Covid lockdowns Gavin Newsom Intelwars Los Angeles

Los Angeles school board authorizes district to sue Gavin Newsom over his plan to reopen schools

Teachers’ unions in California have been remarkably successful thus far at using public pressure to keep the government from forcing them to return to their classrooms on even a part-time basis, as workers in virtually every other field in America have done, and as teachers across most of the rest of the country have done.

However, the patience of California parents with the travails of distance-learning has reached such a critical point that even Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), one of the nation’s foremost proponents of COVID-19-inspired lockdowns, has begun to apply pressure on schools to reopen under a “California’s Safe Schools for All” framework.

Still, although Newsom has insisted that his plan will allow schools to reopen safely, he has been so effectively cowed by the teachers’ unions that he has already publicly declared that if the unions won’t allow their teachers to go back to the classroom, he won’t attempt to force them. Instead, his plan will merely provide additional funding that will provide for hiring additional teachers and purchasing additional safety equipment for schools that do choose to reopen.

Even this milquetoast and completely inoffensive plan was egregious enough, however, to cause the Los Angeles Unified school board to vote on Tuesday to authorize the district to sue Newsom over the plan. To re-emphasize, the plan the district plans to file a lawsuit over does not require Los Angeles schools to reopen for in-person learning, it merely provides extra money and resources to the district in case they voluntarily decide to.

Apparently, the Los Angeles Unified School District wants the money the governor has touted in his plan, regardless of whether classrooms are reopened or not. Additionally, Los Angeles school superintendent Austin Beutner has criticized the plan for allegedly not doing enough to address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income communities.

According to Beutner, “The Governor’s plan does not address the disproportionate impact the virus is having on low-income communities of color,. “It leaves the definition of a ‘safe school environment’ and the ‘standard for reopening classrooms’ up to the individual discretion of 1,037 school districts across the state, creating a patchwork of safety standards in the face of a statewide health crisis. And it reverses a statewide commitment to equity-based funding of schools.”

Politico notes that the district has not yet filed suit because there is not an official law or program yet to sue over, and further notes that the district hopes to avoid litigation on the matter.

covid Covid lockdowns Intelwars Los Angeles

Despite draconian lockdown measures, Los Angeles is now the nation’s hottest spot for COVID-19 infections

By all accounts, Los Angeles and its surrounding areas have consistently had some of the strictest — if not the strictest — lockdown measures in the country. They were one of the first areas of the country to institute a “stay at home order,” one of the last areas of the country to partially reopen this summer, and one of the first areas to institute mask mandates and strict lockdown measures when COVID-19 began to see a resurgence in the winter.

In fact, while most of the rest of the country has at least resumed some of the activity that was paused by lockdowns even as winter has driven case numbers higher, California instituted a nighttime curfew in late November and Los Angeles instituted a second stay-at-home order on Nov. 27, making it one of the few jurisdictions in America to do so.

While almost every other county in America has had some measure of in-person learning in schools, Los Angeles schools (as well as schools in the rest of the state) have remained stubbornly closed.

Los Angeles has also taken harsher enforcement measures against individuals and businesses who do not comply with the coronavirus lockdown orders, levying huge fines and even threatening utility cutoffs for businesses and residents who don’t comply.

None of it has helped — nor, for that matter, has Los Angeles’ famously moderate climate. Los Angeles has experienced a 1,000% increase in COVID-19 cases since Nov. 1, according to the Los Angeles County director of health, and the virus shows no sign of slowing down. Hospitals in the county report that they are overflowing with COVID-19 cases.

Los Angeles County is, by all accounts, the current epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

County officials seem mostly content to double down on the measures that have thus far failed to contain the spread of the virus, even going so far as to issue recommendations for Los Angeles residents to wear masks inside their homes. They are also mounting a full-court press to convince the public to actually abide by the coronavirus guidelines, even though their most prominent leaders have not.

According to most recent estimates, as many as 1 in 3 Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Los Angeles public health experts have blamed the area’s soaring infection rate on its population density, as well as massive “pandemic fatigue” and refusal to comply with regulations on the part of the public.


Olympic gold medalist swimmer among those charged in connection with Capitol riot

According to NBC News, two-time Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller has been charged with multiple offenses in connection with his alleged role in the violent demonstrations at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

Keller, who won gold medals as part of the United States’ 4×200-meter relay team in 2004 and 2008, was charged with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct. He has not commented publicly on the charges, and did not return a request for comment from NBC News.

Keller was identified as an alleged participant in the riots when competitive swimming news site SwimSwam claimed last week that an individual seen in videos posted to social media of a man wearing a U.S. Olympic Team Jacket was actually Keller. After reviewing the video, the FBI agreed and issued a criminal complaint asking for an arrest warrant.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Keller has deleted all his social media accounts, which showed him to be an ardent supporter of President Trump.

