News World 2

he defining uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t limited to the science of the thing, though certainly confusion there abounds six months in. The other locus of confusion is in the legal realm: What can the government actually make us do? Are mask mandates constitutional? What about stay-at-home orders? Curfews? Business shutdowns? Church closures? Can they do that?

Key issues and stories relating to India & Pakistan will now be discussed on the new India page. South America also has its own page because both India and Latin America are key to understanding Western Global Elite greed with rolling war. Colonialism didn’t really end. The U.S are sending more troops back in to Syria because of Russia. Throwing stupd statues down and putting up new ones just shows how stupid some key people are.

True Faces of Two Faces September 9th 2020

A woman’s clothes can show class or lack of class, maybe poverty and decline, They may also be used by women to deceive men into assuming their inborn ongoing, softness with innocence, and thus making them ideal to create a better world. Women struggle to fool other women, but easily fool men.
Roberta’s image by Mustafa Khalid

The following article is typical of mainstream media’s opinion forming; led by comfortable well paid female writers.

When Disraeli’s Tory government passed the first British State Education in 1870, his colleague commented : “We must now educate our masters.”

The new act coincided with Prussia’s wars to unite Germany, and in fear of a major new rival to Britain’s elite, their industry and empire.

Th system would still bang on about the politicised version of Jesus ’s teachings, with all of its class oppression.  Marx had called religion ‘The Opium of the Masses.’ Marx also referenced the ‘spectre of communism haunting Europe’ in the opening paragraphs of his ‘The Communist Manifesto.’ He wrote of consciousness raising and losing the chains that held them in place.

Britain’s post 1066 elite were the most ruthless, hypocritical and unscrupulous in Europe. They granted a State eduction system for their own purposes. In tandem, rich folk financed the popular press, intended to dumb down and control the new mass literacy.

So like lemmings, working class men went off to be slaughtered in two Imperialistic rich man’s wars.  The upper middle class suffragettes abandoned their campaign in 1918, handing out white feathers to any man not in uniform.  When the peace came in 1918, women’s groups called for germany to be ‘squeezed until the pips squeak.’ Blaming and punishing Germany guaranteed World War Two.’  Million more men went to the slaughter.

The Imperial fallout from these wars, including the so called ‘Cold War’ is still with us.  In Britain and the U.S , the baby boomers were indulged, youth culture was born making millions for business folk.

Mainstream media made much of youthful protest and women’s liberation. However, the ruling elite were setting the agenda as they are now. The masses are easily led and frightened of things they cannot see -as the reaction to the Covid19 scaremongering attests- none frighten and follow as easily as women.

So we come to female support for Belarus protests and BLM. Those women are applauded by the following article because they are backing what the elite wants to happen.  Women are expected, as are blacks, to behave as part of a blob.  When Sarah Palin stood for the U.S Presidential candidacy the BBC led the charge to rubbish her as the wrong sort of woman.  

It was much the opposite when Hilary Clinton ranted out hate speeches and not surprisingly lost the election.  Only the right sort of protest is welcome, only certain groups matter when it comes to the elite manipulating the masses – masses who just do not have a clue what is going on.  Like God, the real puppet masters are either faceless or hiding their true faces.

R.J Cook

When Women Lead Protest Movements

The demonstrations in Belarus point to a broader trend.Yasmeen Serhan September 12, 2020 .

Women hold portraits of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Veronika Tsepkalo and Maria Kolesnikova at rally in support of Belarusian presidential candidatese Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Natalia Fedosenko / TASS / Getty

One of the most striking things about the prodemocracy protests in Belarus has been the outsize role of women. A woman, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has emerged as the unlikely political challenger to longtime Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Two of the country’s highest-profile opposition figures, who have been abducted or compelled to flee the country, are women. One of them, Maria Kolesnikova, tore up her passport to prevent her forced exile. And women made up some of the earliest demonstrations against the election result.

Today in Belarus, a 66-year-old strongman who has declared his country unprepared for female leadership is facing off against hundreds of thousands of demonstrators—many of them young, and many of them women—who are intent on proving him wrong. The moment demonstrates a trend in global mass movements: Protests that feature women are typically larger, less violent, and more versatile than those that do not. Most important, they are also more likely to succeed.

The prominence of women in Belarus’s burgeoning opposition movement was in some ways by design—specifically, if perhaps inadvertently, Lukashenko’s. Many of the country’s popular, and predominantly male, opposition candidates were barred from participating in August’s election or jailed before they could get the chance to declare their candidacies. Such was the case for Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a YouTube blogger and prodemocracy activist whose presidential bid was scuppered by his arrest. His wife, Tsikhanouskaya, put herself forward for the role instead. It was perhaps because Lukashenko didn’t see a mother and former English teacher who had no political experience as a viable threat that her bid was allowed to go ahead unimpeded. “Our society has not matured enough to vote for a woman,” Lukashenko said in May. Were one to become president, he added a month later, “she will collapse, poor thing.”

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Judging by the scale of the demonstrations since then, thought to be the largest in Belarus’s history, Lukashenko was mistaken. Tsikhanouskaya formed a pact with two other female opposition figures, Kolesnikova and Veronika Tsepkalo, and the trio came to be seen as the new symbol of Belarusian dissent. In the lead-up to the vote, they were likened to “a female rock band,” drawing large crowds of supporters as they campaigned across the country. Tsikhanouskaya and Tsepkalo have since fled Belarus, citing concerns for their families’ safety. Kolesnikova, who has remained in the country to speak out against the widely denounced August election result, briefly went missing last week after reportedly being abducted in broad daylight by Belarusian authorities. (She has since been detained in Minsk.) But if the intent behind silencing these figures was to suppress unrest, it hasn’t worked. That’s because the Belarus protests have been largely leaderless and decentralized, borrowing tactics from mobilizations in Hong Kong, Catalonia, and elsewhere. As with many of these movements, women have had a starring role in the Belarus protests. Some of the earliest demonstrations featured thousands of women decked in white, wielding flowers, balloons, and placards.

The emergence of women at the helm of mass protests isn’t unique to Belarus. Over the past decade, women have stood out as symbols of movements as far afield as Algeria, Lebanon, Sudan, and the United States. They were a driving force behind last year’s demonstrations against a new citizenship law in India, the 2018 demonstrations against President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, and many of the revolutions that culminated in the Arab Spring.

Read: Why protests work

Part of the reason women have had more visibility in recent protests has to do with the greater inclusivity of nonviolent movements around the world. According to research conducted by the Harvard University professors Erica Chenoweth and Zoe Marks, the co-authors of a forthcoming book on women in protests, as many as 70 percent of nonviolent campaigns from 2010 to 2014 included “moderate or extensive numbers of women at the front lines.” Such campaigns not only proved to be much larger than gender-exclusive ones, but also proved to be more successful in achieving their objectives.

