Monday, 30 November 2020
The Impact of Covid-19 on Women
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by Michael Curtis

In spite of discrimination, blatant and subtle sexism, sexual harassment, and some self-imposed barriers, women in recent years have become more prominent in all aspects of political and economic life. In contemporary life there are impressive examples, among them Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany since 2005, Christine Lagarde, president and first woman to head the  European Central Bank, and former head of the IMF, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives 2007-2011 and from 2019, Kamala Harris, Senator from California and vice-president elect, first African-American woman and the first South Asian woman to hold that position, and seventeen year old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, challenging world leaders on the issue of climate change.

Noticeably, a larger number of women well be members of the U.S. Congress, and a number, including Janet Yellen and Michele Flournoy are likely to be members of the incoming administration. Among women abroad are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria who has become the declared director of the WTO, though the U.S. favors her rival candidate, South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, and Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand since 2017.  In Sweden 46% of member of parliament are women.

Similar changes have occurred in economic matters where women are breaking new ground with the increase in female executives, such as heading a major Wall Street bank. Jane Fraser is the CEO of Citigroup, Mary Barram is CEO of General Motors, Marianne Lake is CEO of Consumer Lending at JPMorgan Chase, Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook and the first woman to serve on its board of directors. The percentage of women at the highest level of management in banking in the U.S. has increased. They have a long way to go but the percentage of women at the highest levels of management has increased, in top operational roles, in spite of unequal pay and sexual harassment.

Yet the glass ceiling has still restrained advancement for women, and disparities remain. There are many reasons: one is that women are more likely than men to choose public sector careers, which tend to pay less than private sector employment. Women tend to work fewer hours especially once they have children. Moreover, women are likely to spend more time with an invalid child or parent, this reducing their opportunities for earnings and increasing work absences. In the business world, men dominate senior trading roles, and women tend to have junior posts. For example, currently, women have 98% of the lower paid administrative posts of the investment   banking units of Bank of America in the UK.

Some of existing inequality between men and women results from behavioral differences.

A study of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority showed that male train and bus operators work more overtime hours than female colleagues who also may never take overtime. It is a question of choice of priorities. Men wanted the extra cash from overtime, while women preferred more time off.

Discrimination and implicit cultural norms have blocked women’s progress, and problems still remain, regarding unequal pay, health care, harassment, sexual violence, though these issues draw more attention partly because of the Me Too movement, and in 2020 the Black Lives Movement because of women of color. The reality, as the World Economic Forum estimates, is that the average woman’s annual income is $11,500 compared to $21,500 for men. The gender pay gap in the U.S. is 18.5%, and on average women are promoted at a lower rate than men especially at the entry level.

Nevertheless, conditions for women has been improving in recent years until Covid-19 which has caused such dramatic loss of human life, deep economic recession, and social disruption, and challenge to public health systems. Thousands of the global workforce are at risk of losing their employment. The pandemic has set back the gains of women in recent years, causing setbacks for women in incomes and careers, and showing gender inequities across the U.S. In the months February to September 2020, about 900.000 fewer women are in the work force compared with loss by men of 300,000.

A central problem for women arises from the fact that they are more concerned than men with care giving and a care taking role. First, let it be said that men in the current age have become more involved in family activity, coaching games, housework, and making meals, but the bulk of activity still depends on women:  the career of men are not as affected as are those of women. Caregiving and femininity have been historically linked. To some extent the issue has been dealt with by welfare programs that support working families and promote parental leave, and support gender equality.

However, the fact is that more than half of the general practitioners in the national health service are women. More than one third of working women in two parent households exclusively provide child care after school and day care close or were dismissed because of Covid-19 and school closings. Balancing work and family has become complicated. Working mothers have always been inconvenienced  by their double job: career on one hand  and children and household on the other.  An extra burden has been added because of the disproportionate effect of the virus on African-American and Latino Americans women.

The essential problem is that women play a large part in sectors hurt by the impact of the pandemic.

Though the full impact of the pandemic remains to be seen, and the problem is likely to remain for some time, it is clear that the impact of Covid-19   has had a disproportionate impact on women, has exacerbated problems for women in almost every sphere of life, from health to the economy, security, social protection, by virtues of their sex. They are more likely than men to have lost their job or had to leave it, and had an increase in burden of housework. They are also disproportionately more exposed to the virus as nurses, key workers, and cleaners.

The global gender gap, with different calculations in countries, long familiar, has been increased. Generally, more people have increased the amount of time spent on unpaid domestic work and childcare  since the pandemic began, but women spend more time on this than do men. One estimate is that women spend  three times as long on this kind of unpaid labor, which has increased with children out of school because of lockdown, and more care needed for elderly people. A UN report in November 2020 found that at a peak this year 1.7 billion children were affected by school disclosures, and that 224 million  remain out of school. It is predominantly women who are carrying the burden of care, some even sacrificing their career.

Economically, women have been more affected by cuts and layoffs, as companies reduce their workforce to survive the pandemic crisis, especially in the services industries such as the services sector, retail, hospitality, and tourism.  Women are more likely than men to work in low paying jobs.

The economic decline has meant that a larger number of women have left  the work force. In the U.S. The number of women aged 25 to 54 participating in the work force fell from 77% in January to 74% in May. Four times as many women, 865,000, as men, 216,000, had left the U.S. labor force in September 2020. Moreover, female business owners fear they may not survive the crisis because of lack of access to funds. Also, the retirement plans of women may have to be changed.

One reality is that more men than women are dying from the Covid-19 virus. Of 55 countries providing data on the   issue, 48 show proportionally higher male than female deaths. In the U.S. in June 2020,  57% of  deaths caused  by the virus have been men, though there disparities by class and race.  It is still unclear why this is the case, but it can be attributed to various biological, behavioral, nicotine dependence and psychosocial factors, among them obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and alcohol consumption.

However, violence against women is an international problem. The Covid-19 virus has intensified this in, but not limited to, the domestic scene. The problem has been growing, partly because of precautions to prevent the spread of the virus  such as lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions on movement, and partly because of the isolation of women due to employment, stress, and economic hardship. 

Economic life will not recover until the virus has been controlled. Women will continue to face problems of career and financial security. Their lives are changing in the face of the virus and the economic and social stress it has caused. Society should prevent the gains made by women in recent decades from being rolled back.

 

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Posted on 11/30/2020 1:07 PM by Michael Curtis
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Monday, 30 November 2020
Indonesia police hunt suspected militants after four Christians killed
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From the Sydney Morning Herald

Jakarta: Police in Indonesia are hunting suspected militants accused of killing four people said by rights groups to be Christians, beheading one and burning down their homes.  Seven houses in Lemban Tongoa, in Sigi District, were burnt down.

Ten militants linked to a "terrorist" group beheaded one victim and slit the throats of the others on the island of Sulawesi on Friday, national police spokesman Awi Setiyono quoted a witness as saying. Initial reports have linked the militants to extremist group Islamic State.

This attack is another serious escalation against the Christian minority in Indonesia," Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono said. Gomar Gultom, the head of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said the victims were Christian and urged the authorities to resolve the case. The victims belonged to a church run by the Salvation Army.

The brutal murder of four Christians in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi was inspired by the Islamic State, but not ordered by it, according to one of the world's foremost experts on the terror group.

Police and the military are still hunting for 10 members of the militant group East Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT), which has pledged loyalty to IS in the past. The director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Sidney Jones, said the Islamic State's official propaganda channel had claimed the murders as an act in support of the terrorist group. "ISIS media claimed credit and yes, it was inspired but not directed by ISIS," she said 

"This was a sub-group of MIT led by a man named Qatar, who has been involved in attacks with machetes in March and then August this year. This is the first time in a while we have seen the Christian community targeted, usually they go after informants who have been assisting the police, or the police themselves."

Jones said it was not yet clear why Christians had been targeted . . . (national police spokesman Awi Setiyono denys the attacks were religiously motivated.)

She said MIT had probably no more than 14 active members and just a handful of guns, which is "one of the reasons they have used machetes" in the latest attack. "They [MIT] have made a point of moving around the jungle [in the region] in a way that has enabled them to elude pursuers," Jones said. That and a lack of training in jungle combat for Indonesian city police have held back attempts to bring the group to justice. While the military units had had the relevant training, they did not know the jungle in the area well, which had also slowed down attempts to apprehend the group.

 

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Posted on 11/30/2020 8:05 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 30 November 2020
Three men convicted of terrorism offences
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A very high 'M' quota here. From the Metropolitan Police's bulletin and the newspaper the Peterborough Telegraph

Three men have been convicted of terrorism offences following an investigation by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) with support from Counter Terrorism Police North West (CTPNW) and Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) into attack planning and the dissemination of extremist material.

Mohammed Tahir, 19, of Peterborough, pleaded guilty to one count of disseminating a terrorist publication, contrary to section 2 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2006, at Kingston Crown Court.

Muhammed Saeed, 21, of Manchester, who pleaded guilty in June to five counts of possessing an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism, contrary to section 57(1) of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2000.

 Mohamed Ismail, 23 of north London, who pleaded guilty in October to two counts of disseminating a terrorist publication, contrary to section 2 of the Terrorism Act (TACT) 2006.

Tahir is now scheduled for a Newton hearing on the basis of his plea in early January 2021. All three have been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on a date in early 2021.

Detective Superintendent Andy Waldie, head of ERSOU’s Counter Terrorism Policing unit, said: “It’s clear that Tahir is a dangerous individual and it is testament to all those involved in the operation that he had little option but to admit the offences. This investigation included significant partnership working across the Counter Terrorism Policing network and I’m delighted that the work of our talented teams at ERSOU has contributed to keeping our communities safe.”

Tahir was arrested and charged as above on 30 December 2019 with two other men as part of a planned operation into three individuals across the UK. CTC, ERSOU and CTPNW worked together to make the arrests.

 

 

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Posted on 11/30/2020 7:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Monday, 30 November 2020
Anomalies in Vote Counts and Their Effects on Election 2020
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A vote analysis (with thanks to Rand Paul):

Executive Summary

In the early hours of November 4th, 2020, Democratic candidate Joe Biden received several major “vote spikes” that substantially — and decisively — improved his electoral position in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Much skepticism and uncertainty surrounds these “vote spikes.” Critics point to suspicious vote counting practices, extreme differences between the two major candidates’ vote counts, and the timing of the vote updates, among other factors, to cast doubt on the legitimacy of some of these spikes. While data analysis cannot on its own demonstrate fraud or systemic issues, it can point us to statistically anomalous cases that invite further scrutiny. 

This is one such case: Our analysis finds that a few key vote updates in competitive states were unusually large in size and had an unusually high Biden-to-Trump ratio. We demonstrate the results differ enough from expected results to be cause for concern.

With this report, we rely only on publicly available data from the New York Times to identify and analyze statistical anomalies in key states. Looking at 8,954 individual vote updates (differences in vote totals for each candidate between successive changes to the running vote totals, colloquially also referred to as “dumps” or “batches”), we discover a remarkably consistent mathematical property: there is a clear inverse relationship between difference in candidates’ vote counts and and the ratio of the vote counts. (In other words, it's not surprising to see vote updates with large margins, and it's not surprising to see vote updates with very large ratios of support between the candidates, but it is surprising to see vote updates which are both). 

The significance of this property will be further explained in later sections of this report. Nearly every vote update, across states of all sizes and political leanings follow this statistical pattern. A very small number, however, are especially aberrant. Of the seven vote updates which follow the pattern the least, four individual vote updates — two in Michigan, one in Wisconsin, and one in Georgia — were particularly anomalous and influential  with respect to this property and all occurred within the same five hour window.

In particular, we are able to quantify the extent of compliance with this property and discover that, of the 8,954 vote updates used in the analysis, these four decisive updates were the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 7th most anomalous updates in the entire data set. Not only does each of these vote updates not follow the generally observed pattern, but the anomalous behavior of these updates is particularly extreme. That is, these vote updates are outliers of the outliers.

The four vote updates in question are: 

  1. An update in Michigan listed as of 6:31AM Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 141,258 votes for Joe Biden and 5,968 votes for Donald Trump

  2. An update in Wisconsin listed as 3:42AM Central Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 143,379 votes for Joe Biden and 25,163 votes for Donald Trump

  3. A vote update in Georgia listed at 1:34AM Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 136,155 votes for Joe Biden and 29,115 votes for Donald Trump

  4. An update in Michigan listed as of 3:50AM Eastern Time on November 4th, 2020, which shows 54,497 votes for Joe Biden and 4,718 votes for Donald Trump

This report predicts what these vote updates would have looked like, had they followed the same pattern as the vast majority of the 8,950 others. We find that the extents of the respective anomalies here are more than the margin of victory in all three states — Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia — which collectively represent forty-two electoral votes.

Extensive mathematical detail is provided and the data and the code (for the data-curation, data transformation, plotting, and modeling) are all attached in the appendix to this document[1].

Background

Late on Election Night 2020, President Donald J. Trump had a lead of around 100,000 votes in Wisconsin, a lead of around 300,000 votes in Michigan, and a lead of around 700,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Back-of-the-envelope calculations showed that in order to overtake President Trump, Joe Biden would have to substantially improve his performance in the remaining precincts — many of which were in heavily blue areas like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. 

On Election Night, conflicting news reports came in that various precincts were stopping their count for the evening, sending election officials home, or re-starting their counts. There remains a large amount of confusion to this day about the extent to which various precincts stopped counting, as well as the extent to which any state election laws or rules were broken by sending election officials home prematurely. Whatever the case is, various precincts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania continued to report numbers throughout the night. 