The video, which was posted by Townhall reporter Julio Rosas, does not appear to show Keller engaging in any violent activity, but does show him as part of a large group of people who were allegedly attempting to push back against Capitol Police, who were trying to remove protesters from the building.

Federal authorities appear to be moving at a relatively rapid pace to identify and issue arrest warrants for those who were involved in breaching the Capitol grounds. Among others either arrested or charged this week, two Virginia off-duty police officers were charged with federal misdemeanors on Wednesday after they allegedly posted selfies of themselves inside the Capitol grounds and bragged, “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business … The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Additionally, authorities claim to have identified and charged the man who was seen wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt during the pandemonium.

In a video address on Wednesday, President Trump condemned the violence of January 6th, saying, “No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence. No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement or our great American flag.”


Parler CEO says site may never come back online

Parler CEO John Matze told Reuters on Wednesday that the social networking site may never come back online, due to extensive blacklisting by tech companies. Parler has been shut down since early morning on Monday after Amazon Web Services terminated their hosting agreement with the company.

Users of Parler were encouraged on Tuesday when the company announced that it had signed up for hosting with Epik; however, a subsequently-released statement from Epik indicated that Epik had not actually agreed to host the platform, and seemed to indicate that Parler had simply signed up for domain registration services like any other company is allowed to do.

When asked by Reuters on Wednesday when users might expect the site to return to operation, Matze responded, “It could be never. We don’t know yet.”

“It’s hard to keep track of how many people are telling us that we can no longer do business with them,” Matze continued.

Matze stated that the ideal solution would be for Parler to return to Amazon. Parler has filed suit against Amazon, and is seeking a judicial order requiring AWS to resume hosting services. Amazon has stated that the lawsuit has no merit and that it plans to aggressively contest the suit.

Beyond being removed from AWS’s hosting service and removed from the Apple and Google Play stores, Matze revealed that Parler has seen their contracts with numerous other essential providers terminated in the wake of the violent demonstrations in Washington, D.C., on January 6th. According to Matze, Parler can no longer process payments with Stripe or American Express, has had its Scylla Enterprise database taken offline, and has even had its employees and volunteers kicked off Slack, preventing them from communicating with each other.

Earlier Wednesday, Matze stated that he had also been the recipient of numerous death threats since the events of January 6th, and that many of his employees had requested time off work because of fears for their safety.

Big tech companies have cut ties with Parler over allegations that the platform did not do enough to curtail posts that encouraged or incited violence, or that enabled individuals who were plotting violent acts to coordinate their activities. Parler has stated, in its defense, that it does have policies that prohibit such posts, but that the rapid growth of the site has made it difficult for its existing staff to police.

In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday, Matze claimed that Parler was given “no warning” of the possibility of this action; however, documents filed by Amazon in response to Parler’s lawsuit appear to show multiple communications from AWS to Parler warning them that if posts calling for violence were not removed, they faced termination of their hosting agreement. A spokesperson for Google also claimed that the company repeatedly warned Parler executives throughout 2020 that failure to moderate the platform could lead to being removed from the Google Play store.

Andrew Cuomo Covid lockdowns Intelwars

Even Andrew Cuomo admits: ‘We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass.’

Democratic politicians have been studiously pushing back the goalposts for reopening businesses in their jurisdictions ever since the American people were told last March that a two- or four-week shutdown was necessary to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. Lately, the stated goalpost has been moved all the way back to “until a vaccine is widely available.”

Now, one of the prime offenders, the disastrously ineffective governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, is even sounding the alarm that adhering to this goalpost will mean the total destruction of the American economy.

In a Monday tweet, Cuomo declared, “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open.”

The governor elaborated further in his State of the State address Monday, saying that the state would heavily rely on testing to get businesses open again, but not further elaborating on how that would be different from what the state is already doing and has been doing for months. The governor’s office did not respond to a request from Fox News for further elaboration on this point.

Cuomo also went on to state that the lockdowns he imposed on businesses created a budget shortfall of a record $15 billion, and he pleaded for aid from the federal government. Under the administration of President Donald Trump, the federal government was hesitant to patch budget holes created by states that imposed lockdown measures stricter than federal guidance required; however, Cuomo is likely to find a more sympathetic ear in President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office next week.

New York has had, by almost any measure, the worst coronavirus outcomes in the country, leading the nation in total deaths and second in deaths per 100,000 residents, behind only New Jersey. Both states have imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country. The lockdowns have devastated New York’s economy and led to a mass exodus of New Yorkers. Hundreds of thousands have moved out of New York City alone since the pandemic began.

In spite of his administration’s objectively poor handling of the virus, Cuomo has been showered with praise by media figures and pundits and was even given an Emmy award for his coronavirus briefings, in which he managed to appear competent on television in spite of his administration’s many failures.

