Sep 292020
 


Fred Stein Times Square at Night 1947

 

Rapid-Testing Drive Unveiled As Virus Deaths Pass One Million (Y!)
Young People Are At Risk Of Severe COVID19 Illness (NBC)
Putin To Be Among First To Receive ‘Controversial’ Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)
Seeing Through Pea Soup (Kunstler)
Biden’s Texas Political Director Accused of Illegal Ballot Harvesting (NF)
Alleged Ilhan Omar Cash-For-Ballot Transaction Caught On Tape (ZH)
New York Times Trump Tax Story Disappoints (Reilly)
Airlines Demand New $25B Bailout after Burning $45B on Share Buybacks (WS)
Ai Weiwei: ‘Too Late’ To Curb China’s Global Influence (BBC)
The Surreal US Case Against Assange (Mercouris)
Julian Assange Faces ‘Torturous’ Months In Parking Space-Sized Cell In US (PA)
I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. (Samarajiva)

 

 

Ron Johnson

 

 

$5 a piece. Remember, Holland charges €225. But 270 million tests is nothing. You need 600 million a week just in the US.

WHO Unveils $600 Million Rapid-Testing Drive (Y!)

Coronavirus tests that deliver results in 15-30 minutes are to be rolled out across the United States and in scores of poorer countries, as health authorities worldwide try to get a handle on a disease that has now killed more than a million people. US President Donald Trump announced 150 million tests would be distributed in America, while the World Health Organization said 120 million more would be available for the developing world at $5 each as long as funding was secured. The testing push comes as the virus shows no sign of receding, with infection numbers climbing rapidly in Europe again and governments there clamping down on movement in an attempt to curb the surge.

Paris, London and Madrid have all been forced to introduce controls to slow infections, and on Monday Dutch authorities became the latest to tighten curbs, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia said they were preparing to declare a state of emergency. The WHO said its $600 million scheme to roll out the quick diagnosis kits across 133 countries in the next six months would enable low- and middle-income nations to close the gap in testing with the rich world. The kits are far faster, cheaper and easier to administer than regular standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests but are less sensitive and more likely to return false negatives.

“This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. Experts have for months been calling for widespread adoption of this low-cost technology so that people can test themselves several times a week. Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina said the testing drive “is terrific and is a great start”. But the amount being distributed by the US government was “simply not sufficient” and production should be multiplied ten- or twentyfold, he added.

The tests are part of a limited toolkit available to governments as they seek ways to get the wheels turning on economies that have been crippled in recent months by lockdowns and other restrictions on people’s lives. A million Madrid residents are under partial lockdown, with the city and the surrounding region at the centre of Spain’s second wave. The national government on Monday warned the local authorities of drastic measures if the region failed to move decisively to slow the uncontrolled spread.

Read more …

“Young people should not assume they are immune to the consequences of this disease, and they should do everything they can to avoid it.”

Young People Are At Risk Of Severe COVID19 Illness (NBC)

New findings published this month further reveal how severely Covid-19 can affect young adults. A research paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that among more than 3,200 adults ages 18 to 34 who were hospitalized with the disease, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation and nearly 3 percent — 88 patients — died. Of those who survived, 3 percent — 99 patients — had to be discharged to another health care facility to continue their recoveries. “While the vast majority of young adults who get Covid are not going to require hospitalization, those who do have really high risk for these adverse outcomes,” said the study’s author, Dr. Scott Solomon, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It is not trivial.”

The research is worrisome because the incidence of Covid-19 in the United States is now highest among young adults ages 20 to 29, who from June to August accounted for more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported Wednesday. Adults ages 30 to 39 made up the second-largest group of cases. As young adults return to college campuses — and parties — multiple outbreaks already have been reported across the nation. Doctors are concerned about the spreading infections and the serious cases that can result. “We’re seeing a really rising incidence of Covid-19 in young people, and that’s in part due to activity over the summer, and obviously we’re all very worried about this as they come back to colleges,” Solomon said.

“It’s unfortunate, but I think that we are likely to see an increased percentage of young people who experience these bad outcomes as the number of infections in this group goes up,” he said. Solomon and colleagues used a large health care database to look at serious Covid-19 illnesses in young adults hospitalized in April, May or June. Of the more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals in the database, which treated a total of 63,103 Covid-19 patients during the study period, 3,222 patients, or 5 percent, were young adults admitted to 419 hospitals. Overall, 58 percent of the young adult patients were men, and 57 percent were Black or Hispanic. More than a third were obese, including 25 percent who were morbidly obese (with body mass indexes of 40 or higher), 18 percent had diabetes, and 16 percent had hypertension. [..] Results also showed that the risks of dying or needing mechanical ventilation were more than double in young adult patients who were either morbidly obese or had hypertension.

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He should offer a free jab to Fauci. And Trump.

Putin To Be Among First To Receive ‘Controversial’ Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)

After previously touting that his own daughter was among the first to take the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, standing in as a prominent early ‘guinea pig’ of sorts vouching for its safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he plans to receive it soon, according to a story in Newsweek on Monday. Without specifying precisely when he would receive the vaccine, which was met with approval by government regulators in August, Putin reportedly indicated it would come before his next trip to South Korea. “Putin has not yet committed publicly to receiving the vaccine—the development of which has been financed by the state Russian Direct Investment Fund—but told South Korean President Moon Jae-in by phone Monday that he would have the shot before a planned visit to Seoul, Newsweek reports.


