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More Sunshine, Less Virus and Are You Really Safer At Home?

Kim Iversen | April 25, 2020

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.11…

Previous reports on the weather connection:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w58S…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtV3k…

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Video | 2 Comments

Globalization in the Widening Gyre of COVID-19

Excerpts from the COVID-19 Series by Maximilian Forte, April 27, 2020

Borders and Distancing

Typically over the past 20-30 years, anyone who openly worried about the prospect of international passenger jets carrying contagion, would likely have been called a reactionary Luddite, a xenophobic demagogue, or even a racist for implicitly linking “the foreign” with “danger”. This crisis must be exceedingly embarrassing and inconvenient for the orthodox scribes who attend to the upkeep of the once dominant narrative. We are waiting to be reminded of how globalization has made the world more stable, and made our lives better. Behold how peaceful and prosperous is a world shut down and quarantined by capitalist globalization. Let’s hear three more cheers for capitalism, how it has made everyone safer, and remember: “capitalism works”. The coronavirus also works, and without any of the armies which capitalism used to annihilate alternatives.

The virus respects no borders”—this is what we heard from both the World Health Organization early on, and governments such as those of Canada, France, etc., that is until they did a radical about face. If borders really did not matter, then why self-isolate? Why the quarantines? Those are border-making processes. The neoliberal option was to transfer the principle of borders from the society-level, down to the individual level, in conformity with the neoliberal dictum that there is no society. Self-responsibilization was thus emphasized, as it too is a cornerstone of the neoliberal ethic. Thus we saw an ideologically-driven commitment to keeping borders open, even while imposing borders between individuals and sites within the society. The virus did not move magically across borders because it had some sort of contempt for borders, as if COVID-19 had been a regular participant at Davos gatherings. The virus had only to move inside people who were allowed to pass through borders. Saying that shutting down travel and restricting entry would be “ineffective” manifested the determined paralysis and deliberate inaction that purposefully sought to undermine basic principles of national sovereignty—at least for as long as it seemed politically feasible (not long at all). If restricting movement was truly ineffective, then so would quarantines and self-isolation.

Neoliberals such as Justin Trudeau did not shut down borders until the virus had been allowed ample entry into Canada, through multiple ports. Only when the virus began to rapidly escalate, and when other countries began restricting travel, did Canada follow suit. In any case, it didn’t matter: keeping borders open to countries that restricted travel made little sense. However, what was detectable for a couple of weeks was the neoliberal preference for open borders, and a society broken down into confined pockets. The primary goal was not in preventing people from getting sick, but preventing them from getting sick all at the same time. Political leaders are the technocratic managers of the transnational capitalist class, so their decisions in a time of crisis are instructive. Trudeau instructed Canadians that the length of the shutdown would “depend on the choices that Canadians make,” thus making individuals responsible for the policies imposed on them. He said so explicitly when he spoke of how Canadians needed to make “responsible choices”. This is the neoliberal idealization of agency. Canadians would need to automate their ability to act as a rational choice calculators, to deploy as informed and vigilant consumers, and to show deference to authority.

Yet in another respect, neoliberal management failed itself, because there is no winning in a crisis such as this one. The failure to enforce borders directly resulted in a shutdown of economic activity—a cardinal sin for any good neoliberal. “Creative destruction” is one thing, but this is starting to look like just destructive destruction. Stocks plunged to the most dramatic degree since the Great Depression, with unemployment skyrocketing to an extent also not seen in many decades. This was neoliberal mismanagement: a combination of dogma and indecision, of being actively deployed in a state of paralysis. There was no better example of this active paralysis than a quarantined prime minister and his infected wife, remaining in seclusion in his residence even after his wife’s recovery, pretending to operate the country via remote control.

One of the additional features of active paralysis has been absentee governance, or something approximating an absence of government at the federal level in Canada in terms of the reluctance to have elected parliamentarians sitting in the legislative assembly in Ottawa to do their jobs. Meanwhile, minimum-wage cashiers in supermarkets are required to risk their lives to serve the public. It is not just fear that would have a ruling party or head of government virtually or actually suspend parliament: it was out of a desire to avoid having to answer for their actions and decisions. Israel has now become a fully fledged dictatorship. Trump wanted to “adjourn” Congress—i.e., suspend parliament—while declaring that his power is total. (Next, he will cancel elections.) In Canada, Trudeau rules from isolation and digs his heels into the ground when it comes to having parliament sit.

What has become painfully evident to all of us is at least two things. One is that globalization, and the globalism that upholds it, have literally sickened people. All have been put in danger, many have already died, and more will die. Such a system cannot be allowed to continue, as a practical matter of survival. Concerns for “cost” and “efficiency” will necessarily have to be tossed aside. Goods may cost more, but it would also mean more local employment, and hopefully at higher rates of return. Emphasizing cheap costs means emphasizing low wages, which in turns means poverty creation and thus the production of a class of people who become especially vulnerable to viruses and to spreading them.