In some ways, this seems intuitive. Movements that include women necessarily open themselves up to a broader base of support and participation. But women bring more than just numbers to a movement. For one thing, protests that feature women tend to be less violent, in part because demonstrations featuring a lot of women are more difficult to suppress with force, especially in patriarchal societies such as Belarus. “Mothers and grandmothers are often seen shaming police and security forces, kind of adopting a posture of their maternal roles in society,” Chenoweth told me.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that women are immune to the kinds of violent crackdowns that have become a familiar response to mass demonstrations around the world. Even ahead of the Belarus vote, Amnesty International reported that women activists in the country were being disproportionately targeted with politically motivated persecution, intimidation, and harassment. Still, women have proved a more difficult force for riot police to suppress. Indeed, women were credited with keeping last year’s anti-government protests in Lebanon largely peaceful by acting as “human buffers” between demonstrators and security forces.

Key to the success of nonviolent movements in recent years has been their ability to diversify beyond street demonstrations. Here, too, women have played a vital role, innovating methods of protest such as boycotts, strikes, and other forms of noncooperation that apply pressure on those in power. “It’s not because they are women that they were nonviolent and innovated tactics better,” Chenoweth said. “It’s that their particular position, the gendered roles that they had in society, gave them access to knowledge about social power.”

Women have been providing protests with these kinds of tactical innovations for centuries, Chenoweth said, noting that some of the earliest documented campaigns of nonviolent action were created by women. Nineteenth-century women in rural Ireland, for example, played a strategic role in the conception of the boycott—a technique named after its original target, Captain Charles Boycott, an English land agent who sought to evict tenants demanding a reduction in their rent. Similar tactics have been vital in Belarus, where demonstrators have been buoyed by the walkouts of factory workers, employees of state-owned media, and members of the police and security services.

Mark Engler: How mass protests end

But perhaps the greatest reason women have made such an impact on protests in Belarus and elsewhere has been their ability to bring further legitimacy to a movement’s demands. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a 1977 movement of Argentine women whose children disappeared under the country’s brutal military dictatorship, proved effective in large part because of participants’ ability to leverage their status as grieving mothers. Though the government tried to portray them as las locas, or “mad women,” it was ultimately reluctant to crack down, for fear of sparking backlash. The Belarus protests, though different in context, pose a similar challenge to authorities. “They wanted to take the men who stood behind our shoulders,” one protester told Belarusian media. “But we said that even if they themselves want to leave, we will not let them out, because we are mothers here.”

An unlikely icon of the Belarus protests is septuagenarian Nina Bahinskaya. The great-grandmother and longtime activist gained prominence after her confrontation with police who attempted to seize her flag during a demonstration went viral. By simply being there, women like Bahinskaya have been able to exploit traditional and gendered stereotypes in their favor, as though to say, Would you treat your mother this way?

Masses are in the hands of morons and money grabbing war mongers – September 18th 2020

There is an obvious link between BLM and all the other world wide protests with the lockdown madness and ongoing elite conspiracy – with all their pseudo science.

Britain’s Boris Johnson has told us we are at the start or the second wave and must face further restrictions. Of course it is so, because it is scripted, with ridiculous exaggeration of Covid 19 – no doubt originally engineered to do much worse, but failing. This is a Beta test to find just how far the Sheeple can be pushed. Don’t forget the elite aren’t being controlled.

Their lives are easier and more lucrative because of lockdown. They are out to create a system that works even better for them than the one they have – clamping down on political protests like Yellow Vests in the name of keeping us all safe. What a patronising sick joke, but the media and police will punish anyone who steps out of line. R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook

Great Vaccine Con September 18th 2020

Van Morrison criticises ‘fascist bullies’ in anti-lockdown Covid songs

Songwriter uses new material to condemn UK government, scientists and celebrities

Laura Snapes

Fri 18 Sep 2020 09.19 BST Last modified on Fri 18 Sep 2020 09.46 BST

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Van Morrison performing at the Electric Ballroom in London this month.

Van Morrison performing at the Electric Ballroom in London this month. Photograph: Richard Young/Rex/Shutterstock

Van Morrison has described the British government as “fascist bullies disturbing our peace” in one of three new tracks he has written to protest against safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On No More Lockdown, Morrison sings:

“No more lockdown / No more government overreach / No more fascist bullies / Disturbing our peace …

No more taking of our freedom / And our God-given rights / Pretending it’s for our safety / When it’s really to enslave …”

The song also condemns “celebrities telling us what we’re supposed to feel”, although the 75-year-old Northern Irish songwriter denied doing this himself.

“I’m not telling people what to do or think,” he said in a statement. “The government is doing a great job of that already. It’s about freedom of choice. I believe people should have the right to think for themselves.”

No More Lockdown also indicts “Imperial College scientists making up crooked facts”, presumably in reference to the former government scientific adviser Prof Neil Ferguson. In June, Ferguson said 20,000 deaths could have been prevented had the government imposed a national lockdown a week earlier than it eventually did on 23 March. In the UK, 41,705 people are known to have died of the virus.

Another track, As I Walked Out, references a post on the UK government’s website that states: “Covid-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK”. HCIDs have a high fatality rate of up to 50%. In the UK, the Covid-19 fatality rate peaked at 15.7%.

A duel with Van Morrison: ‘Is this a psychiatric examination? It sounds like one’

Read more

The virus is still considered highly infectious: official figures confirmed a 75% increase in positive weekly cases across England last week. The government’s test-and-trace system has been condemned as “barely functional”. Boris Johnson has said the government is doing “everything in our power” to avoid a second national lockdown.

Morrison said the songs would be released every two weeks, starting with Born to Be Free on 25 September. Last month, he called on his “fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up.”

He has been performing live, with three socially distanced gigs in September and two more scheduled for the London Palladium at the end of the month. “This is not a sign of compliance or acceptance of the current state of affairs,” he said. “This is to get my band up and running and out of the doldrums.”

Morrison is the latest UK musician to speak out against coronavirus safety measures. Noel Gallagher this week said he refused to wear a face mask on public transport and in shops: “There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away from us now,” he told the podcast host Matt Morgan.

Comment by R.J Cook Van Morrison is absolutely right. More people need to speak out about this fascist elitist con. It is behaviour training and institutionalised obsessive compulsive disorder. Covid is not a major risk to people living in advanced civilisations, but those civilisations have nasty greedy elites. Democracy is a sham that only morons would take seriously.

The PC sanctimonious patronising elitists in Parliament and Europe want more uncontrolled immigration of people who bring the culture that has ruined their own countries to Britain, Europe and North America- I include religious bigotry and over breeding. Our elitists don’t care about old folk in filthy privatised profiteering care homes. However, they care massively about pleasing ethnics and ethnic imports who are curiously most at risk.

Our Parliament blocked the will of the people over Brexit. Suddenly tone of voice became the key issue in upper middle class uni girl dominated House of Commons. Mainstream media employs cossetted people from the same class.

Covid 19 has been a perfect stick to beat Brexiteers and rubbish Donald Trump in favour of absent minded Joe Biden. Trump is massively wrong about China, but has shown he is not blindly happy to go to war. He is naive and relies on the wrong people. But politics is an industry that attracts the wrong people and bare faced unsrupulous liars.

There is a hidden agenda here. Much damage has been done to the world economy while the elite and their bankers have made record profits. If this was just about Covid there never would have been a lockdown, let alone calls for more of it.

Mainstream media refuses to connect BLM and far right protests with this hideous conspiracy. They need lockdown because the international lumpenproletariat are uppity. Defining all women as oppressed was a pathetic conspiracy to separate women into the midless sheep pen of feminism, ordered by superior women who are very much a part of this new ruling fascism. As the masses, fired by religious stupidity and ignorance, has swollen, the leite have got richer off their backs – hence Britain’s blind eye and use of idiot feminists and m-nginas to boost imports of migrants, legal or otherwise. Communism is an on going fear for the world’s rich. Covid lockdown is a handy tool of oppression.

It doesn’t matter that Covid kills few. The consequences of lockdown and killing the economy so as to reshape it will kill a lot more people who will not be counted by the likes of the British Governement and their Ministry of Information – aka the BBC.

I have said it before, calling for another lockdown should be the last straw. unemployment in the west is off tHE scale. State sponsored family breakdown – except among the ruLing elite clAss who call the tune – is moving to a new dimension. Thank goodness for inetlligent artists like Van Morrison for standing out from the crowd, though his opportunities here will no doubt be stifled by mainstream media. R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook . Image by Mustafa Khan

Climate refugees in United States September 17th 2020

California, Oregon, and Washington are on fire.

At least 33 people have died in recent days, and more than 5 million acres have been scorched as out-of-control blazes rage across the American West. The 2020 wildfire season in California is already the most destructive in the state’s history — exceeding the record set in 2018, which in turn beat the record set in 2017. Experts agree that rising temperatures from climate change have turned much of the region into dry kindling, ready to spark in an instant.

“This is a climate damn emergency,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week.

Disasters like these displace people. Tens of thousands of fire survivors have been forced to flee their homes, and more than 500,000 — half a million — Oregonians have been warned they might soon be ordered to leave. In the meantime, many evacuees are sheltering “in an assortment of RVs, cars, and tents.” Many do not know if their homes will still be standing when they try to return, or where they will go if those houses are indeed destroyed. The fires will eventually end, but for many residents of the region, the disaster is just beginning.

The climate refugee crisis has come to America. Advertisement

We’re not used to thinking of that crisis as an internal American problem. Publicly, at least, officials and experts have often focused on how poorer countries will deal with the migration of people fleeing drought, floods, devastating storms, and other disasters — both fast- and slow-moving — caused by rising temperatures across the globe. In 2018, a World Bank report estimated that Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia would spawn more than 143 million “climate migrants” by 2050.

“The developed world is still largely sheltered from climate change effects,” one expert wrote in 2016. “But the world’s poor feel the impacts directly.”

America’s Pacific Northwest surely counts as part of the “developed world.” So does Miami, which earlier this year was identified as “the most vulnerable major coastal city in the world” thanks to rising seas brought on by the changing climate. Same goes for Iowa, where climate-aided flooding devastated much of the state last year.

In fact, climate migration was already well underway in the United States before the latest round of fires. The Urban Institute estimates more than 1.2 million Americans left their homes in 2018 for climate-related reasons — some were escaping long-term problems, but others were fleeing short-term disasters that became permanent displacements. Sea level rise could force millions more coastal residents to move in coming years. People won’t keep living in places where it is impossible to live. Sooner or later they will choose — or be forced — to leave their homes and find somewhere safer.

The response from the Trump administration to international refugees has been to hang a “keep out” sign at the nation’s borders, all but snuffing out the torch on the Statue of Liberty. But it’s impossible to do that to fellow citizens. That doesn’t mean climate migration won’t create domestic tensions. A U.N. human rights expert last year warned of a coming era of “climate apartheid,” where “the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”

America, already plagued with “Gilded Age” levels of economic inequality, probably won’t be immune to that dynamic. Urban Institute’s Carlos Martin points out that many communities are unready to host an influx of climate refugees. “Consequently, newcomers are perceived as competitors for jobs and housing — especially where these were already tight,” he writes. “Existing financial and health service providers become overwhelmed and often underresourced for the specific needs of the migrants. Particularly when newcomers differ by race and income, they are increasingly and inaccurately blamed for all kinds of problems.” Advertisement

One obvious answer to these challenges is to finally get serious about mitigating climate change. The Trump administration didn’t cause the climate problem, but it seems hellbent on opposing any action to stop it — the president pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord, and has rescinded regulations to curtail greenhouse gases emissions. The administration just hired a climate denier for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As is so often the case with this presidency, states, local communities, and individuals are being left to figure out for themselves how to respond to another “damn emergency” that won’t go away on its own.

The evacuees fleeing the American West are giving America a glimpse into its future, but also its past. Hurricane Katrina created its own diaspora of New Orleans residents, thousands of whom fled the city and never returned. Before that, during the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans fled drought and Depression to start a new life elsewhere.

Many of them ended up settling in California.

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Comment This article ignores the massive influx of Latin Americans into California and the over population, disease and poverty in that sub continent. There is no point trying to make this all about fleeing white Amercans complaining about migrants.

The issue is beteen the rich minority and the masses they exploit materially, politically and through encouaging religion. The river has been drying up for years thanks to over development and ignorant stupid people expecting all the answers from medical science and technology. R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook
Image Mustafa Khalid

U.S/U.K Exceptionalism & Death of Independent Journalism by R.J Cook September 17th 2020

I don’t know how much more evidence that we should need to prove that a joint U.S/UK foreign policy post 1990 and the first Iraq War has been all about global capitalist elite greed masquerading as war for democracy.

Back at the time of that first Gulf War, the U.K ‘Observer’ newspaper ran a whole page story, in its broadsheet, entitled ‘The Leaked Pentagon Papers’.

The gist of this was that the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S went to the Pentagon asking what the U.S would do if Iraq revived its old claim on the oil rich little Kuwait. Both Iraq and Kuwait had been created out of Mesaptomia as part of the World War One peace settlement.

At the time of the first Gulf War, the British press palmed the ignorant jingoistic British public off with lies that Kuwait was a democracy and an example to Iraq. It was in fact a tyranny where all the oil profits were shared between the ruling family and oil conglomerates.

Iraq’s ambassador was told that the U.S would do nothing to block Iraq. Iraq was desperate to expand oil output and was cutting prices in breach of OPEC’s cartel. This was because Sadam Husseing had fought a 7 year U.S proxy war against Iraq – U.S arch enemy and nemesis in the Middle East.

According to the leaked papers, oil baron George Bush Snr needed a crisis to inflate oil prices , thus appeasing his oil rich backers. Consequently, the U.S, with Britain’s war mongering Thatcherite Tories in tow, went to war, beating Sadam Hussein, thus getting the oil price rise panic it needed.

Saudi Arabia was the launch pad for the atatck on Iraq. When it finished. Bush senior was asked why he didn’t finish off his old lackey in Iraq. He was most definite in his reply that if he had done, then the power vacuum would have been filled by his still friend Saudi Arabia – another British creation whose human rights abuses do not bother the west.

Little attention has ever been paid to the fact that all bar one of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, with thir plans and intent well known to the CIA and FBI before the twin towers attocities – for more on that see Michael Moore’s ‘Stupid White Men.’

So, the war on terror targeted Iraq. Any excuse would do. Bush senior and Blair invented the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ dossier of lies. This conspiracy to make war without any just cause was almost outed by Dr David Kelly, senior weapons investigator who died mysteriously because he refused to lie.

Hussein warned what would happen if he was toppled – the saga was repeated in Libya and they are working on the same for Syria. Secrecy and lies are crucial to this. Honest old fashioned independent journalism is the last thing they want to get in their way.

So we come to the Assange and Chelsea Manning affair. Britain and U.S elite have much to hide regarding their conduct in the Middle East. Iraq is where it all started, with Manning’s leaks and Wikileaks publishing secret documents which incriminate both U.S and U.K elites. So they conspired to have Assange arrested on spurious rape charges so as to get him extradited to friendly Sweden and thence vengeful U.S.A. Character assasination is the British way when it comes to fitting people up. Mainstream media excels in this cause.

To close any legal lopholes against extraditing Assange to the U.S, self interested Britain is happy with the Trump administration changing the law to cover any ‘alien’ who uses stolen official documents against their interests. Consequently, Assange is to be tried for espionage. The issue of war crimes and elite abuse of power, in the pretence and charade of democracy, does not matter. Exceptional Anglo America interests, actions and policies are not simply above the law, they are the law. As former diplomat and human rights campaigner Craig Murray told RT yesterday : ‘This legal change is bad for basic freedoms, good journalism and demcracy. It changes everything.’ R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook revealing her secrets. Image Mustafa Khalid

We need better emergency powers laws Posted September 17th 2020

Bonnie Kristian

Judging by the proliferation of court cases probing these questions nationwide, this isn’t only a confusion among the general public, and it is a confusion we need to clear up. As this crisis winds down and we return to a “peacetime” footing, state legislatures and city councils should prioritize crafting — and perhaps even submitting for public referendum — specific emergency powers legislation that avoids the same uncertainty in turmoil to come. We shouldn’t have to wonder if a public health order is legal or merely an official whim, and grants of emergency powers should be circumscribed by the Constitution and reflective of the will of the people. Advertisement

In our present straits, the repercussions of legal confusion have been grave. Consider Pennsylvania, where U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV ruled Monday that several strict COVID-19 containment measures imposed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) were unconstitutional.

As Stickman’s decision details, Pennsylvania’s pandemic response began with an emergency declaration by the governor. This proclamation vested Wolf “with extraordinary authority to take expansive action by executive order,” Stickman writes. The governor’s office coalesced a working group of unknown members which met privately and did not publish reports of its activity for the people who had to live by its choices. Mission creep set in. Initially temporary measures to “flatten the curve” evolved into indefinite measures to curtail transmission more generally. “[F]ormality,” said testimony from the defense which Stickman quotes in his ruling, “was not the first thing on [group members’] minds.”

That lack of formality produced perhaps the most ridiculous of the orders Monday’s decision struck down: the differentiation between “life-sustaining” and “non-life-sustaining” businesses. These are not terms defined in Pennsylvania law. Nor did the governor’s working group bother to define them. “I’m not sure we wrote down anywhere what ‘life-sustaining’ meant,” testified Sam Robinson, Wolf’s deputy chief of staff. They just made a list, he said, from a “sort of common understanding.”

The list changed 10 times between March and May. It also shut down businesses that sold the same products as other businesses allowed to stay open. Several plaintiffs in the case had small, independent stores that were forced to close (“non-life-sustaining”) while big box stores with inventory including the same products could stay open (“life-sustaining”). Customers who would have shopped locally went to Target or Home Depot instead. One plaintiff, owner of a small appliance and furniture shop, lost an estimated $300,000, a devastating sum. Advertisement

Arbitrary rules like this don’t merely do economic harm. They also embarrass and undermine the entire pandemic response. They feed suspicion that the whole thing is overblown, that officials don’t know what they’re talking about — as, in the case of these categories, they literally did not. Imagine seeing years of your hard work mercilessly undone by some unidentified, unelected committee issuing policies now ruled illegal. I’ve been supportive of many pandemic response measures, but that is intolerable.

It is also exactly the sort of mess which careful legislation, developed without the pressure, panic, and time constraints of an active crisis, could prevent.

That the government has authority (called “police powers” and overwhelmingly vested in state and local governments) to issue public health regulations is not in real dispute. There’s a long history of business closures, public assembly bans, travel restrictions, and quarantines being upheld in American courts. The Supreme Court affirmed “the authority of a state to enact quarantine laws and ‘health laws of every description'” in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), where the court upheld a statute allowing cities to mandate smallpox vaccines for nearly all residents. The same ruling says states’ police powers permit “such reasonable regulations established directly by legislative enactments as will protect the public health and the public safety” (emphasis added).

But many of worst pandemic measures of this year weren’t established by legislators. They came from governors, like Wolf in Pennsylvania, claiming for themselves extensive executive authority. The notorious nursing home decision in New York was an executive order. So was Michigan’s order forcing open stores to refuse to sell some “non-essential” products. Likewise local curfews, seen in Kansas, Michigan, and elsewhere, as if the virus behaves differently at night.

Granted, legislative specificity is not a cure-all, as recent history demonstrates. The Jacobson ruling ends with a caveat that even properly legislated regulations could be “so arbitrary and oppressive … as to justify the interference of the courts.” But however great that risk may be with laws precisely defining emergency powers, it is far greater without them, winging it with the often chaotic and sometimes nonsensical ad hoc approach of this go-round. We’ve had too much power and not enough law. Advertisement

Wolf’s plan was a “well-intended effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus,” Stickman wrote in his ruling, but good intentions are insufficient when lives, liberties, and livelihoods are at stake. “Indeed,” he continued, “the greatest threats to our system of constitutional liberties may arise when the ends are laudable and the intent is good — especially in time of emergency.”

There will always be controversy and confusion in a crisis, but surely we can do better than this. Unconstrained executive power is as troublemaking at the state level as it is at the federal. Legislation is the constraint we need.

Comment It is a matter of opinion as to whether Covid 19 is a crisis or conspiracy. Conspiracy theorists are fashionably subject to ridicule ever since the CIA led a media campaign to say there was no such behaviour.

Women’s groups and the new men they have created tend to cry out for more laws to protect them. They do not make connections and thus do not see the nightmare world they are doing so much to make even worse.

A feminised group of politcal and police lackeys thinks more and stronger laws are the answer by creating a stagnant and social world rotting like a fish, from the head down.

To contradict these ‘nice and well respected people’ is basically a crime. Hate speech is the label for those of us making serious comments or asking questions that they cannot answer without showing themselves for the fools that they are.

Unemployment and homelessness are rising. No wonder morons in the British Government want to revive lockdown through the ‘rule of six’ and the U.S fake egalitarians preach to distract blacks from the fact that Democrats will not help them. Can there be a lesser of evils? R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook

South of the border down Mexico Way. September 16th 2020

Britain led the world with industrialisation and empire, laying foundations for their North American colony to become the U.S.A. Meanwhile Spain and Portugal were stripping South America of resources, founding their own Imperial outposts.

The South lagged with independence, fragmented and reltively poor. The U.S.A has been interested in South America’s resouces, paranoid about its’ mass poverty threating them with communism.

CIA has kept the threat at bay for decades, installing dictators and undermining progress. South America’s masses have clung to Roman Catholicism and a better life after death. One result has been over population with consequent rising povert, famine and disease. However, as time has passed, with mass media enlightening more of them more of these ‘Latinos’ have sought a better life across the border in the U.S.A.

At the same time, the climate and remoteness of places like Columbia has fostered the world of drug barons, oddly encouaraged by the CIA back ops. This has given the U.S.A a defensive argument to build the wall. R.J Cook
South of the border down Mexico Way.

Poverty and squalid housing is normal for the majority of people in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The U.S.A funded and built the Pan American highway all the way down the sub continent, cutting through the Amazon. deliberately infecting opposing natives with fatal measles, because they needed the road to keep watch on the threatening mass of Catholic poor people.

The U.SA currently comprises around 6 % of the world’s population and 52 % of all natural resources consumed in the world every year. Most of the resulting wealth creation goes to a very small percentage of the population.

The majority of the U.S population struggle to survive. Covid 19 lockdown has made matters worse. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, is made scapegoat while black communites are led to believe that they are the only ones to suffer.

This reckless campaign by mainstream media is all about getting the fake Biden elected, along with his dubious black female running mate. Meanwhile the U.S.A backed by its aged parent Britain, has to roll on as a war economy. Post 9/11 has created a very dangerous world. The Covid 19 Conspiracy could be the last straw. The economic and world wide social cosnequences are already severe..

R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook, formerly employed by the Nitrate Corporation of Chile

The staggering consequences of Trump’s coronavirus lies September 16th 2020

David Faris President Trump.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward released a new book on Wednesday based in part on a series of interviews he conducted with President Trump. The most explosive revelations — which are on tape — are that President Trump knew in early February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu and that he was fully aware of the danger it posed to the U.S. “This is deadly stuff,” he told Woodward on Feb. 7. In a subsequent interview on March 19, he confirmed that he deliberately misled the public about the gravity of what was to come. “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

The jaw-dropping recordings made undeniable what had long been obvious — that the president deliberately misled the American people about the severity of the virus, that the administration’s public statements in late February and early March were not merely misappraisals but were instead filled with deliberate, destructive lies. Yet the reaction of many observers was to retreat to familiar corners — either hopefully theorizing that Woodward’s book might damage Trump’s re-election campaign, or confidently relaying a (well justified) cynicism that no matter what we learn about President Trump’s disgraceful ineptitude and endless betrayals of the public’s trust, it will not shake his core supporters from their commitment to him. Advertisement

This will-it-or-won’t-it framing, which always revolves around guessing the political fallout of the latest scandal to emerge from the Trump administration, only serves to obscure what should be most enraging: that the president’s public downplaying of a virus that would soon bring ordinary life to a halt for virtually every person in the world led to thousands, probably tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the United States.

How many people went heedlessly about their ordinary lives in February and early March, blithely unaware of the virus which was already circulating and causing the disease we now call COVID-19? I boarded a flight to Philadelphia on Feb. 22 to see my parents at the tail end of my father’s weeks-long ordeal with daily radiation for a recurrence of prostate cancer. Desperate to give them a pick-me-up in their lonely winter of discontent, I could instead have unwittingly killed them both. I could have brought it back home to Chicago with me, endangering the lives of my wife and my son as well as my students, coworkers, and friends.

Tens of thousands of others were not so lucky as we were. They kept taking their cruises and their vacations, going to bars and restaurants, visiting one another in homes and apartments, as the virus went slowly from a vaguely ominous background curiosity — they locked down a whole city in China? — to a gathering dread when the bodies started piling up in Lombardy and other parts of Europe. Ultimately, it was probably the shocking cancellation of the rest of the NBA season on March 11, rather than anything the president of the United States did, which led to widespread changes in behavior that preceded official lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders.

It must be particularly galling for New Yorkers. Some estimate that as many as a quarter of New York City’s residents contracted the virus, many of them during that period in which the president was willfully and disgracefully lying to the American people. More than 32,000 have died. Given the precautions most sensible people are now taking and improvements in treatment, it is unlikely that any region or city in the United States will suffer like New York did even if the fall spike epidemiologists worry about materializes. More so than any other place in the country, New York City could have been spared immense amounts of death and illness had Trump simply taken his job seriously and publicly communicated the gravity of the situation the moment he himself knew.

Instead, he lied to us, over and over and over again. In between that Feb. 7 phone call with Woodward and the shambolic March 11 press conference when he still claimed that for the “vast majority of Americans” the risk was “very, very low,” President Trump unloaded a fusillade of statements meant to give Americans a false sense of security.

Feb. 23: “We have it very much under control in this country.”

Feb. 24: “Stock market starting to look very good to me!”

Feb. 26: “And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”

Feb. 29: “Everything is really under control.”

Look, there aren’t many people who dislike Trump more than me, but if he had gotten up in one of those press conferences and said “Cancel your travel plans and stay home, this thing is for real,” there is no way I would have taken that flight to Philadelphia. A competent speechwriter could have conveyed this information in mid-February without triggering panic. Millions of people would have taken precautions weeks earlier than they did, sparing the country hundreds of thousands of infections and fatalities. And the compromised lemmings in the right-wing media wouldn’t have spent months telling their enormous audiences that there was nothing to worry about, that it was all just a hoax designed to reverse the results of the 2016 election. Advertisement

While you can understand why the president wouldn’t want to get up and tell everyone to hoard bulk goods from Costco (which they did anyway!), there is simply no excuse for lying to people who subsequently got themselves and their loved ones sick or killed with actions they would not have taken had President Trump just told them the unvarnished truth: that something wicked was this way coming, that their lives were soon going to be upended, and that they would have to make painful adjustments to their daily lives to avert mass catastrophe.

That’s why my reaction after reading news reports about the book wasn’t to wonder about how many points the ensuing scandal would or wouldn’t add to Joe Biden’s polling lead, or to ponder the ethics of Woodward sitting on this vital information for seven long months, but rather something that has become increasingly rare in the Trump era: crushing shock.

It struck me anew how unfathomable it is, or should be, that the person entrusted with the presidency, whose actions and inactions can have terrible and unforeseen consequences for millions of people, purposefully concealed his own knowledge about the coming of one of the worst crises to afflict humanity in close to a century. The selfishness and the bad faith are staggering. While Trump couldn’t have stopped COVID-19 from getting here, his lies and inexcusable inaction sent a lot of people to their graves and caused millions of others to this day not to take this virus seriously. Advertisement

The decision to hide the seriousness of the crisis was arguably the most destructive single decision ever made by an American president. And we will be living with the long tail of its terrible consequences for many years to come.

Recovering from Covid-19 in India: ‘I can’t get the images out of my head’ September 15th 2020

A man wearing a face mask looks on from a gate in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir, India on 12 September 2020.
image captionThere is fear in India as Covid-19 cases continue to surge

In India, relentlessly rising case numbers are causing another emergency – serious mental health problems among Covid-19 patients, writes the BBC’s Vikas Pandey. Rajesh Tiwari, 42, has developed a serious phobia for any screen which is bigger than his mobile phone. He thinks big screens, especially TV sets and computer monitors, are giant creatures who can attack him. Mr Tiwari began experiencing hallucinations after a long stay in an intensive care unit. In early June he had tested positive for coronavirus and he was admitted to a private hospital as his condition worsened. Five days later he was put on a ventilator. Mr Tiwari recovered after nearly three weeks in the hospital. But he soon realised that his recovery was not complete.”I am better now because I sought treatment, but the first few weeks after my discharge from the hospital were very difficult,” he said in an interview.

Health Workers carry COVID 19 patient in ambulance in New Delhi
image captionMany cities have been struggling to cope with the rise in cases

Mr Tiwari’s family was elated to bring him home, but after a while they realised that everything was not right with him. One day, he screamed at the TV set and attempted to smash it. The family had to stop watching TV and nobody was allowed to use laptops at home. Mr Tiwari said he was struggling to forget the images of monitors constantly beeping and flashing numbers in the ICU.Amit Sharma and his family had a similar experience. Mr Sharma, 49, spent 18 days in the ICU and saw people die every day. Young and old, men and women – all kinds of Covid-19 patients were dying around him. “One day, two patients around me died and their bodies were there for several hours,” he said. “I just can’t get those images out of my head. I still fear Covid might kill me.” Mr Sharma is struggling to forget the traumatic experience. He became very quiet at home after his recovery, his uncle said. “And whenever he talked, it was always about the patients he had seen dying in the Covid ward,” he said.

In this photograph taken on July 15, 2020 a COVID-19 coronavirus patient lies on a bed at the Intensive Care Unit of the Sharda Hospital, in Greater Noida
image captionICU is most of India’s hospitals have been flooded with Covid patients

Many recovering coronavirus patients in India are experiencing mental health distress, said Dr Vasant Mundra, a senior psychiatrist at Mumbai’s PD Hinduja hospital, particularly those who were on a ventilator or spent a long time in an ICU.”The brain is already exhausted by the time you get to the hospital. And then the mayhem of the Covid wards overwhelms your senses,” Dr Mundra said.Covid-19 patients are not allowed to meet family and they don’t get to see the faces of their doctors and nurses, who are wearing protective masks at all times. That was disrupting patients’ ability to form trust with their doctor, said Dr A Fathahudeen, the head of the critical care department at Ernakulam Medical College in southern India, in turn disrupting their recovery.

An old man looking outside with grief in the time of COVID-19 and hoping for those safe and pure days to come again, Nabagram, Hooghly, West Bengal, India.

Recovery from coronavirus can be a lonely experience, and doctors say when a patient experiences life threatening events as well the chance of post traumatic stress drastically increases. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, flashbacks, and hallucinations, Dr Mundra said. And yet, mental health issues associated with coronavirus patients are not getting enough attention, doctors warn. There are few mentions in government press conferences or in the media. Prominent mental health expert Dr Soumitra Pathare said he was not surprised. “What you are seeing during the pandemic is a reflection of India’s poor investment in mental health facilities,” he said.India lacks facilities and experts to treat mental health patients, and the situation is worse in smaller towns where people are often not able even to recognise symptoms.

A migrant worker Ajay Kumar, 33, who's stuck in New Delhi, is dejected after he tried to book his train ticket multiple times in which he eventually failed to succeed in New Delhi, India on 13 May 2020. He is keen to join back his family. (
image captionMillions of people in India have lost their jobs during the pandemic

Much of India’s mental health treatment infrastructure is concentrated in cities, leaving 80%-90% of the population with little or no access to mental health specialists, said Dr Pathare – adding that the gap is becoming clearer during the pandemic. If the government failed to recognise and address the problem soon India would be facing a “mental health pandemic”, he said.A good starting point would be making people more aware of symptoms, Dr Pathare said. And the next step would be to improve mental health facilities, especially in smaller towns. “I am aware it won’t happen overnight, but we have to start somewhere,” he said.

Two doctors inside a hospital in Allahabad city
image captionDoctors are working in special Covid-19 wards across the country

Kamna Chhibber, the head of the mental health department at Fortis hospital in Delhi, said she had witnessed a sharp rise in the number of people reaching out for help during the pandemic. A long lockdown, uncertainty over the future, and the need to be constantly alert had made people more anxious, and more people were coming to the hospital to talk generally about anxiety and depression, Ms Chhibber said.The problem was becoming “more serious with each passing day”, she said.Doctors are now urging for mental health to be addressed as part of post-Covid treatment protocols. Each hospital needed to do something, said Dr Fathahudeen, or “we may save people from Covid but lose them to depression and PTSD”.The names of the patients have been changed to protect their identities.

‘A tale of 2 recessions’: As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half struggles  Posted September 16th 2020

The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7.

The burden is falling heavily on the poorest Americans, who are more likely to be out of work and less likely to have savings to lean on to weather the crisis. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images


09/07/2020 07:00 AM EDT

The path toward economic recovery in the U.S. has become sharply divided, with wealthier Americans earning and saving at record levels while the poorest struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table.

The result is a splintered economic picture characterized by high highs — the stock market has hit record levels — and incongruous low lows: Nearly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and the jobless rate stands at 8.4 percent. And that dichotomy, economists fear, could obscure the need for an additional economic stimulus that most say is sorely needed.

The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7, a group of major developed countries. Spiraling inequality can also contribute to political and financial instability, fuel social unrest and extend any economic recession.


U.S. workers filed 881K claims for jobless benefits last week


The growing divide could also have damaging implications for President Donald Trump’s reelection bid. Economic downturns historically have been harmful if not fatal for incumbent presidents, and Trump’s base of working-class, blue-collar voters in the Midwest are among the demographics hurting the most. The White House has worked to highlight a rapid economic recovery as a primary reason to reelect the president, but his support on the issue is slipping: Nearly 3 in 5 people say the economy is on the wrong track, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Democrats are now seizing on what they see as an opportunity to hit the president on what had been one of his strongest reelection arguments.

“The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Friday. “No one thought they’d lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down en masse. But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we didn’t have, and still don’t have.”

Recent economic data and surveys have laid bare the growing divide. Americans saved a stunning $3.2 trillion in July, the same month that more than 1 in 7 households with children told the U.S. Census Bureau they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food. More than a quarter of adults surveyed have reported paying down debt faster than usual, according to a new AP-NORC poll, while the same proportion

And while the employment rate for high-wage workers has almost entirely recovered — by mid-July it was down just 1 percent from January — it remains down 15.4 percent for low-wage workers, according to Harvard’s Opportunity Insights economic tracker.

“What that’s created is this tale of two recessions,” said Beth Akers, a labor economist with the Manhattan Institute who worked on the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “There are so obviously complete communities that have been almost entirely unscathed by Covid, while others are entirely devastated.”

Trump and his allies have seized on the strength of the stock market and positive growth in areas like manufacturing and retail sales as evidence of what they have been calling a “V-shaped recovery”: a sharp drop-off followed by rapid growth.

But economists say that argument fails to see the larger picture, one where roughly a million laid-off workers are filing for unemployment benefits each week, millions more have seen their pay and hours cut, and permanent job losses are rising. The economy gained 1.4 million jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, but the pace of job growth has slowed at a time when less than half of the jobs lost earlier this year have been recovered.

Some economists have begun to refer to the recovery as “K-shaped,” because while some households and communities have mostly recovered, others are continuing to struggle — or even seeing their situation deteriorate further.

“If you just look at the top of the K, it’s a V — but you can’t just look at what’s above water,” said Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “There could be a whole iceberg underneath it that you’re going to plow into.”

The burden is falling heavily on the poorest Americans, who are more likely to be out of work and less likely to have savings to lean on to weather the crisis. While recessions are always hardest on the poor, the coronavirus downturn has amplified those effects because shutdowns and widespread closures have wiped out low-wage jobs in industries like leisure and hospitality.

Highly touted gains in the stock market, meanwhile, help only the wealthiest 10 percent or so of households, as most others own little or no stock.

The disconnect between the stock market and the broader economy has been stark. On the same day in late August that MGM Resorts announced it would be laying off a quarter of its workforce, throwing some 18,000 workers into unemployment, its stock price jumped more than 6 percent, reaching its highest closing price since the start of March.

“The haves and the have-nots, there’s always been a distinction,” Sahm said. But now, she added, “we are widening this in a way I don’t think people have really wrapped their head around.”

Without further stimulus, the situation appears poised to get worse. Economic growth until now had been led by increasing levels of consumer spending, buoyed by stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits that gave many people, including jobless workers, more money to spend.

Low-income consumers have led the way, and they spent slightly more in August than they did in January, according to the Opportunity Insights tracker — even as middle- and high-income consumers are still spending less.

But those low-income consumers were also the most dependent on the extra $600 per week in boosted unemployment benefits, which expired in July. Since that lapsed — and since Congress appears unlikely to extend it any time soon, if at all — “we’re likely to see other macroeconomic numbers really fall off a cliff in the coming weeks,” Akers said.

The expected drop in spending, paired with the expiration of economic relief initiatives like the Paycheck Protection Program, could also spell trouble for businesses in the coming months. Many economists expect a wave of bankruptcies and business closures in the fall, contributing to further layoffs.

In that sector, too, owners are feeling disparate impacts. More than 1 in 5 small business owners reported that sales are still 50 percent or less than where they were before the pandemic, according to a recent survey from the National Federation of Independent Business, and the same proportion say they will need to close their doors if current economic conditions do not improve within six months.

At the same time, however, half said they are nearly back to where they were before, and approximately 1 in 7 owners say they are doing better now than they were before the pandemic, the survey showed.

Those diverging narratives could be understating the need for further stimulus by smoothing over some of the deeper weaknesses in the labor market and the economy, experts say.

“This is a case where the averages tell a different story than the underlying data itself,” said Peter Atwater, an adjunct economics professor at William & Mary.


HHS Chief Alex Azar overrode FDA officials to ease coronavirus testing rules.

Confirmed U.S. Cases: 6,603,509 | U.S. Deaths: 195,727

How coronavirus will change the world permanently

Coronavirus cases, tracked state by state

Are you a health care worker? Tell us what you’re seeing


While Republicans appear to be embracing the idea of further “targeted” aid, they are also touting what Trump has called a “rocket-ship” economic recovery and emphasizing record-breaking growth while downplaying the record-breaking losses that preceded it.

“There’s no question the recovery has beat expectations,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, this week on a press call with reporters.

Talks between the White House and Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have been stalled for weeks. The Senate is set to return from its summer recess next week with no clear path forward on a relief package.

“People are in these bubbles,” Atwater said. “And if people aren’t leaving their homes, are not really getting out, it’s unlikely that they’re seeing the magnitude of the downside of this K-shaped recovery.”

Fire at R.J Cook’s house September 13th 2020

The fire brigade were called , all the way from Buckingham,to deal with my smouldering bonfire this evening- at a neighbours behest.

Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Feminist Police State by R.J Cook September 12th 2020

Some of us believe the real Nazis are already in charge.

The Nazis realised the importance of winning over women to their pernicious cause.

There is a myth that humans learn from history.  Humans are herd or tribal animals led by crafty unscrupulous interest groups.

Ironically we have three major religions rooted in Judaism.  They are Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all highly political movements with histories of violence and corruption.  All three offer the conceited notion that humans are special, with free will and created in the creators image.

On the one hand we must take seriously all of the selective so called ‘science’ about the origins, spread and lockdown requirements of Covid 19 but there is no need for science so far as religious worship is concerned.

To believe in something without evidence is pleasantly known as ‘inductive logic’.  That nomenclature, however, is not applied to anyone who believes in conspiracies, even when there is a truckload of evidence.  To question the modern police state , its methods and claims to be a democracy, is a sign of paranoia or subversive mindset.

So, when we look at feminism, we see a rather nasty quasi religious movement fostered and nourished by the international ruling elite, particularly in Britain and the U.S.A.

For me, the most interesting thing about feminism is how it never talks of problems that are not immediately related to the miseries and alleged suffering caused simply by being born woman.  It stands the Old Testament on its head, with men the source of evil and temptation rather Eve.  Once again, inductive logic applied to something created by inductive logic.  

The idea that men and women were not created by a larger version of themselves, having no cause or reason to worship something that doesn’t exist beyond group paranoia, is labelled blasphemy.  Equally, it seems that to question feminism with all its tenets about all white men being rapists and abusers of women is not allowed – it is hate speech.

One hesitates to bring race into the discussion, but there is a favourite term used by upper middle class media women- with a certain type of male supporter- to denigrate this group.  That term is ‘privileged white male.’

It interests me that there has never been so much social breakdown across the globe, coincident with the feminist revolution in Western politics and the global economy which has encouraged elite greed, multiple wars, religious escapism, crime, drug abuse, world wide disease and so much more.

The White Anglo Saxon Protestant elite ( WASPS ) have always been one jump ahead, dividing and ruling the masses with spurious belief systems and other tricks, but historically their trickery involves mass bloodshed- while they direct the battle from a safe distance.