Moon personally invited Putin to come to South Korea during a call upon the occasion of the 30th anniversary of establishment of the Russian-South Korean diplomatic relations. According to a summary of the call, Russian media sources indicate that Putin told Moon: “I will come to South Korea… I will personally take the Russian vaccine and go.” Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry. It was tested at Moscow’s state medical university. Initially met with broad global skepticism, Russia’s health ministry last month announced it expects to begin mass anti-coronavirus vaccinations by October, with the first rounds to be administered to front line medical workers as well as teachers.

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“Then wait to see if he pulls the mask down under his chin as though he was acting the role of Abe Lincoln in a middle school history pageant.”

Seeing Through Pea Soup (Kunstler)

If Joe Biden does show up at Tuesday’s debate, it will be under at least one severe disadvantage: the contest happens at night. Through the preceding weeks, Mr. Biden’s handlers have “put a lid” on his campaign activities at ten o’clock in the morning more days than not, and sometimes at eight-thirty a.m., before the press pool has even digested its oat-milk honey lattes. “A lid” means the candidate makes no appearances nor is available to the media that day. You have to wonder whether Ol’ White Joe can even function after sundown. Senile dementia typically presents more vividly in the evening. The Biden team may seek to counter that with doses of Adderall, an amphetamine.


The side-effects are interesting: “mental / mood changes (such as agitation, aggression, mood swings, abnormal thoughts) uncontrolled movements, continuous chewing / teeth grinding, outbursts of words / sounds, prolonged erections (in males).” Watch for these. Also watch to see whether Mr. Biden steps onstage wearing his trademark black mask. (Mr. Trump, of course, will not mask himself.) The optic will be two-fold: 1) Mr. Biden has something to hide, and 2) Mr. Biden is a weakling for playing up Covid hysteria. Then wait to see if he pulls the mask down under his chin as though he was acting the role of Abe Lincoln in a middle school history pageant. That will be a visual-to-remember! Also, wait for Mr. Biden to deliver a self-knockout punch to himself when he attacks the President’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, for being a Catholic.

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Ballot harvesting was never NOT going to be a story. Let’s see where it goes.

Biden’s Texas Political Director Accused of Illegal Ballot Harvesting (NF)

The Joe Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director has been formally accused of helping to run an illegal ballot harvesting operation, according to two separate affidavits filed Monday at the Texas Supreme Court. Two private investigators, including a former FBI agent and former police officer, testify under oath that they have video evidence, documentation and witnesses to prove that Biden’s Texas Political Director Dallas Jones and his cohorts are currently hoarding mail-in and absentee ballots and ordering operatives to fill the ballots out for people illegally, including for dead people, homeless people, and nursing home residents in the 2020 presidential election. The affidavits were filed as part of the class-action lawsuit against Harris County and the state of Texas, filed by citizens, called Steven Hotze, M.D. et al. Journalist Patrick Howley of NATIONAL FILE has exclusively obtained this testimony and much more evidence will be coming out in the case. Dallas Jones was named the Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director in early September.

HERE IS THE AFFIDAVIT OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR AND RETIRED HOUSTON POLICE OFFICER MARK A. AGUIRRE, SUBMITTED UNDER OATH.: AFFIDAVIT OF MARK A. AGUIRRE “My name is Mark A. Aguirre. I am above the age of eighteen years and am fully competent to make this affidavit. The facts stated in this affidavit are within my personal knowledge and are true and correct. “I am a retired captain with the Houston Police Department I am now a private investigator. “I am currently involved in an investigation related to a wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme in Harris County intended to rig the elections in the Houston/Harris County area. This scheme involves voter fraud on a massive scale.

“Based on interviews, review of documents, and other information, I have identified the individuals in charge of the ballot harvesting scheme. These individuals includes political consultant Dallas Jones who was recently hired by the Joe Biden for President campaign to oversee their Harris County initiative. District 13 Texas State Senator Borris Miles, who is the handler of Mr. Jones, political consultant Gerald Womack, and Precinct 1 Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. One of the companies these individuals are using as a front for this operation is AB Canvassing, although there are others that have been identified that we are investigating.”

“I have in my possession video-taped interviews of witnesses attesting to the aforementioned people having groups of people completing thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots, including completing ballots for deceased individuals; illegally going into nursing homes, with the complicity of the nursing home staff, and filling out and forging the signatures of nursing home residents; signing up homeless individuals to vote using the ballot harvester’s address then completing the ballot and forging the homeless individual’s signature.

Tulsi Gabbard Ballot harvesting
https://twitter.com/i/status/1307067070283218952

Read more …

There’s also a police investigation into this case. Again, let’s see where that goes.

Alleged Ilhan Omar Cash-For-Ballot Transaction Caught On Tape (ZH)

Update (2338ET): Following an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” James O’Keefe released a second ballot-harvesting video featuring an apparent purchase of a ballot from a Somali resident of Minnesota. The video then features several allegations made by local Somalis regarding the alleged scheme – including Rep. Ilhan Omar’s direct involvement. “She’s [Ilhan Omar] the one who came up with all this [pay-for-vote],” said one source who added. “She’s [Ilhan Omar] the one, somehow. Nobody knew, but, yeah, this is something like new with Ilhan [Omar].” “Jamal Omar said cash for votes is an open secret in Minneapolis. “The techniques that he [Ali Isse] uses to exchange money for vote — that’s not a secret. It’s, it’s open, and everybody knows about it,” he said. “$200, $300 per ballot received!” -Project Veritas


“Nobody would say that Ilhan Omar isn’t part of this,” said Omar Jamal – a Somali community insider and chairman of the Somali Watchdog Group. “Unless you’re from a different planet, but if you live in this universe, I think everybody knows it.” According to Jamal, senior Ilhan Omar staffer Ali Isse Gainey is at the center of the vote-buying scheme. Jamal also said that Ilhan Omar operatives would accompany Somali residents to the voting booth and do the actual voting for the person. “They help us at the voting booth. They allow them to help us,” said one Minneapolis ballot harvester recorded on hidden camera. “They go inside with us and help us, and they actually do that inside there.”

Steve Drazkowski

Hannity Project Veritas

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I don’t have the impression that many people understand the details. And then it’s easy to shout: SCANDAL.

New York Times Trump Tax Story Disappoints (Reilly)

The main story, Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses And Years Of Tax Avoidance, is kind of disappointing. In some ways, the headline shows the problem with their perspective. “Long-Concealed”- As a CPA I am fanatical about protecting confidential client information. I have nightmares about inadvertently letting something out. But I don’t think of that as “concealing”. More to the point they are disclosing that it appears that President Trump has flat out been losing a lot of money – hemorrhaging cash-, which we are supposed to be shocked at. And he has not been paying much if anything in the way of taxes which if the previous is true is not that shocking. In a side highlight piece by David Leonhard, there is a sort of odd comparison.

“In 2017, the average federal income rate for the highest-earning .001 percent of tax filers — that is, the most affluent 1/100,000th slice of the population — was 24.1 percent, according to the I.R.S. Over the past two decades, Mr. Trump has paid about $400 million less in combined federal income taxes than a very wealthy person who paid the average for that group each year.” Presumably that .001 % group is not static. I really don’t see the point of the comparison. Maybe there are a few people who were in it every year for decades, but I doubt it is many. On the underpaying tax theme the reporters seem to be on something of an Easter egg hunt trying to find little tidbits that will excite us.

Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television. Now they tell us that they have obtained “tax-return data extending over more than two decades”. The graphs show 2000 to 2018, which is odd because they say they did not get the 2018 return. Regardless, apparently somebody went to the trouble of digging the hairstyling for television out of that morass and toting it up to be $70,000. Is that a lot? Trump was in The Apprentice for 14 seasons and he is on television in a lot of other contexts. If the hairstyling is just for The Apprentice, that works out to about $400 per episode.

I reached out to my filmmaker friend Jonathan Schwartz of Audacious Media. He told me that if the styling was taking place on the set with union stylists, it is perfectly reasonable. The fundamental problem with the main story is that it is presenting two contradictory narratives. One is of a very successful person who is managing to not pay any income taxes. The other is of someone whose fortune is melting away.

$0 in taxes

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Fire the CEO. Easy.

Airlines Demand New $25B Bailout after Burning $45B on Share Buybacks (WS)

October 1 is the day US airlines that accepted their portion of the $25-billion bailout under the CARES Act can start involuntary layoffs of their employees. They’ve been shedding large numbers of employees since March but through voluntary buyouts, early retirements, and other programs that induced employees to temporarily or permanently leave. Now the airlines are engaged in a desperate lobbying effort to get legislation signed into law that would provide the next $25-billion bailout package. Threats have been flying, so to speak, to motivate Congress to get this done. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told CBS News on Sunday that if there isn’t a new bailout program, “there are going to be 100,000 aviation professionals who are out of work, who wouldn’t be otherwise.”

This would include the 18,000 employees American Airlines has threatened to lay off. So airlines have been lobbying hard. “You know, we have everyone putting us in every bill they have,” Parker said. “We just need the bills to be laws. We need laws not bills.” American Airlines was also the airline that blew, incinerated, wasted, and trashed more than any other airline on share buybacks. Buybacks ceased in the second quarter, but from 2013 through Q1 2020, American Airlines incinerated $13.1 billion in cash on share buybacks. That cash would now come in very handy. 2013 was also the year Mr. Parker became CEO of American Airlines.

Delta blew, wasted, and incinerated $11.7 billion in cash on share buybacks over the period; Southwest Airlines, $10.9 billion (starting in 2012); and United $8.9 billion. In total, the big four airlines blew, wasted, and incinerated $44.6 billion in cash on share buybacks from 2012 through Q1 2020, and now the airlines want an additional $25 billion bailout, for a total of $50 billion, much of it in forms of grants, from taxpayers (data via YCharts):

In terms of the numbers of passengers entering airports in the US, over six months into the Pandemic, the business is still down nearly 70% from last year, according to TSA airport screenings. The interesting thing is how the recovery is not happening, and how the strong seasonal patterns have disappeared. Normally, the passenger count drops sharply in the weeks before Labor Day from the summer peak in June, July, and early August. But after Labor Day, business travel picks up, and older folks with kids out of school start traveling, and the passenger count rises sharply in September. But none of that is happening this year. The chart below shows TSA checkpoint screenings per day, as a seven-day moving average through September 27, last year (black) versus this year (red):

The airline industry invented a new metric during the Pandemic: “daily cash burn.” The purpose is to give investors a feel for the progress in implementing the airlines’ survival strategies. Every airline now cites this metric. The idea is to make this number as small as possible by cutting capacity, shedding employees, and reducing costs wherever possible. Investors who’ve been coddled over the years through share-buybacks, have helped fund the airlines’ daily cash burn by buying the newly issued bonds and shares. They have done so because they counted on support from taxpayers and the Fed. Investors should continue to step up to the plate and fund that daily cash burn. But taxpayers – they’re already sitting on billions of dollars in tickets they can’t get refunds for though they can use the “credits” or whatever in the future – shouldn’t be shanghaied into funding airlines. That’s Wall Street’s job.

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“The official government slogan was: “Hide your light and bide your time”.

Ai Weiwei: ‘Too Late’ To Curb China’s Global Influence (BBC)

The leading Chinese dissident, the artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, says China’s influence has become so great that it can’t now be effectively stopped. “The West should really have worried about China decades ago. Now it’s already a bit too late, because the West has built its strong system in China and to simply cut it off, it will hurt deeply. That’s why China is very arrogant.” Ai Weiwei has never minced his words about China. “It is a police state,” he says. The artist famously designed the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but ran into serious problems after he spoke out against the Chinese government. Eventually, in 2015, he left China to come to the West. He lived first in Berlin, and last year settled in Cambridge. Mr Ai believes that China today uses its immense economic power to impose its political influence.


It’s certainly true that China has become much more assertive in recent years. Until around a decade ago, China presented a modest face to the world. The official government slogan was: “Hide your light and bide your time”. Ministers insisted that China was still a developing country with a lot to learn from the West. Then Xi Jinping came to power. He became secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, and President the following year. He introduced a new tone. The old modesty faded, and there was a different slogan: “Strive for achievement”. In some ways China is still a developing country, with 250 million people below the poverty line. Yet it is already the world’s second-biggest economy, and is on course to overtake the US over the next decade or so. China’s influence in the world is becoming more and more obvious, at a time when America’s authority has visibly declined.

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Very good and long explanation of what is going on. We’re in the 4th and last week.

The Surreal US Case Against Assange (Mercouris)

Following the Julian Assange case as it has progressed through its various stages, from the original Swedish allegations right up to and including the extradition hearing which is currently underway in the Central Criminal Court in London, has been a troubling and very strange experience. The U.S. government has failed to present a coherent case. Conscious that the British authorities should in theory refuse to extradite Assange if the case against him were shown to be politically motivated and/or related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist, the U.S. government has struggled to present a case against Assange which is not too obviously politically motivated or related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist. This explains the strange succession of one original and two superseding indictments.

The U.S. government’s first indictment was based on what was a supposedly simple allegation of computer interference, supposedly coordinated in some sort of conspiracy between Assange and Chelsea Manning. This was obviously done in an attempt to dispel the idea that the request for Assange’s extradition was politically motivated or was related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist. However lawyers in the United States had no difficulty pointing out the “inchoate facts” of the alleged conspiracy between Assange and Manning, whilst both lawyers and journalists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that the facts in the indictment in fact bore all the hallmarks of action by a journalist to protect a source.

The result was that the U.S. government replaced its indictment with a first superseding indictment, which this time was founded largely on the 1917 Espionage Act, and was therefore closer to the real reasons why the case against Assange was being brought. However, that made the case look altogether too obviously politically motivated, so it has in turn been replaced by a second superseding indictment, presented to the court and the defence team virtually on the eve of the trial, which has sought to veer back towards strictly criminal allegations, this time of involvement in computer hacking. The allegations in the second superseding indictment have however faced major difficulties, in that they do not seem to concern the United States and may not even be actual crimes.

Also they rely heavily on the evidence of a known fraudster, whose “evidence” is inherently unreliable. The U.S. government has failed to make clear whether the additional allegations in the second superseding indictment are intended to constitute a separate standalone case. Initially they appeared to deny that they did; then they hinted that they might do; now however they seem to be acting as if they don’t. As if that were not confusing enough, the U.S. government and its British lawyers have floated confusing and contradictory theories about whether or not the British authorities can extradite Assange even if the case against him is politically motivated, and even if it is related to his journalistic activities.

Initially they seemed to be arguing that — contrary to all British precedent and the actual text of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Britain — Britain can in fact extradite Assange to the U.S. on a politically motivated charge, because the enabling Act which the British Parliament passed, which made the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Britain a part of British law, is silent on whether or not individuals can be extradited to the U.S. on a politically motivated charge. This argument of course came close to conceding that the case against Assange is politically motivated after all. This threadbare argument, at least for the moment, seems to have been abandoned. At least nothing has been heard of it throughout the current hearing. Instead the U.S. government and its British lawyers have argued, in the face of the incredulity of a string of expert and factual witnesses, that the case is not politically motivated after all.

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It’s criminal to inflict this on anyone.

Julian Assange Faces ‘Torturous’ Months In Parking Space-Sized Cell In US (PA)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be left “twiddling his thumbs” in a cell the size of a parking space if extradited to the US, a court has heard. The 49-year-old is fighting extradition to the US on charges related to leaks of classified documents allegedly exposing war crimes. Assange’s defence have claimed he is a “high” suicide risk, having already spent 16 months in top security Belmarsh jail in south London. On Monday, the Old Bailey heard from witnesses with experience of the Alexandria Detention Centre in Virginia, Assange’s likely pre-trial destination if he was extradited. The court heard that due to his high profile and his perceived national security risk, he could be placed in an administrative segregation (ad seg) unit.

Prisoner advocate Joel Sickler told the court there was a historical tendency of detainees with “some notoriety” or facing allegations involving national security to be placed in “ad seg”. Assange’s case involved “broad publicity internationally” and the US government allegation that he was a “national security concern, if not outright threat”, the witness said. Sickler added that there were issues over Assange’s safety from the “more sophisticated inmate population” and self harm. On conditions in an “ad seg” unit, he said: “It’s a very small confined space with a steel door and a small window, a little slot where meals are pushed through. “It’s a very small area – like a parking space.” Sickler said there would be limited contact with other inmates, saying the suggestion they could communicate between cells was “ridiculous”.

He said: “You have to scream. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of screaming because from a mental health standpoint, people are angry and confused and there’s a lot of yelling.” On the issue of sensory deprivation, he said: “First of all you have very limited social interaction with any others. “You have little access to the outside world except from a rare few monitored phone calls and meeting with counsel. “You are twiddling your thumbs. You have access to reading material but otherwise your whole world is the four corners of that room.” Defence barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC asked: “If someone wishes to commit suicide in pre-trial detention would it be possible to stop that?” Sickler said: “Based on decades of experience, I have probably had a dozen or so clients commit suicide. I can say if they are intent on committing suicide, it can be done.”

Suzie Dawson

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Well written. But are things as similar as suggested?

I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. (Samarajiva)

l Iived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens. This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.

I was looking through some old photos for this article and the mix is shocking to me now. Almost offensive. There’s a burnt body in front of my office. Then I’m playing Scrabble with friends. There’s bomb smoke rising in front of the mall. Then I’m at a concert. There’s a long line for gas. Then I’m at a nightclub. This is all within two weeks. Today I’m like, “Did we live like this?” But we did. I mean, I did. Was I a rich Colombo fuckboi while poorer people died, especially minorities? Well, yes. I wrote about it, but who cares. The real question is, who are you? I mean, you’re reading this. You have the leisure to ponder American collapse like it’s even a question. The people really experiencing it already know.

As someone who’s already experienced societal breakdown, here’s the truth: America has already collapsed. What you’re feeling is exactly how it feels. It’s Saturday and you’re thinking about food while the world is on fire. This is normal. This is life during collapse. Collapse does not mean you’re personally dying right now. It means y’all are dying right now. Death is sometimes close, sometimes far away, but always there. I used to judge those herds of gazelle when the lion eats one of them alive and everyone keeps going — but no, humans are just the same. That’s the real meaning of herd immunity. We’re fundamentally immune to giving a shit.

It honestly becomes mundane (for the privileged). As Colombo kids we used to go out, worry about money, fall in love — life went on. We’d pop the trunk for a bomb check. Turn off our lights for the air raids. I’m not saying that we were untouched. My friend’s dad was killed, suddenly, by a landmine. RIP Uncle Nihal. I know people who were beaten, arrested, and went into exile. But that’s not what my photostream looks like. It was mostly food and parties and normal stuff for a dumb twentysomething. If you’re waiting for a moment where you’re like “this is it,” I’m telling you, it never comes. Nobody comes on TV and says “things are officially bad.” There’s no launch party for decay. It’s just a pileup of outrages and atrocities in between friendships and weddings and perhaps an unusual amount of alcohol.

Perhaps you’re waiting for some moment when the adrenaline kicks in and you’re fighting the virus or fascism all the time, but it’s not like that. Life is not a movie, and if it were, you’re certainly not the star. You’re just an extra. If something good or bad happens to you it’ll be random and no one will care. If you’re unlucky you’re a statistic. If you’re lucky, no one notices you at all. Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else. That’s all it is.

Read more …

 

 

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Upton Sinclair quote, from his 1927 novel “Oil!”.

 

 

 

 

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Aug 302020
 


Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror 1932

 

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)
DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)
3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)
Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)
Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)
Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)
With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)
Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)
Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)
Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

 

 

We passed 25 million global cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan:
– Population: 126 Million
– COVID deaths: 1,255 (10/M)
– % Obese: 4%

USA:
– Population: 328 Million
– COVID deaths: 183,000 (558/M)
– % Obese: 40%

If the US had the same obesity as Japan, we would have only 3,280 COVID deaths. 179,720 lives would have been saved…

 

 

Anti Face Mask Issue Solved

 

 

There is so much wrong with PCR tests, yet the “experts” refuse to even discuss rapid tests. Time to change that, test people every day in 15 minutes, not let them wait for days or weeks.

Rapid Home COVID19 Tests Could Help Find People While They Are Contagious (NP)

Cheap, rapid COVID-19 tests simple enough to use anywhere — home, school, the office — could help us climb out of the pandemic disaster, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Andrew Morris. Just spit into a tube or swab your nose, wait a few minutes for the stripes to change colour — results available within minutes. With no vaccines or “fantastic therapies” for COVID, the best we can do is keep infected people out of buildings to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus, says Morris. Which is why he finds it “absurd” that Heath Canada says the risks of home or self-testing kits outweigh the benefits and that it will reject applications for such devices “without compelling new evidence to the contrary.”

The federal health agency worries that, “without the guidance of a health-care professional,” people would use the home test kit improperly or “misinterpret the results” and that it could be impossible to collect test results — information that’s key to “important health decisions involving disease control during an outbreak,” the department said in an emailed statement. “If it’s done in a haphazard way … you might actually create more problems, confusion than the actual benefits because you might get maybe a higher risk of false negative results,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing. Morris wants the government to seriously rethink its position on home testing. They’re not the solution to COVID, but they are part of it, he believes.

Cheap, rapid testing is the backbone of infectious disease management, says Morris, of the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto. “But if Health Canada says ‘we aren’t even interested in these tests,’ they are neither being open-minded nor strategic in understanding the potential of these tests.” It has echoes of earlier federal dismissals of face masks, when officials worried masks would lead to a “false sense of security” and more face-touching. “The current strategy is not to trust the public… and we need to change that,” Morris says. The gold standard of testing today is a workhorse called reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, which amplifies SARS-CoV-2 from nasal swabs, so that minute amounts of RNA can be detected.

Anyone who is sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19, or who thinks he or she may have been exposed, can get PCR testing. But PCR testing isn’t designed around getting our lives back to normal, Morris says. It’s expensive, testing capacity is seriously limited and it can take days to get results. Vancouver has seen traffic gridlock at testing sites as B.C. battles with a surge in cases. Ottawa has had four-hour-long waits at its COVID testing sites. “The only way we can get our society back up and running is by having some better situational awareness than what we have,” Morris says.

[..] Rapid tests aren’t perfect. They aren’t as sensitive as PCR tests. But they don’t need to be perfect, argues Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Michael Mina. Mina says the tests can detect the virus when a person is most infectious, with high viral loads. “The vast majority of PCR positive tests we currently collect in this country are actually finding people long after they have ceased to be infectious,” Mina told Harvard Magazine. Paper-strip test could cost less than one or two U.S. dollars to produce, he says. Millions could take them daily or every other day. Frequent testing, with fast results, would help break chains of transmission, Mina tweeted this week. Morris has heard talk the FDA is expected to authorize several lateral flow assay tests for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. “And nothing by Health Canada. To me, this is a massive, massive blind spot.”

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I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he provokes this gem from Adam Schiff (is this the 1950s?): “..the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

DNI Ratcliffe: Election Security Briefings Will Now Come In Written Form (JTN)

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed senators and representatives on Friday that election security briefings, previously given to Congress in person, will between now and the November elections be delivered in written form. The letter, which was sent on Friday and declassified on Saturday afternoon, notes that the intelligence community has given Congress dozens of briefings on election security over the past two years. “While many of these engagements and products have been successful and productive, others have been less so,” Ratcliffe wrote in the document.

“In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s … engagements with Congress on elections,” Ratcliffe continued, “the ODNI will primary meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed leading into the Presidential election through written finished intelligence products.”

Ratcliffe said the move will help ensure that intelligence information is neither “misunderstood nor politicized,” and that the new protocol will “protect our sources and methods and most sensitive intelligence from additional unauthorized disclosures or misuse.” Democrats on Saturday evening slammed the decision. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter that the move represented “a shocking abdication of [ODNI’s] responsibility to keep Congress informed.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, meanwhile, claimed that the Trump administration “clearly does not want Congress or the country informed of what Russia is doing.”

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Schiff can also claim a large role in this. Where’s that evidence, Adam? We’re still waiting.

3/4 of Democratic Voters Still Believe Trump Campaign Colluded With Russia (JTN)

Three-quarters of Democratic voters believe that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to steal the 2016 election, according to a new Just the News Daily Poll with Scott Rasmussen. Asked whether it was more likely that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 or that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign that year, 73% of Democrats said the Russia collusion theory was more likely to have occurred. In contrast, 67% of Republicans expressed more belief in the claim that the Obama administration spied on Trump during that election. Overall, 43% of voters put more stock in the Russia story.


The Russia collusion theory dominated headlines and politics for roughly the first three years of the Trump administration. A 22-month, special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller concluded without finding evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election. The survey of 1,200 Registered Voters was conducted by Rasmussen using a mixed-mode approach from August 20-22.

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“The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.”

Will Hillary And The Dems Get The Civil War They Are Trying To Provoke? (Saker)

I don’t see a civil war happening in the US. But I do think that this country can, and probably will, break-up into different zones so to speak. In some regions, law and order will be maintained, by force is needed, while in others something new will appear: what the French call “des zones de non-droit“, meaning “areas of lawlessness” in which law enforcement will be absent (either because the political leaders will refuse to engage them, or because they will simply have to withdraw under fire). Typically, such zones have a parallel “black” economy which can make the gangs which control such zones very wealthy (think of Russia in the 1990s). Eventually, a lot of people will flee from such zones and seek refuge in the safer areas of the country (this process has already begun in New York).


Right now, there are a little over two months before the election, and I think that it is safe to say that the situation will deteriorate even faster and much worse. By November 2nd the country will be “ready” (so to speak) for a massive explosion of violence followed by months of chaos. Many will probably vote Trump just because they will (mistakenly) believe that he is the only politician who will stand against what the Dems promise to unleash against the majority of “deplorables” who want to keep their country and traditions. At the core, the conflict we are now witnessing is a conflict about identity, something which most people deeply care about. Sooner or later, there will be push-back against the Dems attempt to turn the USA into some kind of obese transgender liberal Wakanda run by crooks, freaks and thugs. The Dems won’t get their civil war – but they will suffer the blowback for their attempts to destroy the United States.

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Michael Moore’s winning slogan and strategy: the Democrats are terrible, but you DO have to vote for them.

Michael Moore Warns That Donald Trump Is On Course To Repeat 2016 Win (G.)

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore has warned that Donald Trump appears to have such momentum in some battleground states that liberals risk a repeat of 2016 when so many wrote off Trump only to see him grab the White House. “Sorry to have to provide the reality check again,” he said. Moore, who was one of few political observers to predict Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, said that “enthusiasm for Trump is off the charts” in key areas compared with the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden. “Are you ready for a Trump victory? Are you mentally prepared to be outsmarted by Trump again? Do you find comfort in your certainty that there is no way Trump can win? Are you content with the trust you’ve placed in the DNC [Democratic National Committee] to pull this off?” Moore posted on Facebook late on Friday.

Moore identified opinion polling in battleground states such as Minnesota and Michigan to make a case that the sitting president is running alongside or ahead of his rival. “The Biden campaign just announced he’ll be visiting a number of states – but not Michigan. Sound familiar?” Moore wrote, presumably indicating Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race when she made the error of avoiding some states that then swung to Trump. “I’m warning you almost 10 weeks in advance. The enthusiasm level for the 60 million in Trump’s base is OFF THE CHARTS! For Joe, not so much,” he later added. He continued to voters: “Don’t leave it to the Democrats to get rid of Trump. YOU have to get rid of Trump. WE have to wake up every day for the next 67 days and make sure each of us are going to get a hundred people out to vote. ACT NOW!”

Moore, a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders’s leftwing candidacy, warned in October 2016 that “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘f*** you’ ever recorded in human history – and it will feel good,” even as Clinton appeared to be sailing to victory. “Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump,” Moore warned at that time.

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A lot of people in that camp were actively working on this. There are new names just about every day.

Steele Associate Offered To ‘Feed’ Michael Flynn Story To WaPo Columnist (DC)

A former associate of Sen. John McCain served as a key conduit between journalists and dossier author Christopher Steele in early 2017, going so far as offering to “feed” stories about Trump associates to a Washington Post columnist, according to documents from a British court proceeding. David Kramer, a former State Department official who worked at the McCain Institute, kept Steele apprised of his contacts in January 2017 with journalists from BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post regarding aspects of the dossier. Kramer relayed information he learned from reporters at ABC News and the Journal regarding the dossier’s allegation that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague, according to text messages read at a defamation trial against Steele in London last month.

The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a transcript of the closed-door court proceedings, which were held in London from July 20-24. Steele, a former MI6 officer, is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian businessman who Steele’s dossier accuses of hacking Democrats’ computer systems in 2016. Kramer was already known to have met with reporters to discuss the dossier. He has acknowledged providing the dossier to a reporter for BuzzFeed News, which published the salacious document on Jan. 10, 2017. But the Steele messages suggest Kramer played a more proactive role in trying to put negative stories in the media about Trump associates. Kramer’s most eye-catching references are to David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist who writes about national security issues.

“The Flynn calls story is picking up legs,” Kramer wrote to Steele, seemingly referring to a Jan. 12, 2017, column by Ignatius that revealed that Flynn spoke by phone weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak. According to text messages read at the trial, Kramer suggested to Steele that he would provide dirt on Trump associates to Ignatius. “I think it’s time to get that other [Manafort] story out there,” Kramer wrote in a message to Steele, referring to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “And Ignatius is the one I’ll feed it to,” he also wrote. Steele insisted during his testimony that Kramer was suggesting feeding a story to Ignatius about Flynn rather than Manafort. “It’s a Michael Flynn story, isn’t it?” Steele asked during the cross-examination.

He went on to say that the information regarding Flynn he discussed with Kramer was not found in the dossier. “Any story here about Michael Flynn is completely independent of anything in the dossier,” said Steele. The former spy did not describe the Flynn story, but Kramer told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that Steele told him that he believed that Flynn had an affair with a Russian-British researcher in the United Kingdom. The unverified allegation matches closely with stories that appeared in the media in March 2017 that alleged that Flynn had improper contacts with former Cambridge researcher Svetlana Lokhova in 2014, when Flynn visited the historic university as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

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“Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.”

In most other jobs, if you’ve been wrong for decades, you get fired or resign. But when you’re handling trillions of dollars, there are different standards.

With New Monetary Policy Approach, Fed Lays Phillips Curve To Rest (R.)

One of the fundamental theories of modern economics may have finally been put to rest. In the several years before the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the global economy, Federal Reserve policymakers watched as the U.S. unemployment rate fell lower and lower and waited for the jump in inflation typically associated with such a tight labor market. The expectations were based on a rule that has shaped decades of monetary policy decisions: the Phillips curve, or the concept that inflation tends to rise when the unemployment rate falls, and vice versa. But the inflation that Fed officials anticipated never arrived, and in a monumental speech delivered on Thursday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the U.S. central bank’s policymakers are done waiting.

The Fed chief, speaking during the Kansas City Fed’s annual conference, unveiled the central bank’s new approach to monetary policy, which puts more emphasis on shortfalls in employment, and less weight on the fear that low unemployment could spark higher inflation. “The conditions in the economy have changed to such an extent that this upwardly sloped relationship between inflation and employment has now changed,” said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM. “Decades of thought at the Fed are now being pushed aside.” With its landmark policy shift, the Fed is putting new weight on bolstering the labor market and less on inflation, promising to aim for 2% inflation on average over a period of time rather than using that figure as a hard annual target, as it had done since 2012.

With their new approach, Fed officials are essentially saying they are no longer worried about the unemployment rate falling too low. Now that inflation expectations are anchored at low levels, the economy has room to keep adding jobs. Policymakers can also wait a little longer for the gains to reach the workers on the margins – including Black, Hispanic and low-income workers – who are often the last to reap the benefits of a tight labor market, Powell said. “It is hard to overstate the benefits of sustaining a strong labor market, a key national goal that will require a range of policies in addition to supportive monetary policy,” Powell said on Thursday, reflecting on the strong U.S. labor market that existed before the pandemic.

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h/t Steve Keen.

Ex-Australia PM Menzies Boasted Of Delivering Large Budget Deficits (ABC.au)

There’s a lot we’ve forgotten about Robert Menzies. Take his name, for example. Younger Australians may not know it, but our country’s longest-serving prime minister, one of the founders of the Liberal Party, was nicknamed “Ming”. He was our first prime minister to have two Australian-born parents, but his paternal grandfather was Scottish and he was proud of that heritage. He preferred his surname to be pronounced the way the Scots pronounce it — Ming-iss — but his attempts to convince his countrymen to do so were in vain. He received the nickname “Ming” instead. Then there was his time as prime minister, when he boasted about delivering a bigger budget deficit than Labor would have, for the good of the country. That’s right.

The father of Australia’s Liberal Party was proud of spending whatever was necessary to ensure full employment, even when the economy wasn’t in recession. A speech Mr Menzies gave in August 1962 about his budget that year is worth reading. He’d won the federal election eight months earlier, defeating the Labor opposition led by Arthur Calwell. During the campaign, Mr Calwell promised to deliver a deficit large enough to eradicate unemployment, and he figured that meant a deficit of 100 million pounds. Here’s Mr Menzies explaining why he was spending more than Labor pledged. “Too few people realise that a cash deficit of 120 million [pounds] … will of itself have a most expansionary effect,” he said.

“We shall pay out to the citizens 120 million [pounds] more than will be collected from them. “So, far from being timorous — I think that was another of the words used by the deputy leader of the opposition — this is adventurous finance. “Add to the deficit the tax refunds now being made, and it is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high. “The real task of any government today, as well as of the business community and all sensible citizens, is to get that purchasing power exercised.” It was uncomplicated Keynesian logic. As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1933: “Look after the unemployment, and the budget will look after itself.”

[..] Mr Menzies’ second stint as prime minister lasted from 1949 to 1966. For his last nine budgets he delivered deficits, and the size of his last deficit, at 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), was 0.3 per cent larger than the deficit in Wayne Swan’s last budget in 2013. So why wasn’t the public angry? Because Australia’s economy, like economies in other western nations, grew strongly in the post-war period. In the 1940s, its average growth rate was 3.8 per cent. In the 1950s, it was 4.2 per cent. In the 1960s, it was 5.3 per cent. And that constant growth meant the size of Australia’s government debt relative to the size of the economy (the ratio of debt-to-GDP) shrank dramatically, too. All while the government was handing down budget deficits.

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How much extra attention because of Banksy’s involvement?

Italy Evacuates Dozens From Overcrowded Banksy-Funded Migrant Rescue Boat (RT)

Some 50 people were evacuated from the migrant rescue boat Louise Michel that got stranded off Malta’s coast after taking more than 200 people aboard. After one person died, the crew accused Europe of ignoring its pleas for help. The vessel, which reported rescuing a total of 219 people from the sea over the past few days, including “many women and children,” had become so “overcrowded” that a life raft was attached to its side, and it lost its ability to maneuver. The crew’s Twitter feed suggests they have been desperately sending distress signals and making calls to various European maritime authorities to no avail. To make the matters worse, one of the migrants died on the ship as conditions deteriorated.

“Louise Michel is unable to move … above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance,” a tweet from the crew read. Following about a day of pleas for help, Italy’s coast guard arrived at the scene and took 49 of “the most vulnerable” migrants in. While describing the development as “great,” the Louise Michel crew said it leaves the majority “still waiting.” It added that another NGO migrant rescue ship, Sea Watch 4, arrived to “do what Europe falters to do.” Photos and videos apparently taken on board the vessel – a 31-meter motor yacht once owned by French customs authorities, now named after a French anarchist – show it is extremely crowded with people who are cooped up literally everywhere, from the foredeck to the aft and even on top of the captain’s bridge.

[..] Painted in white and bright pink and featuring a Banksy artwork of a girl in a life vest holding a heart-shaped flotation device, Louise Michel is said to have set sail in secrecy from a Spanish port of Burriana, near Valencia. The first post in its Twitter account appeared about a week after what was called its first successful mission. The ship, flying a German flag, is captained by Pia Klemp, a controversial German boat captain credited with rescuing more than 1,000 North African migrants between 2011 and 2017. The woman was charged with colluding with human smugglers by the Italian authorities in 2019 and defiantly snubbed Paris’ highest civilian award months later.

[..] Reports claim that Klemp was personally contacted by the artist as early as in September 2019 and was offered assistance with buying a new boat. She told the Guardian that she sees the effort as “part of anti-fascist fight,” while adding that Banksy’s involvement in the project is limited to financial support. “Banksy won’t pretend that he knows better than us how to run a ship, and we won’t pretend to be artists,” she said.

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And you thought your “leaders” were incompetent.

Airlines Warn Flying Back 100,000 Stranded Australians Will Take 6 Months (G.)

Frustrated airlines continuing to fly into Australia are warning it will take six months to repatriate more than 100,000 Australians stuck overseas if the country’s strict arrival caps are not eased. Pressure is also mounting within government ranks to address the growing number of Australians stranded by the caps, with Coalition MPs complaining the limits are “probably the biggest area of concern” raised with them by constituents currently, who claim airlines are repeatedly bumping them off flights to prioritise more expensive tickets and remain profitable under the caps. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, on Friday criticised the government’s position of recommending those affected by the caps rely on early super withdrawals to fund what could be an indefinite period away from their jobs, families and secure accommodation.

“The government should be offering financial support to stranded Australians who need it. People shouldn’t be forced to raid their super or launch a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to return home,” she said, noting earlier reports that consular staff had told Australians to start crowdfunding sites to sustain living costs and business class flights. Wong said she had been contacted by a pensioner forced to sleep in a car in France because his flight had been cancelled and he couldn’t get a refund. Wong also criticised the government for recent travel exit exemptions – including allowing Tony Abbott to fly to the UK, and an entrepreneur to collect a yacht in Italy – calling it “special treatment for the privileged few” with “everyone else being left behind”.

Qatar Airways on Friday announced it had suspended sales of tickets into Australia until the caps are lifted, and said it will have to cancel the tickets of “thousands” more Australian citizens who are currently scheduled to fly home with the carrier in the coming months. The airline has acknowledged it has been forced to prioritise customers who pay more for tickets after reports its aircraft were landing in Sydney with as few as four economy passengers. The Guardian has been inundated by stories of Australians who have been forced to live in caravans for months, exhaust all their paid leave, and forgo seeing dying parents in Australia while they wait for airlines to honour their economy flights home.

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If Greece and Turkey go to war, it’s over this:

 

 

Long time favorite. Possibly the ultimate Calvin and Hobbes:

 

 

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