The second facet involves greater reflection on the wasteful, needless nature of the incessant travel that has occurred worldwide in ever increasing volumes over the past years and decades. People were jetting and cruising around as if it had been an ordinary, routine necessity of living—and now the reality that has exploded in everyone’s faces is just how harmful were such consumption patterns. In academia hopefully this will spell an end to the extreme travel culture that has taken hold, with many tens of thousands of academics jetting to-and-fro every week of the year to attend any of the countless conferences in dozens of disciplines, or to appear as guest speakers. Huge amounts of publicly funded research grants have been extinguished as exhaust in the atmosphere, by travellers who directly exposed themselves and their societies to needless exposure to actual or prospective viral outbreaks.

It is important that we become accustomed to Zoom video conferencing, or whatever alternative platform emerges. Personally, I would also recommend that universities move towards a greater mix in the delivery of courses, allowing some to be delivered online, or allowing some faculty (those who wish) to do all of their teaching online. Perhaps the latter move could reduce costs to students: a reduced tuition should follow from lessened demand on space and the various overhead expenses needed to maintain physical spaces. For cash-strapped universities, greater online teaching could free up enough physical space that whole buildings could be sold, or refitted and rented, immediately generating new revenue either way. Every university student and professor in North America today has had direct and recent experience with online teaching—so at least the very concept is no longer unthinkable. Online teaching has just entered the tried and tested column.

Distance Annihilates Globalization

Those in power have done something interesting by introducing the distancing ethic. Distancing is the exact opposite of the ethic of globalization. In Canada some in the media quibble over whether the better term is “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing,” when they amount to the same thing. Liberal Canadian media like to downplay the social impacts, reducing everything to individual human interest stories—they pretend that mediated “togetherness” is what counts most, and in-person distance is merely “physical”. The point is, however, that globalization promised an end to all distancing, particularly physical distancing. How “physical distancing” can become useful to the authorities is by reinforcing some other lessons: that your health is your responsibility; public health is a matter of individual decisions and individual practices. Physical distancing could emphasize individualism, if it magnifies and isolates the “I” and obliterates the “us”. On the other hand, individual distancing, motivated by a concern for the common good, would instead introduce a collectivist principle. In other words, little is really clear-cut in a crisis which has every social sector losing something. What is interesting to see is that globalization itself is proving to be one of the biggest of all the losers.

Among the famous phrases purporting to explain globalization, were ones such as “time-space compression,” and how “time had annihilated distance”. Globalization itself is projected to become one of the main “losers” of the coronavirus, both in the immediate and near-terms. That the new ethics of distancing and isolation, coupled with national self-supply, both mean the annihilation of globalization, is a fact that is now recognized by too many writers for all of them to have been lifelong, hard core anti-globalists. Outlines of the next economic model have come into focus.

However, to be clear not everything one may associate with globalization in all of its multiple forms, will just vanish. Some aspects may be strengthened, particularly the advance of digitization, Internet communication, and automation. Travel, hotels, airlines, international car rentals, AirBnB, all of these may suffer a deep and irreparable decline, and one can reasonably expect some businesses to fail utterly, including AirBnB. While travel and tourism can be expected to go into a deep and enduring decline, the value of the Internet has been enhanced. Thus de-globalization will be as partial and selective as globalization itself was.

Note also how the epicentres of the pandemic were most often the centres of the world economy: China, the US (particularly New York state), Italy and Spain in the EU, the UK. On the other hand, most of the periphery—minus major exceptions like Iran—still remains peripheral to the outbreak. COVID-19 is a disease that follows the pattern of global capitalist integration. The lesson here is a reverse of the globalist dogma taught in development studies for the past 30 plus years: now it’s those with fewer linkages that fare better. That does not mean that Africa, for example, has remained untouched—on the contrary, even the initial effects of the crisis have already been severe.

The new buzzwords in the North American media—still shy about calling it de-globalization—are “onshoring” (instead of the “offshoring” of companies, capital, and jobs), or “reshoring” (as in “bringing it back home” with reference to the production of strategic supplies). “De-coupling” is a rather oblique term, fashionable among Financial Times writers, for essentially speaking of de-globalization: a breaking off of linkages that rendered one country dependent on another. Suddenly it is common to hear about “supply chains,” particularly since it became evident that even supposedly major economies went into this crisis totally naked, without their own production and supply of masks, gloves, and medical gowns, let alone their own domestic supply of key pharmaceuticals. At the very least on the medical front alone, the post-COVID world will be remarkably altered, and it is already altering rapidly. This is not a hypothesis as much as an observation. We can expect that in academia new life will be breathed into Dependency Theory, which now seems much more relevant and useful than four decades of fluffy globalization theories.