By the early hours of the following morning, Wisconsin had flipped blue, as did Michigan soon after. A few days later, Georgia and Pennsylvania followed suit. Given the uncertain context, many American observers and commentators were immediately uncomfortable or skeptical of these trends. 

For context, using publicly available data from the New York Times, here is a visualization of  the number of votes by candidate in Michigan from the beginning of election night to 7pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on November 4th, 2020:

Fig. 1. X-axis is the Month-Year Hour of the time, Y-axis is the number of votes as of that time, expressed in millions of votes.  The red series is the running number of votes for Donald Trump, and the blue series the running number of votes for Joe Biden.

As this graph shows, Joe Biden overtook President Trump’s lead through a small number of vote updates which broke overwhelmingly for Biden in Michigan in the early hours of the morning of November 4th.

The situation in Wisconsin is even more stark: a single update to the vote count brought Biden from trailing by over 100,000 votes into the lead. Here is the comparable graph, over the same time range, for Wisconsin, with the x-axis (time) expressed in Central Standard Time (CST):


Fig. 2. X-axis is the Month-Year Hour of the time, Y-axis is the number of votes as of that time, expressed in millions of votes.  The red series is the running number of votes for Donald Trump, and the blue series the running number of votes for Joe Biden.

Various versions of these graphs spurred online discourse. While some commentators provided relatively partisan analysis, others merely expressed surprise at the near-vertical leaps in some of these vote updates. Is it likely this phenomenon would arise organically? In an attempt to address this question, this report assesses how extreme and unusual these spikes are with respect to both other vote updates in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia, as well as those around the nation.

Through several investigative mechanisms, we find these four vote updates to be extraordinarily anomalous. While these alone do not prove the existence of fraud or systemic issue, it invites further scrutiny.

The Concept, the Intuition, and the Measurement

Data analysis relies on recognizing and evaluating patterns in data. When we find anomalous data, that is often an indication of underlying differences. This is why in this report we focus on these four vote updates.

There are also a number of general intuitions upon which we draw to direct our research. In general, the larger the sample size, the smaller we expect the deviation from the population average to be. While anomalous vote ratios may occur, the statistical chance of anomalous margins goes down as the size of the sample (or vote update) goes up.

The basic intuition is: big margins are one thing, and so are super-skewed results, but it’s weird to have them both at the same time, as they generally become inversely related as either value increases.

We will demonstrate below that the data overwhelmingly follow this intuition, but that four key vote updates identified by this report cut against this intuition.

In particular, we will show the existence of a very strong inverse relationship within vote updates, across all states and times, between the difference of votes for Joe Biden and Donald Trump (often referred to as the “Biden-Trump margin”) and the the ratio of Joe Biden’s votes to Donald Trump’s votes (often referred to as the “Biden:Trump ratio”).  As described in more detail in the next section, we take the natural logarithm of the ratios so that they are symmetric, i.e. so that we are not treating the two candidates differently when graphing and analyzing.  These values are often referred to as “Biden:Trump log-ratio.”  Since the logarithm is an order-preserving transformation — i.e. if x is bigger than y, then log(x) will be bigger than log(y), and vice versa — we sometimes use them interchangeably when precision is not required.

At any geographical level, we can test the assumption of an inverse relationship between vote update size and the extremity of the ratio between the candidates’ votes, and, as we will see here, the relationship is extremely strong.  Across states red and blue, where turnout is high and low, there is an obvious inverse relationship between the two.

Measuring This Relationship Between The Candidate’s Margin and their Ratio

Let us now attempt to quantify the nature of the inverse relationship in the context of a particular state. First we take our data set of running vote totals[2] for each state, and, for each state, calculate the vote differential for each candidate between updates. This produces a sequence of vote differences, the sum of which, within any given state, is the total.

To begin, we consider each sequential update in the state of Michigan where the vote totals for both Trump and Biden are greater than zero[3].  For each of these, we compute two values:

  • The difference between the number of votes for Biden and the number of votes for Trump — the “margin”

  • The logarithm[4] of the ratio between the number of votes for Biden and the number of votes for Trump — the “log-ratio”

Note: both of these metrics are symmetrical. If we let f1 be the first metric and f2 the second, the reader will note that, for any positive numbers (X, Y):

And that:

In other words, given X for Biden and Y for Trump, either metric will produce a score which is the opposite of what it would produce if the update instead had Y votes for Biden and X for Trump.  This property is extremely useful, and will come in handy during the statistical analysis.

Readers might ask: Why are you measuring the ratio? Why not measure the difference between the vote proportions (or, equivalently, their percentages). The answer to this lies in what we are looking for, i.e. evidence of fraud or foul play which manifests in extremely unusual outcomes.  In particular, ratios are almost never used in expressing vote counts (one typically hears of percentages or, when a race is close, numbers) and so anyone committing fraud and looking to “cover their tracks” is more likely to be “gaming” the metrics they’re used to, and much more likely to leave tells in metrics they’re not considering.

This obscures critical differences between the two statistics.

  1. Ratios demonstrate an important property: the farther ahead a candidate is, the harder it is to move the next 1 percent ahead. They reflect the relative difficulty of each marginal vote as the pool of remaining votes decreases.As a candidate approaches 0% or 100% of the vote, the rates at which the ratio of that candidate’s votes to the other candidate’s votes converge to zero or infinity are very different.  

  2. Ratios allow us to spot a potential sign of fraud: unusually low ratios between the losing (major) candidate and other, less well-known candidates.  Because those who watch and participate in elections tend not to think in these terms, if there is fraud, they’re much less likely to have covered their tracks in this respect.  A tin-pot-dictator style election where the favored candidate gets 99% of the vote is obviously suspect, but less attention is often paid to details like whether the ratio between the most popular losing candidate and long-shot third-party candidates actually makes sense[5].  Looking at metrics which are less popular in practical use will be tremendously helpful here, as we will see.

To illustrate this, let us consider a sequence of two hypothetical elections between Tom and Harry.  Imagine that the first time around, Tom wins with 55% of the vote to Harry’s 45%.  Four year later, Harry is the challenger and Tom improves his margin to 60% of the vote.  There are many ways that this can happen; winning over new voters, Harry’s previous supporters no longer voting, Harry’s supporters switching to Tom, or some combination of any of the above. Let’s consider merely the last case for the moment. For Tom to get from 55% to 60%, he must convert one out of every nine, or just over 11%, of Harry’s supporters. This may not be easy, but is hardly outside the realm of possibility.

Now consider another hypothetical election in a heavily partisan electorate, between Alice and Bob. In the first election, Alice gets 90% and Bob gets 10%. In order for Alice to achieve the same absolute percentage increase as Tom, i.e. 5%, she must convert 5% among a population of 10%.  In other words, she must convert one out of every two supporters of Bob.  For reasons outside the scope of this paper, this may not be 4.5 times as difficult as a candidate getting from 55% to 60% of the total vote, but it is without question much harder.  A useful example of this is this is San Francisco, CA, which, despite being one of the bluest cities in America numerically and culturally, is one where Democratic Presidential candidates consistently get about 90% of the vote but never seem to crack 95%.  There are Republicans in San Francisco, however few of them, and converting half of them is a tall order.  This makes ratios a useful tool in our arsenal for answering questions of the form “how much is too much”?. This allows us to assess the data in a way which we believe is qualitatively different — and qualitatively superior — to the common forms of assessment used by average individuals and the news media.

This election represents an extraordinary and unique opportunity for election integrity analysts and the application of statistical fraud detection research, as it is likely the first national election in American history, at the very least, where the general public has had access to time-series election data. Even well-respected academic papers which study election fraud in other countries[6] seem to mostly study after-the-fact information about final tallies; analysis is done on statistics about voter turnout, digit frequencies, and other information which is available in after-the-fact official numbers. After all, if reports of widespread fraud and corruption ordered from the top in elections in, e.g., Russia, Uganda, Ukraine, Iran, etc., are to be believed, then those governments, which tend to have much more control over what can and cannot be published than our government, are unlikely to want to increase the number of dimensions along which their claim to legitimacy can be audited.

A Look at Michigan

Let us now calculate these two values for each vote update in Michigan where both Biden and Trump have positive values. If it follows the intuition that there as an inverse relationship between the margins of an update and its ratio, we should expect to see a large cluster of data with a few points above, below, to the left and right, and virtually no points in either the top right (which would represent a simultaneously extreme Biden-Trump margin and Biden:Trump ratio) or the bottom left (which is analogous but favorable to Trump).

Here is that distribution, presented as a scatter plot, with the numerical margins as the X-axis and the log-ratios as the Y-axis.


Fig. 3.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

As we can see, most observations follow the basic contour of our hypothesis, i.e. the more extreme an update is in one respect, the less extreme it is in another.  

For example, the update at (-3,622, -6.449), has a fairly extreme ratio of Biden:Trump votes — about 1:632 — but is not very large, producing only a margin of -3,622 votes for Biden, which, as we can see, is not terribly extreme in the context of this distribution.  Similarly, the point all the way to the left, (-66,456, -0.816), is one where Biden’s margin is a significant -66,546, but where the ratio, of about 1:2.26, is not particularly unusual for a vote update which favors Trump.

We can see this pattern as well in almost every Biden-favoring update as well.  For example, the update with the 3rd greatest margin for Biden, at (34,450, 0.296), is 134,326 Biden votes to 99,867 Trump votes, and only has a Biden:Trump ratio of 1.34:1. And the update with the 3rd greatest Biden:Trump ratio, at (6,091, 2.184), in which Biden received 6,863 votes and Trump received 773 votes, has a fairly extreme ratio of 8.884 but only nets Biden 6,091 votes, a relatively small amount compared to what we will examine next.

Two points stand out.

Let us first consider the less extreme of these, i.e. the point at (49,779, 2.447).  This point, representing a vote update which went 54,497 for Biden and 4,718 for Trump and arrived at 3:50am ET on November 4th 2020, is both the second-largest vote margin of Biden’s, at 49,779, and also has the second largest Biden:Trump ratio at 11.55:1. As we can see and as was described above, the update with the next largest margin was an update with merely 7,776 votes, while this update had over 7 times as many votes and broke more heavily for Biden.

The oddness of the update described above pales in comparison to that of the update in the top right corner, however. That update, at (135,290, 3.164), represents the vote update described at the top of this report, and is responsible for the extremely noticeable spike which nearly eliminated Trump’s lead in one shot. It arrived at 6:31am ET on November 4th, and went 141,258 for Biden to 5,968 for Trump — representing both the largest vote margin for Biden of any of the 502 updates we have here, at 135,290, while also representing, by a factor of more than 2, the largest Biden:Trump ratio, at a whopping 23.67:1 (the log of which is 3.16).  As we will see when comparing with other states, by our metric this is the single most anomalous point in the nation.

This update is also particularly interesting for another reason: there are 2,546 non-two-party votes, while Donald Trump only has 5,968. Here is a histogram of vote-total-weighted Other:Trump ratios[7]:


Fig. 4.  The x-axis is, for each vote update, the ratio of other (non-2-party) votes to votes for Trump, multiplied by the number of total votes in that update.  The y-axis is the number of vote updates in that “bin,” where each bin has a range of 500.

As we see, when we weight by the number of votes in any given update, this update is particularly anomalous. The next closest vote-weighted Other:Trump ratio is less than two-thirds of this one, and the median — 137.56 — is smaller by a factor of about 464.5.  For such a large batch of votes to be counted while also showing such an exceptionally poor performance of Trump relative to the non-two-party vote is clearly very surprising.

In particular, it calls into serious question the veracity of this vote update, and is perhaps some of the strongest direct evidence of fraud in this entire report.  Someone looking to fraudulently improve Joe Biden’s margins relative to Donald Trump is likely to be focused on covering their tracks by keeping Joe Biden’s share of the update at a reasonable value.  95% might seem plausible, but 99.9% at this scale becomes prima facie implausible to any honest observer.  One effective way of achieving the desired goal of decreasing Donald Trump’s lead at this point would have been to suppress the Trump vote while artificially inflating the non-two-party vote in an attempt to disguise just how Biden-favoring this update actually was.  Indeed, this is precisely the reason this report uses ratios -- because they are a metric virtually never used for any practical purpose in discussing election results, someone committing fraud is far less likely to consider how unusual a ratio might look.  In particular, because the non-two-party candidates received far less media attention than in the 2016 Presidential election, and the Green Party candidate was even successfully sued off of the ballot in one or more states, it is hard to believe that this vote update only favored Trump over the non-two-party vote by less than a factor of 2.5, when the statewide ratio was over 31[8].

Absent a compelling explanation of why this particular update -- at such a crucial time, in a crucial state, which improved Biden’s standing in the state so dramatically -- also had non-two-party votes performing so unusually relative to Trump votes, it seems unlikely that this vote update reflects an honest accounting of the legitimate votes.

Subsequent sections of this report quantify how extreme it is in other respects and consider the implications if it had been slightly less extreme.

A Look at Wisconsin

Here is the analogous graph for Wisconsin.


