Vincent van Gogh Lane near Arles 1888
Jim gets his mojo back. Love it.
• The Trial of Winnie the Pooh (Jim Kunstler)
A solemn silence turned collective gasp in the District of Columbia Woke Circuit courtroom as two bailiffs entered the door beside the jury box with the small cream-colored bear suspended between them, his stumpy hind legs wheeling fruitlessly to seek purchase in the unavailing air. The Queen of Hearts, presiding, banged her gavel as the little bear was seated at the table for the defense beside another rather small, darkish, furtive figure. The Queen of Hearts peered over her half-glasses at the defendant and snarled, “State your full name and residence.” “Winnie-the-Pooh,” the defendant said. “From the Hundred Acre Wood.” “What is your personal pronoun?” The bear looked perplexed. “Oh, bother,” he said. “Nobody I know has such a thing?”
“Of course they do,” the Queen said. “Perhaps it’s ‘the’,” the bear said. “That is a definite article, not a pronoun!” the Queen barked. “Are you an imbecile?” “I’m not sure. Maybe it’s ‘dear’”— “That’s enough out of you!” the Queen said. “And let’s have no more impertinence! Do you have counsel?” “Why, yes,” the bear said. “Mr. Kafka, who is seated beside me.” “You are mistaken,” the Queen said. “That is a cockroach seated beside you, and the court is displeased to see it. Bailiff, please remove that disgusting cockroach from my court.” Mr. Kafka, gesticulating in protest with all six arms and legs, had to be dragged out. “First witness!” the Queen screeched. “Counsel for the prosecution….” “Calling Uncle Remus,” said the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, famous for his exploits in the Enron case and with The Mueller Team in the old Russia collusion days.
An elderly gentleman-of-color with white beard and a kindly face limped forward and took the witness stand. “Do you know this bear?” Weissmann asked. “I knows a Brer B’ar,” Uncle Remus said. “But he a black b’ar. Dishyere one a white b’ar.” “Exactly!” Weissmann said. “Dismissed.” “Dat all?” Uncle Remus asked. “It’s plenty,” Weissmann retorted and smirked at the jury, composed of members from the United Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Antifa, who all nodded amongst themselves. “A white bear!” Weissmann repeated for emphasis, shaking his head. “And not a polar bear, either. A white bear. From England. Think about it…!” The jurors emitted growls of opprobrium. “Next witness,” the Queen cried. “Calling N-Word Jim,” Weissmann said.
A strapping middle-aged gentleman-of-color, dressed in ragged clothes, strode to the witness chair. “You reside in libraries all over the world, is that correct?” the attorney asked. “Yassuh, dat is so. But I’se originally fum Hannibal, Missouri.” “Are you acquainted with the defendant?” “I done seen him on many a shelf ‘round de worl’.” “How much shelf space does he occupy compared to you?” “Well, fur as I knows, ‘bout double.” “Does that seem fair to you?” “Way I sees it, he in mebbe twice as minny books as me and Huck.” “Huck! Who is this Huck?” “White boy I done made a journey down de ribber wif one time.” “What is your experience with white folks, Jim?” “Well, dey runs mos’ everything, I ‘spect. Leas’ as fur as I kin see.”
“Exactly!” Weissmann argued. “Is it not white privilege to — as you say — run everything?” he added, shaking his head gravely. “Hegemonizing and colonizing literature everywhere you look.” “Say, what…?” the witness rejoined and pulled his chin. “You can go back to your raft, Jim,” Weissmann said. “Dismissed. Calling Mr. Christopher Robin.”
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“..obesity is a “global pandemic in its own right.”
But we’ll keep promoting corn syrup.
• 88% Of COVID Deaths Are In Countries With Over Half Of People Overweight (ZH)
A new report by the World Obesity Federation found that 88% of deaths in the first year of the pandemic occurred in countries where over half of the population is classified as overweight – which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. Of note, BMI values above 30 – considered obese – are associated with ‘particularly severe outcomes,’ according to the Washington Post. On the other hand, in countries where less than half of the adult population is considered overweight account, the risk of death from COVID-19 is around one-tenth of countries with the higher proportion of overweight adults. Higher BMIs are also associated with an increased risk of hospitalization, ICU admissions, and the need for mechanically assisted ventilation.