As we now collectively begin to speak of national self-reliance, and look to ourselves and our own resources, skills, and abilities in meeting our own needs, another old realization will come back to the fore: we do not need any foreign master. We do not need any foreign master, whether new or old, whether it is China or the US. Some think (wishfully, not analytically) that it is only China’s alleged plan to become the centre of global power that will be harmed from this pandemic—but it is US hegemony that will now meet its fullest and most visible decline.

As an anthropologist I want to challenge readers to stop thinking of the world necessarily being polar, whether uni-polar, bi-polar, or multi-polar. The fact of the matter is that for the vast majority of the time that humans have existed on this planet, our planet was non-polar. Global “poles” are an invention of the last 500 years—not a particularly good invention, rarely a welcome invention, and clearly not a sustainable invention. As we increasingly turn into a New Old World, let’s hope that the “old” part is really old.

Part 3 of this series turns squarely to questions of geopolitical dominance, especially where the two contending powers—China and the US—have both rooted their power in a highly deficient process: globalization.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Ukraine’s Opposition Accuses US of Scrubbing Info About Biolabs’ Activities on Ukrainian Territory

Sputnik – 27.04.2020

The US Embassy in Kiev has been caught in the center of a brewing political scandal after denying allegations about US biological laboratories’ “unlawful activity” in Ukraine, while admitting that such labs do exist.

The US Embassy in Kiev has scrubbed information about the work of two of its biolabs in Ukraine from its website, Viktor Medvedchuk, co-leader of the Opposition Platform – For Life party, has alleged.

According to the lawmaker, in its April 22 statement responding to Rada lawmakers’ mid-April request for a government investigation into the 15 US biolabs operating on Ukrainian territory, the US Embassy provided a link to an explanation about the operation of its ‘Biological Threat Reduction Program’. There are two interesting facts associated with the document, Medvedchuk alleges – first, that the webpage was created on April 9, 2020, three days before lawmakers made their request for a government inquiry, and second, that there are discrepancies between the English and Ukrainian versions of the pages.

“The Ukrainian-language document appeared earlier, but in 2017 featured another version of the document, now deleted, including the text ‘Consolidation of particularly hazardous pathogens in modern biosafety level facilities (one level three biosafety lab for human pathogens and one level three biosafety lab for animal pathogens)’,” Medvedchuk explained in a statement Monday.

“In other words, in 2017, the US Embassy not only openly curated at least two level three biolabs, but openly stated this. This is not proof that there have not been other, more dangerous laboratories, or that these laboratories have not conducted experiments with pathogens presenting the maximum level of danger, but it does indicate a desire by the US Embassy to remove information that compromises them,” Medvedchuk claimed.

Ukraine’s Opposition Platform – For Life requested a government probe into the operation of US biolabs in Ukraine on April 15, claiming that since these labs’ deployment, Ukraine has faced mysterious outbreaks of otherwise inexplicable dangerous diseases, such as the 2009 outbreak of hemorrhagic pneumonia, the 2011, 2014 and 2015 cholera outbreaks, and an outbreak of hepatitis A in 2017. In early 2016, at least 20 Ukrainian servicemen were reported to have died from a flu-like virus, with 364 more people succumbing to swine flu months later. “The Ukrainian people have the right to know about secret programs,” the opposition lawmakers’ appeal stressed.

In its April 22 reply, the US Embassy accused Opposition Platform MPs of spreading “disinformation,” while admitting that a Department of Defence Biological Threat Reduction Program is working “with the Ukrainian Government to consolidate and secure pathogens and toxins of security concern in Ukrainian government facilities.”

In his comments Monday, Medvedchuk suggested that the alleged creation of a separate level 3 lab for human pathogens may indicate experimentation on human beings. “This is the main reason for the creation of US biolabs in Ukraine, serving as an opportunity to carry out the most dangerous kinds of studies, including studies on human beings, which are prohibited under US laws, but allowed in Ukraine, due to problems in Ukrainian legislation, but to a greater extent, to Ukraine’s foreign control by the United States,” he claimed.

Shady US Labs Across Post-Soviet Space

The Ukrainian lawmakers’ allegations aren’t the first of their kind. In 2018, Georgia’s former minister of state security asked President Trump to investigate reports that personnel from the US’s Lugar Center biological lab outside Tbilisi had engaged in experimentation on live human test subjects.

In September 2018, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had its suspicions about possible US testing of biological weapons in states near Russia’s borders, and warned Washington to halt such activities immediately.

In March, Iranian doctors penned a letter to the leaders of Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan to destroy all US biololabs in their countries, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic may have been spread deliberately as a form of biological warfare.

Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned Washington that Russia was apprised of US efforts to expand military research at the Lugar Lab, and said that the US has substantially expanded dual purpose biological research at labs across the former Soviet space under the pretext of combating bioterrorism.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

How the Fight Against Covid-19 Has Brought Us a Step Closer to an Orwellian Nightmare

By Timothy Alexander Guzman – Silent Crow News – April 26, 2020

For many years, we in the alternative media have been warning that when a new crisis emerges, a future of social engineering and control would bring us closer to George Orwell’s predictions right to our doorstep.  Since the start of the Corona Virus Pandemic (Covid-19) the destruction of the world’s economy with the US in an already fragile state of affairs taking the biggest hit with its lock downs and an estimated 26 million people so far who are now unemployed. It has crippled the social fabric of society, basically forever and as a result, more invasive technologies are being introduced to the world now more than ever before. Recently, the US mainstream media has been reporting on the new technologies that can be implemented by governments to track the potential carriers of Covid-19 from drones that will be able to check your temperature and determine that you may or may not carry the virus to a program that can track individuals Smart phones through a mapping tool which was created by an Israeli company looking to have a footprint in the US market.

When it comes to the surveillance of the public’s health from the sky, drone manufacturer Draganfly comes to mind as it made recent headlines with claims that their drone technology can monitor the public’s health in real time which brings us to the town of Westport, Connecticut. The Westport local police department had originally agreed to monitor and track its citizens for fevers or coughs but had decided to reverse its course and not to roll out the drone program due to its citizens privacy concerns according to NBC news:

A Connecticut police force is grounding its plans to test a “pandemic drone” that would detect a person with a fever or cough, after privacy concerns were raised. The town of Westport has chosen to opt out of the ‘“Flatten the Curve Pilot Program” from drone manufacturer Draganfly, according to NBC Connecticut. Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas said Thursday that while he was thankful for the opportunity to participate, he also wanted to be responsive to citizens’ concerns.

“We thank Draganfly for offering the pilot program to Westport and sincerely hope to be included in future innovations once we are convinced the program is appropriate for Westport,” Koskinas said, according to NBC Connecticut

Why Westport residents were concerned with Draganfly’s drone capabilities? Watch their introductory video:

This is just one of the technologies that happens to be floating around, giving those in power new ideas that can be used in any future outbreak or any other crisis. What if there is another outbreak in the late fall or winter season? Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s White House Coronavirus task force already “anticipates” that another coronavirus outbreak will begin in the fall, around the same time as Flu season begins. How convenient.

Another not so great idea that is not drone related is currently being used around the world is a program called Fleming created by an Israeli technology firm called the NSO Group based in Herzliva, Israel, a firm that was founded by Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio who happens to employ former IDF soldiers. An article from Australia’s online news site http://www.news.com.au from 2016 ‘Everything we know about NSO Group: The cyberarms dealer responsible for the iPhone hack’ describes who the founders are linked to which should not be a surprise to anyone at this point:

According the LinkedIn pages of Mr Lavie and Mr Hulio, both men are self-proclaimed serial entrepreneurs, with a string of Israeli start-ups attributed on their profiles. Despite the plethora of tech companies the pair has founded, both men also have ties to the Israeli government.

Mr Lavia’s profile shows he was an “employee” of the Israeli Government from July 2005-October 2007, while Mr Hulio’s claims he was a Company Commander (Search and Rescue) for the Israeli Defence Force from August 1999-November 2004.  The company also boasts to have employees from Unit 8200 — the signal intelligence and code deciphering arm of the Israel Defence Force

The NSO group is known worldwide for a highly-controversial spyware program called Pegasus which enabled remote surveillance of individuals smartphones. The NSO Group’s history has been controversial since its introduction of the Pegasus program to the world, for example, in a 2019 article from fastcompany.com, ‘Israeli cyberattack firm woos investors amid a human rights firestorm’ explains one particular controversy that targeted numerous activists and journalists worldwide:

NSO makes Pegasus, a sophisticated tool that can hack into smartphones and is intended, the company says, to help governments stop criminals and terrorists. But Pegasus has also been implicated in attacks on members of civil society. Targets of the software have included at least two dozen activists, journalists, and lawyers in the Middle East, Mexico, Asia, and Europe, according to extensive analysis by Citizen Lab, a digital watchdog at the University of Toronto.

NSO Group has many other scandals, one of them is with Saudi dissident, Omar Abdelaziz who filed a lawsuit claiming that his conversations with Jamal Khashoogi, the Washington Post journalist from Saudi Arabia who was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018 were intercepted by Pegasus. Now, the NSO Group is rolling out a new program called Fleming. According to the NSO group, “Fleming features an advanced mapping tool that identifies the spread of coronavirus in real-time, empowering health and other government officials to make informed decisions, backed by data, to quickly mitigate the pandemic.” They say that they will empower healthcare workers and “other government officials” which is pretty vague. “By utilizing this technology, decision makers can more effectively deploy resources, including critical supplies and medical personnel, and implement public health protocols that help contain the spread”, resources can be taken out of proportion because the government will decide what “resources” they will use. What if they decided to use a drone strike as a resource?