Fig. 5.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

The patterns in this graph are somewhat more bizarre.  The updates favoring Trump (i.e. those to the left of zero on the x-axis) exhibit an inverse relationship between the margin of victory in a Trump-favoring update and the ratio between Trump and Biden votes.  For example, the update at, (-5,433, -4.564), which is the most extreme in the state in terms of ratio, is from an unusually Trump-favoring batch of ballots which went 5,490 for Trump to 57 for Biden, i.e. a Trump:Biden ratio of about 96:1 for Trump.  This number itself is quite large, but, critically, it is not anomalous with respect to the shape of the distribution. The tell-tale sign of oddity here is not extremity with respect to either value, but co-extremity.

Biden’s distribution looks slightly odd here, but there is one point which especially stands out, i.e. the one in the top right, at (118,215, 1.74).  This was the vote update which arrived at 3:42am CST on November 4th, and went 143,379 for Biden to 25,163 for Trump[9], giving a margin of 118,215 and a Biden:Trump ratio of about 5.7:1 — about 3 times larger than the update with the next largest margin (which was 39,499).  At the same time, only one update — one with a mere 6,435 votes (i.e. about a factor of 18 fewer than the update in question) which went 3,037 for Biden to 495 for Trump — has a larger ratio, at around 6.14:1.

A Look at Georgia:


Fig. 6.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

This one seems only slightly more anomalous than other such graphs, but, as we will see, actually contains two of the nine most anomalous vote updates in our combined distribution of 8.954 vote updates. In particular, the point at (136,155, 1.543), representing a vote update which arrived at 1:34am EST on November 4th, is the update with the largest margin of all of the updates in Georgia — it also has the 10th largest Biden:Trump ratio. There are a few smaller updates with more extreme ratios, but, as we will detail later in this report, this point is in fact unusual.

A Short Survey of Other States

We now turn to other states, particularly those with similar characteristics (e.g. a swing or blue state where one or two urban cores offsets an otherwise very Republican population).  These help us establish an initial baseline of what these distributions should look like within any state before we begin comparing updates directly across states.

Pennsylvania:


Fig. 7.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

The inverse relationship is immediately visible here.  We have points near the bottom (representing high Trump:Biden vote ratios), a few points far to the left (representing high Trump - Biden values), and a couple (much farther) off to the right, representing a high Biden-Trump margin, but which are not particularly extreme in terms of their Biden:Trump ratio.

Minnesota:


Fig. 8.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

While there is an update which is more extreme in terms of how large the Trump:Biden ratio is, and several updates with extremely large Trump-Biden margins, we see the basic shape remains the same.

New York:


Fig. 9.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each vote update, and the Y-axis is the natural logarithm of the ratio of the two.

The vote margins for each update are clustered fairly heavily around zero, while the few updates which have exceptionally large margins for either candidate have ratios which are not nearly as extreme as those of many other updates.

Consolidating, Comparing, and Measuring

Having taken a brief tour of states with similar characteristics, i.e. where Joe Biden is currently in the lead and the Democratic vote comes overwhelmingly from a single urban area (or perhaps two, in the case of Pennsylvania), we can see that the Michigan and Wisconsin graphs both look unusual. In order to more rigorously assess the extent to which this is actually anomalous, it is necessary to accommodate the reality that the typical Biden-Trump margin and Biden:Trump ratio will vary substantially between states. If we merely take these values as they are, then most of the differences between, e.g., Alabama and California would likely just be artifacts of the massive discrepancies between how the candidates each performed in these states.

To achieve this, we can use a data transformation process called standardization.  This is a process by which, for a series of numerical data, the mean of the data is subtracted from each point, and then the result is divided by the standard deviation.  This will produce a series of distributions which permit an apples-to-apples comparison of these values (i.e. per-vote-update Biden-Trump margin and Biden:Trump log-ratio) between states which are both very different in size and lean very differently, politically.  Data standardization is a very common technique in machine learning for training models on data sets with very different numerical magnitudes and means[10], as it provides precisely the functionality we need here.

We can thus standardize each individual (margin, log-ratio) point within its state[11], and plot it as we did before. Here is what that graph looks like. The values for Michigan are in red, those for Wisconsin are green, and the values for all other states are blue:


Fig. 10.  The X-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each update, standardized by the distribution of such values of its state.  The Y-axis is the log-ratio of Biden votes to Trump votes in each update, again standardized by the distribution of such values in its state.

Out of these 8,954 vote updates across the country, we can see how overwhelming the pattern is.  In particular, we see that — with a few notable exceptions — as one value grows more extreme in any direction, the other tends to become less extreme.

This brings us to the visually identifiable exceptions.

Directing our attention to the points on the far right end of the distribution, i.e. those which have the most extreme Biden-Trump margin with respect to their state, we immediately see one point from Michigan, which is quite far above where the shape of the plot would otherwise predict it being.  This, the point at (15.494, 4.989), is the vote update which arrived at 6:31am EST on November 4th, went 141,257 to Biden and 5,968 to Trump. Recall: this update had both the largest margin (135,290) of any of the 574 updates[12] in Michigan, by about 85,000 votes and a factor of about 2.7 over that of the update with the next-largest update, (5.679, 3.912) — which, critically (and surprisingly, vis a vis what this distribution shows), was both the second largest in terms of Biden-Trump margin and Biden:Trump ratio[13].  It also had the largest Biden:Trump ratio (roughly 23.69:1), by more than a factor of 2 over that of the update with the next-largest Biden:Trump ratio.  The visual discrepancy between that update and the overwhelming pattern followed by the other updates is glaring, and we will shortly quantify just how extreme it is.

Next, consider the green dot just slightly down and to the left of the red outlier.  This is the vote update in Wisconsin which arrived at 3:42am CST on November 4th, which went 143,379 for Biden and 25,163 for Trump, for a margin of 118,215[14].  It was the update with the largest Biden - Trump margin in Wisconsin by a large distance[15] and, in Biden:Trump ratio, was second largest -- second only to an update which was 26 times smaller and yet only slightly more extreme in its ratio[16]. 

We also see a red dot at (5.679, 3.912), which corresponds to the vote update which arrived at 3:50am EST on November 4th and went 54,497 for Biden to 4,718 for Trump, for a margin of 49,779 and a ratio of 11.55:1. It is worth noting that, while not nearly as anomalous as the 6:31am EST update, this one was very extreme along both dimensions in its own right.  As we will see, however, it ends up being the seventh most extreme value in terms of its non-adherence with the distribution as a whole.

While both of these points would be unusual on their own, it is exceptionally unlikely that both of them would have come from the same state, critical to the election, less than three hours apart during an overnight counting process — a process subject to great controversy and where there remain, nearly three weeks from election day, many unknowns. Together, these two vote updates  provided Joe Biden with the votes required to deliver him the lead in the state.

Quantifying the Extremity

Having demonstrated visually how anomalous the four key vote updates are, we can now proceed to attempt to quantify how unusual it is that these three points exist at once and that two of them are from the same state.

The below graph has two particularly interesting visual properties:

  1. The graph is presented two-dimensionally, but it’s really three-dimensional. It’s visibly much denser in the center, has what appear to be something like two normal distributions, and as you move farther from the origin along a positive-sloping line which runs through the origin, the lower the density you can expect.

  2. The outer “edges” of the graph, in the top-right and bottom-left quadrants, closely resemble the shape of the line y = 1 / x.

We similarly expect points to be in both the top-right and bottom-left quadrants, and between an outer line which has the shape of y = 1 / x and the origin.  Since these values will thus mostly be either both negative or both positive, we can see that multiplying each point’s x-coordinate with its y-coordinate is a useful way of assessing the extent to which it follows this sort of distribution.  Since there are more points near the origin than there are on the visible “boundary lines” (i.e. the sequences of points on the outer edges in the first and third quadrants which visibly form these lines which look like a graph, if perhaps scaled, of y = 1/x).

We thus, for each (again, both standardized by state) coordinate pair of Biden-Trump margin and the log-ratio of Biden to Trump votes, can multiply these values and examine the distribution of the resulting products. Here, the larger a value is in magnitude, the less it follows the non-co-extremity. Plotting these products gives us: 


Fig. 11.  Histogram of products of x and y values for each coordinate pair in Fig. 10

As we can see, the values are overwhelmingly concentrated near the median, and the graph is profoundly right-skewed — otherwise, the x-axis would not need to stretch all the way to 80.  All but 60 out of 8,954 unique updates have values less than 10, and all but 10 have values less than 20. In other words, an overwhelming share of updates seem to track this rule pretty closely, but a small number of updates are truly extreme outliers.

A quick dive into these ten points reveals data which, by this point in the report, will be very familiar to the reader:

As we can see, four of the seven most anomalous vote updates — which is to say, updates in which the margin and ratio are co-extreme — are in election-critical states and occurred during the same five hour period where the circumstances on the ground were (and remain) contested and highly suspicious.

It is worth noting here that roughly 15% of the vote updates in the data set of 8,954 were from these three states.  If we assumed it equally likely that any particular state should end up at any of these extreme points, there would be about a 1.2% chance that three states are represented in three out of the top four or four out of the top seven spots, and about a 0.99% chance that these three states would occupy five out of the top seven spots. It is thus very surprising to see the states in question be so disproportionately represented in the top 0.11% of the distribution of co-extremity[17].

Predicting More Typical Results and Assessing Their Implications

We now proceed to ask: How extreme did these vote updates need to be for Biden to win these states?

To do this, we consider “level sets”[18] of the products of the x and y values of the coordinates we are plotting, and consider the percentiles of these (with respect to the values graphed in Fig. 10).  Each level set is a point in that distribution, and has a corresponding percentile. For example, the 99th percentile of products is about 6.6 — much smaller than the values of 77.30, 46.45, 33.23, and 22.22 which we see for these four updates.  We can now determine what each of these updates might have looked like if they were only at the 99th (or other) percentile of co-extremity. In deciding how to do that, we must consider — what makes more sense?  Holding the margin constant and seeing what the ratio would look like, or holding the ratio constant and seeing what the margin would look like?  The latter makes far more sense in this scenario, since the former suggests an equal number of ballots for both candidates may have been held back improperly, while the latter likely suggests that an excess number of ballots for the winning candidate were produced.  We are interested in testing for the latter scenario.

Since we are using ratios to predict margins, it makes sense to show what the graph in Fig.10 looks like when the axes are reversed, so that one can see how the margins vary with the ratio.


Fig. 12.  This is the same graph as Fig. 10, but with the axes flipped.  The X-axis is the log-ratio of Biden votes to Trump votes in each update, again standardized by the distribution of such values in its state.  The Y-axis is the difference between the number of Biden votes and the number of Trump votes in each update, standardized by the distribution of such values of its state.

This shows the same data as shown in Fig. 10, but is a more natural presentation for using ratios to predict margins.  The pattern becomes somewhat more clear when we simply look at absolute values, as our subsequent examinations rely on metrics which treat pro-Biden and pro-Trump vote updates symmetrically.

We can also consider the “level set” of (margin, ratio) combinations which form a particular percentile of co-extremity.  Here, we show the absolute values of the (standardized) log ratio and margin, with level-set annotations for the 95th, 99th, and 99.5th percentile:


Fig. 13.  This is the same graph as Fig. 12, but where the absolute value of the coordinates of both points is taken first, so as to present a consolidated view.  The x-axis is the absolute value of the (standardized) log-ratio of Biden:Trump votes in each update, and the y-axis is the absolute value of the (standardized) Biden-Trump margin in each update.

This allows us to clearly see how extreme vote updates are, with respect to the generally observed property of them being bounded by an inverse curve[19].  The solid black line represents the 95th percentile -- i.e. 95% of vote updates are inside of this curve (i.e. have less co-extreme margins and ratios).  The middle black line, with dashes and dots, represents the 99th percentile, i.e. 99% of the 8,954 vote updates are less co-extreme than any of the points on this line.  And the highest-up line (dotted black), represents the 99.5th percentile, i.e. 99.5% of the 8,954 vote updates are less co-extreme than any of the points on this line.  As we can see, all four of the vote updates in question (the two red points, the green points well above this line, and the farther-up yellow point), are well above even this line.  Indeed, the least extreme of these points, represented by the lower red dot which is above the 99.5th percentile curve, is the 7th most co-extreme point out of all 8,954 vote updates, and represents the 99.92nd percentile.

This raises the obvious question: what might these vote updates look like if they were less extreme?

Graphically, this would involve moving them some combination of down (representing a lower margin) and to the left (representing a lower ratio).  In theory, we would simply calculate the shortest distance to any particular percentile level-set curve and choose that particular (margin, ratio) combination.  Doing so would ignore a crucial aspect of the nature of the data, however.  In particular, decreasing the ratio at any given margin implies the total number of votes in the update would go up.  In particular, given the scale of the anomalies here, this would imply a scenario in which a large number of votes -- possibly hundreds of thousands -- for both candidates were somehow withheld.  While it is possible that this is the case, it would almost certainly represent a data-entry error on the scale of hundreds of thousands of votes which affected both candidates equally or nearly-equally.  Since the margin is the metric which matters for the result, if there was foul play, it is much more likely that votes are being subtracted from one of the candidates while also added for another.

Since we bring no a priori assumption about what these updates should like, it is worth considering what they would look like if these ratios are accurate and they merely represented the 99th percentile of co-extremity.  Graphically, this represents taking the four points in question and “dragging” them down to the middle of the three black lines plotted.  If this were done, these vote updates would have staggeringly smaller margins but would still be more co-extreme than 99% of the 8,954 vote updates studied.  We have no affirmative reason to believe that this was precisely the case.  Indeed, we cannot, with the data available to us, affirmatively make a case for any particular outcome.  It is merely useful to consider what updates with these ratios would have looked like if they were more co-extreme than only 99% of the 8,954 vote updates studied, as opposed to 99.92%.

If these results seem unrealistic or implausible, this is a result of how bizarre these vote updates are with respect to the rest of the distribution.

First, let us consider the MI update at 6:31AM EST on 11/4.  Its product is 77.3, and its (margin, log-ratio) coordinate pair was (15.494, 4.989)[20]. If it were to only be at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, then its product would only be 6.600.  So, if the (standardized) log-ratio value of 4.989 is held constant, the (standardized) margin value would be a mere 1.323, as opposed to 15.494.

At this point, we have to undo the standardization process which allows us to fairly compare values between states.  Since these were standardized with respect to the vote updates in MI, we can determine the actual margin value corresponding to a z-score[21] of 1.323. Looking up the numerical margin which corresponds in Michigan to a z-score of 1.323[22], we see it is about 11,834, while the z-score of this actual observation was 15.494, corresponding to a margin of 135,424. In other words, if we hold the ratio constant, and this vote update were only at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, the margin in this vote update would have been 123,590 votes fewer.

Let us now consider the WI update at 3:42 AM CST on 11/4.  Its product is 46.452 and its (margin, log-ratio) coordinate pair was (14.427, 3.220).  If it were to only be at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, then its product would be 6.600.  So, if the (standardized) log-ratio value of 3.220 is held constant, the (standardized) margin value would be only 2.050, as opposed to 14.427.  Looking up the numerical margin which corresponds in Wisconsin to a z-score of 2.050[23], we see it is about 16,938, while the z-score of this actual observation was 14.427, corresponding to a margin of 118,396.  In other words, if we hold the ratio constant, and this vote update were only at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, the margin in this vote update would have been 101,459 votes fewer.

Let us now consider the GA update at 1:34AM EST on 11/4.  Its product is 33.233 and its (margin, log-ratio) coordinate pair was (12.836, 2.589).  If it were to only be at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, then its product would be 6.600.  So, if the (standardized) log-ratio value of 2.589 is held constant, the (standardized) margin value would be only 2.549, as opposed to 12.836.  Looking up the numerical margin which corresponds in Georgia to a z-score of 2.549[24], we see it is about 21,250, while the z-score of this actual observation was 12.836, corresponding to a margin of 107,143.  In other words, if we hold the ratio constant, and this vote update were only at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, the margin in this vote update would have been 85,892 votes fewer[25].

Lastly, let us consider the MI update at 3:50AM EST on 11/4.  Its product is 22.219 and its (margin, log-ratio) coordinate pair was (5.679, 3.912)  If it were to only be at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, then its product would be 6.600.  So, if the (standardized) log-ratio value of 3.912 is held constant, the (standardized) margin value would be only 1.687, as opposed to 5.679.  Looking up the numerical margin which corresponds in Michigan to a z-score of 1.687[26], we see it is about 15,009, while the z-score of this actual observation was 5.679, corresponding to a margin of about 49,8929.  In other words, if we hold the ratio constant, and this vote update were only at the 99th percentile of co-extremity, the margin in this vote update would have been 34,819 votes fewer[27].

Putting this all together, we see that if all four of these vote updates were extreme — but not as extreme — that the difference in margin would be greater than the margin of victory in all three states. 

At the very least, it is possible to definitively say that Joe Biden’s victory in all three of these states relied on four of the seven most co-extreme vote updates in the entire data set of 8,954 vote updates.

Important Considerations

It is important to note one crucial indicator of why these results are bizarre.  In virtually all other cases, areas which are very pro-Biden or pro-Trump have vote updates of varying size, and so a large vote update heavily favoring one candidate is almost always accompanied by even smaller updates which have a higher variance in the ratio, and at least some of them will favor the candidate who won the largest batch.

In particular, to accept the results as seen in Michigan as legitimate, one would need to believe that the one or two most possible pro-Biden areas of the state were somehow each counted their ballots entirely in one or two vote updates.  If they were counted incrementally and released in smaller batches, as is typically the case, we would expect to see smaller updates with higher variance in outcome, and would almost certainly see updates with a higher Biden:Trump ratio than the two Michigan updates discussed in this report.

Indeed, if it is subsequently discovered that these did not comprise the entire count (for either mail-in votes or all votes) in these areas, then these results should be regarded with extreme suspicion.  While vote counts are by no means a random sample nationally, given a small enough sub-population at which votes are counted, they eventually are.  If it can be shown by those with access to time-series county-level (or precinct-level) data that, for whichever counties or precincts reported in this update, that there were other updates (or other updates with mail-in ballots), then these results become almost impossible to believe.  This is to say, the believability of these updates relies on the premise that the one or two most Biden-favoring parts of the state (perhaps by ballot type) were counted entirely in these two batches.  If it cannot be shown that the ballots counted during these spikes were qualitatively different from all other vote updates in Michigan, then the results are likely too extreme along multiple dimensions to be accepted at face value.

One would also need to believe that mail-in ballots, which have generally been understood to be more pro-Biden, sometimes substantially so, were counted in their entirety in these regions.  While this data set does not provide breakdowns of how many votes in each update came from different types of votes, it is extremely surprising that we do not see smaller vote updates with mail-in votes which favor Biden more heavily.

This is also the case in Wisconsin, there the update discussed in this report, which had the largest Biden margin by far, also had the second-highest Biden:Trump ratio, by only a small amount.  Accepting this at face value requires the belief that the most pro-Biden subset of the votes -- by geography and vote type -- was counted entirely in one batch.  It would be extremely surprising if all mail-in ballots in the two most favoring Biden counties in the state, Dane and Milwaukee County, were entirely contained in this batch, and so it raises the question as to why we didn’t see even more pro-Biden updates in smaller, higher-variance vote updates in these heavily Democratic areas.  If we are to accept that these votes were counted entirely in one batch, this raises serious questions as well.  In particular, given the ambiguity -- to this day -- about where the vote-tabulation process was stopped and why, it makes little sense why these votes would be released in such an unusually large batch.

All of this is especially surprising when viewed in contrast to the prevailing analysis of the election, i.e. that Joe Biden’s victory was the result of improved performance in suburban areas. Looking at a map of final results by county, it is highly likely that these vote updates came from more densely-populated urban counties where Biden’s ratios were much higher.  The findings here call that into question, however, as we can see that he relied heavily on four extremely aberrant vote updates which were almost certainly in heavily pro-Biden urban areas to provide a much-needed boost in the early hours of November 4th.

Conclusion

This report studies 8,954 individual updates to the vote totals in all 50 states and finds that four individual updates — two of which were widely noticed on the internet, including by the President — are profoundly anomalous; they deviate from a pattern which is otherwise found in the vast majority of the remaining 8,950 vote updates. The findings presented by this report [28]suggest that four vote count updates — which collectively were decisive in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia, and thus decisive of a critical forty-two electoral votes — are especially anomalous and merit further investigation.

In particular, the finding that the broader data follows general patterns and our ability to measure just how much any individual vote update does — or doesn’t — follow this pattern allows us to make concrete claims about both how extreme any given vote update is and about what any particular vote update might have looked like, had it been less extreme one one axis or another.

We further find that if these updates were only more extreme than 99% of all updates nationally in terms of their deviation from this generally-observed pattern, that, holding all else equal, Joe Biden may very well have lost the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia, and that he would have 42 fewer Electoral votes — putting Biden below the number required to win the Presidency.  Either way, it is indisputable that his margin of victory in these three states relies on four most anomalous vote updates identified by the metric developed in this report.

We once again note that this analysis is largely restricted to four individual vote updates out of a sample of nearly 9,000. This report by no means suggests stopping investigations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, or elsewhere; it is merely that these four key ballot updates are both profoundly anomalous with respect to a metric which removes any component of different states having different partisan leanings or a different number of voters. Furthermore, this analysis does not require that we regard the final vote totals in any of these states (or counties thereof) as suspicious, nor, critically, does it require that we accept that the observed data should follow any particular distribution a priori.  We merely show that the data, adjusted appropriately to remove differences in size and political leaning between states, does follow a certain pattern, and that four key vote updates deviate profoundly from that pattern.

It is our belief that the extraordinarily anomalous nature of the studied vote updates here, combined with the staggering political implications, demands immediate and thorough investigation.

Correction: a previous version of this post calculated the probability of vote updates Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan constituting five of the ten most co-extreme vote updates as 0.0037%. The actual value is closer to 0.99%. The authors apologize for the error and the post has been corrected to reflect this.

Footnotes:

[1] It is stored as a zip of a folder with enough to deterministically reconstruct the entirety of this report.  The SHA256 hash of this file is fc1d9e17fc831e288609099e290f4d0152918f6365e7a602f7bd37dbe5347546.

[2] The time-series data provided by the New York Times provides what appear to be precise vote tallies along with vote proportions which are truncated after three decimal places. This introduces some imprecision, which becomes more meaningful as the vote total grows. The implications of this and various mechanisms for estimating the true vote total are discussed in the data gathering and processing appendix of this report.

[3]  There are several updates in this data set where the implied vote update suggests a loss of votes for one or both candidates.  A more detailed discussion of that can be found in the appendix on the data collection.  To compute ratios, we need to exclude updates where the denominator is zero, and negative values for one candidate cause the ratio to be meaningless (e.g. -5000/20 is indistinguishable from 5000/-20, even though an update where candidate A loses 5,000 votes while candidate B gains 20 is fundamentally different from one where the converse is true).

[4] We use the natural logarithm, but a logarithm base would have the desired properties here.

[5] This is an especially important because a good way to push the margin in a precinct without running up a high percentage is to inflate the votes for long-shot candidates while depressing the votes for the most likely alternative.

[6] See, e.g., this paper.  An archived version is provided here, should it become unavailable for any reason.

[7] Restricted to updates with a non-negative other vote.

[8] Values computed from Michigan Secretary of State’s website here.

[9] The skeptical reader will likely have immediately noticed that 143,379 - 25,163 = 118,216, not 118,215.  This is an artifact introduced by the imprecision of how NYT’s data set presents these updates, i.e. as vote proportions truncated after 3 decimal places.  The implications of this and various ways of minimizing error introduced by it are discussed in the Data-Gathering and Processing appendix to this report.

[10] Many technology websites which discuss machine learning and training models mention standardization as an important data pre-processing technique. As a reflection of its popularity, major software libraries designed for data science and machine learning tend to provide support for this out-of-the-box, such as the highly popular scikit-learn library for the Python programming language (see here). The R language, designed for data processing and analysis tasks, even provides it with its base language installation “out of the box.”

[11] Ideally we would be able to do this more granularly, e.g. at the county level. This appears to be the only publicly available Presidential race time-series data online which covers election night. Others, such as this county-level time-series file, exist, but do not begin until the morning of November 4th, and thus, while more precise (and thus valuable for investigations of, e.g., digit-frequency), are of far less utility when doing systematic analysis of patterns which are not subject to rounding errors.

[12] Restricted to updates where the vote count for both candidates was positive.

[13] This one was also both a very lopsided and large update, going 54,497 for Biden to 4,718 for Trump, for a Biden - Trump margin of 49,779 and a Biden:Trump ratio of about 11.55:1.  In clear contrast to what this distribution predicts, it was both the second-largest in terms of margin and ratio.

[14] See footnote 10

[15] The next-largest update in Wisconsin in terms of Biden - Trump margin was an update which arrived at 8:26pm CST on November 3rd and went 53,016 to 13,517, for a margin of 39,499 -- about three times smaller than the 3:42am update with a margin of 118,215.

[16] That update, which arrived at 12:36am CST on November 4th, went 3,037 for Biden to 495 for Trump, a ratio of 6.14:1 but with a margin of only 2,543 (see footnotes 10, 17, regarding rounding errors).  This is the sort of data point we expect in line with the distribution where one of the two values is very large in magnitude.

[17] These probabilities are rough not only because they are rounded but because they are calculated assuming sampling with replacement.  We are, however, sampling without replacement -- a value cannot both be above and below the top 10 most co-extreme vote updates.  Making this simplifying assumption slightly understates the actual improbability of these states being so well-represented in the top four, seven, and ten most co-extreme vote updates.

[18] Generally speaking, this means the set of points for which some function produces the same value.  In this context, it means the set of points with identical products, i.e. lines of the form y = k / x.

[19] i.e. It is rare for a vote update to both have an extreme ratio favoring one candidate and an extreme margin between the vote numbers.

[20] This, like all other values presented here, is rounded to three decimal places.

[21] z-scores here are used only as a method of centering and scaling data between distributions with values of different magnitudes.  We make no assumptions about the normality of any of those distributions, and z-scores are never used as a hypothesis test statistic at any point in this report.

[22] Since the standardization process involves subtracting the mean and dividing by the standard deviation, the process here is to multiply by the standard deviation and then add the mean.

[23] See above.

[24] See above.

[25] 107,143 - 21,250 = 85,893, not 85,892.  Numbers reported here are the results of computations performed on unrounded values.

[26] See footnote 22.

[27] See above.

[28] Which, to the author’s knowledge, are original

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Posted on 11/30/2020 7:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Monday, 30 November 2020
The Age of Cant
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by Theodore Dalrymple

Cant, or humbug, is far worse than hypocrisy: for if by hypocrisy, we mean a failure to live up to our professed moral ideals, most of us are hypocrites, and thank goodness for it. A society in which everyone lived up to his moral principles unswervingly would be intolerable, regardless of whether those principles coincided. Apart from the fact that no mesh of such principles could ever be fine enough to catch all of life’s infinitely variable exigencies, a person of no moral weakness whatever, while perhaps admirable in the abstract, would be an uncomfortable, even frightening, person to meet. It is good not to be a liar; but never to lie is to be an unsocial being, with as much feeling as an automaton.

Without hypocrisy, there would be no gossip; without gossip, there would be no literature and precious little conversation. The dose of hypocrisy necessary to maintain social intercourse is a matter of judgment, for while many individual instances of hypocrisy are reprehensible and properly the subject of adverse comment, and some instances are beyond the pale, hypocrisy is as necessary to human existence as love or laughter. We should never forget La Rochefoucauld’s dictum that hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue: but at least he knows that there is a difference. The only effective way to eliminate hypocrisy entirely from human affairs is to have no moral standards.

Cant is more destructive than hypocrisy because it is harder to expose and because a humbug deceives himself as well as others, while a mere hypocrite retains some awareness; he is a rogue rather than a villain. Cant is the vehement public expression of concern for others, or of anger at an opinion casting doubt on some moral orthodoxy that is not, and cannot be, genuinely felt, its vehemence being a shield for insincerity and lack of confidence in the orthodox opinion. Doctor Johnson defined cant as “a whining pretension to goodness, in formal and affected terms.” Cant is contagious, and, when widespread, it creates an atmosphere in which people are afraid to call it by its name. Arguments then go by default; and if arguments go by default, ludicrous, bad, or even wicked policies result.

I think that we live in an era of cant. I do not say that it is the only such age. But it has never been, at least in my lifetime, as important as it is now to hold the right opinions and to express none of the wrong ones, if one wants to avoid vilification and to remain socially frequentable. Worse still, and even more totalitarian, is the demand for public assent to patently false or exaggerated propositions; refusal to kowtow in such circumstances becomes almost as bad a sin as uttering a forbidden view. One must join in the universal cant—or else.

Wherever people are punished, legally or socially, for expressing an opinion contrary to some recently adopted orthodoxy, or for failing to express the tenets of that orthodoxy, cant is bound to flourish; further, people who begin with an awareness that they are uttering cant come to believe that it is true because no one likes to think that he has spoken only from mere conformity or pusillanimity, or to avoid unpleasantness and the ruination of reputation. Hence, cant spreads rapidly once it takes hold in a society, and it becomes difficult to challenge, let alone eradicate.

Cant also has a built-in tendency to inflation. When it becomes generalized, it’s necessary for anyone who desires to distinguish himself from the majority of people in some way to go even further in his own cant. It is like fundamentalism in Islam: you can always be outflanked by someone more orthodox than thou. Once a new canting doctrine becomes orthodox, it will, in turn, be outflanked.

Leaders in cant are not inquirers after truth but seekers of power, if only the power to destroy, which is often a delight in itself. Cant is the weapon of the ambitious mediocrity, a class of person that has become much more numerous with the extension, but also dilution, of tertiary education. Such people believe that social prominence is their due.

Britain has long been a world leader in cant. The historian Macaulay said that nothing was so ridiculous as the British in one of their fits of morality, by which he meant cant rather than obedience to the moral law or genuine reflection on the ethical basis of action. Dickens memorably portrayed characters whose main feature was cant: Pecksniff, Uriah Heep, Mrs. Jellyby, Mr. Podsnap. Clearly, cant is not a new invention. Often accused of caricature, Dickens replied (in his preface to Martin Chuzzlewit) that what seemed like caricature to some was to him the unvarnished reality. And I think it true that the habit of canting can reduce people to a single, or highly predominant, characteristic. It makes people’s opinions seem like a scratched record that causes the needle to jump and replay again and again the same snatch of song.

Cant takes over minds and reduces their ability to consider other points of view, take in contradictory evidence, or sympathize with anyone not in total and unconditional agreement. It is therefore, in its essence, intolerant. It promotes monotony and eradicates subtlety, nuance, and irony; it does not recognize a tragic dimension to life. It is inherently utopian because it assumes that perfection, especially moral perfection, can be reached. It is boring. It achieves its victories over others by use of what Napoleon called the only effective rhetorical technique—namely, repetition (though frightening vehemence also plays its part). It intimidates by gathering crowds, by anathema, and excommunication. It is devoid of humor, one of the saving graces of human existence; indeed, humor is its enemy, perhaps its greatest enemy. That is why jokes are the particular object of its obloquy.

Unlike hypocrisy, then, one can say nothing whatever in favor of cant; but where having the supposedly right opinions is taken as the larger part of virtue—much larger a part than actual conduct—cant has little to oppose its spread and much to encourage it.

Cant rots institutions from the inside. The case of Sir Timothy Hunt, the Nobel Prize–winning researcher, is instructive in this respect. In 2015, he was asked to give an impromptu toast at a lunch in South Korea for scientific journalists, mostly women. In the course of his brief remarks, he said:

Let me tell you about my trouble with girls [in scientific research]. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls?

One of those present, Connie St Louis, not a science journalist but a university teacher of science journalism in London, reported these remarks on Twitter, saying that they had ruined the event, so dreadfully sexist were they. This went viral; in short order, no libel on Hunt’s name was too extreme to be repeated, and the effervescence of indignation against him was so great that he felt constrained to resign from his honorary posts (he was 72 at the time) at University College, London, the Royal Society (one of the oldest and most venerable scientific societies in the world), and the European Research Council, which he had helped set up. University College had demanded that he resign—his wife was a professor at the college—or face being fired.

Hunt’s apologies for his remarks, according to the Royal Society, were not as abject as it thought necessary; but it turned out, on a little investigation that none of his detractors waited for, that the woman who started the storm was a habitual exaggerator, whose only known accomplishment was self-advancement based on almost no real achievement—a common type these days in academia. According to at least some witnesses, Hunt prefaced his allegedly awful remarks as follows:

I say something about the importance of women in science. I also pay tribute to the capable female scientists I know, by saying some nice things about them. And I now acknowledge the contribution made by female science journalists. It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists.

No full transcript of the speech exists, but it is likely that Hunt said something that indicated to any person of normal intelligence—at least one not looking for a career-boosting opportunity to be outraged—that his ill-fated remarks were meant ironically. What virtually proves it are his concluding words, of which a recording exists: “So congratulations, everybody, and I hope—I hope—I really do hope there is nothing holding you back, especially no monster like me.” Connie St Louis, the teacher of future science journalists, omitted to mention this, though she must have heard it. A fine corrupter of youth!

Several eminent women scientists whom Hunt had trained came forward to defend him as always having behaved well toward them, but neither his actual conduct nor his eminence as a scientist was enough to save him. University College, demonstrating its close attention to the teachings of Uriah Heep, issued a statement: “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome [Hunt’s resignation] is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.” With all the courage of its own cowardly cant, it stuck by its decision even after the further evidence emerged, saying that Hunt’s reinstatement would be “inappropriate”—inappropriate being the nearest they could come to the word “wrong.”

Hunt and his wife left England for Japan. There is thus room in English academic life for unscrupulous apparatchiks of cant but not for Nobel Prize winners in science who make a few relatively innocent remarks that do not even rise to the level of being off-color. Poor Tim Hunt—by all accounts, a decent person. Self-stimulated outrage by an evident mediocrity was enough to bring down an eminent man of evident distinction.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but unfortunately, there is more than one swallow. Consider the cases of Germaine Greer and J. K. Rowling, now the objects of obloquy and excommunication for having dared to utter a truth so obvious that it would not long ago have been derided as a cliché—namely, that sex-change men are not women simpliciter. Their wealth and fame have protected the two women to a large extent from the consequences of their outspokenness, though Rowling, for example, has had to endure being disowned by actors and actresses who owe their good fortune to her creations.

For those neither famous nor in a position to ignore their own economic interests, and who do not wish to be martyrs to an outcry by the canting Twitterers, fear of repercussion has now entered into anything that they say about an increasing number of subjects. Even conversations in private are constrained, due to fear of denunciation to the relevant authorities. As the Soviets and the Nazis found, private denunciation was one of the pleasures of totalitarianism.

A 73-year-old part-time lecturer in engineering in Southampton had a conversation in the university cafeteria with a colleague: a private conversation that led to his dismissal, subsequently upheld by a cowardly minor judge. Stephen Lamonby had met his superior, Janet Bonar, in the cafeteria. During their discussion, he said that Jews were the cleverest people in the world, though they were much maligned for it, and that Germans were good at engineering, which he ascribed to their being part of a society that had long valued and promoted engineering. Bonar was so offended by what he said, even though it was not in a public forum, that, according to Lamonby, she started to shout. In an act worthy of the NKVD, she subsequently reported him to the authorities.

In the university hearing into the matter, the vice chancellor, Julie Hall, said that Lamonby did not understand that what he had said was offensive, and he was dismissed for “gross misconduct”—gross, mark you, not minor. Bonar said that she was “concerned” about students being taught by someone with his “entrenched racist views.” It was not alleged, however, that he was incompetent in his teaching, nor even that he was anti-Semitic: he was not one of those conspiracy theorists who will grant that the Jews are clever but use their cleverness to take over the world.

The judge later said, in turning down Lamonby’s appeal: “For the avoidance of doubt, I find that it is at least potentially racist to group nationalities, races, ethnic or religious groups, by entire categories and to ascribe certain abilities or talents (or the opposite) to them, when, of course, as with any such group, talents or abilities will vary widely from individual to individual.” He rejected Lamonby’s argument that he was employing a positive stereotype. With an astonishing lack of logic or attention to the meanings of words, the judge ruled that a Jewish physicist might take offense at his success being ascribed to the fact that he was Jewish rather than to his own individual ability or hard work. But since being Jewish and working hard are not mutually exclusive—indeed, eminence in most fields is inconceivable without hard work, such that Mozart, a genius if ever there was one, worked and studied extremely hard—no one worth worrying about would ascribe brilliance in physics simply to the fact of being Jewish. The judge said that the positive stereotype—he did not deny that it was positive—was nevertheless “potentially offensive to the recipient.”

Note here the use, for the second time, of the word “potentially” in what the judge said in finding that Lamonby was rightly dismissed. Potentially, this use of the word “potentially” could usher in full-blown totalitarianism, for it implies no requirement for any harm to have been caused by a person for him to be punished but only the potential for him to have caused harm. As Kafka put it, “Someone must have traduced Josef K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” And what is the harm that Lamonby potentially caused, in the judge’s opinion? In addition to any offense to Jews, non-Jews might also be offended, even “grossly” offended, because they might feel that some characteristic—presumably undesirable, though the judge didn’t specify what—was being ascribed to them.

The judge was enunciating what might be called the eggshell theory of the human psyche. If someone takes offense against something someone says, that is sufficient to be a justiciable harm. Gone is the “reasonable man” of traditional English jurisprudence, in assessing whether behavior is threatening or so insulting as to constitute mitigation for a loss of temper: one is threatened, bullied, insulted, offended if one says that one is, and that is enough to be actionable at law. Feelings become legislators.

In his final sally against freedom of speech, this greatest judge since Pontius Pilate said of Lamonby’s views that anyone might be offended because he spoke about things that “were none of his business.” The judge appeared not to realize that, if people were to be denied employment for saying something that was none of their business, the world unemployment rate would be close to 100 percent, except perhaps in North Korea. Nor did he make any distinction between what is said in public and what in private.

In a world ruled by the judge, no generalizations about people would be possible, not even such as, say, that the Dutch are the tallest people in the world. To him, it is irrelevant whether such generalizations are true. That Jews are clever, for whatever reason, seems to be borne out by the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes they win. That Germans are good at engineering seems to be borne out by their cars, machine tools, and other products requiring engineering skill. But mere facts, however obvious, must not interfere with the expression of the right sentiments and the suppression of the wrong ones.

The woman who informed on Lamonby; the vice chancellor of the university; the employment tribunal that said that the university had a duty to its multicultural student body to “protect it from potential acts of racism”; and the judge who rejected Lamonby’s appeal—all had substituted cant or humbug for thought. It is natural to speculate on why. I think, ironically, that the answer can be found in a word: racism. They were furious with Lamonby because, if what he said were true (for whatever reason)—that Jews were clever and that Germans were good at engineering—it must be true also that other people were less clever and less good at engineering, an impermissible thought. Why impermissible? Because, in their heart of hearts, they fear the possible explanations of inequality of outcome. That is why they do not want a society with no legal impediments to anyone, where everyone is left to find his own level.

Cant is, among other things, a defense against unwelcome thoughts. “Clear your mind of cant,” said Doctor Johnson. “It is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.” Easier said than done, especially nowadays, when the instillation of cant, as well as the prevention of anything else, is the main business of education.

First published in City Journal.

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Posted on 11/30/2020 5:14 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
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Monday, 30 November 2020
The Three Things of Significance That Happened During Secretary of State Pompeo’s Visit to Israel
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

Three things of significance happened during Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Israel.

First, he went to a settlement in Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the “West Bank”), Psagot, where he visited the winery that Israeli farmers and oenologists have managed to create in what was during Jordanian rule a wasteland. He is the first American Secretary of State to visit the “West Bank,” providing a clear demonstration of the Trump Administration’s view that Israel has every right to build settlements throughout that territory (though it is a right it may choose not to exercise everywhere), based on the Mandate for Palestine maps that assigned to the future Jewish state all the land from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. This visit reinforces the decision last year by Secretary Pompeo to reverse a 1978 State Department ruling, the so-called “Hansell Memorandum,” which failed to mention either the Mandate for Palestine or U.N. Resolution 242, and declared Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be “illegal.”

Second, before visiting Psagot and its famed winery, Secretary Pompeo announced a policy shift on the labeling of goods produced in the West Bank, wherever Israel exercises the relevant authority, notably in Area C, where Israel retains full civilian and military control, and which constitutes 60% of that territory. From now on these goods, for American consumers, will read “Israel” or “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.” This new labeling should make it easier for the producers to expand their market, as their products will no longer be identified as coming from what BDSers want us to think of as “occupied” Palestinian land, and therefore, they claim, should be boycotted.

Third, Secretary Pompeo visited the Golan Heights, which was won by Israel in the Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, with near-total domestic support, as a permanent part of Israel. The Trump Administration already recognized the Golan as part of Israel in September, 2019. Pompeo’s visit reinforced that recognition. By standing on the Golan Heights, from exactly where the Syrians for nearly two decades had intermittently shelled Israeli farmers in the Hula Valley far below, Pompeo delivered a history lesson to the assembled media: Here is where the Syrian artillery once stood, and way down there were the Israeli farmers on their tractors, whom the Syrians fired on. That’s all over now. And it would be madness – “just look at how the Golan looms over that valley” – for Israel to ever give it up. That’s why the Golan was so soon annexed, without any domestic dissent, by Israel. And that’s why the United States, rejecting the poorly-argued Hansell Memorandum of 1978, and following both the Mandate for Palestine, which assigned the Golan to the future Jewish state, and also U.N. Resolution 242, which entitles Israel to hold onto any territory that it won in the Six-Day War that it needs in order to have “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries,” chose to recognize the Golan as an integral part of Israel. Pompeo’s visit was a visible reinforcement of that new policy, and a piquant reminder of how the Golan meant only one thing for Syria – a place from which to shell Israeli farmers in the Hula Valley below – while under the Israelis, the Golan has flourished, both with its farms, and as a tourist destination, while the population of Druze and Jews has grown, as both groups have prospered. And there is no longer any Syrian shelling to disrupt the work of Israeli farmers down below.

Pompeo’s visit has enraged the Palestinians. How dare Pompeo visit an “illegal” settlement at Psagot? The rants continue, from the enraged rais in Ramallah, to the Palestinians venting on social media. You can imagine what they say; their messages are all variants on this:

“Don’t tell us about the so-called Mandate for Palestine. That was long ago. It meant nothing. It had nothing to do with us, the Palestinians, living in our land for at least two thousand years. It was a colonial-settler scheme that Zionist Jews in Britain thought up, and got Mr. Balfour to endorse. How much do you think that Lord Rothschild paid him to write that famous letter, the one where he goes on about how ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object’? Who gave the British the right to help establish a ‘national home for the Jewish people’? Pompeo, it’s obvious, is planning to run for president in 2024; he wants the evangelical vote. And the Zionist money, of course. What better way to get both than to visit an illegal West Bank settlement and declare it legal? His visit to our stolen land in occupied Palestine will forever be a stain on American diplomacy.

“As for his visit to the Golan, that is sacred Druze land. Pompeo can’t change that. Now the Zionists use that land to threaten peaceful Syrian farmers down below. He is hoping to legitimize Israel’s so-called ‘annexation’ of the Golan forty years ago. No one else in the world recognizes that land theft. Not even the U.S. did, until the Trump people came along. There have been six presidents since that Israeli claim to annex the Golan. Five of them refused to recognize it. Trump, only Trump, told the Israelis they could keep the Golan. But now he’s going back to his hotels and his golf courses. Good riddance. No one will miss him. And if the Israelis truly want peace, as they claim, they will return the Golan that they snatched from our Syrian brothers.”

Words, meretricious words, more or less to that effect. Meanwhile, Pompeo has done a good deed or rather, three good deeds, during his trip to Israel. First, he visited the settlement of Psagot on the West Bank, demonstrating that the Trump Administration does not think such settlements are illegal. Second, he gave a great boost to the West Bank economy, by changing the labeling on products made in the settlements for export to the American market to read “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.” This has made for much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among the BDSers. Third, Secretary Pompeo visited the Golan, telling the world that “the Golan belongs to Israel,” and reminding the media accompanying him of how the Syrians only used that area to rain fire down on Israeli farmers, and letting them see for themselves how the Israeli farmers now use the Golan, to cultivate their dairies, their nurseries, their orchards, their vineyards.

First publihsed in Jihad Watch.

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Posted on 11/30/2020 5:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Monday, 30 November 2020
Something for Advent II
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Veni, Veni Emmanuel - The Gesualdo Six - so good I'm posting it again, this time in Latin.

The Gesualdo Six are an English vocal consort which formed in March 2014 for a performance of Gesualdo’s Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. They now sing and travel in many places, but at the moment on-line Christmas concerts are pending. 

Cambridge again; note to self, find something from Oxford and elsewhere during December for balance. 

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Posted on 11/30/2020 4:12 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
Reasons why the 2020 presidential election is deeply puzzling
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Patrick Bosham writes in The Spectator

To say out-loud that you find the results of the 2020 presidential election odd is to invite derision. You must be a crank or a conspiracy theorist. Mark me down as a crank, then. I am a pollster and I find this election to be deeply puzzling. I also think that the Trump campaign is still well within its rights to contest the tabulations. Something very strange happened in America’s democracy in the early hours of Wednesday November 4 and the days that followed. It’s reasonable for a lot of Americans to want to find out exactly what.

First, consider some facts. President Trump received more votes than any previous incumbent seeking reelection. He got 11 million more votes than in 2016, the third largest rise in support ever for an incumbent. By way of comparison, President Obama was comfortably reelected in 2012 with 3.5 million fewer votes than he received in 2008.

Trump’s vote increased so much because, according to exit polls, he performed far better with many key demographic groups. Ninety-five percent of Republicans voted for him. He did extraordinarily well with rural male working-class whites.

He earned the highest share of all minority votes for a Republican since 1960. Trump grew his support among black voters by 50 percent over 2016. Nationally, Joe Biden’s black support fell well below 90 percent, the level below which Democratic presidential candidates usually lose.

Trump increased his share of the national Hispanic vote to 35 percent. With 60 percent or less of the national Hispanic vote, it is arithmetically impossible for a Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Bellwether states swung further in Trump’s direction than in 2016. Florida, Ohio and Iowa each defied America’s media polls with huge wins for Trump. Since 1852, only Richard Nixon has lost the electoral college after winning this trio, and that 1960 defeat to John F. Kennedy is still the subject of great suspicion.

Midwestern states Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin always swing in the same direction as Ohio and Iowa, their regional peers. Ohio likewise swings with Florida. Current tallies show that, outside of a few cities, the Rust Belt swung in Trump’s direction. Yet, Biden leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin because of an apparent avalanche of black votes in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. Biden’s ‘winning’ margin was derived almost entirely from such voters in these cities, as coincidentally his black vote spiked only in exactly the locations necessary to secure victory. He did not receive comparable levels of support among comparable demographic groups in comparable states, which is highly unusual for the presidential victor.

We are told that Biden won more votes nationally than any presidential candidate in history. But he won a record low of 17 percent of counties; he only won 524 counties, as opposed to the 873 counties Obama won in 2008. Yet, Biden somehow outdid Obama in total votes.

Victorious presidential candidates, especially challengers, usually have down-ballot coattails; Biden did not. The Republicans held the Senate and enjoyed a ‘red wave’ in the House, where they gained a large number of seats while winning all 27 toss-up contests. Trump’s party did not lose a single state legislature and actually made gains at the state level.

Another anomaly is found in the comparison between the polls and non-polling metrics. The latter include: party registrations trends; the candidates’ respective primary votes; candidate enthusiasm; social media followings; broadcast and digital media ratings; online searches; the number of (especially small) donors; and the number of individuals betting on each candidate.

Despite poor recent performances, media and academic polls have an impressive 80 percent record predicting the winner during the modern era. But, when the polls err, non-polling metrics do not; the latter have a 100 percent record. Every non-polling metric forecast Trump’s reelection. For Trump to lose this election, the mainstream polls needed to be correct, which they were not. Furthermore, for Trump to lose, not only did one or more of these metrics have to be wrong for the first time ever, but every single one had to be wrong, and at the very same time; not an impossible outcome, but extremely unlikely nonetheless.

Atypical voting patterns married with misses by polling and non-polling metrics should give observers pause for thought. Adding to the mystery is a cascade of information about the bizarre manner in which so many ballots were accumulated and counted.

The following peculiarities also lack compelling explanations:

1. Late on election night, with Trump comfortably ahead, many swing states stopped counting ballots. In most cases, observers were removed from the counting facilities. Counting generally continued without the observers

2. Statistically abnormal vote counts were the new normal when counting resumed. They were unusually large in size (hundreds of thousands) and had an unusually high (90 percent and above) Biden-to-Trump ratio

3. Late arriving ballots were counted. In Pennsylvania, 23,000 absentee ballots have impossible postal return dates and another 86,000 have such extraordinary return dates they raise serious questions

4. The failure to match signatures on mail-in ballots. The destruction of mail in ballot envelopes, which must contain signatures

5. Historically low absentee ballot rejection rates despite the massive expansion of mail voting. Such is Biden’s narrow margin that, as political analyst Robert Barnes observes, ‘If the states simply imposed the same absentee ballot rejection rate as recent cycles, then Trump wins the election’

6. Missing votes. In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, 50,000 votes held on 47 USB cards are missing

7. Non-resident voters. Matt Braynard’s Voter Integrity Project estimates that 20,312 people who no longer met residency requirements cast ballots in Georgia. Biden’s margin is 12,670 votes

8. Serious ‘chain of custody’ breakdowns. Invalid residential addresses. Record numbers of dead people voting. Ballots in pristine condition without creases, that is, they had not been mailed in envelopes as required by law

9. Statistical anomalies. In Georgia, Biden overtook Trump with 89 percent of the votes counted. For the next 53 batches of votes counted, Biden led Trump by the same exact 50.05 to 49.95 percent margin in every single batch. It is particularly perplexing that all statistical anomalies and tabulation abnormalities were in Biden’s favor. Whether the cause was simple human error or nefarious activity, or a combination, clearly something peculiar happened.

If you think that only weirdos have legitimate concerns about these findings and claims, maybe the weirdness lies in you.

Patrick Basham is director of The Democracy Institute

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Posted on 11/29/2020 8:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
PA Makes Demands of Biden; Here Are Demands He Should Make of Them
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

On December 23, 2016, as a parting shot from the anti-Israel Obama administration, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power did not veto, but did as instructed by Washington, and voted to abstain on U.N. Council Resolution 2334. It was the first time the U.S. had not used its Security Council veto to block such an egregious anti-Israel resolution. “PA wants Biden to reverse ‘anti-Palestinian’ decisions,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, November 22, 2020:

We have received assurances that the new US administration would adhere to UN Security Council Resolution 2334,” the official [an unnamed PA official] said.

The resolution, adopted in 2016, states that settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity” and demands that Israel fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Now it is time for Israel to engage with incoming Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who is the most pro-Israel among Biden’s advisors (another pro-Israel advisor is Jake Sullivan, who is set to become the National Security Adviser), and to discuss what Israel in the past has not presented forcefully or convincingly enough. That is, the Israelis must make clear that the basis for Israel’s claim that the settlements are legal is twofold. First, and most important, is the Mandate for Palestine, according to which the entire West Bank, and therefore the “settlements” in the West Bank, are to be part of the Jewish National Home. According to that Mandate, all the land from the Golan Heights in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east, to the Mediterranean in the west, was to be included in the future Jewish National Home. A second, independent claim, this one to part of the “West Bank,” is based on U.N. Resolution 242, which gave Israel the right to determine for itself what territories, won in the Six-Day War, it would have to hold onto in order to have, as UN Resolution 242 specifies, “secure [i.e. defensible] and recognized boundaries.” It clearly did not mean a return to the 1949 armistice lines, which the Resolution’s author, Lord Caradon, described as a “rotten line.” The resolution’s wording carefully insisted that Israel did not have to withdraw from “all the territories” — the wording the Arabs tried and failed to have adopted — or “the territories,” but only from some “territories” occupied in the recent conflict (the Six-Day War).

The “flagrant violation” of international law mentioned in U.N. Resolution 2334 was being committed not by Israel but by those states that voted for that resolution in the Security Council, a resolution which flies in the face of both the Mandate for Palestine, with its insistence that the Mandatory encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land,” and of U.N. Resolution 232. Furthermore, the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel is accused of violating in UN Resolution 2334, does not apply to the situation in the West Bank. Israel has convincingly argued that the settlements are not in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention since, in its view, Israeli citizens were neither deported nor transferred to the territories, and the settlements in the West Bank cannot be considered to have been “occupied territory,” since there had been no internationally recognized legal sovereign in the West Bank previously. When Jordan held that territory from 1949 to 1967, it did so not as a sovereign, but only as a military occupier. In the kangaroo court of the U.N., with Israel perennially in the dock, it’s hard for the Israelis to have their arguments heard. Anti-Israel minds are made up, and don’t wish to be bothered with such things as the Mandate for Palestine, or U.N. Resolution 242, or the correct application of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The American government, however, can and should take the time to study the Palestine Mandate (especially the Preamble and Articles 4 and 6),and its maps, and U.N. Resolution 242, with the exegetical commentary on it by its main author, Lord Caradon.

The Palestinian officials told the Post that the recent decision to restore relations with Israel, including security coordination, and [to] return the Palestinian ambassadors to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates were aimed at paving the way for conducting a “positive and constructive dialogue” with the Biden administration. The move, they added, is also aimed at improving Palestinian relations with some of the Arab countries, especially the Gulf states.

The PA, which has been boycotting the Trump administration since December 2017, will resume its contacts with Washington after Biden assumes office, the officials said.

When the PA leaders recently restored relations with Israel, they were not doing any favors for Israel or the US — as they now claim — but were merely looking out for themselves. Since the latest Hamas-Fatah agreement had collapsed, the PA realizes that Hamas, as well as the PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) will again pose a threat to it in the West Bank, and therefore it needed to reestablish security relations with Israel, which includes the sharing of intelligence between the PA and Israel on Hamas and PIJ operatives in the West Bank.

Similarly, the sending of the PA’s ambassadors back to the UAE and Bahrain has nothing to do with “helping to enter” into a “positive and constructive dialogue” with the Biden Administration. That’s what the PA describes it as, in order to win points in Washington. The return of the ambassadors has everything to do, rather, with the PA’s reluctant recognition that the Arab states are no longer interested in making the Palestinian issue the center of their foreign policies; the UAE and Bahrain were infuriated by the Palestinian criticism of their “normalization of ties” with Israel, which included such scurrilous accusations as their having “betrayed” the Palestinians and “stabbed them in the backs.” Protests by the Palestinians that went viral, showing the flags and rulers of both the UAE and Bahrain being defaced, stomped on, and set on fire, did the Palestinians no good. And at the same time, in one of his tantrums, Mahmoud Abbas called back the PA ambassadors from Abu Dhabi and Manama, to convey his displeasure. Now the PA has finally realized how much damage it has done to its relations with those states, and sending the P.A. ambassadors back to the UAE and Bahrain is an attempt to calm the waters.

When the PA says it is “prepared to review” its Pay-For-Slay program, that provides generous stipends to terrorists and their families, it describes a change in that program as a “concession” to win the favor – and above all, the money – that the Biden administration may hand over. It is not a concession. It’s a moral necessity, and is no more deserving of being rewarded than is the killer who promises to kill no more and expects to be rewarded for his promise. The PA has no compunction about giving lifetime stipends to terrorists and their families, but it may now want even more for Biden to turn on the spigot of American aid. It also hopes that if it modifies the Pay for Slay Program, the Israelis will then transfer the full amount of the tax money they collect for the PA, without deducting the sums the PA spends on the program. It’s hard to see how either Jerusalem or Washington could possibly be satisfied with anything less than a total shutting down of “Pay-For-Slay,” and it is just as hard to see the PA actually doing that.

I suspect Mahmoud Abbas will string the Americans as long as he can, claiming that “we are discussing how to modify our program to be fair to all concerned.” The PA’s Qadri Abu Bakr, in charge of stipends to prisoners and their families, has announced – but did so only in the English version of his remarks, which is directly contradicted by the Arabic version! — that the PA is considering making these subsidies to terrorists and their families unequal, based on “need.” A “safety net” for poor but deserving terrorists. Better-off terrorists and their families will be given less. Think of all those imprisoned terrorists, or the families of dead terrorists, filling out their financial aid forms. It’s an SNL skit. Even for the Biden Administration, such a paltry modification should not be enough to turn on the aid. Mahmoud Abbas is going to have to get rid of Pay-For-Slay, period. How likely is that?

Moreover, the Palestinians have also hinted that they are prepared to suspend their campaign to join various UN bodies and international conventions and end anti-Israel incitement in schools and PA-controlled media.

The PA has not gotten very far in its attempts to join UN bodies. After many years, it still remains a non-member with observer status at the General Assembly. It has managed to become a member of UNESCO. But there are many UN bodies which it has not managed to join. The Palestinians’ feeble campaign has gotten a lot feebler pari passu with the increased indifference to them among Arab states now more interested in pursuing their own national interests (viz., the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, with several more to come) than in doing the Palestinians’ bidding. Given all that, it’s not much of a concession for the PA to say they might “suspend their campaign to join various UN bodies.” And it should not be considered a “concession” to the Biden administration to “end anti-Israel incitement in schools and PA-controlled media.” That was a commitment the PA made long ago. It was supposed to have made its “overhaul” of the curriculum and textbooks used in PA and UNRWA schools back in 2000. But changes were imperceptible, and little has changed since the second claimed “overhaul” in 2019 by the PA of curriculum and textbooks; an outside study by the research group IMPACT-se in 2020 found that all textbooks in social studies, history, Arabic and national education for grades two to 12 contained problematic content, defined by IMPACT-se as “violence or incitement to violence; hatred of the other; and radical, inappropriate or disturbing content.” Antisemitism and glorification of terrorism are still present in the schoolbooks and in the wider culture.

Now the PA, after decades of anti-Israel incitement in its schools and in the PA-controlled media, claims that, having made these promises many times before, this time it really means it. This time it will end the anti-Israel incitement in schoolbooks and the PA’s media. Why, since the PA has sworn to do this so often before, beginning in 2000, should the Biden administration believe them now? The Americans can take nothing on faith. They should examine carefully the textbooks in both PA and UNRWA schools, making sure they are now devoid of anti-Israel and antisemitic passages. They should study, too, the the curriculum and lesson plans offered from grades 1-12. They should monitor the PA-controlled media for similar incitements. Let this monitoring of the Palestinian schools and media go on for two-three years, and if they are then deemed to have met the standards set by the American government, only then should Washington begin to discuss the “possibility” of renewing some modest financial aid – not the hundreds of millions of dollars that the PA thinks it should receive as by right — which, if any anti-Israel or antisemitic material again creeps back into the textbooks, the lesson plans, the children’s shows and other media, will not be forthcoming. The Palestinians won’t like that? Too bad.

As the Palestinians are preparing a laundry list of “demands” for the Biden Administration, it seems only fair that the Biden Administration should prepare its own list of “demands” for the Palestinians. Here are a handful of suggestions:

  1. WE DEMAND an end, not a modification of, the “Pay for Slay” program. It doesn’t matter if the recipients are to now receive money based on financial need rather than on length of their prison sentences – with those guilty of the worst crimes given the longest sentences by Israel, and the largest stipends by the PA. All amounts given to terrorists or their families are to be halted.
  2. WE DEMAND an end to the naming of streets and squares after terrorists, and the removal of the names of terrorists that have already been given to such places. No glorification of terrorists can be permitted. An example of this is the square named after Dalia al-Mughrabi, the terrorist who was responsible for the 1978 hijacking of a bus and the cold-blooded murder of 35 Israelis. It’s not enough to end financial incentives to terrorists. It is unacceptable that they be treated as heroes who deserve to be memorialized.
  3. WE DEMAND that the PA to immediately rewrite its textbooks so as to remove all anti-Israel and antisemitic content. This is something the PA has been promising to do – has said it was doing – since 2000. But recent studies by the NGO IMPACT-se shows that the incitement to violence and hatred against Israelis and Jews remains in the textbooks.
  4. WE DEMAND that the PA-controlled media stop their incitement to violence, including the murder, of Israelis. This is especially important for the Children’s Shows, where preschoolers sing songs about killing Jews and, still sweetly smiling, imitate stabbing motions. The PA has repeatedly promised that such changes would be made, but again the promise has not been fulfilled. We cannot begin to think of renewing any financial aid for the Palestinians unless this incitement to hatred and murder is completely removed from the PA’s media. We will increase our monitoring of the PA media outlets, including newspapers, radio, television, and on-line material, to ensure compliance.

Those are a few of the non-negotiable demands that Washington should make of the PA. No doubt you’ve thought of others; feel free to post them below.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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Posted on 11/29/2020 8:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
Don't sanitise deadly virus of Islamism, warns Javid
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 Being a Muslim (albeit non-practising, and with a Christian wife) Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid is still trying to reconcile his decent relatives who did practice their faith in peace against the monstrous jihadists who follow the teaching of Mohamed and the words of the Koran literally. I can sympathise with all men and women of goodwill. 

However being a Muslim, and having seen the sea of ordinary Muslims within which the jihadists swim he is in a good position to warn of the violence and oppression that ideology threatens. 

Woke activists who cry "islamophobia" at all attempts to tackle extremism are threatening Britain’s efforts to root out and protect the public from Islamist terrorism, Sajid Javid says today.

Writing exclusively for The Telegraph, the former Home Secretary - who is himself a Muslim - warned against efforts to “sanitise” the deadly “ideological virus” of Islamism by rebranding it as “faith-based violence” or irhabi - the Arabic word for terrorist.

He said this shift in terminology was not just being backed by Islamist groups but also being discussed by senior policy officials including counter-terrorism police chiefs.

Launching a Policy Exchange initiative to track the spread of Islamism in the UK, Mr Javid said: “Among them are unsurprisingly, Islamist groups themselves who seek to distract us from the practice of what they preach.

“There are well-meaning officials who worry that Islamism, a term with credible and established meaning, could be seen as implicating the entire religion of Islam and all its diverse and peaceful adherents. And there are woke activists who are quick to victim-blame the West and cry Islamophobia at all attempts to deal with the issue.”

But Mr Javid added: “I believe it is critical that we confront this ideology head on and call it for what it is. President Macron is right to recognise this intellectual battle, and to characterise Islamism as a form of separatism.”

Mr Javid called for a “national conversation” on ways to combat this “virus” and welcomed the Policy Exchange initiative as a “helpful step in that direction”.

It is being led by Sir John Jenkins, former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia and co-author of the Government’s 2015 review on the Muslim Brotherhood, and Dr Martyn Frampton. In a joint paper to be published on Sunday, they urged all government and law enforcement officials to continue to use Islamism as “appropriate” and “absolutely necessary.”

“The British Government must not cede ground to Islamists, who for decades have misleadingly claimed to be the representatives of true Islam, by failing to understand their motives, the roots of their ideology and the consequences of the social and political gains they seek to make,” they wrote. I'd have to differ there. I'd say that the violence is so much a part of Mohammed's operation that it is the original Islam, but that natural human kindness has for centuries been trying to behave decently despite it. 

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Posted on 11/29/2020 6:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
Something for the first Sunday in Advent
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Back in March when I started doing these occasional posts of "Something cheery" during the pandemic the first lockdown had just started. I decided not to number the days from that nerve-racking evening of Monday 23rd when Boris Johnson announced that all institutions except the most vital were to close at 8.30pm. I'm glad I didn't; we all though it would be over by August Bank holiday. We were wrong.   And if needed  the Daily Mail keeps a tally, today is Day 251 in England, longer in other parts of the world. 

In previous years, but not every year, during December I have posted a daily advent calendar. I'm going to try that again this year, and it will absorb "something Christmas". As there are not the events happening this year you must forgive me if some of these items are old photographs of Christmas recently past, or something you have read before. 

The cardboard and/or chocolate calendars start on 1st December, but I'll start today, the first Sunday of Advent with this ancient Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

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Posted on 11/29/2020 5:09 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
Fight against electoral fraud is a fight against totalitarianism
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Trump's efforts to expose it are noble

by Steve Hecht


Attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood

President Trump and his legal team are exposing a massive electoral fraud in Democrat-controlled cities in swing states. This looks like 1960 all over again, when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley stole the presidential election for John Kennedy. The difference in 2020 is the theft took place in more than one city, which makes the statistical irregularities more glaring.

Democrats have been committing fraud in large cities for many years, and we will lose our liberty if we fail to confront it. We are fortunate Mr. Trump is doing so for the integrity of this election and future ones, starting with the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia.

Calls for Mr. Trump to concede stem from the Democratic need to avoid discovery — the process where evidence is gathered in legal proceedings. Democrats wish to protect the fraud to facilitate a one-party state.

Democratic media partners are applying pressure on congressional Republicans to join them in saying there was no fraud, and that the election is decided. Regardless of their personal opinions of Mr. Trump, Republican congressmen should not join colleagues like Mitt Romney. He has a personal animus for Mr. Trump, and he is helping Democratic media sweep fraud under the rug.

Republicans should stand and applaud Mr. Trump’s efforts to discover and reveal the truth.

Richard Nixon believed contesting the fraud in Chicago would hurt his future political chances. Nixon put personal ambition above national interests by not denouncing and fully exposing the 1960 fraud. This helped facilitate urban election corruption that has continued for 60 years.

This includes dead people, non-residents and aliens voting. Add to that the counting of unverified ballots, violations of equal protection, exclusion of Republican poll watchers and software issues with voting machines.

A recent Rasmussen poll of 1,000 Americans found 47% believe Democrats stole votes or destroyed pro-Trump ballots. As Rudy Giuliani laid out last week, there is much evidence to support this. In Pennsylvania, there are affidavits saying 682,770 ballots were not inspected but still entered the vote tally. In Wisconsin, 100,000 ballots did not have applications as required by state law. In Georgia, many voters did not provide signatures, as is required by state law.

In the 1960 election, neither side threatened our liberty; the nation’s fundamental values and structures were not going to change. That is no longer true. Democrats have demonstrated totalitarian values.

After refusing to accept the 2016 results, Democrats now denounce and demonize as enemies all who claim fraud. Democratic leaders, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, have called for creating lists of Trump supporters to be punished. They threaten, harass and defame electoral officials and others who do not cooperate with the fraud.

Democrats and their media partners use information warfare to suppress electoral fraud, which shows their contempt for Trump voters and democracy. Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz says challenging the election is the Trump team’s constitutional right.

Joe Biden’s team claims Mr. Trump’s lack of concession harms national security and efforts to fight COVID-19. Such claims are a thinly disguised distraction. Nothing is more important to a democracy than confidence in elections. Voters for losing candidates need to know the election was fair.

Democratic plans — ending the filibuster and increasing the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices — pave the way for a totalitarian state. They are close to creating it. If both Democrats were to win the Georgia elections, Democrats would control the Senate. They would be able to execute their socialist agenda of totalitarianism.

To do so, they need to repeat the fraud of November’s election in Atlanta in January. Mr. Trump’s efforts to expose it are making it more difficult for Democrats to replicate the fraud.

Democrats might have wiped enough of their fingerprints off the crime scene to get away with this. Even if they do not face explicit penalties, we need to shine as much sunlight as possible on the irregularities of the 2020 presidential election.

Republican bickering and calling for Mr. Trump to concede facilitates the totalitarian state. Everyone who loves liberty should support Mr. Trump’s critical efforts to expose the electoral fraud. Liberty also needs the two Republicans to prevail in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Republican control of the Senate is crucial but insufficient to impede socialism. Democrats know their policies will make it impossible for them to win elections in 2022 and 2024 without resorting to fraud. We must create safeguards against them.

The perpetrators knew it would be challenging to prove such a multi-faceted fraud within the short time between the election and the meeting of the Electoral College. Certification of Joe Biden will bury the issue. Democrats will have gotten away with an obvious fraud because of insufficient time and a subsequent corrupt government.

Such a government can only lead to totalitarianism or violent upheaval.

Mr. Trump is doing a tremendous service to our republic. He is fighting back to expose how city-machine politicians steal elections from Republicans. For those who believe that sounds like a conspiracy theory, think Chicago 1960.

First published in the Washington Times.

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Posted on 11/29/2020 5:12 AM by Steven Hecht
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Sunday, 29 November 2020
EXPOSED: The shadowy Islamic State cell looking to free Western jihadi brides from Kurdish refugee camps in Syria in exchange for cash raised through Facebook
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From the Mail on Sunday

A shadowy Islamic State fundraising cell seeking to free Western jihadi brides from Kurdish refugee camps in Syria has been exposed by The Mail on Sunday. Undercover reporters spent weeks communicating with a 'fixer' in Turkey before catching a 'courier' on camera in London last Friday picking up what he thought was a £4,500 donation to the terror group's cause.

In fact, the brown envelope left at the 'dead drop' contained only a crossword puzzle book.

As the Metropolitan Police began an investigation, this newspaper can reveal the sophisticated network apparently created to fund the escape of jihadi brides from camps in Syria. The camps include Al-Hol where Shamima Begum, who fled Britain aged 15 to join ISIS five years ago, was held.

there is mounting concern about the resurgence of ISIS influence in the camps where an estimated 13,500 foreign women and children linked to the terror group are held.

According to a report last week, an Instagram group called Caged Pearls – believed to be run by British women detained in Al-Hol who are raising money to fund their escape from the camps – is advertising itself with a poster reading: 'Al-Hol – The cradle of the new Caliphate.'

It was at the sprawling Al-Hol camp where the MoS first learned in September that ISIS supporters were raising money in the UK to help jihadi brides bribe their way to freedom, either to return to their homelands or rejoin the remnants of the terror group scattered across the Middle East.

One such fundraiser was named as 'Sumaya Holmes', who had been smuggled out of the camp and travelled to Turkey. Holmes is said to be the widow of a British convert who died fighting for ISIS in Syria and the wife of a Bosnian jihadi now serving a prison sentence in his home country.  On her Facebook page, Holmes openly touts for donations, posting photographs of women in burkas holding up placards pleading for help to escape.

'Assalam Alaykum [May peace be upon you all] I am a sister from camp Al-Hol and I need $6,000 [£4,500] so that I can escape from PKK [Kurds]. Please, I ask everyone to help me and donate as much as they can,' reads one sign. Below it, Holmes has written: 'This is my friend and she is in need of help. She sent me this photo yesterday...Please, even if you can't help, pass it to those who can donate to her. Jazakallah Khayr [May God reward you].'

Posing as a South London drug dealer who had converted to Islam, a reporter contacted Holmes on Facebook to ask what support he could offer. Holmes immediately asked to communicate on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app used by extremists and criminals due to its high levels of security. Holmes initially asked for a donation using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. When our reporter declined, she suggested making a deposit in an associate's bank account in Jordan and then hawala, a method of transferring money that leaves no paper trail. She sent the address and mobile phone number of a fundraiser based in Britain who she said ran a money exchange that could provide such a service. Again, the undercover journalist refused.

Holmes then provided details of a man called 'Anas' in London who could collect the cash in person. When an offer to donate £4,500 was made, Holmes wrote: 'Ok akhi [my brother] this amount of money you want to contribute to free 1 sister or its for the sisters in camps?' The reporter replied, 'Free one sister,' and received the response: 'OK i will see to one sister insha Allah [God willing].'

Holmes had meanwhile been busy spouting her support for ISIS on her Facebook page. In one post, she described Abdullakh Anzorov, the Chechen who last month beheaded teacher Samuel Paty near Paris, as a 'hero', adding: 'There are no words that can describe my feelings towards him and what he did for our Prophet, peace be upon him. Little Mujahid [jihad warrior], you're an example to many Inshaallah [God willing] #chechanhero.'

Back in London, a second undercover reporter arranged on WhatsApp to meet Anas in a residential street in Acton, West London. 'Akh [brother], how shall I bring the cash? In an envelope or what?' the journalist asked when a time on Friday had been agreed. 'An envelope, please anytime, but tell me a quarter of an hour before you arrive, please,' replied Anas.

In the event, the reporter changed the plan – citing concerns that the police might be watching – and left an A4 brown envelope under gas cylinders at a nearby service station. As it is illegal to hand over money to a suspected terrorist, the envelope contained only a crossword puzzle book.  (Traditionally it was newspaper cut into fiver sized rectangles, but a paperbacked book is more innocuous) 

Within moments, as an MoS team looked on, a bearded man wearing a white crash helmet arrived on a silver scooter. He knelt down, dragged out the envelope and smiled before messaging the reporter: 'File received, let me check the money and tell you.' The man was soon back in touch. 'There are [sic] no money in the envelope, there is only a book. ??? ... It seems that you are not serious about your subject.'

We immediately informed Scotland Yard.  Last night, a spokesman said the information was being assessed by counter-terrorism detectives.

In a series of messages on Facebook Messenger, Holmes denied involvement. 'That's not true, you're bulls****ing,' she wrote. 'Good luck with publishing your lies.'

 Anas denied involvement. 'No, no, I don't take anything, you are wrong,' he said before hanging up. He did not answer further calls.

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Posted on 11/29/2020 3:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 November 2020
Chutzpah: Palestinians Prepare List of Demands For Biden Administration
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

The Palestinian Arabs sense an opening for them in Biden’s Washington, where they rightly assume they will be personae gratae again. They have already been preparing their laundry list of demands for the Biden Administration, which is discussed here: “PA wants Biden to reverse ‘anti-Palestinian’ decisions,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, November 22, 2020:

The Palestinians will demand that the new administration under US President-elect Joe Biden cancel “anti-Palestinian” decisions taken by the administration of President Donald Trump, Palestinian officials said on Sunday.

The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian Authority has prepared a list of demands that will be presented to Biden after he is sworn in on January 20.

The list includes a request to reopen the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, rescinding Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, resuming financial aid to the PA and the UN Relief and Work Agency and reopening the US consulate in east Jerusalem.

In addition, the officials said, the Palestinians will also demand the Biden administration cancel the recent decision that allows US citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth, as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement allowing for settlement products to be labeled as “Made in Israel.”

“We have already contacted Biden’s people to inform them of our demands,” a Palestinian official told the Post. “We had a positive dialogue with senior officials who are close to Biden.”

Since that contact between the Palestinians with Biden’s staff, the two most pro-Israel of Biden’s advisers, Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, have been appointed to be, respectively, Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. It may not be quite as smooth sailing for the PA as it thought just a few days ago.

Last week, PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinians want to conduct dialogue with the new US administration in order to cancel decisions taken by the Trump administration.

Malki said the Palestinians have suffered tremendously as a result of Trump’s decisions directed against them, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the closure of the PLO mission in the US and the suspension of US financial aid to the Palestinians.

Malki and other Palestinian officials said they also expected the Biden administration to distance itself from Trump’s plan for Middle East peace, also known as the “Deal of the Century.” The Palestinian leadership has strongly condemned the plan, unveiled in January 2020, as a “conspiracy aiming to liquidate the Palestinian issue and national rights.”

Another Palestinian official told the Post that while he was optimistic the Biden administration would cancel some of the decisions taken by the Trump administration, the Palestinians do not believe it would be easy to return the US Embassy to Tel Aviv.

No, it won’t be easy to move the Embassy back to Tel Aviv. It will be impossible. There is not a chance in hell that the American Embassy will be moved out of Jerusalem. Biden has already declared that he would not do it, though he also added that he “would not have made the move himself,” a curious remark given that he was one of the most enthusiastic backers of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which passed in the Senate by 93 to 5.

“We know that the Biden administration would not be able to accept all our demands, such as the removal of the embassy from Jerusalem, but we are very optimistic regarding the other demands,” the official explained. “If [Biden] renounces the ‘Deal of the Century’ and resumes financial aid to the Palestinians, this will be a good step in the right direction. It will be a big victory for the Palestinian people.”

The suspension of financial aid to the Palestinians was partly in response to the PA’s refusal to end its Pay-For-Slay program, which incentivizes terrorism by providing generous monthly stipends to imprisoned terrorists, and to the families of terrorists who had been killed. The PA has been recently been making noises about modifying the plan, by providing stipends based not, as now, on the length of a sentence, which provide more money the longer the sentence (so those who commit the worst attacks get more money), but instead on the “financial need” of a terrorist’s family. Qadri Abu Bakr, the PLO’s Director for Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, in English told the New York Times that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) policy on terrorists’ families’ salaries will change. But in the Arabic version of those remarks, Qadri Abu Bakr said the exact opposite, assuring his listeners that the calculation of stipends to terrorists and their families would not change in any way. Two versions, directly contradicting each other. Why not? Qadri Abu Bakr knows: “War is deceit,” said Muhammad.

It is thus doubtful that the PA could bring itself to change its Pay-For-Slay policy, which reflects the Palestinians’ visceral support for terrorism. But even if the PA did change the criteria according to which the stipends are calculated, this would still leave in place a program that subsidizes, and therefore incentivizes, terrorism. This will make it very difficult for the Americans to turn on the faucet of aid again.

The PA’s complacent assumption that the Americans will renew financial aid to the Palestinians needs to be challenged and undermined. Even without the Pay-For-Slay program, why should the Americans turn on that tap for the PA, rather than have the PA go hat in hand to their fellow Arabs in the oil states, or Iran, or Turkey, and ask them for aid? Who decided that the United States owes the Palestinians a permanent living? And why should American taxpayers be shelling out billions, over the years, to UNRWA, which includes on its ever-expanding rolls of those who receive its largesse not just the real Palestinian refugees, those who left in 1947-1949, of whom there may now be 30,000 still alive – but also all of their descendants, now amounting to more than five million people? Who decided that among the many tens of millions of refugees who have been created by conflicts – wars, civil wars, persecutions — all over the world since the late 1940s, only one group, the Palestinians, should be allowed to pass on the refugee status to their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on, world without end?

This ever-lengthening list of “Palestinian refugees” has been on the international – almost entirely Western – dole for decades. Don’t we need to ask a few questions at this point? For example, why are we Americans expected to give hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinians instead of, say, to the inoffensive and much poorer people in Bolivia or the Congo or Nepal? What exactly have the Palestinians done for us? Haven’t they used terror as a weapon for a half-century? Didn’t we see the Palestinians hand out candies and celebrate when they heard the glad news on 9/11/2001? Haven’t Palestinian terrorists killed American citizens? Isn’t Hamas a local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, that seeks a worldwide caliphate? And what about the links between the Palestinians and our mortal enemy, Iran?

According to the official, the Palestinians are also expecting the Biden administration to return to the long-standing US policy toward settlements and adhere to UN resolutions on this issue.

In November 2019, Pompeo announced that the US no longer views settlements as “inconsistent with international law,” a move that drew strong condemnation from the Palestinian leadership.

Secretary Pompeo had quite properly declared as a break with previous policy what ought to have been American policy all along. The Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate, and are not “inconsistent with” international law. Their legality stems from the Mandate for Palestine, that included the entire West Bank in the territories assigned to the future Jewish National Home. Previous administrations had relied on the “Hansell Memorandum” of 1978, which took the position that the settlements were “illegal,” but Hansell himself never mentions the Palestine Mandate In his memorandum, as if it were of little moment, when it is, in fact, the essential document for understanding Israel’s claim to the West Bank, and hence, the basis of Israel’s right to build settlements in that territory.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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Posted on 11/28/2020 5:26 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 27 November 2020
Sidney Powell Sues MI Gov. Whitmer et al
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Posted on 11/27/2020 9:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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