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Nick Corbishley

Articles by Nick Corbishley

Mexico City Grapples With Acute Water Shortages, As “Day Zero” Approaches

14 days ago

Unless dramatic steps are taken, one of the world’s largest cities could face “Day Zero” — when supplies of water run so low that government must begin rationing the precious liquid — as early as 2028. 
Many residents of the working class barrio of Azcapotzalco, in the northwestern part of Mexico City, had a very dry Christmas this year. Water stopped flowing to many households on Christmas Day, allegedly the result of an outage of three power stations in an electrical substation that provides power to wells in the neighbourhood. Representatives of Mexico City’s Sacmex Water System said the situation would be resolved in a matter of hours. In the end, it took ten days, and only after local residents had forced the issue, in classic Mexican fashion, by blocking key roads in the

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Inflation Continues to Soar in Latin America, Even As Central Banks Intensify Their Rate Hikes

December 10, 2021

After hiking interest rates seven times in eleven months, Brazil now faces the most dreaded of economic scenarios: stagflation.
Inflation in Latin America’s two largest economies, Brazil and Mexico, keeps rising despite repeated interest rate hikes by their respective central banks. In Brazil, interest rates have risen faster than in any other major economy this year, yet with little apparent impact on consumer price inflation or producer prices.
On Wednesday (Dec. 8), the Central Bank of Brazil raised the Selic rate by a whopping 150 basis points to 9.25%. It was the second 150-basis point rise since Octoberand the seventh consecutive interest rate hike in 2021. Since March borrowing costs in Brazil have surged by a whopping 725 basis points, the most among major economies. But consumer

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Why An Open, Transparent, Informed Debate About Mandatory Vaccination Is All But Impossible in the EU

December 7, 2021

There is just too much murkiness for anyone, including MEPs, to reach anything like an informed decision. 
It is time for the EU to start thinking about mandatory vaccination. That was the message issued last Wednesday (Dec. 1) by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, as Europe once again becomes ground zero for the Covid-19 pandemic. Austria has already unveiled plans to mandate vaccines for every resident in the country over the age of 12, becoming the first European nation to take such a step. Under the proposed bill, anyone who refuses to get the Covid-19 jab after February 1, 2022, will face a fine of up to €600 every three months.
The German government is also considering taking a similar step after it recently imposed tougher restrictions on unvaccinated people in the

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Is It Time for Eurozone Banks to Start Worrying About Turkey Again?

November 30, 2021

The ECB has already warned once about the potential impact a plummeting lira could have on Euro Area banks heavily exposed to Turkey’s economy.
Turkey is in the grip of another big wave of its multiyear currency crisis. The value of the lira against the dollar has plunged by almost 40% so far this year, making it the worst performing emerging market currency. The currency is currently trading at just over 13 units to the dollar, compared to 7.44 in January and 3.78 at the start of 2018. On just one day this month (Nov 23), the currency plunged almost 20% before recovering slightly. The main cause of the collapse was the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey’s decision to reduce interest rates for the third time since September, despite a slumping lira and surging inflation.

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Mexico’s World Bank-Funded Mandatory Biometric Database Raises Serious Ethical and Legal Questions

November 16, 2021

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 1270 donors have already invested in our efforts to combat corruption and predatory conduct, particularly in the financial realm. Please join us and participate via our donation page, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Read about why we’re doing this fundraiser, what we’ve accomplished in the last year, and our current goal, more original reporting.
Mexico’s government wants the biometrics of all its citizens. Given the fragility of its institutions and organized crime’s infiltration of both government and law enforcement, this is a major cause for concern.  
Mexico has a serious problem with identity theft. Last year, the country ranked eighth worldwide in terms of the incidence of the crime, according to data

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Why Naked Capitalism Is Such a Precious Place for Writers

November 11, 2021

So what is so special about writing for Naked Capitalism? (Hint: since Naked Capitalism is special, please support this fundraiser at the Tip Jar).
Well, here’s my story as I approach the end of my first 12 months of writing as a member of the NC team. (You can support the Naked Capitalism team by clicking on the Tip Jar here.) I moved from the UK to live in Barcelona just over 20 years ago and spent the first 10 years working for language schools and engaged in academic translation work. This led to ghostwriting lengthy articles for one of Spain’s foremost business schools, and setting up my own political and business blog, Raging Bullshit, under the pseudonym Don Quijones.
By then the financial crisis was raging here in Spain and Naked Capitalism had become an authoritative source on how

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Mexico’s AMLO Blasts IMF for Causing Global Crisis, After Fund Takes Aim At His Energy Policy

October 29, 2021

“The IMF caused social and economic decadence in the world; they and other international financial organisations are responsible for the global crisis.”
An overwhelming majority (64%) of Mexicans support the government’s proposed energy reforms. That’s according to a new poll conducted by Gabinete de Comunicación Estratégica. The reforms are currently awaiting a definitive vote in Congress. If approved, they will have a major impact not only on the way energy is produced, delivered and consumed in Mexico but also on Mexico’s relations with other countries, in particular its biggest trading partner, the US. It could also have reverberations across Latin America as governments increasingly seek to take back control of their countries’ natural resources.  
The reforms seek to roll back the

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UK Goes Full-On Big Brother, Employs Facial Recognition Technology to Expedite School Lunch Queues

October 22, 2021

The UK government’s love affair with tech-enabled surveillance knows no bounds.
[This story is a little dated, having first surfaced in the Financial Times on Monday. But on that day I decided to write a piece on what I thought was an even more pressing issue: Italy’s “no jab, no job” vaccine mandate, which threatens to render millions of people unemployed. But this story from the UK is such an outrageous example of creeping surveillance in the so-called “liberal” West that I thought it still worth sharing]
As the pink paper reported, nine schools in the Scottish region of North Ayrshire have started using facial recognition systems as a form of contactless payment in cashless canteens (cafeterias in the US). The BBC later reported that two schools in England were also piloting the

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Things Are Getting Messy In Draghi’s Italy

October 19, 2021

Sixteen percent of the country’s officially employed workforce just lost their jobs (temporarily for the moment). And as one would expect, they’re not happy.  
It is a strange experience watching the events currently unfolding in Italy from the relative calm and normality of Catalonia. As I reported in August, Spain’s Supreme Court ruled against the use of covid passports to restrict access to public spaces — specifically hospitality businesses (bars, restaurants and nightclubs). Since then the court has scaled back the ruling, allowing certain regions, including Galicia and Catalonia, to use the digital documents to restrict access to bars and nightclubs. But things are still moving quite slowly though I’m sure they’ll pick up speed soon. Italy, by contrast, has just introduced the

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UK Nurses Threaten to Strike After Government Offers Measly Below-Inflation Pay Rise

October 8, 2021

With vax mandates looming and industrial action on the table, the UK’s overstretched National Health Service could be in for a winter of even more discontent.
In April 2020, at the peak of the UK’s first wave of the pandemic, Boris Johnson called the NHS the UK’s greatest national asset. That national asset, having already been seriously devalued by the now disgraced Matt Hancock, is now under the stewardship of Savid Javid, a former senior banker at JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank who strongly supports the privatisation of public services. After replacing Hancock as health secretary, Javid wants to shake things up even more at the NHS, even as the Tory’s latest root-and-branch reform, the Health & Care Bill, awaits its third reading in parliament.    
To do much of the shaking, Javid

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UK’s National Health Service Still Playing Fast and Loose With Patients’ Health Data

September 28, 2021

This time it’s patients’ biometrics — their most sensitive data of all — that appear to be at risk.
The UK’s National Health Service’s rush to embrace remote care has not only left many patients struggling to see a doctor in person; it has also opened up a rich vein of data mining and data managing opportunities for big tech companies, including Google and Microsoft. Even the controversial US spy-tech firm Palantir, which was founded with support from the CIA in 2003, has shared in the spoils. But then, in late May, a scandal broke, as I reported just over a month ago in Going, Going, Gone: UK Government Speeds Up Privatisation of National Health System:
Managers at NHS Digital [had come] up with an ingenious plan to digitise and share up to 55 million patients’ private heath data with

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HSBC Bet the Bank on China, Now It’s Paying the Price

September 24, 2021

The UK’s biggest bank is exposed to Evergrande and the Chinese real estate market. It’s also trapped in the middle of an escalating economic war between the world’s two superpowers. 
“I’d be naive to think that the turmoil in the market doesn’t have the potential to have second-order and third-order impact. Clearly with the changes that are taking place in the Evergrande situation, it’s concerning,” HSBC CEO Noel Quinn said on Wednesday at a Bank of America conference. In a webcast on HSBC’s website Quinn said he saw no reason to worry about HSBC’s loan exposure to Chinese commercial real estate, referring to a review of the bank’s provisions for distressed loans in the sector. 
«You wouldn’t have seen anything in that, that indicated we were concerned about our CRE exposure in China».

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Mexico’s AMLO Just Made Washington and Ottawa an Offer They’ll Probably Refuse

September 22, 2021

AMLO’s proposal: to build an alliance of states within Latin American and the Caribbean, and then pursue economic integration with the United States and Canada. 
Over the past weekend Mexico hosted the sixth summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). A total of 16 heads of state, two vice presidents and 13 foreign ministers attended the event, which was held behind closed doors at Mexico’s National Palace. They included Cuba’s leader Miguel Diaz Canel, Peru’s recently elected president Pedro Castillo and Venezuela’s president Nicolás Maduro, who arrived as a surprise late addition on Friday afternoon. It was Maduro’s first foreign trip since the US Justice Department made him a wanted man, in March 2020, by putting a $15 million reward on his head for his

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Spanish Government Infuriates Energy Giants By Making Them Pay for Soaring Electricity Prices

September 17, 2021

In retaliation, the energy companies have even threatened to shut down nuclear plants, which would decimate Spain’s energy supplies. 
As winter approaches, a perfect storm of demand- and supply-side forces, financial speculation and geopolitical uncertainty is driving natural gas prices in Europe to worryingly high levels. European benchmark prices have almost tripled so far this year. That is putting added pressure on electricity prices across the continent, at a time when rising inflation is already taking a toll on consumers and businesses still reeling from the aftershocks of multiple lockdowns.
Things have got so bad in Spain that newspapers and broadcasters are now providing daily reports on the current price of electricity. To cope with the surging bills, customers have taken to

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Is the UK’s Cladding Crisis About to Get Even Worse?

September 14, 2021

As the UK government prepares to pass its Fire Safety Act, concerns are growing that it could leave even more apartment owners in limbo.
One of the most brutal aspects of the Grenfell fire disaster is the sheer number of victims it has left in its wake, who now count in their millions. First and foremost, of course, are the 72 residents who perished in the blaze on June 14, 2017, and the loved ones they left behind. Then there are the hundreds of residents who managed to survive the inferno but lost their homes. Many had to wait years for rehousing. Then came the legions of indirect casualties: the millions of leaseholders* who discovered after the disaster that the buildings in which they own their flats may have also been rigged with flammable cladding and insulation materials.

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After a Long, Hard Summer, Southern Europe’s Long Awaited Tourism Recovery Remains Largely Elusive

September 9, 2021

Global travel is still far from returning to anything like the conditions that existed prior to the pandemic — at least for non-essential travellers.
The EU’s covid-19 passport “has been of little benefit” for Spain’s tourism industry, according to Carlos Abella, secretary general of the country’s Tourism Board. “The expected boost to confidence and mobility between countries that the single-page document was supposed to provide has not materialised. On the contrary, each country has set its own rules and that has generated a lot of uncertainty”. 
As NC warned back in late June, Europe’s grand reopening risked becoming a bit of a damp squib. Travel restrictions were still in place for many countries, including the UK, where cases of the Delta variant were (and still are) surging. In 2019,

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As US Prepares to Ban Ivermectin for Covid-19, More Countries in Asia Begin Using It

September 7, 2021

The information war takes a dark turn as the corporate media transitions from misinformation and obfuscation to outright lies and fabrication.
The campaign against ivermectin is intensifying in the US. Until recently the health authorities appeared to be quite content merely to ridicule those who take or prescribe the drug in order to treat or prevent Covid-19. A couple of weeks ago, the FDA released a now-infamous advertorial on twitter with the heading “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” The subheading: “Using the drug Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 can be dangerous and even lethal. The FDA has not approved the drug for that purpose.”
It’s a subtle message that has been faithfully echoed by the corporate media: ivermectin, a tried-and-tested drug that has

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Why Are Spanish Companies Beating a Retreat from Latin America?

September 3, 2021

Latin America helped transform Spanish firms into global ones. But conditions are changing and some are getting cold feet.
A few months ago, El País ran a curiously titled article, “Las promesas incumplidas de América Latina”, which more or less translates as “The Broken Promises of Latin America.” In it the author lays out how and why Latin America is no longer delivering the goods for big Spanish corporations. For the past 30 years the region has provided huge money-making opportunities for many of those companies. It has also served as a giant springboard for international expansion as well as a highly lucrative home from home during Spain’s sovereign debt crisis. But in the face of deteriorating economic conditions and rising political uncertainty in the region, some firms are now

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“We Will No Longer Sell Crude Abroad”: Mexican President AMLO

August 31, 2021

This is good news for Mexico’s long-beleaguered state-owned oil company, Pemex, but not such good news for the US’ refinery industry.
Last Thursday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made another public statement that won’t have gone down well in Washington’s corridors of power — or for that matter Texas, Louisiana, California or any other US state with a big refinery. Lopéz Obrador — commonly referred to as AMLO — said that Mexico will stop selling crude oil abroad and will only extract the oil that it needs to produce the gasoline the country requires. It is all part of the president’s quest for energy self-sufficiency.
AMLO also claimed that Mexico’s long-suffering state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is finally putting its decades-long crisis behind it

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Spain’s Supreme Court Rules Against Using Vaccine Passports to Restrict Access to Public Spaces

August 24, 2021

It’s the first time a high court of a European Member State has challenged the use of vaccine passports domestically. 
Spain’s Supreme Court made waves last week by becoming the first judicial authority in Europe to rule against the use of covid passports to restrict access to public spaces — specifically hospitality businesses (bars, restaurants and nightclubs). It is not the first Spanish court to come out against vaccine passports but it is the most important. So far, only five of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions – the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, Andalusia, Cantabria and Galicia – have proposed using vaccine passports to restrict access to public spaces. And all have been rejected by local judges.
The EU’s Green Pass is a one-piece QR-code document that can be issued to a traveller

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Going, Going, Almost Gone: UK Government Speeds Up Privatisation of National Health System

August 20, 2021

Operating on the maxim of “never let a good crisis go to waste”, the government is exploiting the pandemic to embed even more private interests across the system. 
Like many healthcare systems around the world, the UK’s National Health System (NHS) has been through the grinder over the past year and a half — largely as a result of the perfect storm created by the Covid-19 pandemic but also due to disruptive forces unleashed by Brexit. Yet if anything, the institution enjoys even more public support today than it did before the pandemic.
Drive through any town, village or city neighbourhood and you’ll find homes and businesses displaying tributes to the NHS in the form of rainbows, often drawn by young children back in 2020 when the pandemic threatened to overwhelm the country’s hospitals.

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The US Is Losing Power and Influence Even In Its Own Back Yard

August 17, 2021

Politically, economically and geopolitically, the sands are shifting in Latin America — and not in Washington’s favor!
If you’re trying to win the hearts of minds of millions of people living in countries neighboring your own, many of which your government has not exactly treated well over the decades, it’s probably not a good idea to call them corrupt. Yet that is exactly what the head of US Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, did last week. In an interview with Politico on Friday, he accused China of taking advantage of widespread corruption in Latin America to further its own interests (not that this is something the US would ever do or has ever done):
PRC state-owned and private businesses often exploit pervasive corruption in the region to undermine fair contracting practices and

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Remittances to Latin America Surge, Even As Virus Crisis Continues to Bite in Host Economies

July 20, 2021

One of the rare economic success stories of the past year. But there are also downsides and dark sides to the remittances story.
Between January and May of this year the total amount Mexico received in remittances — transfers of money by workers of Mexican descent mainly in the US but also other countries to individuals in Mexico — surged by 21.75% compared to the same period last year, from $15.75 billion to $19.17 billion. Spanish lender BBVA says it’s on target to set another annual record, of around $47 billion. That’s after increasing by 11.4% in 2020, to $40.6 billion. This all happened despite the fact that GDP in the US, where 98% of the remittances to Mexico originate, slumped by 3.5% last year, the worst annual decline since 1946.
Mexico is the third largest recipient country

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Vaccine Certificates Are Making Global Travel Harder, Not Easier

July 16, 2021

Vaccine certificates were ostensibly rolled out to help facilitate cross-border travel as vaccination numbers increased. But thanks to vaccine geopolitics, the opposite is happening.  
Montse, a Mexican friend of a Catalan friend of mine, was supposed to come to Barcelona at the beginning of July, as she does just about every year, to visit old friends and family. Last year, for obvious reasons, she didn’t. But this year was going to be different. She made sure she did everything right. She booked the flight months in advance, got fully vaccinated, through the university she works at, and did a PCR test two days before her flight, which came out negative. Yet she never left the ground.
On her arrival at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez airport, Montse was politely informed by Aeromexico/KLM

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Does the Fate of Ivermectin As a Covid-19 Treatment Rest in the Hands of the Deeply Conflicted Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?

July 13, 2021

One of the world’s biggest vaccine proponents and strident defender of intellectual property rights is funding, directly and indirectly, large trials into cheap, off-patent, off-label COVID-19 treatments, including ivermectin.
The evidence backing ivermectin’s efficacy against Covid-19 continues to stack up, even as most health authorities refuse to approve its use. The last two months have seen the publication of three peer-reviewed meta-analyses demonstrating clear benefits. A review by Pierre Kory et al summarised findings from 18 randomized controlled treatment trials, concluding that ivermectin produced “large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance.” Another study, led by Doctor Andrew Hill, a well-respected

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A Worrying Trend Emerges in South America, As Right-Wing Populists Take A Leaf Out of Trump and Netanyahu’s Playbook

July 6, 2021

If the elected leaders of long-established democracies like the US and Israel can question the workings of their electoral system, why can’t others of less-established ones? 
Exactly one month has passed since 17.4 million Peruvians cast their ballot in the country’s run-off presidential elections. But the country still has no president. The losing candidate, Keiko Fujimori, a former congresswoman and daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, has refused to concede, claiming that her opponent Pedro Castillo’s party, Peru Libre, committed voter fraud. And now it transpires that Peru’s version of Rasputin is back: a recent investigation revealed that Vladimir Montesinos, a former long-standing head of Peru’s intelligence service who is in jail for crimes against humanity, has been

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Is Another Military Coup Brewing in Peru, After Historic Electoral Victory for Leftist Candidate?

June 22, 2021

The threat should not be taken lightly, especially given Peru’s long history of coups d’états.
Five days ago, a group of retired military officers in Peru dispatched a letter to the high command of the country’s armed forces. In it they call upon the army to rise up against the leftist leader Pedro Castillo if he is pronounced president. The letter also raised questions about the recent work of Peru’s National Office of Electoral Processes (JNE) and urged the institution to fulfil “its constitutional mandate in a reliable and transparent manner” — i.e. by ensuring that Castillo, a former schoolteacher and farmer who ran largely on a socialist platform, does not become the next president. If it fails in this task, the institution will “bear the consequences.”
18 Coups in 200 Years

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First UK Inquiry Into Greensill Scandal Calls for Extension to Lobbying Ban for Former Ministers and Civil Servants

June 15, 2021

The inquiry also recommends greater transparency and accountability from the government. Unfortunately, the trend is in the opposite direction. 
It is a formality of British politics that when a big scandal breaks, a public inquiry is formed. Sometimes a scandal is so bad that it warrants more than one. So far, the Greensill affair, the worst lobbying scandal in a generation, has racked up no fewer than eight separate inquiries.
The first to report its “interim” findings — that of the Committee on Standards in Public Life — has recommended that former ministers and civil servants who enter the private sector should be barred from lobbying for up to five years, as opposed to the current two-year limit. Chaired by Lord Jonathan Evans, a former MI5 chief, the committee said the ban should, if

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The Empire Strikes Back Against Mexican President AMLO

June 1, 2021

The Economist urges Mexican voters to vote for anyone but AMLO and the US government is up to its old tricks: funneling money to political opposition groups. 
Andres Manuel López Obrador enjoys pride of place on the cover of the May 29-June 4 edition of The Economist. Above his picture is the headline “Mexico’s False Messiah.” An editorial inside the magazine compares AMLO, as the president is commonly known, to “authoritarian populists” such as Viktor Orbán of Hungary, Narendra Modi of India and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. But unlike them, AMLO has been able to escape the limelight, the newspaper said.
“This is partly because he lacks some of the vices of his populist peers. He does not deride gay people, bash Muslims or spur his supporters to torch the Amazon,” The Economist said. “To his

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“I Don’t Know of a Bigger Story in the World” Right Now Than Ivermectin: NY Times Best-Selling Author

May 25, 2021

So why are journalists not covering it?
Michael Capuzzo, a New York Times best-selling author , has just published an article titled “The Drug That Cracked Covid”. The 15-page article chronicles the gargantuan struggle being waged by frontline doctors on all continents to get ivermectin approved as a Covid-19 treatment, as well as the tireless efforts by reporters, media outlets and social media companies to thwart them.
Because of ivermectin, Capuzzo says, there are “hundreds of thousands, actually millions, of people around the world, from Uttar Pradesh in India to Peru to Brazil, who are living and not dying.” Yet media outlets have done all they can to “debunk” the notion that ivermectin may serve as an effective, easily accessible and affordable treatment for Covid-19. They have

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