In an opinion piece published by Ynetnews of Israel ‘ The truth about digital tracking to fight coronavirus’ by Shalev Hulio, the CEO of the NSO Group who of course takes a defensive approach for his firm’s new program “It is important to appreciate that the historical information for each mobile subscription is already and routinely available to the cellular companies” so, since it is already in use, Hulio is suggesting that we can go a little further. “This information only includes cellular locations for that subscription and does not require any collection of information from the device itself” which is something they cannot guarantee. He continues “In other words, with the exception of retrieving the historical location of the device, there is no listening in on calls and no data, personal information or messages that exist on the device can be gathered.” This is the same tech firm that has been implicated in violating the privacy concerns of journalists, activists and lawyers around the world. Hulio says that “through mapping the path of the patient, we can see the people around them and they can be directly alerted” and then he asks the question, “So how does all this not violate privacy?” He claims that the data is analyzed with no verifiable information that can identify you, “In fact, not even a phone number is collected: The analysis is based on the SIM card number that exists on the device.” Then once all the information is collected then they can send a message to the person infected and request they go into self-isolation “This will allow the authorities to build a “tree of infection.”

These are just two of many Orwellian ideas being floated around as potential tools to monitor and control the corona virus outbreak. If we allow these technologies to be implemented into our daily lives, whatever remaining freedoms you may still have, will slowly be taken away.

It does not have to be this way, we can resist this type of invasive technology as the people of Westport, Connecticut proved. They had privacy concerns and voiced their concerns to the local authorities about using ‘Draganfly’s drones that would have initiated the ‘Flatten the Curve Pilot Program’ which is a victory in itself, but this fight has only begun, and will continue well into the future as George Orwell’s warning becomes a reality day by day as the lock downs continue.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

Narrative Managers Argue China-Like Internet Censorship Is Needed

By Caitlin Johnstone | April 26, 2020

Neoconservative publication The Atlantic has published an article authored by two university professors titled “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal”, subtitled “In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the US was wrong.”

The article is actually worth reading in full, not just because it’s outrage porn for anyone who values human communication that is unregulated by oligarchs and government agencies, but because it’s actually packed full of extensively sourced information about the way Silicon Valley tech giants are collaborating with western governments to censor speech. The only difference between this article and something you might read on some libertarian website is that this article argues that all of these regulations on speech are a good thing.

Here’s an archive of the article if you don’t want to give clicks to The Atlantic, whose editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg once assured the world that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.” Do give it a look if this interests you and you have time.

“In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong,” argue the article’s authors, one of whom is a former Bush administration lawyer. “Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.”

The article paints an accurate picture of the ways in which supposedly independent social media platforms have been collaborating with governments and with each other to regulate speech and have increased that collaboration during the Covid-19 pandemic, noting how “In March 2019, Zuckerberg invited the government to regulate ‘harmful content’ on his platform” and how “As in other contexts, Facebook relies on fact-checking organizations and ‘authorities’ (from the World Health Organization to the governments of US states) to ascertain which content to downgrade or remove.”

“These platforms have engaged in ‘strategic collaboration’ with the federal government, including by sharing information, to fight foreign electoral interference,” The Atlantic reports after outlining ways in which Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have been censoring speech in “aggressive but still imperfect steps to fend off foreign adversaries.”

“The harms from digital speech will also continue to grow, as will speech controls on these networks,” the article’s authors assert. “And invariably, government involvement will grow. At the moment, the private sector is making most of the important decisions, though often under government pressure. But as Zuckerberg has pleaded, the firms may not be able to regulate speech legitimately without heavier government guidance and involvement. It is also unclear whether, for example, the companies can adequately contain foreign misinformation and prevent digital tampering with voting mechanisms without more government surveillance.”

This article comes out days after journalist Whitney Webb published another article worth reading titled “Techno-Tyranny: How The US National Security State Is Using Coronavirus To Fulfill An Orwellian Vision”. Webb details how FOIA-obtained document by a US government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) argues for the need to implement authoritarian measures like increased surveillance more in line with those used in China, in order to prevent the PRC from technologically surpassing the United States.

Webb notes for example how the document “cites the use of mass surveillance on China’s ‘huge population base’ is an example of how China’s ‘scale of consumer market’ advantage allowing ‘China to leap ahead’ in the fields of related technologies, like facial recognition.”

We’re also seeing an increase in surveillance being pushed for in a new report by the think tank Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, arguing that a drastic increase in tech surveillance is “a price worth paying” in order to fight Covid-19. Which is of course hilarious, because having the think tank of a Bush lapdog Prime Minister argue that more surveillance is a price worth paying to stop coronavirus is a lot like a bunch of muggers arguing that time saved by cutting through dark alleyways is worth the increased risk of mugging.

So that’s great. We’re seeing mainstream narrative managers shriek about the need for new cold war escalations against China’s bad, bad authoritarian government, while simultaneously arguing that western governments should espouse Beijing’s worst authoritarian impulses. This as we’ve discussed previously is because consent needs to be manufactured in order for the US-centralized empire to take drastic steps to prevent China from surpassing it and creating a multipolar world, and the freer people are to think and act and organize, the harder that’s going to be.

Oligarchs have no business controlling what we can and cannot say to each other. Governments have no business bringing more and more transparency to us while bringing more and more opacity to themselves. This is ugly, it is abusive, and it must end.

Freedom of speech is actually about freedom of thought. Speech is the carrying agent of thought; controlling human communication is actually about controlling the spread of ideas. Censorship is about controlling the thoughts that the public think in their heads. Speech control is mind control.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

History Teacher Fired for Allowing Students to Question “Holocaust” Loses Lawsuit On Appeal

By Eric Striker | National Justice | April 27, 2020

Jason Mostafa Ali, a New Jersey history teacher of Egyptian descent, had his appeal in a lawsuit alleging discrimination at the hands of the principal at his school tossed out of federal court.

The dispute began in 2017, when Woodbridge High School’s Jewish principal Glenn Lottman lobbied local Superintendant Robert Zega to have him fired.

Zega and Lottman terminated Ali after he allowed students in the class to question the Holocaust and whether the Mossad aided Al Qaeda during the 9/11 terror attacks.

The students were questioning the Holocaust and the legacy of Hitler on their own. Ali only encouraged the students to engage in critical thinking without ideological input.

Public schools supposedly protect the First Amendment, yet in this case, Ali was punished for merely allowing the students to read their papers out loud.

One of the papers was based on the documentary “Adolf Hitler: The Greatest Story Never Told,” showing just how far revisionists have come in impacting the debate over the Second World War. An English teacher overheard it being discussed and informed on Ali and his students to administrators.

After being interrogated by Zega and Lottman on why he didn’t punish the students for “denying” the Holocaust, Ali affirmed the right to question everything. He was then fired.

During his trial, Ali argued that he had a First Amendment right to set his own lesson plans, and his students had a right to examine history from whatever perspective they saw having the most compelling evidence. The Judge in the case, Madeline Cox Arleo, said he did not and Lottmann had a right to fire him.

Jennifer Rich, a Jewish professor in “Genocide Studies,” was called in to provide expert testimony in the case. She lauded the suppression of ideas she doesn’t like and condemned Ali in an op-ed for the liberal clickfarm Raw Story.

Ali also alleges that Principal Lottman would constantly make discriminatory remarks, like referring to him as a terrorist and “that Egyptian.” Ali put extra emphasis on this part of his case when moving to the appellate court.

Appeals to the Civil Rights Act in politically sensitive cases tends to do better in lower courts than invoking the actual Constitution, but the US Court of Appeals’ 3rd Circuit decided not to give his case any more oxygen. This is yet another blow to free speech.

While this story is being widely reported, neither conservative “free speech” advocates or the ACLU appear to have any problem with this attack on the First Amendment.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

Israel freezes Palestinian Authority tax revenue again

MEMO | April 27, 2020

A court in Jerusalem decided on Sunday to freeze NIS450m ($128m) of Palestinian Authority tax revenue collected by Israeli customs, Quds Press has reported. The decision followed a lawsuit submitted by dozens of Israelis whose relatives were killed in resistance action against the military occupation during the Second Intifada.

The Israel Law Centre — Shurat HaDin — filed the complaints for the plaintiffs and asked the court to freeze NIS7.1bn ($2.16bn) of taxes collected on behalf of the PA by the Israeli customs authorities. The court decided to freeze NIS450m as a first stage, noting that the total sum could reach more than NIS2bn.

PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh described this as “theft and piracy”. In February last year, the Israeli government enforced a 2018 law calling such a revenue freeze, claiming that this money was paid as stipends to the families of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and those who had been killed by the occupation.

Shurat HaDin alleges that it is “at the forefront of fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide” and is “dedicated to protecting the State of Israel.” In November 2017, it was revealed that it had “admitted to being a front for Mossad, Israel’s deadly spy agency.”

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Why Outside Air is Safe and Park Closures Should End

Cliff Mass Weather Blog | April 18, 2020

During the past month, the fear of coronavirus had spurred political leaders to close parks and nature areas throughout the country.

In Washington State, all state parks and state lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources are closed through at least May 4. Here in Seattle, all major city parks were closed last weekend and parking lots for city parks are still shuttered. Picnicking, barbecuing, and any sports are illegal in Seattle parks. In California, hundreds of state parks, including many major beach areas, have been closed, and parking has been blocked off for all state recreation facilities.

All of these closures are predicated upon the assumption that coronavirus infection is a serious threat in outside air and that virus spread is significant outdoors. As documented in this blog, such an assumption is not consistent with the best science. Furthermore,  there is strong evidence that restriction of public access to parks and natural areas threatens both the physical and mental well being of the population and thus is counterproductive. Many politicians claim that parks must be closed to prevent large groups from gathering and spreading the virus. As we will see, such worries appear to have little basis in fact.

Torrey Pine Beach north of San Diego Is closed

Is Outside Air Safe?

After searching through the literature and talking to a number of doctors and researchers, I could not find a single paper suggesting significant outdoor transmission of COVID-19 or any coronavirus. But there is a huge literature and long historical experience suggesting that outside air is immensely safer than indoor air within constrained spaces. Here are a few examples and some quotes from medical experts on this point:

  • Qian et al., 2020: Examined 1245 confirmed cases in 120 cities in China and identified only a single outbreak in an outdoor environment, which involved two cases.
  • Nishiura et al., 2020: Transmission of COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment (95% confidence interval).
  • Lidia Morawska, professor and director of the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.”: Outdoors is safe, and there is certainly no cloud of virus-laden droplets hanging around… Firstly, any infectious droplets exhaled outside would be quickly diluted in outdoor air, so their concentrations would quickly become insignificant. “In addition, the stability of the virus outside is significantly shorter than inside. So outside is not really a problem… It is safe to go for a walk and jog and not to worry about the virus in the air”

Influenza patients were moved into the sunny, outside air to promote recovery during the 1918-1919 pandemic.

  • There is deep experience during other pandemics that placing patients outdoors greatly enhanced their recoveries and lessened spread to others. In fact, during some pandemics (like 1918-1919) open-air hospitals were built and patients were moved outside into the sun, with very positive impacts. To quote one paper on the subject (“The Open Air Treatment of Pandemic Influenza”, which documented the reduction of mortality and morbidity in the open air: “more might be gained by introducing high levels of natural ventilation or, indeed, by encouraging the public to spend as much time outdoors as possible.”
  • There is an extensive literature that ultraviolet radiation from the sun can quickly degrade the viability of viruses in the air (e.g., Schuit et al. 2020: The Influence of Simulated Sunlight on the Inactivation of Influenza Virus in Aerosols). As noted by Lytle et al., 2005: “Sunlight or, more specifically, solar UV radiation (UV) acts as the principal natural virucide in the environment.” Duan et. al. 2003 found that “UV irradiation can efficiently eliminate the viral infectivity”
  • A fascinating study of virus transmission in dorms at the University of Maryland compared students in rooms with poor ventilation, with those who kept their windows open all the time (Zhu et al., 2020).  Those with open windows had one-fourth the rate of respiratory infections. Some did complain of being cold, though.
  • Virus particles rapidly disperse in the open air as noted by Case Western Reserve University Hospitals infectious disease specialist Dr. Amy Edwards: “When someone coughs or sneezes, most of the virus drops to the ground within 6 feet pretty quickly. That’s why doctors recommend social distancing. If a few particles remained in the air, they would be killed off by UV light in the sun, or blown away by the wind”

I could quote a lot more literature and from additional specialists, but you get the point. Being in fresh, outside air, particularly when the sun is out, is clearly a good place to lessen one’s exposure to COVID-19.

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 is extraordinarily less in outside air compared to within buildings. There is essentially no background concentrations of the virus in outside air. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is destructive to the virus. There is rapid dispersion of any source of virus (e.g., an infected coughing individual) by the wind in the vast outside volume of air. And there is a substantial literature that concentration matters: the more exposure to viral particles the greater the chance of infection. Viral concentrations will be very low outside, if they are measurable at all.

Another issue is humidity. Viral transmission is degraded by high humidities and enhanced by lower humidities (check out this excellent recent review article: Moriyama et al. 2020); several papers suggest that relative humidities above 40% degrade transmission. During the cool season, humidity inside building tends to be very low (check my earlier blog for an explanation), but outside humidities are generally much higher. For example, below is a plot of the relative humidity in Seattle over the past three years. Outside relative humidity only rarely drops below 40% around here.  Inside RH is often below 40% during the cool season.

Recently, there has been a lot of media attention regarding a simulation of particle dispersion from a coughing runner, with recommendations not to run directly behind him/her and particularly in the wake region behind the runner. There was some dramatic imagery (see below), but the risk from sick runners is really quite small.

First, there are not many runners coughing and sneezing while running–when someone is sick with the virus they have great fatigue and if they were asymptomatic carriers they would not be coughing! (Note: there are some folks that cough after intense exercise). Furthermore, the large virus-laden droplets tend to fall quickly and the smaller particles/droplets tend to follow the streamflow around an obstacle (that’s you). Most importantly, the droplets ejected from a sick runner would rapidly disperse in the free atmosphere and the UV radiation would work to lessen the viability of a virus. Yes, there is a slipstream of air immediately behind a runner in which concentrations could be greater…. but how many people are running immediately behind a sick runner? Even in the video, little of the particles reach the face of the runner following immediately behind. Folks, this is a very small risk.

So let’s get back to the policy decision to ban folks from parks and why it is illogical and contrary to common sense.

Hopefully, you are convinced that outside air is immensely more healthful with far less COVID-19 risk than the air we breathe inside of buildings. You really want folks outside for that reason alone.

But what about social distancing? If that is good, you want folks to spread out as much as possible. Thus, they should be ENCOURAGED to get their fresh air in vast open public spaces and particularly ones with lots of air motion (i.e. wind).

But yet that is exactly the opposite of what our political leadership is doing. Here in Seattle, the Parks Department closed the largest parks in the city (like Magnuson, Lincoln and Discovery) last weekend, parks that afford great opportunities for social distancing (see map). Many of these large parks (red X in the above figure) are near the water and experience stronger winds that are  particularly favorable for virus dispersal. In contrast, the city left the smaller parks open, concentrating folks in small areas. Just as bad is the closing of park parking lots, which forced folks to leave their cars outside of parks and to walk in narrow corridors (less social distancing) to enter the parks.

Magnuson Park was closed and everyone is forced to walk on the crowded path to the left.

In California, vast beach areas are closed, again forcing folks to stay indoors or crowd onto limited walkways.

All these park closures are based on fears of transmission within groups enjoying the parks. But such closures do not make sense. First, there is little evidence of viral spread in outdoor spaces, even when crowded. Second, there is little evidence for such crowding in Washington State and California parks in other than the most isolated incidents. I have been to several Seattle parks during the past weeks– folks are generally careful and respectful, without large collections of folks in close proximity. Obviously, park officials can make it clear that closely packed large crowds are not appropriate and that there will be warnings and citations if such crowds occur. To put it succinctly, park closure is a solution in search of a problem that has never been shown to exist. And it hurts exactly the people it is meant to help.

More Issues

Going to parks is extraordinarily good for physical and mental health. Being outside exposes folks to the sun’s UV rays that facilitate production of vitamin D, which bolsters the immune system and reduces the chance of infection by COVID-19 and other pathogens. Recently, I got a call from a UW professor of medicine who is working on exactly this important relationship with COVID (he needed global UV/solar radiation data), confirming the above. Vigorous exercise and even walking enhance the immune system, reducing chances of infection. And exercise and fresh air have a very positive effect on mood, reducing stress and anxiety–both of which weaken the immune system,

And in a progressive city like Seattle, or in the progressive states of Washington or California, there are simple equity ideas that should be compelling. Closing parks or making entry difficult hurts low income people the most. Folks that live in small apartments or in crowded environments greatly enjoy the physical and emotional release of our wonderful large parks. They are the ones who are most deprived by the park closings, both mentally and physically, in comparison to those with large homes and extensive garden areas. And the closing of parking lots deprives the elderly and physically handicapped from the healthful conditions in our parks and the emotional salve of enjoying the outdoors. I have noted the demographic shift in the park when the parking lots were closed.

In some ways, this is all about risk. There is an extraordinarily small risk of catching COVID-19 while enjoying parks and natural areas. I mean really, really small. But park closures provide substantial risks that clearly threaten one’s physical and mental health. Our society is not particularly good in qualifying and acting upon risks, and the park closures are a prime example of this failure.

Sunset at Shoreline’s Richmond Beach Park.

Parking is closed and many cannot enjoy this view anymore.

Governors Inslee, Cuomo, and Newsom have all stated that in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis it is essential to “follow the science.” It is time that they follow their own advice, reopening all the parks and nature areas, including the restoration of all parking facilities and access.

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Addendum: A few commenters (and some politicians) have said that the parks should be closed because a few individuals did not practice sufficient social distancing in their evaluation. So should everyone be punished and denied access to the parks because of a very small minority (the overwhelming number of park visitors are not gathering in groups)?

Such communal punishment seems something out of a non-democratic society. Plus, the dangers of isolated groups in the outside air is totally speculative and not based on any evidence.   Consider the situation on the highways. Because some people are speeding and endangering others, do we stop EVERYONE from driving. Of course not. We warn them and give them tickets. We can do the same thing in parks.

PSS: There are reasonable measures that could be done in parks, like closing active playgrounds and perhaps the bathrooms. Places where many people are physically touching the same objects.

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

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April 27, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment