Is The Gold Sell-Off Over?

Is The Gold Sell-Off Over?

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 16:30

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

The dramatic sell-off of the last few weeks ended on Monday morning when gold spiked down to an intraday low of $1765 (silver $21.90). But in morning trading today in the European time zone gold was at $1843, up $56 from last Friday’s close, and silver at $24.28, up $1.65 on the same timescale.

The sell-off in paper gold was a repetition of events every November and December bar one since 2015, and the cause appeared to be the same. In the run-up to the year end, the bullion banks manage prices in a book squaring exercise, using the expiry of the December contract to squeeze out the bulls. The only exception was 2018, when they failed to push prices lower, but they still rose strongly into 2019.

This time, an estimated 150,000 gold call options expired worthless, representing 467 tonnes of gold. The premium income must have been substantial, a welcome offset for the bullion banks’ to their book losses on Comex positions. The question now is, will the pattern of a rally through December into the New Year be repeated?

The short position for the swaps has improved marginally as the table below indicates.

This snapshot, the most recent Commitment of Traders report at the time of writing, shows that the Swaps (bullion bank trading desks) recovered a net 7,895 of their shorts, still leaving them net short of 189,178 contracts. Historically, their position still remains high, despite the fall in the gold price and the reduction of their position. The next chart puts this in a monetary context.

It appears that the Swaps are not out of the woods yet by any means, and there is a growing threat from a tumbling dollar, which is our next chart.

This is important, because the Managed Money category, mainly hedge funds, look at gold as part of a pairs trade — sell dollar buy gold or buy gold sell dollar. With a net long position of 85,348 contracts, they have room to add a further 25,000 contracts to be only average net long. We will almost certainly have seen some of this buying in the Commitment of Traders’ report for last Tuesday, when the gold price rose strongly, due to be released later tonight.

That would have increased the Swap’s net shorts, worsening their position.

The other side of the coin is the larger forward market in London, where vaulted gold, including that of the Bank of England, has increased to record levels. Between August and October (the most recent figures), vaulted gold increased by 394.6 tonnes, split 192.3 tonnes at the BoE and 202.3 tonnes in LBMA vaults. Given the appetite for gold is increasing for the Bank’s earmarked customers and the growth in physical demand from ETFs, and not to mention the desire from unrecorded non-LMBA members for physical bars, it does not appear that the Comex short position is adequately offset in London.

Compared with other financial assets seen to be inflation hedges, gold has been badly left behind. This is an anomaly likely to be addressed in the coming months.

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“I’m Just Not Buying It” – Jeff Gundlach Raises Questions About COVID Vaccine’s ‘95%’ Efficacy Rate

“I’m Just Not Buying It” – Jeff Gundlach Raises Questions About COVID Vaccine’s ‘95%’ Efficacy Rate

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 16:05

As Dr. Fauci walks back criticisms of Britain’s decision to grant emergency approval to the Pfzier-BioNTech – something Dr. Fauci characterized as “rushed” earlier this week before receiving the proverbial kick under the table – and Pfizer cuts its 2020 vaccine delivery target due to issues with ‘raw materials’, a video of DoubleLine Capital founder Jeff Gundlach expressing doubts about the prospects for a vaccine is making the rounds on twitter.

Speaking in an off-the-cuff manner, Gundlach raised questions about the timeline for vaccine-induced COVID herd immunity, something Sweden’s Anders Tegnell recently affirmed remains a poorly understood concept, that some might characterize as “conspiratorial”.

First, Gundlach pointed to the ~95% effective number: “I’m just not buying it,” Gundlach said, arguing that the sample size of infected patients (that is, trial participants who actually contracted the virus) is too small to be reliable.

“I would take this news more credibly if they came up with a vaccine and they said it worked, like, 53% of the time. There’s something about that 94.5% that just looks fishy to me. You go from zero to 94.5…um…I got a feeling that it’s a very small sample, I got a feeling that it’s relative to one strain.”

“And these things mutate like crazy. That’s the problem with vaccines on coronaviruses, is they mutate like crazy. We can’t get a durable vaccine on the regular influenza, we have failure rates of over 50% in some years.”

And then there’s the side effects, which Gundlach cited as another reason to question the timeline and whether vaccines will be widely accepted by Americans.

A group of doctor’s recently issued a warning about the side-effects, and the need to plan out vaccinations carefully so we don’t have 12 nurses from the same floor too sick to work all on the same day. The CDC has said it is committed to working out these types of logistics. But at the end of the day, fears of the side-effects could become a serious deterrent.

“Apparently, the ones they’ve tested with these high rates, apparently it’s super unpleasant to take the vaccine. You have to take it twice, it’s painful…you have to deal with really painful side effects…this is what I’m hearing from people who know more about this than I do.”

Finally, Gundlach brought up public opinion polling showing roughly half of Americans aren’t rushing to take the vaccine.

“I saw a survey from Gallup – not that I believe polls anymore – but this was a poll that said if you were given a free vaccine from the FDA…would you take it? Even then, the number was 50% – and that was before they told you it hurts like hell…and you might be sick for 3 days.”

As one might expect, Gundlach’s comments provoked a few armchair commentators to declare Gundlach’s comments as not only false and misleading, but dangerous.

Saying the vaccine “mutates like crazy” may be slightly hyperbolic, but there is evidence showing some strains of the virus are deadlier than others. Public Health officials in South Australia argued that their extremely restrictive lockdown conditions were a response to the deadly strain documented by scientists.

As far as comparing COVID-19 to the flu, it’s entirely possible that rates of efficacy for COVID-19 vaccines might be lower – perhaps even significantly lower – than these headline numbers suggest.

Most of what Gundlach is saying here is appropriately labeled as speculation. This is the view of a skeptic who is trying to anticipate the unanticipated – ie, that the process of rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in the west goes far less smoothly than OWS head Moncef Slaoui and others have led the public to believe.

Whether Gundlach is actually trading on this view is a mystery. Is it possible that the bond titan might be trying to sow some FUD simply to try and stir the pot?

The timing is also notable, coming after Friday’s disappointing jobs numbers, which caused the yield curve to widen even further, as the yield on the 10-year approaches the 1% mark for the first time since March.

Might we see Gundlach make one of his infrequent, but closely followed, appearances on CNBC this week to take the side of Rick Santelli?

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Israel Warns Its Own Nuclear Scientists That Iran Could Target Them

Israel Warns Its Own Nuclear Scientists That Iran Could Target Them

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 15:40

Authored by Dave DeCamp via AntiWar.com,

Israel warned its nuclear scientists that they could be targets of an Iranian attack, Israeli media reported on Friday. The warning came after prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed, an attack widely believed to have been carried out by Israel.

One former scientist who worked at Israel’s Dimona reactor said he was cautioned to change his daily routine. The Dimona reactor is where Israel is believed to have first secretly developed its undeclared nuclear weapons.



Tel Aviv file image, via The Forward

According to The Times of Israel:

Nevertheless, Israel is taking precautions. Israeli scientists have been told to step up their vigilance, Kan [Israeli Public Broadcasting] reported. At least one former Dimona scientist was told to change his daily routine, not take walks along set paths, and to be vigilant about suspicious packages.

According to Kan , security officials also told him that the Iranians were likely monitoring his social media and internet activities.

Israel is estimated to have anywhere between 90 and 300 nuclear warheads, although they maintain a policy of ambiguity and officially deny possessing nuclear weapons.

The warning to Israeli scientists came after Israel warned its citizens against traveling to countries that neighbor Iran. On Thursday, Israeli media reported that the US and Israel are stepping up coordination between their militaries over fears of an Iranian attack.

Any violence committed against US or Israeli targets between now and January 20th will likely be blamed on Iran. The assassination of Fakhrizadeh came after a report said President Trump considered attacking an Iranian nuclear site.

Israel seemed to take the news as a signal to increase provocations against Iran, while Iran warned its allies in the region to avoid provoking tension.

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Franchise Relations Deteriorate As Pandemic Wreaks Havoc On Small Business

Franchise Relations Deteriorate As Pandemic Wreaks Havoc On Small Business

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 15:15

According to a new WSJ report, the virus pandemic has unleashed enormous stress, destroying the cozy relationships between franchisees and executives at burger chains, hotels, and other types of shops. 

WSJ’s Micah Maidenberg and Heather Haddon outline how the virus-induced downturn in the economy has led store owners and corporate execs at Subway, Econo Lodge, and other companies “to bicker publicly like never before.” 

While the economy stumbles and brick and mortar stores see significant sales declines, companies ask franchisees to purchase new equipment and adopt new safety protocols. Store owners tell companies that they cannot afford to make the purchases and/or are pushing back on promotional discounts that hurt their profits. 

“I get that franchising isn’t a democracy, but at the same time, it’s not a dictatorship,” said Keith Miller, who was among Subway franchisees resisting when the company asked operators during the summer to offer two-foot-long sandwiches for $10, a price they said was unprofitable.

Rohit Chopra, a member of the Federal Trade Commission, said franchisees “feel they have no choice but to accept coercive contract terms and red tape.” 

WSJ says most of the franchisees’ complaints are “granular” and appear insignificant. Store owners say over time, the added costs add up and pinch margins, leaving many franchises feeling like the companies are taking advantage of them.  

A group of Econo Lodge franchisees and operators of other lodging brands under Choice Hotels International Inc. were forced to purchase 10 pounds of frozen sausage for $34.50 that cost $22.37 at the local supermarket. The group launched a lawsuit in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging Choice Hotels forced them into a “pay-to-play” scheme with suppliers that require vendors to make payments to Choice Hotels, which would then be passed on to franchisees. 

Another example of this “pay-to-play” scheme was seen with U.S. Tim Hortons franchisees. Operators were charged $104.08 more per case of Applewood bacon than Wendy’s Co. operators paid. 

Rising tensions within franchised companies have mostly become publicly visible during the virus pandemic. Many of these franchised companies are significant contributors to the economy, such as generating jobs and investing in local communities. 

Owners Of Franchised Businesses Increasing Over Last Decade

 

According to hotel data via STR, franchisees account for 55% of US hotels. They are 85% of all US chain restaurants last year, according to restaurant data firm Aaron Allen & Associates. Across the economy, there were more than 774,000 franchised establishments, employing about 8.4 million people last year, according to the International Franchise Association, a trade group.

Percentage Of Hotels That Are Franchised 



Source: WSJ 

Percentage Of Restaurants That Are Franchised 



Source: WSJ 

 

According to the trade association, the tensions also come as the virus pandemic has led to the temporary or permanent closing of about 33,000 franchise outlets.

“Franchisee relations are 100% correlated with how things are going,” said Chief Executive Steve Joyce of Dine Brands Global Inc., owner of the Applebee’s and IHOP restaurant brands.

Many of these franchises are operated by small businesses and have received some form of aid from the government during the virus-induced downturn. By now, readers understand that small businesses are in collapse (see: here & here & here).

In recent years, WSJ notes some franchisees have formed organizations to increase their leverage, including hotel operators, owners of McDonald’s restaurants, operators of Massage Envy studios, and franchisees of Edible Arrangements LLC fruit-basket and flower shops.

Some executives say franchisee complaints are “shortsighted.”  

Rajiv Trivedi, a former La Quinta executive, said operators should not expect vast business improvements just because they joined a franchised system. 

Earlier this year, Yum Brands Inc. appointed an interim president at its Pizza Hut division after franchisees accused the company of releasing unprofitable promotions that crushed their businesses. 

“We have to build back our relationship with our franchisees, so we are partners in this,” said the interim US president, Kevin Hochman.

The souring relationship between owners and store operators is the latest example of how the virus pandemic has disrupted the broader economy. The micro view here is an eye-opener for the outside world that franchised companies must change their ways to cater to their operators or face collapse like Pizza Hut franchisee, NPC International Inc., filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July. 

