (this winter has not been mild).

Several things bother Fisher and Charles regarding how others look upon those in the mining industry. One is the stereotype of anyone in their business as either anti-intellectual or anti-clean environment. The former they consider insulting, the latter ridiculous.

“Not only do we drink the water and breathe the air here, but we also hunt, fish and swim here. We are the first people who want whatever we do here to be safe,” Fisher said. It is a common refrain from energy workers across the country.

The other thing that gets under their skin is when politicians flippantly suggest they can quickly get another job. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently said people who lost their job to climate justice might find a climate-conscious job.

And President Joe Biden suggested coal miners should just learn to code. Last year in New Hampshire, in the middle of a brag of how former President Barack Obama had placed him in charge of judging what the jobs of the future would be, he said, “Anybody who can go down 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well.”

It is still astounding to witness the contempt and disdain politicians and the press have toward the lives and livelihoods of people who aren’t like them, people who don’t live in their ZIP codes or attend the same universities they did.

People who work with their hands don’t start a conversation by asking you where you work. It is rare to find anyone here who would say your profession is irredeemable and that you need to do something they find worthy. Traditionally, when a job or an industry has a problem, they work on fixing it or correcting it rather than destroying it.

People often asked after the 2020 election what will happen with the Trump voters (Fisher and Charles voted for him twice). The thing is this complex conservative populist coalition existed long before it helped catapult Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016.

His win was, in part, the result of a culture that became detached from the people they served in various institutions, whether it was the government, the entertainment industry or the college campus. Many people ultimately rejected all of them.

But if you never understood that, if you always thought it was about Trump, you never understood who they were and why they vote the way they do.

And you never understood how someone who lives in the suburbs of Arizona or Kenosha, Wisconsin, or Miami could have anything in common with someone who works the mines in Appalachia. And you didn’t understand that because you didn’t care to, because you hoped for its destruction.

There will be two endings to this story. The first is industries such as coal or shale, or the creation of pipelines, will continue to get attacked and dismantled, costing people their jobs. As Fisher said, politicians and the press always need a bad guy.

And the other ending is this coalition will grow — despite the press incorrectly believing one person caused it and having the audacity to think they have the power to dismantle it.


Blue collar workers going Republican

An NBC News poll released last week reflects one of the most significant political trends of the past 30 years – the realignment of blue-collar workers who’ve left the party of Planned Parenthood and Drag Queen Story Hour for the party of energy-independence, fair-trade deals and border security.

The poll shows that between 2010 and 2020, the Republican share of blue- collar votes rose from 45% to 57%. Within the same demographic, its Hispanic vote went from 23% to 36%, while its black working-class vote went from 5% to 12%.

In 1992, Bill Clinton carried 49% of counties where at least 25% of the workforce was employed in manufacturing. In 2016, Donald Trump took 95%. What used to be one of the left’s most reliable constituencies is now going the way of evangelicals in their flight from a party that’s lost both its mind and its soul.

Writing in The Detroit News on April 10, 2019, Terry Bowman (a 22- year UAW/Ford worker) charges: “While Democrats fight for policies that crush working-class communities, Republicans and our president are fighting for blue-collar jobs and traditional American values.”

The geezer in the White House is becoming a job-killing machine. On Day One, the Keystone XL-Pipeline was axed. And that’s just a down-payment on Biden’s debt to the Greenies. But, not to worry. As John Forbes Kerry assured us, unemployed pipeline workers can get good-paying jobs manufacturing solar panels – in China.

It’s infuriating the way Democrats can speak so nonchalantly about sacrificing the opportunities of others. Campaigning in 2016, the warm and lovable Hillary Clinton boasted, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business!” This from someone who probably never lifted anything heavier than a nail file.

Under Biden’s welcome-mat policy, the Border Patrol has been ordered not to arrest illegals unless they commit multiple homicides within eyesight. He’s starting to admit the first of 25,000 “asylum” seekers, and blue-collar workers will get to pay for a process that will lead to the loss of more of their jobs.

But jobs isn’t the whole picture.

Most of the white working-class is solidly middle-American: church-going, socially conservative (pro-life, pro-marriage and pro- traditional morality). Many are gun-owners, veterans and reservists, patriotic and not embarrassed to show it and mystified by those who are. And, are you sitting down Nancy, they refuse to apologize for being white.

If a guy drives a pick-up truck with a gun-rack and a tool box in back, and an American flag decal, chances are he isn’t a community organizer who votes Democratic.

In short, workers are everything liberals have come to loathe – an animosity that’s reflected in Obama’s bitter-clingers comment, Hillary’s basket of deplorables and Biden’s dregs of society.

The Democrats have become the party of Alice-in-Wonderland social policy – the party that refuses to criticize Antifa and Black Lives Matter even as they turn our cities into barbecue pits, the party that turns a blind eye to urban riots but sees white supremacy everywhere, the party of defund the police and sanctuary cities, the party of climate-change cultists, the party of “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15,” the party that tried to take an innocuous reference God out of its 2012 platform, the party of abortion up to the moment of birth, the party of LGBTQ, and now, the party of transgenderism.

Bowman writes: “My father, a retired UAW/Ford worker, was a life-long Democrat” who voted for Trump in 2016 and now says “I don’t know the damn Democrat party anymore.” Ronald Reagan used to say he didn’t leave the Democrats; they left him.

Unlike their white-collar counterparts, blue-collar workers didn’t have an opportunity to be indoctrinated by their college professors – but Biden wants them to pay the debts of those who were. They are less likely to heed the so-called experts. They don’t get their news from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. They’re not afraid to voice views that get conservatives banned by Facebook and Twitter.

While the GOP is becoming the party of labor, the Democrats are firmly in the hands of coastal elitists.

Business Insider listed the billionaires who bankrolled Biden’s 2020 campaign. It reads like the Fortune 500 and includes the CEOs -- or their wives -- of Microsoft, Google, Lucasfilm, Estee Lauder, Dream Works, Hyatt, J.P. Morgan Chase, Linkedin and Comcast/Universal. Remember when the media used to whine about Republicans as the party of the super-rich?

You think they care about the guy who worries about making this month’s mortgage payment or if he’ll still have a pension when he retires? In a pig’s eye.

Since Jimmy Carter, blue-collar workers have been worked over by the Democrats. Now, they’re returning the favor. With the Republicans, they’ve found their real home.




No comments: