From the Brownstone Institute
Last week, Elon Musk appointed Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO of Twitter. She has excellent political connections. In 2021, she partnered with the Biden administration to create a Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Free speech activists howled over Yaccarino’s appointment as Twitter boss because she is an Executive Chair with the World Economic Forum (WEF). Here’s the story on WEF, sparked by their most recent annual meeting.
The January meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, should have set off alarms among freedom lovers around the globe. The annual confab of billionaires, political weasels, and deranged activists laid out plans to further repress humanity. But at least the gathering provided plenty of comic relief for people who enjoy elite buffoonery.
Self-worship is obligatory in Davos. John Kerry, Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, hailed his fellow attendees as “extraterrestrial” for their devotion to saving the earth. Greenpeace complained that “the rich and powerful flock to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors.” Being a climate change activist is “the privilege of rich and elite folks” who want to force people to use unreliable and ineffective wind and solar for energy, according to Daniel Turner of Power the Future.
People around the globe are still recovering from the last time WEF stampeded policymakers. “WEF was hugely influential, championing every form of COVID control from lockdowns to vaccine mandates. The WEF cares nothing for normal people living real lives. They are forging a Faucian nightmare,” warned Jeffrey Tucker, president of Brownstone Institute. China had one of the most brutal and dishonest COVID lockdowns in the world (aside from perhaps fabricating the COVID virus in one of its own laboratories). But WEF founder Klaus Schwab touted China’s COVID crackdown as a “role model” and “a very attractive model for quite a number of countries.”
WEF is whooping up the “Great Reset” — “building back better” so that economies can emerge greener and fairer out of the pandemic. The Great Reset presumes that practically every nation has benevolent dictators waiting to take the reins over people’s lives. American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy wrote, “The Great Reset calls for dissolving the boundaries between the public & private sectors; between nations; between the online & offline worlds, and the will of individual citizens be damned.” Billionaire Elon Musk, who was not invited, scoffed, “WEF is increasingly becoming an unelected world government that the people never asked for and don’t want.” Musk ridiculed the WEF’s “Master the Future” slogan: “Are they trying to be the boss of Earth!?”
Sounds good to WEF attendees.
Freedom of speech is the greatest barrier to inflicting the Great Reset. Law professor Jonathan Turley observed, “Davos has long been the Legion of Doom for free speech.” Accordingly, the biggest peril the self-proclaimed “Global Shapers” are targeting is “The Clear and Present Danger of Disinformation.”
The WEF searched long and hard to find an eminent disinformation panel host to incarnate Davos values. They selected Brian Stelter, a former anchor who was too squirrely even for CNN. After CNN ejected Stelter, he was snapped up by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to be their Media and Democracy Fellow.
The star of the panel was New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, who proclaimed that disinformation is the “most existential” of every other major challenge that we are grappling with as a society.” Like most of the windy speakers in Switzerland, Sulzberger tormented the audience from the high ground:
Disinformation and in the broader set of misinformation, conspiracy, propaganda, clickbait, you know, the broader mix of bad information that’s corrupting the information ecosystem, what it attacks is trust. And once you see trust decline, what you then see is a society start to fracture, and so you see people fracture along tribal lines and, you know, that immediately undermines pluralism.
Sulzberger boasted, “When we make mistakes, we acknowledge them in public and we correct them.” Except for RussiaGate, its 1619 Project fairy tale, the January 6 Capitol clash, and a few dozen other howlers. The New York Times effectively refused to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 election, giving an unearned boost to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Sulzberger talked about the decline of trust as if it were the result of a leaking underground storage tank tainting the “information ecosystem.” But it was the media that poisoned the well upon which they depend. A 2021 survey by the Reuters Institute reported that only 29 percent of Americans trusted the news media — the lowest rating of any of the 46 nations surveyed. A Gallup poll revealed that “86 percent of Americans believed the media was politically biased.” Practically the only folks who don’t recognize the bias are the people who share the media’s slant.
Serendipitously, the WEF also had a panel on “Disrupting Distrust.” The panel opened with a report grimly revealing that trust in government has declined in nations across the world. Maybe the profound, pointless disruptions from the COVID lockdowns that ravaged many countries were part of the blame? That panel was hosted by New York Times opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury. Her paper recently ran an opinion piece which claimed that there had been “no lockdowns” for COVID in this country. All of the closed schools and shuttered small businesses were an optical illusion, apparently.
The Davos pro-censorship fervor was epitomized by panelist Věra Jourová, European Commission vice president. She declared that the United States “will have soon” laws prohibiting “illegal hate speech,” like Europe has. Jourová previously urged expanding hate crime laws to ban “sexual exploitation of women.” Would possession of a 1957 Playboy centerfold be sufficient for a criminal conviction? Nude beaches are common in Europe. Would the European Commission backstop online prohibitions by deploying commissars on every beach to make sure no male had improper thoughts about the birthday suits he saw?
Hate-speech laws are a Pandora’s box because the speech politicians hate the most is criticism of government. And some knuckleheads on Capitol Hill believe that the United States already has hate-speech laws. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) recently declared, “If you espouse hate, if you espouse violence, you’re not protected under the First Amendment. I think we can be more aggressive in the way that we handle that type of use of the internet.” What’s next — a federal Cordiality Czar with the prerogative to purify every tweet?
Disinformation panelist Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) blamed “misinformation” for not being able to “get people to take a COVID vaccine.” But the false claims by Biden and top officials that vaxxes prevent infection and transmission weren’t misinformation — they were just typos.
Davos attendees ignored the stunning disclosures of US government censorship that occurred shortly before their private jets arrived in Switzerland. The #Twitterfiles recently revealed that federal officials pressured Twitter to suppress 250,000 Twitter users (including journalists). But according to WEF scoring, that wasn’t an outrage — instead, it was a tiny down payment for a Higher Truth. WEF ignored that the FBI was already suppressing free speech the same way that WEF panelists championed.
As journalist Matt Taibbi revealed, “As the election approached in 2020, the FBI overwhelmed Twitter with requests, sending spreadsheets with hundreds of accounts” to target and suppress. The official browbeating continued until very recently. In an internal email from November 5, 2022, the FBI’s National Election Command Post sent the FBI San Francisco field office (which dealt directly with Twitter) “a long list of accounts that ‘may warrant additional action’” — that is, suppression.
The FBI pressured Twitter to torpedo parody accounts that only idiots or federal agents would not recognize as humor. Taibbi wrote, “The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which ‘FBI San Francisco is notifying you’ it wants action on four accounts.”
The WEF is calling for a “Global Framework To Regulate Harm Online” — that is, worldwide censorship. One of the WEF’s favorite stars — a certified WEF Young Global Leader — was unable to attend because she was having a meltdown that ended with her resignation. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a progressive hero for making ever screechier demands for world censorship, comparing free speech to “weapons of war.” She told the United Nations last September: “We have the means; we just need the collective will” to suppress ideas that officialdom disapproves. Journalist Glenn Greenwald derided Ardern’s pitch as “the face of authoritarianism … and the mindset of tyrants everywhere.” But Ardern was there in spirit even if she was overwhelmed at home.
The WEF offers one of the best illustrations of how denunciations of “disinformation” are self-serving shams. In 2016, WEF put out a video with eight predictions for life in 2030. The highlight of the film was a vapid Millennial guy pictured alongside the slogan: “You will own nothing and be happy.” The slogan was inspired by an essay the WEF published from Danish Member of Parliament Ida Auken: “Welcome to 2030: I own nothing, have no privacy and life has never been better.” But the anti–private property bias is no WEF aberration. Last July, the WEF proposed slashing ownership of private vehicles around the globe. And then there was the WEF pitch to save the planet by having people eat insects instead of red meat. (The chairman of German manufacturer Siemens achieved heroic status at Davos by calling for a billion people to stop eating meat to save the planet.)
But according to WEF managing director Adrian Monck, the WEF has been the victim of a horrible conspiracy theory sparked by the “own nothing” phrase. Monck absolved WEF because the phrase in the video came from “an essay series intended to spark debate about socio-economic developments.” Monck claimed the phrase “started life as a screenshot, culled from the Internet by an anonymous anti-semitic account on the image board 4chan.” Bigots or zealots on 4chan howled in protest about that phrase. But as Elon Musk quipped, “Would be great if someone could compile a game contest of who said the craziest stuff between 4chan and WEF! My money is on the latter.”
At least the WEF has not (yet) proposed mandatory injections to compel propertyless underlinings to be happy. Or maybe the WEF would just recommend covertly adding drugs to the water supply.
Major media outlets were either participants or cosponsors of the WEF. Former New York Times editor-in-chief Jill Abramson slammed the Times for being part of the Davos “corrupt circle-jerk.” While the event was portrayed as a chance for sharing ideas, it was instead little more than a chance to hobnob with fellow elitists. Author Walter Kirn noted that there is almost no disagreement among WEF attendees: “The largest matters on earth are at stake (supposedly) yet the conferees don’t argue. They don’t debate. All points seem smugly settled. It’s an ego orgy.” The hypocrisy was beyond hip-deep. Journalist Michael Shellenberger noted, “WEF doesn’t engage in even the minimal amount of transparency through public disclosure that it constantly preaches to corporations and philanthropies.”
What could possibly go wrong from turning common people around the world into serfs of their elitist overlords? According to WEF, individual freedom is a luxury that citizens — or at least their rulers — can no longer afford. But the benevolence of dictators is almost always an illusion created by their fawning supporters. And this year’s WEF gathering proved again that there will never be a shortage of media and intellectual bootlickers for tyranny.
A version of this article was originally published in the April 2023 edition of Future of Freedom.
Why the Secrecy Over Vaccine Contracts?
From the Brownstone Institute
Major international governments have signed multibillion-dollar legal contracts with drug companies in order to secure access to covid-19 vaccines.
But the drug companies and governments have refused to divulge details, saying the information is “commercial in confidence.”
In 2021, we got our first peek at contracts between Pfizer and various international countries after they were leaked to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and US consumer group Public Citizen.
“The contracts offer a rare glimpse into the power one pharmaceutical corporation has gained to silence governments, throttle supply, shift risk and maximise profits in the worst public health crisis in a century,” said Zain Rizvi, author of the Public Citizen report.
Pfizer was accused of “bullying” governments during contract negotiations, asking some Latin American countries to put up sovereign assets, such as embassy buildings and military bases, as a guarantee against the cost of any future legal cases.
High court decision
Last month, a South African NGO called Health Justice Initiative won a high court challenge to gain access to all of South Africa’s covid-19 vaccine contracts.
Tony Nikolic, an Australian solicitor from law firm Ashley, Francina, Leonard & Associates, reviewed the Pfizer contract and says it reads like South Africa was “held to ransom” over the deal.
“It’s a one-sided contract. Pfizer gets all of the profits and none of the risks,” says Nikolic. “It’s akin to extortion, there’s absolutely no liability for the vaccine manufacturer in terms of injuries that may arise from their product.”
The South African government agreed to “indemnify, defend and hold harmless” Pfizer and all its affiliates from “any and all suits, claims, actions, demands, losses, damages, liabilities settlements, penalties, fines, costs and expenses” arising from the vaccine.
It also says the government will “create, dedicate, and maintain a no-fault compensation fund sufficient to undertake and completely fulfil the indemnification obligations….. for damage, injury, or harm arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the development, administration, or use of the vaccine.”
Nikolic says, “It’s like the manufacturers could ask for anything they wanted. There was such panic at the time and images in the media of people dying in the streets created a real sense of fear and insecurity around the world.”
The protection against liability is not only in place for the initial vaccine formulation, but for “any or all related strains, mutations, modifications or derivatives of the foregoing that are procured by Purchaser.”
“What this means,” explains Nikolic, “is that Pfizer can modify its vaccine to match whatever variants emerge, and still have all the same protections against liability. This is nothing more than a cash cow for Pfizer, they are privatising the profits, whilst socialising the costs.”
Pfizer charged the South African government $10 per dose, which is nearly 33 percent more than the $6.75 “cost price” it reportedly charged the African Union.
“In my view, this is why Pfizer wants the details kept secret, so that it can protect the various price differences between countries. It’s classic price gouging with a predatory twist, that is why procurement transparency is essential,” says Nikolic.
The contract states “the long-term effects and efficacy of the vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known.”
Nikolic says this is in stark contrast to the public health messages at the time.
“We had politicians and key opinion leaders telling people that the vaccines were ‘safe and effective’ when the procurement contracts themselves did not make such claims,” says Nikolic.
“The contract clearly indicates that adverse effects were unknown at the time of signing. The burden of proof should never have been on the people to prove the vaccine was unsafe, it should have been on the manufacturer to prove the vaccine was safe,” he adds.
Nikolic has spent the last two years trying to access the procurement contracts signed by the Australian Government.
“Australians are still in the dark about what is contained within these contracts. We know it gave liability protection to the vaccine manufacturers like other countries, but that’s the extent of it,” says Nikolic.
“We need to know what our politicians knew at the time of signing the deal. And we need to know how much money we, the taxpayer, spent for a vaccine that turned out to be far less safe or effective than promised,’ he adds.
In a recent Australian Senate committee hearing, Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts grilled Pfizer executives under oath about the indemnity clauses in its contract with the Australian government, but Pfizer refused to give details.
“The contents of Pfizer’s contract with the Australian Government remains confidential,” said Pfizer Australia’s medical director Krishan Thiru.
In 2021, Nikolic mounted a legal challenge against covid-19 vaccine mandates in the NSW Supreme Court where he tried to subpoena the Pfizer contract, but his request was blocked.
Undeterred, Nikolic submitted an FOI request to the Australian Department of Health.
The FOI request, however, was denied because the contracts “contain information that is confidential in nature” such as “trade secrets and commercially valuable information.” It stated:
“The documents contain commercial information regarding the procurement of vaccines to Australia. The documents contain information specifically relevant to the unique commercial arrangements between the department and third parties, including indicative prices, payment terms, professional indemnity, ongoing funding measures, manufacturing details and production measures.”
Nikolic says, “It’s unethical, potentially unlawful and immoral for them to argue that the right to preserve commercial confidence overrides the right for public safety, it just doesn’t make sense.”
He adds, “It just boggles the mind how governments just rolled over and entered into agreements with companies like Pfizer that have a long track record of breaching the False Claims Act resulting in billion-dollar criminal and civil liability.”
Reposted from the author’s Substack
The Great Demoralization
From the Brownstone Institute
On March 6, 2020, the mayor of Austin, Texas, canceled the biggest tech and arts trade show in the world, South-by-Southwest, only a week before hundreds of thousands were to gather in the city.
In an instant, with the stroke of a pen, it was all gone: hotel reservations, flight plans, performances, exhibitors, and all the hopes and dreams of thousands of merchants in the town. Economic impact: a loss $335 million in revenue at least. And that was just to the city alone, to say nothing of the broader impact.
It was the beginning of US lockdowns. It wasn’t entirely clear at the time – my own sense was that this was a calamity that would lead to decades of successful lawsuits against the Austin mayor – but it turned out that Austin was the test case and template for the entire nation and then the world.
The reason was of course Covid but the pathogen wasn’t even there. The idea was to keep it out of the city, an incredible and sudden fallback to a medieval practice that has nothing to do with modern public health understanding of how a respiratory virus should be handled.
“In six months,” I wrote at the time, “if we are in a recession, unemployment is up, financial markets are wrecked, and people are locked in their homes, we’ll wonder why the heck governments chose disease ‘containment’ over disease mitigation. Then the conspiracy theorists get to work.”
I was right about the conspiracy theorists but I had not anticipated that they would turn out to be right about nearly everything. We were being groomed for nationwide lockdowns.
At this point in the trajectory, we already knew the gradient of risk. It was not medically significant for healthy working-age adults (which still to this day the CDCs does not admit). So the shutdown likely protected very few if anyone.
The extraordinary edict – worthy of a tin-pot dictator of a dark age – completely overrode the wishes of millions, all on the decision of one man, whose name is Steven Adler.
“Was the consideration between maintaining that money, effectively rolling the dice, and doing what you did?” asked Texas Monthly of the mayor.
His answer: “No.”
Clarifying: “We made a decision based on what was in the best health interest for the city. And that is not an easy choice.”
After the shocking cancellation, which overrode property rights and free will, the mayor urged all residents to go out and eat at restaurants and gather and spend money to support the local economy. In this later interview, he explained that he had no problem keeping the city open. He just didn’t want people from hither and yon – the dirty people, so to speak – to bring a virus with them.
He was here playing the role of Prince Prospero in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” He was turning the capital city of Texas into a castle in which the elite could hide from the virus, an action that also became a foreshadowing of what was to come: the division of the entire country into clean and dirty populations.
The mayor further added a strange comment: “I think the spread of the disease here is inevitable. I don’t think that closing down South Bay was intended to stop the disease from getting here because it is coming. The assessment of our public health professionals was that we were risking it coming here more quickly, or in a greater way with a greater impact. And the longer we could put that off, the better this city is.”
And there we have the “flatten the curve” thinking at work. Kick the can down the road. Postpone. Delay herd immunity as long as possible. Yes, everyone will get the bug but it is always better that it happens later rather than sooner. But why? We were never told. Flatten the curve was really just prolong the pain, keep our overlords in charge as long as possible, put normal life on hold, and stay safe as long as you can.
Prolonging the pain might also have served another surreptitious agenda: let the working classes – the dirty people – get the bug and bear the burden of herd immunity so that the elites can stay clean and hopefully it will die out before it gets to the highest echelons. There was indeed a hierarchy of infection.
In all these months, no one ever explained to the American public why prolonging the period of non-exposure was always better than meeting the virus sooner, gaining immunity, and getting over it. The hospitals around the country were not strained. Indeed, with the inexplicable shutdown of medical services for diagnostics and elective surgeries, hospitals in Texas were empty for months. Health care spending collapsed.
This was the onset of the great demoralization. The message was: your property is not your own. Your events are not yours. Your decisions are subject to our will. We know better than you. You cannot take risks with your own free will. Our judgment is always better than yours. We will override anything about your bodily autonomy and choices that are inconsistent with our perceptions of the common good. There is no restraint on us and every restraint on you.
This messaging and this practice is inconsistent with a flourishing human life, which requires the freedom of choice above all else. It also requires the security of property and contracts. It presumes that if we make plans, those plans cannot be arbitrarily canceled by force by a power outside of our control. Those are bare minimum presumptions of a civilized society. Anything else leads to barbarism and that is exactly where the Austin decision took us.
We still don’t know precisely who was involved in this rash judgment or on what basis they made it. There was a growing sense in the country at the time that something was going to happen. There had been sporadic use of lockdown powers in the past. Think of the closure of Boston after the bombing in 2013. A year later, the state of Connecticut quarantined two travelers who might have been exposed to Ebola in Africa. These were the precedents.
“The coronavirus is driving Americans into unexplored territory, in this case understanding and accepting the loss of freedom associated with a quarantine,” wrote the New York Times on March 19, 2020, three days after the Trump press conference that announced two weeks to flatten the curve.
The experience on a nationwide basis fundamentally undermined the civil liberties and rights that Americans had long taken for granted. It was a shock to everyone but to young people still in school, it was utter trauma and a moment of mental reprogramming. They learned all the wrong lessons: they are not in charge of their lives; someone else is. The only way to be is to figure out the system and play along.
We now see epic learning loss, psychological shock, population-wide obesity and substance abuse, a fall in investor confidence, a shrinkage of savings reflecting less interest in the future, and a dramatic decline in public participation in what used to be normal life events: church, theater, museums, libraries, fares, symphonies, ballets, theme parks, and so on. Attendance in general is down by half and this is starving these venues of money. Most of the big institutions in large cities like New York, such as Broadway and the Met, are on life support. The symphony halls have a third empty seats despite lowering prices.
It seems remarkable that this three-and-a-half year-long war against basic liberty for nearly everyone has come to this. And yet it should not be a surprise. All ideology aside, you simply cannot maintain much less cultivate a civilized life when governments, in combination with the commanding heights of media and large corporations, treat their citizens like lab rats in a science experiment. You only end in sucking away the essence and vibrancy of the human spirit, as well as the will to build a good life.
In the name of public health, they sapped the will to health. And if you object, they shut you up. This is still going on daily.
The ruling class that did this to the country has yet to speak honestly about what transpired. It was their actions that created the current cultural, economic, and social crisis. Their experiment left the country and our lives in shambles. We’ve yet to hear apologies or even basic honesty about any of it. Instead, all we get is more misleading propaganda about how we need yet another shot that doesn’t work.
History provides many cases of a beaten down, demoralized, and increasingly poor and censored majority population being ruled over by an imperious, inhumane, sadistic, privileged, and yet tiny ruling class. We just never believed we would become one of those cases. The truth of this is so grim and glaring, and the likely explanation of what happened so shocking, that the entire subject is regarded as something of a taboo in public life.
There will be no fixing this, no crawling out from under the rubble, until we get something from our rulers other than public preening about a job well done, in ads sponsored by Pfizer and Moderna.
If You Don’t Hear From Me, It’s Because I Don’t Hear From You.
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