The ‘overweight’ countries in question include Britain, Italy and the United States – the latter of which has seen over 517,000 COVID deaths out of a total of 2.5 million globally. Hilariously, the Post also suggests that “correlations between coronavirus severity and weight are also tied to racial and ethnic inequality.” How, you might ask? Because “Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adults have a higher prevalence of obesity and are more likely to suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19,” according to the CDC. In the UK, overweight COVID-19 patients were 67% more likely to require intensive care, while obese patients were three times more likely. The findings by the World Obesity Federation were “near-uniform across the globe,” according to the Post, which notes that the report found that increased body weight is the second greatest predictor of poor outcomes after old age. According to the United Nations, contrary to what the woke fashion industry tells us, obesity is a “global pandemic in its own right.”
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More measures, more vaccines, we’re truly stuck in one dimension.
• UK Scientist: Substantial Degree Of Covid Mortality Inevitable In Future (G.)
Prof Andrew Hayward, a member of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), has said society will have to live with a degree of mortality that will be “substantial”, but added that we will “get back to normal”.He told Times Radio: “I think, you know, given the societal trade-offs, we are going to have to live with a degree of mortality that will be substantial … it will get less over time as more people get vaccinated and as more people get immune, and I do believe that we’ve been through the worst of this.” Hayward said he did not think new variants of Covid-19 would completely evade vaccine-related immunity. “The vaccines will still take the sting out of it, if you like, and reduce the case fatality rates,” he said.
“Of course, we have the technology to update the vaccines and I think that’s where we’re going really, a situation that will be much more like flu, the numbers of deaths will be much more like flu, the approach to surveillance of new strains and development of new vaccines and regular annual vaccinations will be like that. And we will get back to normal.” Looking back on the beginning of the pandemic, Hayward, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UCL, said: “I think one of the reasons that we’ve had so many deaths is that we left things far too late, in terms of taking more restrictive measures. “We should have been taking social distancing measures – if not a full lockdown then other measures that were trying to separate people – much earlier. At that time, of course, we also didn’t really have the same mechanisms to measure how much disease there was in the community, so we were largely only really seeing the tip of the iceberg of cases.
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“The most important thing is that at this point we have a vaccine that definitely has no side effects..”
• Russia’s 3rd Vaccine Uses Classic ‘Dead Virus’ Technology (RT)
The third Covid-19 vaccine registered in Russia is based on a “perfectly conventional” platform, and those who have been injected experienced no side effects, the head of the Chumakov Scientific Center, which created it, told RT. The CoviVac vaccine received national approval in Russia on February 20. The first batch of doses is expected to be available to the public in mid-March, according to the government. The vaccine is based on the most traditional technology that has been around for a long time and is widely used throughout the world, Aidar Ishmukhametov, the director general of the Chumakov Scientific Center, told RT.
“Globally, almost 100% of vaccines contain either deactivated or live pathogens,” he said, adding that the one developed by his center contains an ‘inactivated’ (dead) coronavirus. This type of vaccine simulates a natural infection process, introducing the immune system to the virus and “teaching” the body to fight the pathogen without the risk of it spreading through the body and causing disease, he explained. “Two weeks after the first shot, we give a person another jab to reinforce the immune response. As a result, the body becomes fully capable of fighting off the virus on its own,” Ishmukhametov said, adding that this vaccine involves two shots, as is the case with all other currently existing Covid-19 vaccines.
It is based on a particular specimen of the coronavirus that was found to be more susceptible to inactivation and controlled reproduction in the center. Nevertheless, Ishmukhametov believes that the vaccine will be effective against all Covid-19 strains, including the South African variant, which reportedly proved to be resistant to the AstraZeneca vaccine. “Since we are talking about a whole-virion vaccine, the deviations in the genetic sequence – something one is calling different strains or different variants – are insignificant and amount to less than one percent. So… it would be weird to think that a whole-virion vaccine might fail to work against new strains, considering how small the differences are,” he said.
CoviVac received national approval in Russia while still in the second phase of clinical trials. It now has to go through the third phase so the developers can precisely assess its effectiveness, according to Ishmukhametov. However, the first trials have already shown that it has no side effects, he said. “The most important thing is that at this point we have a vaccine that definitely has no side effects,” he said, adding that, out of 300 volunteers, none reported any symptoms except for occasional soreness around the injection site. [..] “We have been doing this for 60 years, and we’ve defeated polio and yellow fever,” he said, adding that the Chumakov Center hosts the Collaborating Centre for Poliovirus and Enterovirus Surveillance and Research of the World Health Organization (WHO) and actively cooperates with the UN health watchdog.
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The propaganda machine speaks…
• Ivermectin Does Not Alleviate Mild Covid-19 Symptoms – Study (NYT)
Ivermectin, a controversial anti-parasitic drug that has been touted as a potential Covid-19 treatment, does not speed recovery in people with mild cases of the disease, according to a randomized controlled trial published on Thursday in the journal JAMA. Ivermectin is typically used to treat parasitic worms in both people and animals, but scientific evidence for its efficacy against the coronavirus is thin. Some studies have indicated that the drug can prevent several different viruses from replicating in cells. And last year, researchers in Australia found that high doses of ivermectin suppressed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, in cell cultures. Such findings had spurred use of the drug against Covid-19, especially in Latin America.
“Ivermectin is currently being used widely,” said Dr. Eduardo López-Medina, a doctor and researcher at the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases in Cali, Colombia, who led the new trial. “In many countries in the Americas and other parts of the world, it’s part of the national guidelines of treating Covid.” But the drug has also proved divisive. While some scientists see potential, others suspect that effectively inhibiting the coronavirus may require extremely high, potentially unsafe doses. Health officials have also worried that people desperate for coronavirus treatments might take versions of the drug that have been formulated for pets. (It is commonly used to prevent heartworm in dogs.) “There’s been a lot of conflicting views on this, sometimes extreme conflicting views,” said Dr. Carlos Chaccour, a researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health who was not involved in the new study. “I think it has become another hydroxychloroquine.”
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What a lousy idea, executed even lousier. Ergo … a winner.
• Europe Divided Over Covid Passports (Kern)
Professor Christopher Dye, Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford and co-author of the Royal Society report, added: “An effective vaccine passport system that would allow the return to pre-Covid-19 activities, including travel, without compromising personal or public health, must meet a set of demanding criteria — but it is feasible. First there is the science of immunity, then the challenges of something working across the world that is durable, reliable and secure. There are the legal and ethical issues and if you can crack all that, you have to have the trust of the people. “Huge progress has been made in many of these areas, but we are not there yet. At the most basic level, we are still gathering data on exactly how effective each vaccine is in preventing infection and transmission and on how long the immunity will last.”
The Reuters News Agency reported that there are still many unanswered questions about immunity to Covid-19: “EU officials also point out there is no guidance yet from the WHO and EU agencies whether people who have received two shots of the Covid-19 vaccine can still carry the coronavirus and infect others, even if no longer vulnerable themselves. “It was also not clear if people could be infectious having already fought off the coronavirus themselves, for how long they remained immune and if they too should get certificates.” Professor Carsten Maple, a cyber security expert at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science, warned that criminals could exploit the demand from prospective travelers for vaccine passports:
“This really gives that kind of incentive. You’ll get people who’ve got these rights, especially if it’s mandatory. Other people will be excluded. People, where it is mandatory and really offers a significant difference, will be incentivized to create a market of forged documents. “We know that in Israel they’ve made statements about anybody who tries to forge will face criminal proceedings and possibly be imprisoned. So, they really think that this is a risk that could happen.”
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Mostly about “fair distribution” of as much mRNA as we can produce, but these details are interesting.
• The Political Economy of Covid-19 Vaccines (IF)
[..] for Covid-19 vaccines, many big pharma companies received massive subsidies from governments that have mostly and in some cases completely covered research and development costs. In the US alone, the six major vaccine companies received over $12 billion in public subsidies for developing Covid-19 vaccines (MSF 2021). Other rich country governments have provided similar subsidies. Private pharma companies also benefited from prior public research (Scientific American 2020) and reduced costs of clinical testing, because of more unpaid volunteers for trials. The ‘leader’ vaccines may have already received what could be considered as reasonable returns on their own investment, and more. For example, while Pfizer did not receive direct subsidies from the US government, I received pre-orders for 100 million doses for $1.95 billion (Industry Week 2020).
Moreover, it relied on technology from BioNTech, which had received $445 million from the German government for their research (Bloomberg 2020). Pfizer claims costs of $3.1 billion to develop this vaccine (BBC 2020), while estimated sales in 2021 will be worth $15 billion (Quartz, 2020). Developing the Moderna vaccine cost $2.5 billion, apparently entirely funded by the US federal government (USA Today, 2020). The recently approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine benefited from US government subsidies and a pre-order of 100 million doses likely to cover costs (Johnson and Johnson 2020). The original distribution model [for the Oxford vaccine] was for an open-licence platform, designed to make the vaccine freely available for any manufacturer.
The case of the AstraZeneca vaccine is particularly instructive, also because it is seen as viable for developing country use. (Significant quantities of this vaccine are being produced by the Serum Institute of India under a collaboration agreement.) The vaccine was entirely developed by a publicly funded lab at Oxford University. The original distribution model was for an open-licence platform, designed to make the vaccine freely available for any manufacturer. However, the Gates Foundation, which had clout because it had donated $750 million to Oxford for vaccine development, persuaded the university to change course completely and sign “an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices” (Jay Hancock 2020).
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Dysfunctionality like in the last days of Rome. Marie Antoinette.
• Senate Clears Pathway To Passing COVID-19 Relief Bill (JTN)
The Senate broke a logjam Friday night and reached agreement on an issue that had stopped debate for approximately nine hours, and which paves the way for a continuation of the “vote-a-rama” of amendments to the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The agreement was to provide $300 a week in unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, plus $10,200 in tax relief for people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Democrats had been fighting for $400 a week, instead of $300. The key figure in the negotiations was Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). He represented the 50th vote for Democrats, which is what they need to prevail, considering that Vice President Kamala Harris represents the 51st vote.
Manchin has indicated he will support the rest of the Democrats’ bill, making its passage in the Senate on Saturday a near certainty. Republicans have pointed out that approximately 90% of the bill, which passed the House along party lines, has nothing to do with COVID-19 relief. One of the largest components of the bill is $350 billion for states and cities, which Republicans have argued is a way to bail out poorly run and profligate states and cities at the expense of well run, mostly Republican states. Since there have been changes to the House bill that was originally introduced in the Senate, the Senate version will go back to the House where it is expected to easily pass, again along party lines. It would then go to President Biden for his signature, making it the law of the land.
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“Harris wasn’t even in the Senate chair today during the vote on Sanders’ amendment.”
• Lessons From Today’s Doomed Effort To Save The $15 Minimum Wage
There was another way Democrats could have moved forward with the $15 minimum wage in their COVID-19 relief bill: Vice President Harris, as presiding Chair of the Senate, could have ruled against the parliamentarian’s advice and kept the provision in the legislation. While the Senate could vote to overturn the ruling, it would take 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to do so. A confidential memo obtained by The Daily Poster that circulated on Capitol Hill last week detailed exactly how that scenario would play out: “What would probably happen is a senator would appeal the ruling of the chair and then the full Senate would vote on whether to sustain the appeal,” the memo stated. “The Chair’s ruling would be upheld as long as there are not 60 affirmative votes to sustain the appeal. So, if the majority could hold enough members together (less than 60 affirmative votes to sustain the appeal), the ruling that runs counter to the Parliamentarian’s advice would be upheld.”
In other words, if at least 41 Democrats refused to overturn Harris’ ruling, the minimum wage provision would have remained in the bill. Today, 42 Democrats voted in support of a $15 minimum wage. That is one more than would have been necessary for the alternative approach to work. It’s fair to wonder whether some of these Democrats would have wimped out in a situation where their votes weren’t simply a symbolic gesture, as they were today. Colorado freshman John Hickenlooper, for example, was a late, surprise yes vote on the minimum wage amendment on Friday.
But these 42 Senators voted in favor of considering a $15 minimum wage even after the Biden administration signaled again and again that passing such legislation was less of a priority than, say, trying to get Neera Tanden, a scandal-plagued, union-busting, rage-tweeting apparatchik, confirmed as the head of the White House budget office. Imagine if the Biden administration had fought for the $15 minimum wage as hard as it fought for Tanden’s doomed confirmation. Instead, Harris wasn’t even in the Senate chair today during the vote on Sanders’ amendment.
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Charles cites my friend Nate Hagens, but it’s unclear to me how much of this is from Nate.
• The Myths Of Green Energy (CHS)
Finance is often cloaked in arcane terminology and math, but the one dynamic that governs the future is actually very simple. Here it is: “All debt is borrowed against future supplies of affordable hydrocarbons (oil, coal and natural gas).” Since global economic activity is ultimately dependent on a continued abundance of affordable energy, it follows that all money borrowed against future income is actually being borrowed against future supplies of affordable energy. Many people believe that alternative “green” energy will soon replace most or all hydrocarbon energy sources, but this belief is not realistic. All the “renewable” energy sources are about 3% of all energy consumed, with hydropower providing another few percent. There are unavoidable headwinds to this appealing fantasy…
1. All “renewable” energy is actually “replaceable” energy, analyst Nate Hagens points out. Every 15-25 years (or less) much or all of the alt-energy systems and structures have to be replaced, and little of the necessary mining, manufacturing and transport can be performed with the “renewable” electricity these sources generate. Virtually all the heavy lifting of these processes require hydrocarbons and especially oil.
2. Wind and solar “renewable” energy is intermittent and therefore requires changes in behavior (no clothes dryers or electric ovens used after dark, etc.) or battery storage on a scale that isn’t practical in terms of the materials required.
3. Batteries are also “replaceable” and don’t last very long. The percentage of lithium-ion batteries being recycled globally is near-zero, so all batteries end up as costly, toxic landfill.
4. Battery technologies are limited by the physics of energy storage and materials. Moving whiz-bang exotic technologies from the lab to global scales of production is non-trivial.
5. The material and energy resources required to build alt-energy sources that replace hydrocarbon energy and replace all the alt-energy which has broken down or reached the end of its life exceeds the affordable reserves of materials and energy available on the planet.
6. Externalized costs of alt-energy are not being included in the cost. Nobody’s adding the immense cost of the environmental damage caused by lithium mines to the price of the lithium batteries. Once the full external costs are included, the cost is no longer as affordable as promoters claim.
7. None of the so-called “green” “replaceable” energy has actually replaced hydrocarbons; all the alt-energy has done is increase total energy consumption. This is what’s called Jevons Paradox: every increase in efficiency or energy production only increases consumption.
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“We are weeks, maybe even days, away from a crisis on the southern border. Inaction is simply not an option..”
More kids, more
• 100,000 Illegal Immigrants Arrested At US Mexico Border in February (ZH)
This may come as a shock to Joe Biden supporters. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), whose Congressional district lies near the U.S.-Mexico border, warned that more than 10,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended in a single border sector in Texas in about a week, with Reuters adding that a stunning 100,000 migrants were detained at the border in February, the highest arrest total for the month of February since 2006. “We are weeks, maybe even days, away from a crisis on the southern border. Inaction is simply not an option,” the Texas Democrat said in a news release on Thursday. “Our country is currently unprepared to handle a surge in migrants in the middle of the pandemic.”
As The Epoch Times’ Jack Phillips notes, in recent days, Cuellar has issued warnings about what appears to be a looming humanitarian crisis at the border, adding that it will spread COVID-19 in southern Texas and other border communities. But now, his office has released figures showing Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley arrested about 10,000 illegal immigrants in the past week alone, according to the release, while adding that some 2,500 illegal immigrants have been apprehended in the past two days since the press statement was released. According to Border Patrol data, agents also apprehended 5,700 unaccompanied child illegal immigrants in January. Illegal immigrants are “potentially exposing border communities to the coronavirus and putting us at risk,” Cuellar said, guaranteeing the triggering of progressives everywhere. “Right now, none of the migrants are being tested for COVID-19 by Border Patrol.”
“As a border representative, I will continue to fight in Washington for my community to ensure they have the necessary funding and resources to properly care for these migrants and to keep American families safe. I urge the Biden administration to listen and work with the communities on the southern border who are dealing with the surge of migrants,” he added. Cuellar isn’t the only Texas member of Congress who is sounding the alarm. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, another Democrat, did not mince words in how he described the current White House’s immigration policy and said a proposed bill is “catastrophic.” “I can assure you, it won’t be long before we have tens of thousands of people showing up to our border, and it’ll be catastrophic for our country, for my region, for my district,” he told CNN. “In the middle of a pandemic, in an area where we’ve lost over 3,000 people in my small congressional district … I think we need to have a better plan in place.”
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• Legislature Strips Cuomo Of Emergency Powers (ZH)
In November, the TV Academy presented Cuomo with the International Emmy Founders Award “in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of TV to inform and calm people around the world.” It sure wishes it could take that day back. Late on Friday, three days after NY legislators reached a deal to strip disgraced NY governor Andrew Cuomo – who now finds himself in a vortex of potentially criminal scandals involving both nursing home deaths and alleged sexual assaults – of his emergency powers, and two days after an “embarrassed” Cuomo told a disgusted TV audience (well everyone except for the virtue-signaling sycophants at CNN and MSNBC) that he was “very sorry” but was “not resigning” in the aftermath of his own sexual assault scandal, late on Friday, the New York legislature approved a bill to repeal the pandemic-era emergency powers afforded to the scandal-plagued Governor Cuomo.
The measure, which received final passage from the Assembly on Friday evening, revoked temporary powers given to Cuomo in March that effectively gave him dic(k)tator powers, allowing him to supersede the legislature, as well as local laws, to issue hundreds of sweeping emergency directives on everything from closing businesses and schools to mandating the use of masks. In retrospect, this was the worst – and deadliest – decision the legislature had made who may be just as culpable of crimes as Cuomo.
[..] As Bloomberg reports, the rebuke from lawmakers, where Democrats hold a supermajority in both chambers, follows public outcry over sexual-harassment claims by what are now three women against Cuomo and allegations that his administration deliberately covered up Covid-19 deaths of nursing-home residents. In the latest twist which emerged late in the week, Cuomo’s administration said Thursday that officials had altered a July report of data on the deaths to exclude those who had died outside the facilities. The administration was responding to a New York Times report that said these changes show that the state had a fuller accounting of the deaths at the time, despite resisting requests for that data.
[..] Earlier this week, Cuomo said he had brokered the emergency-power deal with lawmakers to focus just on curbing new directives. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a fellow Democrat, disputed Cuomo, saying lawmakers didn’t work with the governor to cut a deal. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris said on the floor that the governor lied to the public and was not involved in negotiations. Asked if he was bothered by the lie, Gianaris said: “There is so much that this governor has done that I’m bothered by.” Asked if he trusts the governor, Gianaris said: “I haven’t trusted this governor in a long time.” Gianaris is a democrat. Imagine if he was republican. Currently, only the governor may declare and end a state of emergency. “For the first time ever, we are adding a power for the Legislature to nullify a state of emergency,” Gianaris said.
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• US, Allies Drop 46 Bombs Per Day for 20 Years (MPN)
The United States and its allies have dropped at least 326,000 bombs and missiles on countries in the greater Middle East/ North Africa region since 2001. That is the conclusion of new research by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of anti-war group CODEPINK. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are the countries that have felt the worst of the violence, but Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine and Somalia have also been targeted. The total amounts to an average of 46 bombs dropped per day over the last 20 years. CODEPINK’s numbers are based primarily on official U.S. military releases, as well as data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Yemen Data Project, and the New America Foundation.
