Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

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In story: Winter 2021 Open Thread

You can't fix stupid.
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In story: A Nuclear Iran: Full Court Press and Warmongering

Biden Seeks Support from Evil Empires
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In story: Macron Rebooting Alliances Middle East

Re: Good Economic Times Military Sales
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In story: Macron Rebooting Alliances Middle East

Good Economic Times Military Sales
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In story: Macron Rebooting Alliances Middle East

European Peace Facility to Supply Lethal Arms
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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Re: Latest Data Omicron Variant
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In story: A Nuclear Iran: Full Court Press and Warmongering

GCC: A New Strategic Architecture Emerging
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A New Strategic Architecture Is Emerging in the Gulf | Arab Center - Sept. 24, 2021 |

The changing conditions of intra-Gulf relations are a direct result of important and most likely irreversible transformations in the near and distant regional environments of the GCC. Qatar is reclaiming its place in the GCC and playing a busy role as both an interlocutor between the United States and Iran and as a facilitator of American relations with Afghanistan's Taliban. Saudi Arabia is using the opportunity of an opening in Iraq to engage the Islamic Republic of Iran in dialogue about important mutual concerns.

The UAE is betting on two simultaneous strategic moves to increase its reach and influence in the wider region: de-escalating with neighbors and normalizing relations with Israel.

Iran is experiencing a consolidation of hard-liners' control over its executive and legislative branches of government as its friendly militias continue to play pivotal roles around the region. Indeed, the Gulf region appears to be moving in the direction of a restructured strategic architecture that depends on the ability of regional actors to successfully recast their capabilities and interests without an active and direct role by the United States.

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In story: A Nuclear Iran: Full Court Press and Warmongering

UAE Open Talks with Islamic Republic Iran
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Iran's chief negotiator and deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, visited the UAE.

"We agreed to open a new chapter in the relations," he posted on his Twitter account after the visit.

Anwar Gargash, a diplomatic adviser to the UAE president and a former minister of state for foreign affairs, was quoted in the media as saying the countries were taking steps to de-escalate the tensions between them.

Iranian state media reported Sunday that UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan will visit Iran on Monday to discuss expanding bilateral ties, in what appears to be one of those steps.

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In story: Blinken and NATO in Latvia for Pow-Wow

Re: US Spy Plane Endangered Civilian Aviation
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A New Spy Plane Could Spot Targets For The U.S. Army's Thousand-Mile Weapons | Forbes |

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In story: Blinken and NATO in Latvia for Pow-Wow

Re: US Spy Plane Endangered Civilian Aviation
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What does Russia say happened?

According to Russia's Federal Agency for Air Transport, a NATO CL-600 surveillance plane was flying over the Black Sea international waters on the morning of December 3. The aircraft was observed making a rapid descent from 11,000m to 9,200m, which allegedly crossed the designated path for civilian aircraft.

The reconnaissance aircraft's crew did not respond to Russian air traffic control, according to the Russian agency.

At that moment a Russian Aeroflot Airbus A330-300 flying from Tel Aviv to Moscow and a CL-650 plan belonging to Malta flew along their designated flight paths. It's understood that the two aircraft's travel paths had to be promptly changed to allow them to continue safely.

Russian fighter jets scrambled to intercept US reconnaissance planes over Black Sea | Tass - July 11, 2021 |

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In story: Blinken and NATO in Latvia for Pow-Wow

US Spy Plane Endangered Civilian Aviation
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Moscow has accused the United States of putting civilian lives at risk after a reported mid-air near-miss on Friday, involving two civilian aircraft and a NATO reconnaissance plane.

Russia's foreign ministry specifically accused the US Air Force of creating a "threat to civil aviation" over the Black Sea.

"Just because an air incident over the Black Seas' Int waters has been prevented, this does not mean the US and NATO can further put lives at risk with impunity," Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying on Twitter.

NATO spy plane forced flight from Tel Aviv to dive to avoid 'catastrophe' -- Russia | Times of Israel |

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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Look what dropped off P(0) front pages
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China sticks to strict anti-virus policy as Omicron rages on across world
China has not detected such cases so far except in Hong Kong. Its health authority said the country will stick to its current anti-COVID strategy of preventing imported cases and a domestic resurgence, noting that such an approach is also effective against Omicron. "No matter how the virus mutates, it is still the novel coronavirus," said Zhang Wenhong, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the Shanghai-based Huashan Hospital of Fudan University.
[...]
All the local clustered cases in the COVID-19 resurgence since mid-October in China originated from overseas. The resurgence has spread to more than 20 provincial-level regions at its peak.

When dealing with these imported Delta variant cases, most regions managed to contain the outbreak within an incubation period of about 14 days. Aiming to contain an outbreak within an incubation period, relevant Chinese agencies have been making full use of the "golden period," the first 24 hours of a discovered case, to find those who were in close contact, isolate potentially infected individuals before the virus spreads, or before the infected person can transmit the virus.
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Immediately after the three cases were reported, authorities there activated an emergency response. The local government ordered epidemiological investigators to arrive at the scene within two hours, complete the core investigations within four hours, and finish the epidemiological reports within 24 hours.



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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

There's this thing about liars ...
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Scientists explore role of immunocompromised in generating Covid-19 variants wtaf
Who is the Omicron variant's patient zero? Detected for ["]the first time["] in South Africa, the variant formally known as B.1.1.529 sparked immediate concern in the international community. Indeed, Omicron's unprecedented number of mutations - more than 30 compared with the original strain of this coronavirus - present two potential threats: that it could be particularly contagious and that it might prove resistant to existing ["]vaccines["].

While governments around the world have set out to bolster restrictions to stem Omicron's spread, scientists have set about tracing the origins of the "super mutant" variant to understand how it came into being.

Among the theories put forward, some researchers are looking at mutations that appeared in one infected patient with a compromised immune system. Over the course of several months, they have studied the effect of a possible link between the emergence of variants of the highest concern [VOHC] and immune systems weakened in patients who are, for example, suffering from [CHF, COPD, diabetes I-III, herpes I-IV, MS, malaria, TB, obesity, etc], cancers [chemo drugs], waiting for an organ transplant [ACE inhibitors] or living with untreated HIV [?!]...

and there she blows ...
It is not the first time that South Africa has detected a new Covid-19 variant before anywhere else. Prior to the Omicron variant, two others had been dubbed "South African" variants before those names were changed; first, the Beta variant and then C.1.2.
They can't keep their stories straight.
"But that can be explained, first of all, by the fact that the country conducts a lot of sequencing, which is what enables it to identify variants on its soil," Maréchal explained. "It doesn't necessarily mean that the patient zero (of the Omicron variant) is in South Africa."


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13 mutations, huh.

Let's recap evolution of broadcast "threat" levels: about one week after South African beta collided with UK alpha, two weeks into First World BioNTech-Pfizer/Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine launch, and six months before 2021's delta-branded "wave" eliminated the 2020 variants of interest and concern.

ecdc | Rapid increase of a SARS-CoV-2 varient with multiple spike protein mutations observed in the United Kingdom, 20 Dec 2020

Over the last few weeks, the United Kingdom (UK) has faced a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in South East England, leading to enhanced epidemiological and virological investigations. Analysis of viral genome sequence data identified a large proportion of cases belonged to a new single pylogenetic cluster. The new variant is defined by [9] spike protein mutations (deletion 69-70, deletion 144, N501Y, 4570D, D614G, P681H, T716I, 6982A, D1118H) present as well as mutations in other genomic regions. While it is known and expected that virus constantly change through mutation leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis in the UK suggests that this variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated potential to increase the reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70%. This new variant has emerged at a time of the year when there has traditionally been increased family and social mixing. There is no indication at this point of increased infection severity associated with the new variant. A few cases with the new variant have to date been reported by Denmark and the Netherlands and, according to media reports, in Belgium.
Nextstrain.org classification, nomenclature, and their consequences, 6 Jan 2021
Finally, there is the issue where if 20A.EU1 did expand to >20% global frequency, it would be confusing to relabel it from 20A.EU1 to, for example, 20E.

Consequently, we propose an updated [nomenclature] strategy, where major (year-letter) clades are named when any of the following criteria are hit:

  1. A clade reaches >20% global frequency for 2 or more months
  2. A clade reaches >30% regional frequency for 2 or more months
  3. A VOC (`variant of concern') is recognized (applies currently to 501Y.V1 and 501Y.V220B , GISAID clade GR, lineage B.1.1.7. Phylogenetic analysis (Figure 4) reveals that there are very few intermediary forms between this variant and other circulating viruses reported to GISAID. The cluster differs by 29 nucleotide substitutions from the original Wuhan strain ["pre-alpha"], which is higher than current molecular clock estimates of around two substitutions per genome per month
What these facts communicate to me is not perfect information, but a formula for scheduling phase changes to government notices of PI + NPI rationale.

Moreover, given last weeks announcement of brand "omicron"--while C.1.2 (May 2020) doubtless slowly mutated as it circulated worldwide by commercial transit. Patent "outbreak" headlines and talking points a triggered by foregone conclusions to limited laboratory "detection" established place: global frequency >20%--absolute count over time--not newly "discovered" cases.

What irks me isn't so much errors in pseudo-scientific theory and practice , but the arrogance of First World "leadership" in pursuit of totally perverse domination.

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In story: December 2021

Re: December 2021
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US and EU condemn Taliban over 'summary killings' and demand investigation
Early this week Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report that it says documents the summary execution or enforced disappearance arrest of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents "who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces" from mid-August through October.

"Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances," the countries - which include Canada, New Zealand, Romania, Ukraine and several European nations - said in the statement.
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Today's Taliban leaders, keen to gain international respectability, have pledged their regime will be different. But the new government has continued to carry out violent punishments, and the United Nations has expressed concern about "credible allegations" that the Taliban has carried out ["]reprisal killings["] since its victory, despite the promises of amnesty for the fallen government's troops.

Amid violent reprisals, Afghans fear the Taliban's 'amnesty' was empty
archived US Leaves Afghanistan to Terrorism, Taliban hang dead body in Afghan city's main square

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In story: December 2021

Re: December 2021 uncategorized
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French Presidential Candidate Zemmour Attacked at Villepinte Rally - Reports
"Zemmour, an author and TV commentator, announced his presidential candidacy on November 30. The 63-year-old stands out among the right as more hardline than veteran politician Marine Le Pen."
Fighting breaks out as French far-right candidate Zemmour launches 2022 bid with rally
He held his first event at an exhibition centre in Villepinte, a suburb of Paris where thousands cheered every mention of reducing immigration and booed every reference to Macron.

"The stakes are huge: if I win it will be the start of winning back the most beautiful country in the world," Zemmour told the crowd.
[...]
Socialist party head Olivier Faure blamed Zemmour for what he said had been an assault on peaceful campaigners. "Does anyone have any doubt now what motivates the Villepinte activists?" he tweeted. A crew from the popular but critical Quotidien nightly TV news show were also booed and removed by security, with hostility to the media a feature of the speeches at the event.

[US] Senators weigh online protections cyber security for [federal judges' families and] lawmakers' personal public info

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ancient broken window theory in practice

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In story: December 2021

Re: December 2021
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In story: December 2021

University D'Oh Bulletin
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In story: December 2021

Will it matter?
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CDC director confirms FDA in talks to streamline authorization of omicron-specific vaccine
"Yeah, you know, much of that I would have to defer to the FDA, but they're already in conversations about streamlining the authorization of this, of an omicron-specific vaccine, partially because much of the vaccine is actually exactly the same, and, really, it would just be that mRNA code that would have to change," Walensky answered.
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Among some of the considerations the FDA is reportedly eyeing would be allowing drugmakers for studies, in the case of vaccines, to examine hundreds [!] of people and their immune responses in comparison to COVID-19 test trials[?] that rely on waiting for COVID-19[?!] to be detected and include thousands of participants, according to the newspaper.


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In story: December 2021

Re: Cruise ships are back
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They're letting the people off the ship if they test negative. Which has been pretty conclusively shown to not be a conclusive indication of negativity.
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In story: The depolarization of Northern Ireland

Re: Queen's Green Canopy Initiative
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From US viewpoint, this is a huge mystery. Tossing all the grand old English royal families in the dumpster and replacing them with Germans.
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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Re: Latest Data Omicron Variant
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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Re: Latest Data Omicron Variant
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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Re: Latest Data Omicron Variant
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In story: Latest Data Omicron Variant

Re: Latest Data Omicron Variant
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In story: Rise In Covid Infections and False QR Passes

Rutte Like Trump Criticized Face Masks
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Mark Rutte, the `world-class pragmatist' trying to take the drama out of the corona crisis | Dutch News - May 2020 |

Mark Rutte's personal fortunes in the opinion polls have only improved since Covid-19 hit the Netherlands and his government's strategy has a domestic approval rating of 75%. [This month the approval rating for Rutte Corona strategy has dropped below 30%]

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In story: December 2021

"bona fide" imperial hero obit
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In story: December 2021

archived topical break point
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In story: December 2021

Re: December 2021 COVID cocktail UPDATE!
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market-based solutions to market-based problems
Ire over pharmacy middlemen fuels lobbying blitz
While there is little agreement among PBM opponents about what actions Congress should take, industry lobbyists are offering a menu of options for Democrats to consider, such as requiring [Pharmacy Benefit Managers] PBMs to pass on more of the rebates they negotiate with drugmakers to consumers or employers. They could also ban a common practice called spread pricing in which PBMs charge health plans [insurance carriers] more than they pay to the a pharmacy corporation dispensing a drug, and pocket the difference.
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JC Scott, who leads the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the trade group for PBMs, said targeting his members might be good politics and take the focus off drugmakers during a critical moment in the debate, but it would not lower drug costs.
[...]
Although dozens of PBMs exist, the industry is consolidated, with three of them -- CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx -- controlling nearly 80 percent of the prescription market. Health insurers, employers and [federal and states'] government hire PBMs to manage prescription benefits for their health [employees' commercial medical insurance group] plans -- putting them at the center of a supply chain consisting of drugmakers, insurers and pharmacies.

reference
WHO.int, "Medicines Reimbursement Policies in Europe" (2018), 200pp

An increasing number of countries in the WHO European Region have concluded managed entry agreement (MEAs). These are contractual arrangements between a pharmaceutical company and a public payer that enable reimbursement of a medicine, subject to specified conditions. A variety of different types of MEAs exist, which can be classified, in principle, as either finance-based (such as simple discounts or price-volume agreements) or performance-based (linked to health outcomes); the former are applied more frequently. Common indications covered by an MEA are oncology, rheumatology, hepatitis C and diabetes. In general, MEAs tend to be confidential - at least those aspects relating to the prices and discount arrangements.
Federal and states' HHS agencies underwrite expense of CMS price schedules for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiares enrolled public insurance plans, administered by commercial insurers licensed by the states.
archived Tue Jan 30th, 2018

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News and Views

 December 2021

by Bernard - Dec 1, 78 comments

Your take on this month's news

 November 2021

by Bernard - Nov 1, 191 comments

Your take on this month's news

 Winter 2021 Open Thread

by Bernard - Nov 2, 32 comments

Winter is coming...

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