Covid lockdowns Covid vaccine Intelwars Los Angeles schools

Students in Los Angeles will be required to get COVID vaccine before returning to school

The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced that students will be required to show proof that they have received a vaccine for the novel coronavirus before returning to in-person learning, according to a report from Fox News. According to District Superintendent Austin Beutner, parents who have concerns about the safety of the vaccine will be required to keep their children in remote learning, presumably indefinitely.

Beutner’s comments, as first reported in the Los Angeles Times, caused concern in light of the fact that neither of the currently approved vaccines for the coronavirus have been tested for use in teenagers, much less small children. Additionally, school-aged children are likely to be the last in line to receive the vaccine, since children generally have far milder symptoms and are much less likely to experience serious complications from COVID-19 than adults.

However, Beutner told the Times that he did not mean to advocate that schools should remain closed until all students are vaccinated. Instead, he said, the state should set standards for reopening all schools and require schools to reopen once all directives have been achieved. In his view, once the vaccine has become available to children, the COVID-19 vaccination requirement would be no different from the mumps/measles requirement, which the district already has.

In spite of having perhaps the strictest lockdown measures in the country, and one of the nation’s most temperate climates, California has seen COVID-19 cases skyrocket, particularly of late. California public schools have lagged behind most of the rest of the country already in in-person learning, due largely to the influence of teachers’ unions.

In fact, California schools’ recalcitrance to open for in-person learning has been so acute that even Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, a strong (if hypocritical) proponent of lockdown measures has publicly urged schools in his state to reopen as quickly as possible and even provided financial incentives to help schools modify their facilities as needed to make them safer for operation during the pandemic. Predictably, however, school districts and teachers’ unions balked at the plan.

Intelwars Parler Social media free speech

Parler plans to sue Amazon, ask federal judge to reinstate service

Social media service Parler has announced that it is suing Amazon after the company removed Parler from its AWS platform, effectively causing the service to shut down indefinitely. According to multiple reports, the company intends to sue Amazon for antitrust violations, breach of contract, and unlawful business interference. Parler also intends to ask for an injunction that would require Amazon to reinstate the service during the pendency of the litigation.

After Apple and Google removed Parler from their application stores this weekend due to Parler’s failure to adopt content moderation policies that satisfied the tech giants, Amazon followed suit and removed Parler from its web hosting services, a move that took effect on Monday morning. Any user who currently attempts to access Parler will now get an error message.

Parler CEO John Matze has condemned any and all users who have used his service for violent purposes and has maintained that his site already has policies that prohibit people from using Parler to advocate for or coordinate violent attacks. However, he maintains, the massive influx of new users over the last few weeks has left his staff scrambling to implement those policies effectively.

In a statement released Sunday night, Parler complained, “Parler is not a surveillance app, so we can’t just write a few algorithms that will quickly locate 100% of objectionable content, especially during periods of rapid growth.”

Speaking on Fox Business on Monday morning, Matze said, “I’m not interested in seeing our platform or any other platform frankly used as a tool for violence and spreading violence … We would never condone it, we have a lot of things in place to stop it.”

If Parler’s lawsuit is unsuccessful, it is unclear when the service might be back online. As Matze noted in one of his final posts on the platform, all other web hosting companies that are large enough to handle the Parler service have also “closed their doors” to the social media service.

Intelwars Parler Social Media Social media free speech

Report: Hackers may have compromised Parler before it was taken offline, may have access to even deleted user posts

The cascade of bad news for social media site Parler got worse on Monday morning, after reports began circulating that hackers may have compromised the service and obtained the private data of Parler users before the service was taken offline Monday morning.

Parler, which bills itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter, was simultaneously targeted by almost every big tech company in America last week after last Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, which temporarily disrupted the counting of Electoral College ballots and led to the deaths of at least five people. The social media site was blamed for failing to provide adequate content moderation policies and for allowing the violent element that was present at the protests to coordinate its activities. The last straw occurred when Amazon Web Services announced that it would no longer host Parler, leading the site to shut down early Monday morning.

However, according to Vice News, when hackers realized that Parler was about to be taken offline, they began a frenzied effort to download all of Parler’s data, and they may have been successful. The report noted that a hacker who goes by the handle Crash Override on Twitter claims to have obtained and downloaded all publicly available data from Parler, including deleted posts, location data, videos, and images. The data has reportedly been archived by the hacker and might be used to help law enforcement track down people who were present at the riots last Wednesday.

According to Gizmodo, the hacker in question eventually plans to upload the full trove of digital documents to the internet, which has led some Parler users to express concern that they may end up being “doxxed” or harassed at work because of their activities on Parler.

Notably, however, the hacker has denied having access to anyone’s private data, including emails, telephone numbers, or credit cards, and claims to only have downloaded information that was “publicly available.”

Capitol riots Capitol siege Elaine Chao Intelwars Trump cabinet

Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao resigns after Capitol Hill chaos

Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao announced her resignation Thursday, becoming the first Cabinet secretary to resign after Wednesday’s riots rather than serve out the final few days of President Donald Trump’s term.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Chao explained, “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and entirely avoidable event as supporters of the President stormed the Capitol building following a rally he addressed. As I’m sure is the case with many of you, it has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.”