As striking as the figure of 326,000 is, it is an underestimate, as the Trump administration ceased publishing figures of its bombing campaigns in 2020, meaning there is no data for Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan for either of the previous two years. Also not counted are bombs or missiles used in helicopter strikes, AC-130 gunship attacks, strafing runs from U.S. bombers, or any counterinsurgency or counter-terrorism operations in other parts of the world. Last week President Joe Biden gave the order to attack Iraqi militias in Syria, dropping 1.75 tons of bombs on a border village and killing 22 people — something that brought cheers from Washington insiders and corporate media pundits alike. The move was reportedly in response to strikes on U.S. military bases in Iraq — bases that, last year, the Iraqi parliament unanimously demanded be closed.
Yesterday, anonymous administration officials claimed that Biden called off a second Syria strike after being warned that women and children were in the area. Though no evidence was offered and the officials refused to go on record, corporate media diligently parroted the State Department line, allowing the new administration to simultaneously present itself as getting tough on its enemies and as a champion of human rights. The United States has been at war for nearly every year of its existence as an independent nation, fighting in 227 years of its 244-year history. While both Barack Obama and Donald Trump offered up anti-war rhetoric when they were on the campaign trail, both moved steadfastly away from that position once in office.
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The bombs were dropped in Iraq, not Syria. And they’re trying to hide that fact.
• ‘Shia Backed’, ‘Iran Backed’ Nonsense And Other Warmongering Journalism (MoA)
The recent U.S. airstrike at the Syrian-Iraqi border and the missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq were followed by many examples of bad journalism. U.S. media, as FAIR documents, have purged inconvenient facts from their coverage of Biden’s ‘first’ airstrike: “The less clear the US population is about the frequency and scale of murderous violence its government carries out, the easier it is for the US ruling class to go about its wars. Fortunately for the US state, corporate media help manufacture collective amnesia by expunging US aggression from the record…. Securing consent for running a lethal, worldwide empire requires unremitting propaganda: Redacting the historical record and playing the victim are two useful strategies.”
The dozens of examples in the FAIR piece are telling. FAIR gets one thing wrong though. The attack was not in Syria, as the U.S. claimed, but on the Iraqi side of the border. Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai – 6:01 UTC · Mar 3, 2021 “Analysts keep making this mistake: 1st Biden’s bombing was in #Iraq not #Syria. An Iraqi military delegation sent by @MAKadhimi verified & confirmed that the #US bombed Iraqi security forces on the Iraqi borders with #Syria and not on Syrian territory. Nearly all U.S. media use ‘Iran-backed militia’ when describing the groups that allegedly launched the missiles. The Pentagon now wants to change that. A press briefing with spokesman John F. Kirby had several exchanges about that:
“Q: Just going back to — to the rocket attack, could you describe roughly the distance that the rockets were coming from? And what does that say about the tactics — and how does that — of the — whoever fired those? And to what degree does this resemble previous attacks by the Iranian-backed militia? MR. KIRBY: I’m not qualified to do the forensics, Dan, on — on — on how this equates to previous attacks, other than obviously it’s a rocket attack and we have seen rocket attacks come from Shia-backed militia groups in the past. So in that way, it certainly — it certainly coincides with our past experience here.”
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“Unchecked growth has no place, outside of the microbial world. Unchecked growth is called a plague, an epidemic or a cancer..”
• Neoclassical Economics III: A Machine To Destroy The World (RWER)
Growth has a fundamental place in the biological world, of which we humans are a part. Unchecked growth has no place, outside of the microbial world. Unchecked growth is called a plague, an epidemic or a cancer. Growth, among mainstream economists, has become a reflexive, mindless goal, specifically growth of the Gross Domestic Product. Growth of the GDP is the dominant global criterion for allegedly successful management of an economy. GDP is an indiscriminate measure of what we spend money on: some things good, some useless, some bad and, increasingly, some attempting to repair damage from previous spending. GDP is not a useful measure of our quality of life, whose improvement should be the real goal, but it does correlate with resource use and resource waste, also known as pollution.