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The Vaccine Rush Is A Race Against Capital Flight

The Vaccine Rush Is A Race Against Capital Flight

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 14:50

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, ‘n Guns blog,

There is no greater story today than the race to get a vaccine for COVID-19 into the hands of as many people as possible. It’s not because the vaccines on order are so effective or that COVID-19 is so deadly.

It is needed because of the perception that COVID-19 is so deadly that a vaccine will provide some form of relief.

That perception is genuine in the minds of those still fearful of the virus.

But that perception is itself a political agenda created to keep enough people fearful of the virus that they will welcome the vaccine. This is simply manufactured demand and it has infected the entire market complex.

This was a race against time to keep the COVID-19 story relevant until they could get a vaccine together to build the next layer of the Great Reset’s foundation.

That’s why perception needed to persist through immense political blackmail engaged in by world leaders and their agents in the media.

This is why now that the election is mostly over, we’ve entered the next phase with endless propagandizing about second waves and huge (and mostly fraudulent) PCR positive test results giving governors cover to issue increasingly strident new lockdown orders in California, New York, Michigan and all over Europe.

Even though deaths are not keeping up with previous rates at all. The explosion of cases is simply just another psy-op to justify the wholesale destruction of society, usher in endless bailout checks and after the vaccine is distributed, pull back on testing protocols (i.e. run the PCR test through fewer cycles) to ‘prove’ with “DATA!” that we were saved from extinction and this is why anyone who argues against it is the true heretic and new flat-earther.

President-select Joe Biden is now asking for a 100 day ‘mask mandate’ as a ‘healing measure’ to lick this virus once and for all while the vaccines are distributed.

Joe trying to sell this as a small sacrifice to pitch into the big effort like this was World War II is, frankly, insulting at this point, especially since he’s not actually the president nor will ever be.

But this is all theater for a virus which has mostly run its course, and certainly would have if we’d treated it at a public policy level like smart, tool-using monkeys rather than poo-flinging ones last year.

The real agenda is now staring us in the face.

By the time this is all done the mask will be replaced with ‘the jab’ and the vaccine will become mandatory in order for any of us to be welcomed back into normal society.

I warned about ‘contact tracing’ last year early on and now the APIs are in your phone whether you wanted it or not and the medical passport (“Papers please!”) is already on the assembly line.

First you destroy people’s lives, then you print trillions in funny money to bail out the inept and continue paying the enforcers, ensuring they are fed. And then when desperation reaches its peak you create a new government program and turn people into snitches to ensure compliance.

We’re going to empower the worst busybodies who are already insane with fear to run around collecting data for the government.

All in the name of getting the economy back up and running!

I’m pretty sure when I read The Scarlet Letter in high school we didn’t consider Hester Prynne to be the bad guy. Because the person who is COVID-19 positive will now have a big red “CV” on them which will limit their ability to partake in society.

Now that will be replaced with the person who refuses to take the vaccine against last year’s virus, because it was never about public safety, it was always about control.

And the reality is that in a public health situation even disagreeable people can be ground down into accepting all sorts of tyranny if it will allow them to get through their day with only a modicum of annoyance.

It’s pathetic and sad but it’s true. And for those that think I may be overstating this, ask yourself a simple question, “Do you take your shoes off at the airport and step through the porno scanner?”

Of course you do.

If taking the ‘COVID-19 jab’ is the pre-requisite to go back to your cushy government job — the only ones that will be left after the Great Reset — will you still scream hysterically “MY BODY, MY CHOICE!” and “KEEP YOUR RULES OFF MY BODY?”

Wake me up when Alyssa Milano tweets that out.

And don’t think for a second that right now the markets aren’t slaves to this insanity as well. Every headline about a vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna sends the markets into paroxysms of extreme bullish or bearish behavior.

No one seems to care that the Russians are now dispensing, today, millions of doses of their Sputnik V vaccine because no one in the West is allowed to buy it or be jabbed with it.

I wonder why that is?

You know why.

That said, this is why Russian markets continue to hold up extremely well, if not outpace their Western counterparts in spite of financial lockdowns against investing in them even more draconian the latest drivel to come out of Gavin Newsom’s mouth in Commiefornia.

Latest numbers are all solid. Unemployment is 6.3%, finally plateauing, CPI is a svelte 4.4% and, most importantly, the demand for Russian assets continues at a torrid pace.

The Moscow Index is threatening an all-time high (see chart) putting in a strong one-bar monthly bullish reversal in November. This was also the highest monthly close on the MOEX ever, with strong follow-through in early December trading.

At the same time, the Russian yield curve, now finally upwardly-sloping after years of overly-tight monetary policy, is pegged 10 bps below the Bank of Russia’s benchmark rate at 4.25%.

This says to me there is another rate cut in the Bank of Russia’s future, probably to 4% or even 3.75%. BoR President Elvira Nabullina is notoriously slow in cutting rates and almost always waits until the bond market is a mess and ruble liquidity to be way too tight before finally pulling the trigger.

The ruble rose sharply versus the dollar this week, collapsing below the critical 76 level to close this week below 74. More evidence that with Putin’s announcement of Sputnik V vaccine distribution starting Russia the markets are looking for a home where capital can have a prayer in hell of being treated well.

Because that will most certainly not be the case in Europe. The only reasons the euro is rising in on political instability in the U.S. and the lack of forward budget thanks to the veto by Hungary and Poland. Because while the euro may be breaking out versus the dollar the bellwether bond markets in Europe, namely German bunds, are rising in yield.

While this isn’t a bear market in any sense since the selling hasn’t overwhelmed ECB buying, it’s also hard to determine if that would ever happen given just how much of the European sovereign debt market the ECB actually owns now.

Investors in the West are trying to beat the COVID-19 narrative, pinning their hope of economic recovery on the vaccine restoring normality. But if there is one thing I’ve noted over and over again over the past ten months, it is that the goal posts for normality keep getting moved.

Remember 15 days to flatten the curve? Now it’s a 100-day mask mandates with state-by-state full lockdowns. Anyone thinking that we’ll ever return to anything resembling the old world is terminally naïve.

The race for global capital begins now with Russia’s roll out of Sputnik V by the millions of doses. It doesn’t matter if the vaccine works or it doesn’t.

Pfizer’s doesn’t.

What matters is what excuses politicians can make to fit their agenda. Putin wants to make Russia a destination for global capital, keeping Russia open for business. Russia pushing Sputnik V out the door this quickly is forcing the West’s hand. They wanted bigger lockdowns for longer. Asia will stay open while the West plays games resetting its system.

They are really angry at the Russians for being good at math and science.

That is why the race for the vaccine is actually the race for global capital in the end. Because the rollout of the vaccine asymmetrically around the world will be followed by where watching where the capital will flow to.

Russia will be one of those places along with everyone they sell it to and everyone they do business with. COVID-19 is a litmus test of governments. Investors are looking around now looking for where the political risk really lies over the next decade. Sanctions, threats and capital controls can only slow the outflow but it can’t stop it.

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Congress Weighs One-Week Stopgap, Extended Session To Reach Deal

Congress Weighs One-Week Stopgap, Extended Session To Reach Deal

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 14:25

Congress is mulling a one-week stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown ahead of yet another funding lapse which set to kick in on Friday – while pandemic relief provisions in the CARES act, such as enhanced unemployment benefits, will expire on Dec. 26 if no deal is reached.

According to a House Democratic leadership aide, a one-week stopgap measure is likely as legislators hammer out a full-year spending bill which would include long-stalled coronavirus economic relief, however another Democratic aide told The Hill that it’s ‘possible but not set in stone yet.’

The acknowledgement that lawmakers may need to turn to a short-term funding patch comes despite House Democrats originally aiming to wrap up their 2020 work by the end of next week.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) predicted earlier this week that Congress would need a short-term funding bill to give the negotiators more time to complete a mammoth spending package.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that he had hoped to let members go home by the end of next week to give them enough time to quarantine if necessary before spending Christmas with their families. But a stopgap funding bill lasting through Dec. 18 would delay that timeline. -The Hill

Lawmakers have achieved some traction on a $908 billion bipartisan bill which includes some enhanced unemployment benefits, along with small business support and extended student loan deferrals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected it, however, and has instead pushing a $500 billion bill which would include another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and liability insurance for employers. It doesn’t include enhanced federal unemployment benefits. Neither bill includes another round of stimulus checks.

If a deal isn’t reached, some 66% of Americans collecting unemployment benefits will lose them by Dec. 26, according to Morning Consult (via CNBC). Nearly 83 million adults reported in November that they had difficulties covering the basics – including food, housing, medical expenses, transportation or other bills according to the US Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse survey.

More via CNBC:

These are the relief measures that expire at the end of the year without another deal:

Gig workers and freelancers will lose jobless benefits

An estimated 7.3 million gig workers, freelancers and self-employed workers who don’t normally qualify for jobless benefits will lose their payments on Dec. 26, when the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program expires, according to a recent report from The Century Foundation, a progressive think tank.

“Without unemployment benefits and with savings badly depleted, families will be at high risk for food insecurity and loss of their homes, and many may be unable to pay for health care during some of the darkest days of the pandemic,” TCF’s report reads.

 

Though lawmakers have not released the text of the bipartisan bill, it does include $180 billion in unemployment insurance, including an extra $300 per week from December through March 2021. The Washington Post reported the bill is likely to include a continuation for gig and freelance workers.

Long-term unemployed will lose jobless benefits

Several million more workers will also lose all of their benefits when the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC) program expires. This program extended the maximum number of weeks someone could collect benefits to 39 weeks in most places, from an average of 26 weeks.

But as coronavirus cases across the country continue to surge, the number of people who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks continues to grow each month. Again, though the text of the bipartisan bill is not out, it is likely to include an extension of benefits into 2021.

Eviction protections expire

Millions of people are at risk of being evicted if the nationwide eviction moratorium expires on Dec. 31 with no further action from states or the federal government.

The bipartisan proposal includes $25 billion in rental relief. Housing advocates have been calling for $100 billion to make up for the months of missed or late payments for millions of tenants. Additionally, the CDC or Congress would need to extend the eviction moratorium that is currently in effect.

Federal student loan payments will resume

Come January, tens of millions of borrowers will have to resume making student loan payments. Experts worry that millions will be unable to make their payments come January, and student loan servicers will be overwhelmed by the number of borrowers who need to request hardship relief at that time, like an unemployment deferment for those without a job.

The bipartisan bill allocates $4 billion to keep the payment pause going, likely at least through Biden’s inauguration in January.

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5 Ways Americans Could Be “Encouraged” To Get A COVID Vaccine

5 Ways Americans Could Be “Encouraged” To Get A COVID Vaccine

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 14:00

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

As Pfizer and Moderna both rush a vaccine to market to fight the Covid-19 virus, will promises of returning to “normal” be enough to persuade people to take the quickly developed injection?

This article isn’t about persuading you one way or the other about whether you should be vaccinated. That is a matter for you, your family, and your physician to discuss. It’s about the opinions of Americans, the legalities of mandating cooperation, what we know about the vaccine, and the tactics that could be used to “encourage” your cooperation.

It’s expected that the new coronavirus vaccines will be approved any day now. Each vaccine is said to require two shots to confer immunity to the virus. Pfizer requires two doses three weeks apart, and Moderna requires two doses four weeks apart.

About half of Americans are eager to be vaccinated.

According to a poll conducted by Pew Research, 51% of American adults would immediately get a vaccine if it were available. That, of course, means that nearly half of all American adults aren’t convinced this is something that they want to do right now. This number has decreased from the first time the poll was taken. Back in May, 72% of American adults were on board with rolling up their sleeves as soon as possible.

Of course, this poll assumes that people will have a choice whether or not to be inoculated.

While half of the people surveyed want the injection, the other half do not. And that’s where the controversy lies – should we have a choice what medical treatments we undergo? Dr. Ron Paul spoke to The Huffington Post back in 2008 and said something as meaningful today as it was a dozen years ago.

“If we accept this notion that the federal government is going to dictate what we can put into our bodies, then it leads to the next step: that the government is going to regulate everything that is supposedly good for us. That’s where they are. They have an FDA that won’t allow somebody who’s dying to use an experimental drug which might speed up the process of finding out which drugs are good and which drugs are bad and the federal government comes in and dictates that they want complete control over vitamins and nutritional products and I just think the whole principal of government telling us what we can take in or not take in is just a dangerous position to take… it’s related to the drug industry because they’d like to control all of this.” (source)

Here are some of the immediate side effects.

Yasir Batalvi, a 24-year-old from Boston, volunteered to get the vaccine and received the two doses after signing a 22-page consent form. He shared his experience with CNN:

“The actual injection felt, at first, just like a flu shot, which is basically just a little pinch in the side of your arm,” Batalvi said. “Once I left the hospital, that evening, the stiffness got a little bit worse. It was definitely manageable, but you kind of don’t really feel like moving your arm too far above your shoulder. But the side effects are pretty localized. I mean, it’s just in the muscle in your arm. And that’s about it. It doesn’t really affect anything else and you feel fine.”

That was after the first dose. But the second dose was different.

“I actually had some pretty significant symptoms after I got the second dose. Once I got the second dose, I was fine while I was in the hospital. But that evening was rough. I mean, I developed a low-grade fever, and fatigue and chills,” Batalvi said. He said he was out for that day and evening, but he “felt ready to go by the next morning.”

He said he called the study doctors to let them know about his symptoms. They weren’t alarmed and told him he shouldn’t be either.

Feeling under the weather does not mean that you got Covid-19 from the vaccine — in fact, experts say having this kind of reaction shows that your body is responding the way it should, and it should not deter anyone from getting vaccinated or going back for their second dose. (source)

Doctors have urged the CDC to be transparent about the fact that the side effects of the vaccine are “not a walk in the park.”

Dr. Sandra Fryhofer of the American Medical Association said both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines require two doses at varying intervals. As a practicing physician, she said she worries whether her patients will come back for a second dose because of the potentially unpleasant side effects they may experience after the first shot.

“We really need to make patients aware that this is not going to be a walk in the park,” Fryhofer said during a virtual meeting with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, an outside group of medical experts that advise the CDC. She is also a liaison to the committee. “They are going to know they had a vaccine. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they’ve got to come back for that second dose…

…One North Carolina woman in the Moderna study who is in her 50s said she didn’t experience a fever but suffered a bad migraine that left her drained for a day and unable to focus. She said she woke up the next day feeling better after taking Excedrin but added that Moderna may need to tell people to take a day off after a second dose.

“If this proves to work, people are going to have to toughen up,” she said. “The first dose is no big deal. And then the second dose will definitely put you down for the day for sure. … You will need to take a day off after the second dose.” (source)

These are the immediate side effects but only time will tell if there are long-term side effects.

Does the United States intend to mandate the vaccine?

Joe Biden has said that the vaccine will not be made mandatory on a federal level. The thing is, these decisions are usually made on a state level.

Some government officials are already talking about mandating the vaccine. Virginia State Health Commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver, is all for mandatory Covid vaccinations.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver told 8News on Friday that he plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginians once one is made available to the public.

Virginia state law gives the Commissioner of Health the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be released as early as 2021.

Dr. Oliver says that, as long as he is still the Health Commissioner, he intends to mandate the coronavirus vaccine…

…Oliver believes that, in the case of COVID-19, public health takes precedent over choice. He said herd immunity is the state’s best defense to stop the spread. (source)

Despite his health commissioner’s enthusiasm, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has said he is not planning to mandate the vaccine at this time.

The Virginia health commissioner is not alone in his desire to mandate the vaccination. The New York State Bar has also recommended it be mandatory for residents of the state.

All this being said, there doesn’t seem to be a direct plan to pass laws making people take the vaccine.

Can the government actually make people take a vaccine?

Actually, yes.

But there is legislative precedent dating back to a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1905 called Jacobson v. Massachusetts that allows the government to mandate vaccinations.

In that case, the Supreme Court said that states have under their police powers, which is under the Constitution, the authority to enact reasonable regulations as necessary to protect public health, public safety, and the common good. Vaccination mandates constitute exactly that kind of permissible state action to protect the public’s health. Even though it’s 115 years old, this continues to be the benchmark case on the state’s power to mandate vaccination.

In response to the argument about this individual liberty interest, the court said that sometimes individual interests might have to yield to state laws that endeavor to protect the health of everybody—the “common good.” The court said: “The rights of the individual may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint to be enforced by reasonable regulations as the safety of the general public may demand.”

So, yes: Once COVID vaccines are available, states could elect to require that people who live within that state be vaccinated. (source)

Despite this law being in place, mandating the vaccine will probably not be the first method used by the government.

Will Americans be forced or persuaded?

So what happens during a pandemic when there’s a vaccine that people are hesitant to take? Will we be forcibly immunized against our will?

It’s likely to be a much different approach than a SWAT team breaching your house in the middle of the night, holding down your family members, and stabbing them with syringes. If a widespread push is made to get people to take this vaccine, it will likely be a case of making life difficult for those who opt-out and more pleasant for those who opt-in.

People are desperate to resume some kind of normalcy, which will certainly be part of the campaign for vaccination. As we move into the second round of lockdowns, folks just want to have holidays with their families. Millions have been pushed into poverty. Mental health issues abound from the months of isolation. It’s difficult to connect with others and people want to resume their lives.

And if that’s not enough to persuade them to roll up their sleeve for an injection, following are some of the possibilities that have been mentioned to “encourage” Americans to take the vaccine when it becomes available.

1. Your kids may have to take it to go to school.

Most states already require that children be vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, measles, rumps, and rubella, chickenpox, and hepatitis B unless they hold an exemption that is valid in that state. Exemptions are generally related to medical issues, religious beliefs, or personal philosophy.

It’s likely that a mandatory Covid vaccine for children to attend school would vary from state to state.  Children have generally not become very ill with this particular virus and have seemed less likely than adults to contract it. (There have, of course, been some exceptions.) To some, that would indicate children did not need to undergo the risk of taking yet another vaccine. Dr. Christine Turley, M.D., Pediatrics Specialist and vice-chair of research at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital believes it could be beneficial.

However, school-bound children could spread the virus to parents, grandparents, and others with underlying health conditions. Vaccinating children could eliminate one major source of coronavirus spread, possibly increasing the effectiveness of herd immunity (source)

And even if your kids are attending school via Zoom, it may not exempt them. I spoke to one parent whose children are engaged in distance learning in Massachusetts. Although they will not be setting foot on school property, they are still required to have proof that they are up to date on all required vaccinations.

2. Employers could insist that employees be vaccinated.

You could potentially lose your job if you refuse to take a vaccine that your employer has deemed mandatory. Legal and public health expert Joanne Rosen, a senior lecturer in Health Policy and Management and the Center for Law and the Public’s Health, spoke about the topic of mandatory vaccinations with Public Health On Call podcast host Stephanie Desmon.

An employer has to have a “reasonable basis.” If you worked in retail, I’m not sure a corporate entity could require that. They may want you to and recommend it, but it wouldn’t be reasonably related to the requirements of their job.

But in sectors in which the employees are themselves at greater risk of contracting vaccine-preventable illnesses or who work with populations that are especially vulnerable if they do get sick, like hospital workers, health care workers, and people who work in [long-term care] facilities, employers have required that their staff be vaccinated against the flu each year.

Another thing that states could do, short of a requirement across the board that everybody be vaccinated, is they could begin with a mandate that focuses on those sectors—people who are themselves at greater risk or who work in proximity with vulnerable populations. We don’t want the employees themselves getting sick and being a bridge, or “vector,” to infecting others who are vulnerable. People may object, but some more targeted form of vaccine mandate may make sense and also be possible. (source)

Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, told TODAY there were a few exceptions:

Employees who are part of a union may be exempt from the vaccine requirement.

Anti-discrimination laws also provide some limits. If you can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons, that could be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would require an employer to accommodate you. That could mean requiring you to wear a mask on the job or have limited contact with other people, Reiss said.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 may protect people who have a religious objection to a vaccine. An employer would have to make a reasonable accommodation as long as it’s not too costly for the business.

These laws apply only to companies with 15 or more employees, so smaller businesses are exempt.

“We think about employers as this huge, amorphous thing, but under the law, they’re also private entities with rights, especially if it’s a small mom and pop shop,” Reiss noted. (source)

Consider how some workplaces require all employees to receive a flu shot – the Covid vaccine could be enforced in a similar manner. Health care workers and those involved in education are most likely to be the first to face such requirements.

3. Businesses could require patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Even if a state or federal mandate is not in place, privately owned businesses could potentially require patrons to show proof of vaccination before they receive service.

Can airlines, restaurants, stores and stadiums make the vaccine a condition of doing business with you?

Yes, within the anti-discrimination laws mentioned above.

“They can decide to refuse service to you for pretty much any reason,” Reiss said, pointing out a policy most shoppers are already familiar with: no shirt, no shoes, no service.

People who are covered by anti-discrimination laws can’t just demand a business let them do whatever they want. The company just has to give you a reasonable accommodation, so a store might refuse you entry but offer curbside pick-up of groceries. (source)

Private businesses can set their own policies. Ticketmaster, the purveyor of tickets for concerts, plays, and just about any public event, has already “been working on a framework for post-pandemic fan safety” that would use their phones to confirm whether they’ve been vaccinated or had a negative test within the past couple of days. Billboard reports:

Here’s how it would work, if approved: After purchasing a ticket for a concert, fans would need to verify that they have already been vaccinated (which would provide approximately one year of COVID-19 protection) or test negative for coronavirus approximately 24 to 72 hours prior to the concert. The length of coverage a test would provide would be governed by regional health authorities — if attendees of a Friday night concert had to be tested 48 hours in advance, most could start the testing process the day before the event. If it was a 24-hour window,  most people would likely be tested the same day of the event at a lab or a health clinic.

Once the test was complete, the fan would instruct the lab to deliver the results to their health pass company, like CLEAR or IBM. If the tests were negative, or the fan was vaccinated, the health pass company would verify the attendee’s COVID-19 status to Ticketmaster, which would then issue the fan the credentials needed to access the event. If a fan tested positive or didn’t take a test to verify their status, they would not be granted access to the event. There are still many details to work out, but the goal of the program is for fans to take care of vaccines and testing prior to the concert and not show up hoping to be tested onsite.

Ticketmaster would not store or have access to fans’ medical records and would only receive verification of whether a fan is cleared to attend an event on a given date. (source)

This isn’t a definite plan but the fact that it’s in the works means the idea could spread to sporting events, shopping centers, movie theaters, or any other venue in which people are in close proximity with one another.

4. Your eligibility for a $1500 stimulus check could depend on it.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat from Maryland who was an “also-ran” in the recent presidential election, thinks that tying the next stimulus check to vaccination is a good idea.

“We have to create, in my judgment, an incentive for people to really accelerate their thinking about taking the vaccine,” Delaney told CNBC, noting that nobody would be forced to participate if they don’t want to.

Delaney said the program would cost about $380 billion, more than the $270 billion the U.S. spent on the $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks that went out earlier this year.

“So if you can only spend $400 billion, this is what you should spend it on,” Delaney said. (source)

Given the US’s rather dismal economic situation, $1500 for taking a couple of free injections would probably be tough to pass up for a lot of folks.

5. You may not be able to travel without it.

Airlines are preparing to launch a digital “Covid Passport” to try and revive the dying travel industry.

The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, on Monday said it plans to introduce this month a mobile phone app that arriving travelers could use to prove that they’ve been vaccinated for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and tested negative for it. Conceivably the app, which IATA is calling The Travel Pass, also could become necessary for domestic flights should airlines begin requiring all their passengers to document their Covid-19 vaccination and testing status.

No governments as yet have said they will accept such digital documentation from travelers as a way for them to escape the quarantines currently required by many nations for arriving foreigners…

…But IATA, which represents nearly 300 airlines that collectively carry 82% of all air travelers globally, is acting now so that its member carriers can begin ramping up their international operations as Covid-19 vaccines begin being administered, presumably in a matter of weeks. (source)

For people who travel recreationally, this might not be enough inducement to get the vaccine. But for those who have family members in other countries or who travel for work, it could become a necessity.

What should you know about the Covid vaccine?

The Covid vaccine uses new technology called mRNA. The mRNA vaccine sequences are designed to mimic those produced by mammalian cells. Because of this, mRNA vaccines are much faster (and cheaper) to produce than antigen vaccines. The PHG  Organization of the University of Cambridge explains:

Conventional vaccines usually contain inactivated disease-causing organisms or proteins made by the pathogen (antigens), which work by mimicking the infectious agent. They stimulate the body’s immune response, so it is primed to respond more rapidly and effectively if exposed to the infectious agent in the future.

RNA vaccines use a different approach that takes advantage of the process that cells use to make proteins: cells use DNA as the template to make messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, which are then translated to build proteins. An RNA vaccine consists of an mRNA strand that codes for a disease-specific antigen. Once the mRNA strand in the vaccine is inside the body’s cells, the cells use the genetic information to produce the antigen. This antigen is then displayed on the cell surface, where it is recognised by the immune system. (source)

At this point, there are no licensed mRNA vaccines in the United States. Much of the research on mRNA has been focused on triggering the immune system to target specific cancer cells.

There are innumerable videos and articles about the pros and cons of mRNA vaccinations and I urge you to do your own research when making decisions for your family.

Will you be getting a Covid vaccine?

I’m personally against mandating any type of medical care or procedures. If we don’t control what goes into our own bodies, how can we consider ourselves free human beings? This isn’t to say a particular vaccine or treatment is good or bad. I simply don’t want to be forced or manipulated into making medical decisions. I believe we should all have the right to make our own medical choices.

Approximately half of the Americans surveyed are eager to get a Covid vaccine right away. Others want to wait for a year or so, to see if there are long-term negative side effects. Still others have no interest in the vaccine whatsoever.

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UK & EU Agree To Give Brexit Talks One More Chance Despite “Serious Differences”

UK & EU Agree To Give Brexit Talks One More Chance Despite “Serious Differences”

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 13:55

With Brexit talks on the brink of collapse, Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the EU’s bureaucrat-in-chief, have agreed to to reconvene negotiations in Brussels.

Both teams of negotiators, who have been working all week to strike a deal in London to no avail, will travel to Brussels on Sunday. Talks will resume Monday evening.

The statement cautioned that “significant differences” remain between the two sides. Whether a resolution can be achieved is still unclear, but the two leaders believe that it’s worth giving talks another shot as the deadline for the UK to complete its departure from the EU’s single market and customs union as of Jan. 1.

Read the statement below:

“In a phone call today on the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, we welcomed the fact that progress has been achieved in many areas.”

“Nevertheless, significant differences remain on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries. Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.”

“Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.”

“We are therefore instructing our chief negotiators to reconvene tomorrow in Brussels.”

“We will speak again on Monday evening.”

For readers who haven’t been closely following the Brexit talks, let’s review what these three major “differences” entail: the two sides are still stuck on requirements to ensure a “level playing field” for British and European businesses, European access to British fisheries, and the issue of governance, which is really an issue of sovereignty. The EU wants to find a way to ensure that the UK’s policies on wages and workers rights, environmental standards, and other issues line up with the EU’s standards to prevent British businesses from undercutting their European counterparts.

Now that BoJo and EU Commission President von der Leyen have agreed to give “pinking” each sides’ red lines. These priorities will be passed down to the lead negotiators, who will continue trying to hash out a legal text that can be reviewed by MPs in Westminster and members of the European Council, a collection of leaders of the bloc’s member states.

Earlier in the day, word on the street was that fisheries access remained a tricky sticking point. The Telegraph reported earlier that the EU was pushing a “ridiculous” demand for 10 years of unfettered access to British waters.

An anonymous senior government source in London told the Telegraph the EU’s new offer was “frankly laughable.”

“They know we can’t possibly accept it. It’s ridiculous. If they think we will just cave in, they have made a massive miscalculation.”

The EU’s “laughable” proposal also included an offer to hand back just 18% of its fishing quotas when the UK had asked for 80%.

Amusingly, the biggest obstacle to a deal on fisheries is French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been facing pressure from other EU leaders to relent. BoJo reportedly might call Macron Saturday to make a personal appeal to the French leader to relent.

The EU also reportedly insisted at the last minute that any deal must include a mechanism to slap punitive tariffs on UK goods if Britain diverges from EU regulations in the future (an example of the sovereignty and governance issues we mentioned above).

It was probably inevitable that political leaders from both sides would need to directly discuss the sticking points, since they’re technically the ones who set policy. But if another week passes without any progress, we suspect Brussels will revert to its plan to simply allow the UK to crash out, then wait for the economic and financial blowback to force the Tories back to the table.

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Paris Plunges Into Chaos As Protesters Denounce New Security Law 

Paris Plunges Into Chaos As Protesters Denounce New Security Law 

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 13:35

Soaring coronavirus cases, a slumping economy, and continued social unrest plague France at the moment. 

According to RT News, thousands of protesters flooded the street of Paris Saturday to denounce President Emmanuel Macron’s “Global Security” bill. 

On Nov. 27, the French National Assembly approved the Global Security bill’s Article 24, which makes it illegal to distribute images or videos of police officers that can easily be identified. 

The security bill has been criticized by activists and journalists, who warn the government is set to increase its surveillance tools and restrict rights of posting images and videos of police officers online. Journalists say this violates freedom of the press.

According to Reuters, the demonstration began peacefully in Paris then quickly spiraled out of control as protesters and police clashed on city streets. 

Protesters were seen torching multiple cars. 

Riot police pushed back as protesters advanced. 

Protesters were throwing fireworks at the police. 

A chaotic scene is unfolding across Paris today.

Some of the protests were peaceful. 

Police are holding the line. 

Possible looting. 

More vehicles on fire. 

Protesters are starting fires. 

No official totals on how many protesters – but judging by pictures and video on Twitter – perhaps thousands are in attendance. 


It was noted by AFP that the recent policing beating of a Black man, music producer Michel Zecler, also intensified anger among protesters. 

France has been hit by a tsunami of social unrest this year, from the Yellow vests movement to anti-lockdown demonstrations to now the security bill. 

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Georgia Poll Observers Say They Were Effectively Told To Go Home

Georgia Poll Observers Say They Were Effectively Told To Go Home

Tyler Durden

Sat, 12/05/2020 – 13:10

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours)

Several poll observers in Georgia said under penalty of perjury that they were effectively told to go home on election night before ballot counting resumed for several hours with no observers present.

Republican poll observers Mitchell Harrison and Michelle Branton said in affidavits that at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 inside an absentee ballot counting room State Farm Arena, a woman shouted to everyone to stop working and return the following morning at 8:30 a.m.

This lady had appeared through the night and Mitchell and I believed her to be the supervisor,” Branton wrote in an affidavit.

Following the instruction, nearly all workers left, except a handful of people. All ballot counting stopped.

The poll observers were the only outsiders left, along with a Fox News crew. Harrison spent time seeking answers from Regina Waller, the Fulton County’s public affairs manager for elections, but she refused to answer the questions, he said in an affidavit.

A few minutes later, Branton, Harrison, and the crew left. Only four people remained in the room including Waller, when they had departed.

The group later heard that ballot counting had resumed at the arena, despite the public being told that it had ceased for the night. Observers rushed back at around 1 a.m. on Nov. 4 and found that to be the case.



An absentee ballot processing room at State Farm Arena is empty save for a handful of workers, after observers heard officials say ballot counting would be halted for the night, in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 3, 2020. (NTD Television via President Donald Trump’s campaign)

David Shafer, the head of Georgia’s Republican Party, said Thursday in a statement: “Our Republican observers and members of the news media departed State Farm when they announced they were shutting down for the night and would resume counting at 8:30 a.m. the next day.

Citing surveillance video footage that showed everyone leave but a handful of workers, he said the workers “continued counting ballots in secret until 1 a.m.”

The footage was presented by President Donald Trump’s campaign during a state legislature hearing this week. It appears to show a few workers pulling out boxes filled with ballots from underneath tables and counting them after the room cleared.

Officials insist the video does not show fraud. They said Friday they are probing why poll observers left on election night.

We have launched an investigation into why the monitors from the political parties left before scanning ended. While it was their right to leave early, we want to make certain they were not misled into thinking scanning had stopped for the night when it had not,” Walter Jones, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, told The Epoch Times via email.

The issue appears to center around semantics. While observers weren’t explicitly told to leave, they believed counting was stopping because officials made it seem that way.

Waller told ABC on election night that the county’s election department sent the ballot counters at the arena home at 10:30 p.m. Waller told The Epoch Times in an email, “For clarification, I informed ABC News that some workers left but four remained.”



Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 13, 2020. (Brynn Anderson/AP Photo)

Raffensperger and his team “are busily ‘investigating’ whether or not Fulton County elections officials sent our monitors home on election night, as if that question is actually in dispute,” Shafer wrote in a tweet on Friday. Gabriel Sterling, an official in Raffensperger’s office, “has accepted Fulton County’s explanation that the Republican monitors and news media are to blame for believing the election officials who told them that they were shutting down, packed up the voting equipment, and started cleaning,” Shafer added in another post.

Sterling said in a statement that the video “shows normal ballot processing.” He said investigators with his office watched the surveillance footage. Sterling and other state officials have said Fulton County “cut corners” and showed “managerial sloppiness” in handling the election and subsequent recounts.

A county spokeswoman told The Epoch Times on the day after the election Registration & Elections Director Richard Barron told the Board of Commissioners that when he learned that staff were dismissed at 10:30 p.m., he advised that some workers needed to continue.

Based on that directive, a smaller crew continued to work through the night. It may be possible that observers left at the time the majority of the staff left, but from the information we have, the processing area was never closed to observers,” she wrote.

Other people in Georgia said they were inexplicably told to go home.

Poll manager Susan Voyles, who was helping audit ballots at Georgia World Congress Centers, said she was told to go home on Nov. 15 after counting just 60 ballots, even though workers at nearby tables had thousands to process.

We offered to help on some larger piles that were still evident, and the officials present were adamant that they did not need any help,” she said in an affidavit.



Supporters of President Donald Trump protest outside State Farm Arena as ballots continue to be counted inside, in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 5, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

That same day, county officials told most of the counters to go home around 9:10 a.m., Maria Diedrich, a monitor for Trump’s campaign, said in an affidavit.

Still other observers claimed they directly witnessed fraud.

Carlos Silva, a trial lawyer from Florida, said in an affidavit that he saw two vote counters in Dekalb County pull out a pile of ballots that had two distinct characteristics.

One, I noticed that they all had a perfect black bubble and were all Biden select. I was able to observe the perfect bubble for a few minutes before they made me move away from the table. At no time did I speak to the poll workers or obstruct them in any way. I heard them go through the stack and call out Biden’s name over 500 times in a row,” he said.

He also said he witnessed something similar in Cobb County.

Nicholas Zeher, another observer, said he never saw vote counters or anyone else verifying signatures as ballots were counted. He also said he saw ballots on a review table with markings only for Biden and no other candidate. And he saw a batch of ballots where the bubble for Biden appeared to be a perfect black mark.

The affidavits were entered in a federal court case, Pearson v. Kemp.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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