Chao also stated that her resignation would take effect on Monday, Jan. 11, and that she would assist incoming nominee Pete Buttigieg (D) transition into the office.

“I am tremendously proud of the many accomplishments we were able to achieve together for our country,” Chao added, “and I will never forget the commitment you have for this Department and the United States of America.”

Chao is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and previously served as secretary of labor in the George W. Bush administration. She was nominated to her current post by President Trump and was easily confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 31, 2017. She is one of a handful of Trump’s original Cabinet appointments who remained in office during the president’s first term.

According to former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who has served in multiple positions in the Trump administration, Chao’s resignation may be the first of many high-profile resignations in the wake of the chaos at Capitol Hill on Wednesday that left at last four protesters dead and brought the certification of the Electoral College vote to a temporary halt.

Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff and current special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland, resigned Wednesday evening.


Congress overrides Trump’s veto on defense spending bill

By a comfortable 81-13 margin, the Senate voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, completing the first (and perhaps only) veto override of Trump’s presidency. The House had voted to override the president’s veto by a similarly comfortable margin earlier this week.

President Trump vetoed the bill for a number of stated reasons, including its failure to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, its requirement that the military rename military bases that are named after confederate soldiers, and its provisions prohibiting him from performing certain troop relocations.

Many observers closely watched the veto override in the Senate to see what extent Trump will continue to have on Republicans in Congress when his term ends later this month. Tellingly, the president’s veto did not change the vote of any Republican senators. The seven Republicans who voted to uphold Trump’s veto all voted against the passage of the bill as well. Those Republicans were: Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), John Kennedy (La.), Mike Lee (Utah), and Rand Paul (Ky.).

Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are locked in razor-thin re-election battles in Georgia, were not present for the vote, which was considered to be a foregone conclusion. Perdue is additionally currently in quarantine due to contact with a person who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

It should, however, be noted that multiple Republicans, including John Thune (S.D.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), and John Cornyn (Texas) reported to The Hill that they were not pressured by the president at all prior to the vote.

Nevertheless, Trump voiced his extreme displeasure with the vote on Twitter, calling the vote, “Not fair, or smart!”

Republicans in Congress this week also effectively ended the president’s push to increase the amount of stimulus checks sent to Americans to $2,000 apiece, after failing to reach a deal with Democrats to offset the additional spending these checks would require by trimming wasteful spending from other portions of the bill.


Vice President Pence files brief opposing Louie Gohmert’s election challenge lawsuit

In a filing prepared by Justice Department attorneys, Vice President Mike Pence filed a brief in opposition to a lawsuit brought by Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) which sought to give him the authority to unilaterally decide the 2020 presidential election.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Gohmert and joined by Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward (along with some other GOP officials), sought declaratory and injunctive relief that would have theoretically given Pence the power to unilaterally determine which electoral college votes should be counted. The lawsuit was considered the last ditch legal effort remaining for supporters of President Trump, many of whom retain hope that some avenue remains for overturning the results of the electoral college vote.

Although Pence’s filing opposes the suit on technical legal grounds — to wit, that he is not a properly-named defendant in the suit since it seeks to give him more power — the fact that he filed the brief at all seems to indicate that Pence has no interest in participating in a Vice Presidential nullification of any electoral college votes.

Indeed, in a hint that Pence does not believe he would have the authority to reject electoral college votes even in the highly unlikely event that Gohmert’s lawsuit succeeds, the brief states: “These plaintiffs’ claims against the Vice President in his capacity as President of the Senate also fail to address the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which prevents the other Branches of Government from questioning Congress in connection with ‘legislative acts,’ which have ‘consistently been defined as an act generally done in Congress in relation to the business before it.'”

The last remaining effort will likely occur on January 6th, when the electoral college votes are counted by Congress. A sizeable portion of the Republican House caucus is expected to object to certain votes from contested states being counted, and a handful of Republican Senators have indicated that they will support this effort, but these efforts are likewise certain to fail if for no other reason than that the Democrats remain in control of the House of Representatives.


After barring New Yorkers from celebrating in Times Square, de Blasio celebrates New Year’s by dancing in Times Square

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D) was clear: do not come to Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Watch it at home on television. In case anyone missed the point, the city erected barricades to keep pedestrians away. The only people who would be allowed downtown would be the performers for the show, along with a few dozen carefully screened front-line workers.

Of course, these rules, which were promulgated by the mayor’s office, apparently did not apply to the mayor himself, whose office actually tweeted out pictures of the mayor dancing with his wife in Times Square, which was eerily deserted due to the mayor’s edict.

The tweet and accompanying video sparked widespread condemnation on social media, where thousands of angry commenters lambasted the mayor for being the latest in a long line of politicians who visibly flaunted the COVID-19 rules that were imposed on the rest of the population.

Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who has fiercely criticized New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, typified many of the responses, tweeting, “Celebrations in Times Square for me, but not for thee!”

Others noted the jarring incongruity of de Blasio’s public pronouncements about the current state of the pandemic in New York with his open celebration:

The spectacle was even too much for liberal network CNN, where visibly intoxicated host Andy Cohen reacted to shots of de Blasio dancing by exclaiming, “Do something with this city! Honestly, get it together!”

Co-host Anderson Cooper helpfully added, “God. Goodness.”

New York’s eerily deserted Times Square was one of dozens of such scenes repeated across the globe Thursday night, with the noted exception of Wuhan, China, where the Chinese government allowed thousands to party in the streets in a transparent attempt to reinforce their false propaganda message that they have handled the pandemic better than western democracies.


FDA reverses course, will not charge distilleries who made hand sanitizer massive fees

After public outrage erupted over the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to charge distilleries who made hand sanitizer a massive $14,060 fee, the agency announced on Twitter that it will reverse its decision and not charge those fees.

As noted by TheBlaze Thursday and first reported by Reason, many of the approximately eight hundred United States distilleries who switched some of their production to hand sanitizer in the early stages of the pandemic were stunned to receive a letter from the FDA in late December informing them that they had been designated “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities” under the CARES Act, and would be required to pay a $14,060 fee by February 11th.

The alcoholic beverage industry has suffered during the pandemic due to the decimation of the tourism industry. Thus, the unexpected fees threatened to put many smaller distilleries out of business, leading many trade associations to hope that the FDA would reverse their decision. However, it was noted that the agency was not expected to act during the course of the holidays.

Surprisingly, however, the agency responded quickly, and tweeted Thursday afternoon that distilleries would not be required to pay the fee.

According to a statement released on Twitter, Health and Human Services Chief of Staff Brian Harrison stated, “Small businesses who stepped up to fight COVID-19 should be applauded by their government, not taxed for doing so. I’m pleased to announce we have directed FDA to cease enforcement of these arbitrary, surprise user fees. Happy New Year, distilleries, and cheers to you for helping keep us safe!”

In a statement provided to CNN, Harrison further elaborated that the fees were a “mistake” and said they had not been approved by senior leadership at HHS. “Many of these are rather small business, craft distilleries, and their business and livelihoods were damaged when restaurants closed down. But they jumped into the fray and joined the fight against Covid. It was nothing short of heroic. They are American heroes.”


Dozens of West Virginia patients mistakenly administered the wrong shot instead of the coronavirus vaccine

According to a report from CBS News, 42 people who believed they were being administered a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were mistakenly instead injected with Regneron, an antibody cocktail that is often used to treat people who have already contracted the disease.

The shots in question were reportedly administered by the West Virginia National Guard, which was working with the Boone County, West Virginia Health Department to host a clinic where the vaccine was being administered to priority patients. The West Virginia National Guard states that they believe there is no risk of harm to the individuals who received the incorrect shot, and that they are in the process of contacting everyone who received the wrong shot to notify them of what occurred so that they can return for the correct shot.

“The moment that we were notified of what happened, we acted right away to correct it, and we immediately reviewed and strengthened our protocols to enhance our distribution process to prevent this from happening again,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.

It was not immediately clear how the injections of Regneron came to be mixed up with the vaccine. Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s “COVID-19 czar,” told CBS News, “While this injection is not harmful, it was substituted for the vaccine. But this occurrence provides our leadership team an important opportunity to review and improve the safety and process of vaccination for each West Virginian.”

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart, followed by a waiting period, before it is effective.

Regneron was administered to President Trump when he contracted the disease, and Trump credited it in part with helping him to recover from the disease quickly.


Chinese government allowed thousands to cram the streets of Wuhan for New Year’s Eve celebration

Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, had a humongous New Year’s Eve party in the streets last night, even as most of the world celebrated New Year’s Eve under some form of lockdown due to the virus that was unleashed from the city.

For propaganda reasons, the Chinese government has been found to have repeatedly lied about the extent of the spread of the virus in China as a whole and in Wuhan specifically. Chinese officials lied about both the initial spread of the virus and about how many people were eventually infected, with studies showing that likely at least ten times the official figure of 50,354 cases occurred in Wuhan.

The public celebrations were no doubt designed to convey the same message as the rest of the Chinese government’s propaganda efforts: that their method of controlling the virus is far superior to the west’s. Given their lengthy and ongoing history of deception, however, it is impossible to know whether or not the virus continues to rage in the city, and whether or not this public show might have facilitated further spread of the disease in the city where it originated.

Nevertheless, of course, some American media outlets dutifully repeated almost certainly false Chinese propaganda to the effect that Wuhan “has been free from the virus following a strictly-enforced 76-day lockdown of its 11 million citizens.

Meanwhile, major cities in the rest of the world featured much smaller New Year’s Eve celebrations than normal, or no in-person celebrations at all. Times Square was virtually deserted on New Year’s Eve, marking an eerie end to a bizarre 2020 for many Americans. London likewise cancelled its traditional fireworks display near Parliament. Paris actually imposed a curfew at 8pm to prevent crowds from gathering around the Eiffel Tower.

It was likely this spectacle of emptiness in the rest of the world that the Chinese government was counting on to create the contrast for their propaganda message. Notably, most of the crowd in Wuhan was photographed wearing masks, which would be unexpected in a city that had actually been free of the coronavirus for seven months as the Chinese government implausibly claims.


Distilleries who tried to help during the pandemic by manufacturing hand sanitizer are now facing over $14,000 in fees from the FDA

Remember back during the early days of the pandemic, when massive hand sanitizer shortages gripped the nation, and distilleries stepped up to fill the void by manufacturing hand sanitizer? According to Reason, those distilleries are receiving a rude surprise to end the year: a letter from the FDA informing them that they owe over $14,000 in fees, thus proving the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, especially by the regulatory state.

As Reason notes, the alcoholic beverage industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic due to the fact that when people do not travel and go out with their friends, they consume less alcohol. Since the primary ingredient in hand sanitizer is ethanol, and distilleries suddenly found themselves with excess ethanol capacity, over 800 distilleries are reported to have manufactured some amount of hand sanitizer during the early days of the pandemic.

Unbelievably, the law that enabled the FDA to levy these fees was the CARES Act, which was designed to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. That act characterized distilleries that produced hand sanitizer as “over-the-counter drug monograph facilities,” and specifically empowered the FDA to levy “user fees” on such facilities in order to keep the FDA funded.

The FDA readily complied, and has sent letters to these distilleries informing them that they owe a fee of $14,060, due on February 11th — a blow that may put many already-struggling distilleries out of business.

Becky Harris, president of the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), told Reason that many distillers have hope that the FDA can be persuaded to waive these fees, even though the FDA’s website already states that distilleries who produced hand sanitizer will not be exempted from paying the fees. “We recognize that this bill [the CARES ACT] was not written specifically for the issue of sanitizer. The problem that we have right now is that [the fee assessment] is going out to a whole lot of small businesses who are struggling in the pandemic.”

However, since the letters landed during the holiday season, it has been difficult for many distillers who have been hit with the fees to reach anyone from the FDA to protest or get an explanation.


Democratic New Mexico governor fines churches $10,000 apiece after Christmas Eve service videos go viral

New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham fined two churches $10,000 apiece for violating the state’s social distancing requirements, and her communications director released a statement accompanying the fine implying that the pastors involved were “pro-virus,” according to a report from Daily Wire.

The churches, Legacy Church and Cavalry Church, are described as “megachurches” by local ABC affiliated KOAT-TV. Both attracted attention after they posted videos on their respective social media sites showing hundreds of parishioners gathered singing Christmas carols during Christmas Eve services. Those videos garnered significant attention on social media and ultimately led to news stories from local media affiliates, which seems to have prompted the governor’s actions.

On December 15th, Grisham instituted restrictions that limited capacity in worship services to 25% and required masks for all attendees. It was not immediately clear exactly how many people were present in either service, but the governor’s office was apparently satisfied that both were over capacity, as both were fined $5,000 for exceeding the capacity limits. The churches were also fined an additional $5,000 apiece for failure to ensure that parishioners wore masks.

In a statement provided to KOAT, Legacy Church was defiant about Grisham’s order: “It’s tragic that what we do for thousands of shut-ins, those in despair, and kids who go without meals gets no state notice, but fixation on one service can net us large fines. The state should fold its losing hand against Churches as Colorado has, focus on the truly vulnerable, and recognize what the US Supreme Court has recently said about Churches because we must continue to do what we are called to.”

They also, in their statement, referred to their service as a “peaceful protest,” a likely reference to the Black Lives Matter protests that were allowed to proceed over the summer without any coronavirus enforcement actions.

Grisham’s communications director, Trepp Stelnicki, did not mince words in response, implying that the pastors responsible for the service were “pro-virus,” according to NBC News. “We all wish this pandemic were over, but it’s not, and no pro-virus pastor may deem it so. So many New Mexicans have sacrificed — and lost — so much in this pandemic. These illegal and selfish gatherings will directly contribute to more suffering and illness in our state. These church leaders should reflect on the danger they’ve unleashed in their communities.”

Restrictions on worship services — usually instituted by Democratic mayors and governors — have been struck down on numerous occasions in court. The Supreme Court has even weighed in, calling such regulations in New Jersey, Colorado, New York, California, and other states unconstitutional even though the regulations had already been lifted by the time the cases reached the court.

As Justice Gorsuch noted in a concurring opinion to the decision striking down the New York regulations, “Government is not free to disregard the First Amendment in times of crisis. At a minimum, that Amendment prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities, unless they are pursuing a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means available. See Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520, 546 (1993). Yet recently, during the COVID pandemic, certain States seem to have ignored these long-settled principles.”


Despite lockdowns, Cuomo plans to attend Bills playoff game

Even as businesses in New York — and specifically in Erie County — remain closed due to lockdown restrictions imposed by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), the governor has announced that he will allow a few thousand fans (of course including himself) to attend the Buffalo Bills’ first playoff game in 24 years.

Cuomo was widely criticized for publicly stating earlier this month that he would like to attend a Bills playoff game, in spite of the fact the has not allowed any Bills fans to attend a game of their historic season at any point this year. Cuomo followed up his comments with Christmas week indications that he was actually seriously contemplating a plan to reopen a stadium for several thousand people so that he could attend the game.

Now, however, in a brazen and thinly-veiled display of his own power, Cuomo has announced a plan to reopen the stadium for about 7,000 fans — including himself — to attend the game.

Less than two weeks ago, Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz (D), ripped Bills fans who had the temerity to want to attend the playoff game in person, saying that they needed to “Get your priorities straight.” Poloncarz continued, “If somebody in that crowd was sick and they passed it on to other individuals and only increased our rates, they’re only hurting our opportunity to be able to actually put people in the stands. And what would happen if [star quarterback] Josh Allen got COVID?”

In light of these comments, Poloncarz was reportedly “taken by surprise” by Cuomo’s announcement that the stadium would be reopened, but rather than publicly chastising Cuomo like he did all the other Buffalo Bills fans, Poloncarz announced that Erie County will do everything they can to make Cuomo’s wishes come true: “It’s getting real close. We have to have a decision by midweek next week just so we know what we have to do for staffing and security purposes, and working with the other agencies we work with, state and federal, to ensure that it’s a safe and secure environment for our fans.”

Meanwhile, dozens of restaurant owners in Erie County have been forced to sue Cuomo so that they can reopen and accommodate far smaller crowds than 6,700 people. In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Cuomo hypocritically stated, “We are moving heaven and earth to contain this virus and we know some people are unhappy, but better to be unhappy than sick or worse.”


Dozens of New York restaurant owners sue Gov. Cuomo over coronavirus restrictions

Dozens of restaurant owners in upstate and western New York have joined a lawsuit that has been filed against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), alleging that state restrictions that are keeping their facilities closed are arbitrary and not based on science.

The lawsuit was originally filed in the week before Christmas, according to WKBW-TV in Buffalo, and by last week had over 40 restaurants named as plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant owners have been deprived of constitutional rights without a rational, scientific basis.

Specifically, restaurant owners in Erie County complain that the “orange” designation applied to the county by the state requires them to remain closed while restaurants that are “around the corner” in neighboring “yellow” counties remain open. They note that according to the state’s own figures, less than 1.5 percent of COVID-19 cases in the state are traceable to restaurants or bars.

According to a Fox News report, restaurant owner Paul Santora, who owns Santora’s Pizza Pub and Grill in Erie County, claimed, “Everywhere else in our district and everywhere around us basically are operating fully and [are] having the best season of their careers, and right around the corner from us it’s the same way.”

Santora continued, “For us, we really need the message to be consistent. One day they’re going and they’re concentrating on percentage rates of positive cases and shuts us down to orange, and then all of a sudden it changes the hospital beds and it keeps us in orange.”

Santora’s attorney, Corey Hogan, told Fox News, “And we suggested to the judge, forgetting the constitutionality issues, let’s just look at the fairness of it. The state itself has admitted that restaurants are not the problem. Gov. Cuomo said that. He also said hair salons are not the problem. They’ve been closed down. Now they’ve been allowed to open.”

Cuomo, who has failed to stop New York from being one of the worst states in the country for the coronavirus pandemic and has been widely criticized for a number of public missteps — including forcibly placing infected persons in nursing homes, potentially leading to thousands of deaths — was not impressed with the lawsuit.

A spokesman for Cuomo told WKBW, “We get sued virtually every day for virtually every action taken during this pandemic, and frankly I’ve lost track of all the frivolous suits filed against us. We are moving heaven and earth to contain this virus and we know some people are unhappy, but better to be unhappy than sick or worse.”

In spite of strict lockdown measures, some of which have previously been ruled unconstitutional, New York has continued to see worse coronavirus outcomes than other states. By any objective comparison, New York has seen far worse results than Florida, in spite of the fact that Florida has more people and an older population than New York. As Townhall political editor Guy Benson noted, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been widely criticized by media figures for not instituting many of the same policies as Cuomo, even though his state has objectively fared better during the pandemic.


Minnesota legislators say COVID-19 death totals have been inflated in their state, call for an audit

Two Minnesota state representatives are calling for a national audit of the published coronavirus death totals nationwide, claiming that the figures have been inflated by including individuals who died of obviously non-illness related reasons (like car crashes) after they had a positive test for the novel coronavirus.

Reps. Mary Franson and Scott Jensen, both Republicans, made the comments on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Tuesday. According to Franson, “I enlisted some people that are really good at understanding data … to go through those death files and what I found was shocking because I was just hoping that it was a myth, but indeed, Minnesota is classifying some deaths as COVID when clearly, they should not be.”

Franson went on to state her belief that the mischaracterized deaths are part of the reason that the state remains in lockdown, which is harming the state’s economy. She specifically noted that restaurants are only allowed to serve people in Minnesota outside, which is obviously less than ideal in December.

Jensen specifically faulted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the mischaracterized deaths, saying, “When the Department of Health and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] decided to change the rules that had been in place for 17 years by encouraging the diagnosis of COVID-19 in situations that we never would have otherwise, they were abandoning their long-held commitment to precisely identifying the inciting or the initiating event that would lead to a sequence of events that would lead to a person’s demise.”

According to official totals, over 344,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus as of the time of the publication of this article. The exact number of these deaths that should be counted as coronavirus deaths has been the subject of controversy, since essentially everyone who dies while under a coronavirus diagnosis — regardless of whether coronavirus was the primary or even significant contributing factor to their death — is being included in the totals. Medical professionals and the CDC have argued that those deaths should be included in totals when the novel coronavirus was one of several contributing illnesses that led to a person’s death.

However, a number of stories have emerged since the start of the pandemic of individuals who have died of obviously non-coronavirus related causes (like car wrecks, assaults, etc.) being included in coronavirus death totals because they had been diagnosed with coronavirus. It is as yet unknown how widespread these errors might be.

Minnesota remains under lockdown orders imposed by Minnesota’s Democratic governor Tim Walz. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has aggressively targeted Minnesota bars and restaurants who have violated these orders, leading many small business owners in the state to chafe against the lockdown restrictions.


Report: Wisconsin hospital worker intentionally destroyed over 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine

According to police, a hospital worker in Grafton, Wisconsin intentionally destroyed 500 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, December 26th. No motive has yet been revealed for the hospital worker’s actions.

Fox News reports that the hospital, Advocate Aurora Health, originally was led to believe that the doses were destroyed in error by an employee who inadvertently removed them from the refrigerator and failed to timely replace them. The employee in question reportedly removed 57 vials — each containing ten doses — from the refrigeration unit where they were being kept and did not replace them.

The employee, whose identity has not yet been released by the hospital, initially told the hospital that the failure to replace the vials was accidental; however, on Wednesday the employee allegedly admitted to hospital administrators under further questioning that the destruction of the vaccine doses had been an “intentional act.”

In a statement released to Fox News, the hospital noted that the employee in question was no longer employed, and expressed disappointment that 500 Wisconsin residents would now be delayed in receiving their coronavirus vaccine. According to the statement, “We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that this individual’s action will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.”

According to a statement released to WITI-TV, hospital administrators called police Wednesday afternoon to report the incident, which is now being “actively investigated” by the FBI, FDA, and Grafton Police Department.

Overall, the government has acknowledged that the pace of vaccination is lagging behind the original goals set by Operation Warp Speed. The government originally hoped to deliver 20 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year; however, by most current estimates, it seems likely that less than 5 million doses will actually be delivered in that time frame.


Major explosion rocks downtown Nashville in apparent ‘intentional act’

According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, an explosion that shook the downtown area of Nashville, Tennessee appears to have been an “intentional act,” although authorities still have not named any suspects. As of press time of this article, no deaths or critical injuries have been reported.

Although details of the incident are still hazy, police say that they received a call about a suspicious RV parked near the tourist district on 2nd Avenue downtown and hazmat teams were en route to the area when the explosion occurred around 6:30 am Christmas morning.

The explosion appears to have devastated sections of Second Avenue and caused fires. Three people have been reportedly been transported to the hospital, but none with critical injuries.

The blast shook the entire downtown area and was reported on Twitter by numerous Nashville residents.

Nashville police department spokesman Don Aaron told CNN that the incident is being investigated by multiple agencies, including the FBI and BATF.

Numerous Nashville residents took to Twitter to document the Christmas morning scene of destruction.

This is a developing story and will be updated.


For unto us a child is born

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:69

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:9-110

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. – John 1

Merry Christmas, from all of us at TheBlaze to all of you.


Merry Christmas Eve, from all of us to you

On behalf of the staff on the news team at TheBlaze, allow me to wish all of you, our readers, a very Merry Christmas. Thank you all for reading our articles, subscribing to the channel, and for all the positive feedback you provide for everything we do. We would not be here without you, our readers, and we are thankful and grateful for each one of you.

Tomorrow, so that our staff can enjoy the day off with their families, we will take the day off from covering the news, and will instead post a series of Christmas messages from the staff. We hope you will read and enjoy them.

Our best to you and yours on this special day.

-TheBlaze news staff