The claim that unchecked competitive markets are the most efficient way to increase material wealth has no basis, as I explained in Part II. Nor have free markets worked in practice. Australia’s economic performance post-1983 has never come close to that in the 1950s and 60s when it averaged over 5% annual GDP growth and 1.3% unemployment. However economists and the self-interested rich have promoted a system based on unrestrained markets that in turn promotes anything that yields short-term profit. Thus we have unsustainable extraction of natural resources, and for-profit aged care that consigns our grandparents to disgusting neglect. We also have potent and dangerous new technologies like face recognition, meta-data analysis, artificial ‘intelligence’ and various biotechnologies including, imminently, the suspension of biological ageing.
The planet really needs a plague of demanding, smart-aleck old farts. The surveillance state is a reality, and rapidly gaining in power and pervasiveness. I am only mentioning war making and killer robotics. Some older people occasionally wonder why the forecasts of our childhood have not come to pass. We were told that by the year 2000 no-one would work more than 15 hours a week. The reason is that we have been kept on the treadmill so as to keep the GDP increasing. A major motivator has been ‘labour market flexibility’, the notion that your labour is just a free-market disposable commodity that needs to be used to maximum efficiency and effect. One difficulty of course is that your labour comes with you attached. The primary effects have been to keep the employed insecure and to enrich the rich and empower the powerful.
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The Catholic church promotes UBI. What do catholics think though?
• Love, politics, and Universal Basic Income (Meaden)
London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey recently said that if people were given a Universal Basic Income (UBI) they would spend it on ‘lots of drugs’. This was widely reported. Less widely reported was the response of Dr Simon Duffy, speaking in the same meeting, where he helped to persuade the Economic Committee of the London Assembly to vote in favour a pilot of UBI in the capital. Dr Duffy said: “What the UK has become is an increasingly mean-spirited society. What we’ve seen is a decline in respect for people on low incomes, and a concomitant decline in the value of basic benefits. So now, the poorest 10 per cent of people in the UK receive, after tax, about £40 to £50 per person [per week]. There’s a reason why they get less and less – it’s to do with the political choices that we make, it’s to do with the way the political system has been able to stigmatise those people as somehow unworthy.
And that’s why we increasingly move away from cash and economic security and move to increased sanctions and conditionality, and even talk of vouchers. It’s all interconnected. And what we really need to do – and this is about politics, not economics – we need to move towards a universal approach that says every citizen is entitled to economic security, every citizen is worthy of respect. And that’s where the love is, Shaun.” The idea that an economic or political policy could be an expression of love, and a recognition of the innate dignity and worth of every human being may sound unusual to our ears, but it really shouldn’t. As the Archbishop of York said recently, “Loving your neighbour is a profoundly political statement.”
This connection, between truly loving our neighbour and its and implications for politics is explored in a profound way in Catholic Social Teaching, and there we find a single phrase which fundamentally challenges the way our society and our economy are organised. That phrase is “the universal destination of goods”. The universal destination of goods means, quite simply, that as the world was created for all of us, and as we are all equal in human dignity and worth, then we are all entitled to a share of what the world has to offer. And this right does not have to be earned – it is the automatic right of every human being, by virtue of being human.
The phrase first appeared in the foundational document of CST, Rerum Novarum, written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. The principle has largely remained in the realm of the abstract, underpinning a belief in social justice, but with no specific policy application endorsed by the church. Recently however, Pope Francis has been quite vocal in his insistence that the time has come to put such beliefs into practice, in order to protect the planet and human dignity. [..] UBI is an idea which is the logical outcome of looking at the world through a lens of love and justice. To be implemented properly it will, as Dr Duffy acknowledges, involve some redistribution of wealth. This will no doubt meet resistance, particularly from those who have most, and therefore have most to lose.
But as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The right to private property is secondary to the right of everyone, without exception, to their share in the goods of creation. The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise” (Catechism 2403).
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