So now we have the police state, Corona virus reinfection rate exceeding one in high density BAME areas like Birmingham.  The call is for more lockdown regardless of how many more bankruptcies, how much more unemployment, homelessness, other illnesses caused, or suicides this self interested elite police state lockdown caused.

There will be jobs for new lockdown marshals, and no shortage of applicants in ‘ Police State Britain.’  The government had made up its mind there would be  a second wave of this so called killer virus.  At the moment they are talking about us experiencing the second peak of the first wave.  Conveniently there will be no protests allowed, about anything.  Brain training is crucial. The latest wheeze is that young people are getting infected – according to dubious tests and related predictions – going on to infect the elderly.  

All of this gibberish will be welcomed and supported by self interested and self promoting feminists who are as crucial to this police state revolution as women had been in Nazi Germany.  Feminists are not feminine, they are puppets of the police state, their leading lights members of the elite over paid upper middle classes, talking down and chastising any woman who disagrees with them. The police state does not like individuals and the dissent they threaten.

Roberta Jane Cook

R,J Cook

Portland protesters predict demonstrations will continue at least through election

September 6, 2020 Nathan Howard

Protests against police brutality in Portland, Oregon, that were originally sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May, have continued for 100 straight days, The Associated Press reports, and demonstrators suggested it would be some time before they stopped.

Tupac Leahy, a 23-year-old Black man from Portland who told AP he has shown up for the protests on about 70 of the 100 days, predicted the demonstrations would last until November’s general election. “I don’t see it slowing down,” he said.

Another protester, Chelsea Jordan, said she plans to “keep at it until the full abandonment of the police, so I think it’s going to be a long fight.”

Portland is far from the only city in the U.S. to experience protests since Floyd’s killing, but it has been one of the central and most consistent sites of demonstrations, which have turned violent — and even deadly — at times, including Saturday night, when police declared a riot after protesters hurled Molotov cocktails into the street, igniting a fire. Police reportedly arrested more than 50 people, and videos appeared to show officers using tear gas to disperse the crowd (police confirmed the use of tear gas a defensive measure, per AP.) At least one community member was injured, police said.

Economist highlights difference between ‘ability’ and ‘willingness’ to reopen economy amid pandemic

September 6, 2020

The debate about which sectors of the economy are able to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

While there are certain policies and mitigation efforts in place that could allow businesses to reopen more safely, Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic adviser for Allianz, said Sunday that “you’re not going to see a quick recovery in all sectors” because individuals just won’t be ready to participate in the economy on a pre-pandemic scale as long as they harbor concerns about their own health.

In short, he said, “we have to understand there’s a difference between ability to work, reopen the economy, and willingness to work, willing to go in and engage in the economy. And until you improve both ability and willingness, we’re not going to get back to where we were.” Tim O’Donnell

#AugustJobsReport: @elerianm says incentivizing **and** protecting workers is key to reopening the economy. There’s a difference between the “ability to work” and the “willingness to work,” he tells @jdickerson

“We’ve got to do both. We’ve got to reopen in a healthy fashion.”

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) September 6, 2020

I’m a Body Language Expert. Here’s What I Saw During the Conventions. By Joe Navaro, former FB1 Agent  September 5th 2020

Donald Trump and Joe Biden gave away more than they thought over the past two weeks.

I’ve been a specialist in nonverbal communication for nearly 50 years, 25 of them as an FBI agent. As the Democratic and Republican national conventions unfolded, I watched clips of their speakers on mute—Nancy Pelosi, Melania Trump, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rudy Giuliani and others—to observe what they were communicating outside the words they were speaking. Then I turned the sound on to see if it matched or conflicted.

These unspoken messages matter. As carefully as a speech may be written, what speakers communicate with their body language and physical appearance—from the waving of a hand to the twitch of a lip—often sticks with viewers even more so than any turn of phrase. Here’s what I noticed:

At the beginning of Joe Biden’s speech, we see the tension of the moment when he does what’s called a “hard swallow.” Even for a gifted speaker who is used to public speaking, this is still a tense moment, as he accepts the nomination. And, for a split second, in spite of his broad, friendly smile, it shows in that one small facial distortion. He compresses his lips after saying, “I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election.” With the audio on, you can hear his voice crack slightly, again a result of the natural tension one would expect from such an event. It’s obvious that he takes seriously the gravity of what’s happening. He’s been preparing all his life for this moment. It’s not a stutter or age-related thing, just a subconscious behavior that speakers use to deal with a little bit of stress when we say something of emotional magnitude.

Notice here the squinting of his eyes and the finger pointing. He does this for emphasis, to demonstrate that what he is saying is important, it has gravitas. The furrowing of his glabella, the area between the eyes, conveys that what he is saying should be troubling. Even without sound, you know he’s serious about something. When I turn the sound on to see what he said, it’s: “The president still does not have a plan. Well I do.” He says these last three words with a firm, assertive voice that makes us pay attention.

We are trained to look at the glabella even as babies. You can do this as an experiment to see it in action: If you furrow your glabella and squint your eyes at a baby, they’ll react negatively, probably with crying. From a very young age, we’re primed to look at this section of the face to gauge whether everything is OK, and when we see this particular look, we recognize it as a “serious face.”

Notice how Senator Kamala Harris is compressing the lips at each corner of her mouth. This is indicative of disdain and, in this case, as I listened then to the video, for those who would harbor racists views. This is the moment where she says, “there is no vaccine for racism.” We pinch the corner of the mouth to say nonverbally, “I’m not satisfied.” The moment I saw it, I knew she was saying she was not happy with something. And it turned out I was right. When she talks about racism, she’s saying that it’s just not OK the same way a parent might convey a similar message to a misbehaving child.

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking, notice she arches her eyebrows. This is what I like to call “the human exclamation point.” It’s a gravity-defying behavior: We expend energy only when we are passionate about something, and in this case, she’s describing how proud she is of the size of her caucus and how many women are in it. She wants the viewer to pay attention to her confidence, and by repeatedly arching her eyebrows, she says: Don’t just listen to my words, listen to my body language as well. She finishes her speech with a “steeple,” the finger points together, which is another sign of confidence.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was only given a very short segment in the DNC, but when it came to her nonverbal presentation, she was very effective. Without listening to what she’s saying, you can see that she’s a good speaker. Unlike Biden, her eyes are wide open and relaxed. What this tells the viewer is that she is confident and comfortable with what she is saying, and that’s really important in public speaking. What we look for as viewers without even knowing we’re looking for it is whether the speaker makes us comfortable. That’s often conveyed through body language. Ocasio-Cortez is clearly adept with this medium, and it shows in her body language.

Most importantly, she’s not overly dramatic; she’s not raising her voice—and you can tell even without the sound. Her comfort here should make viewers comfortable—and perhaps opponents uncomfortable.

As the camera follows Jill Biden in a classroom, we notice how comfortable she is in this setting, how fluidly she moves and speaks, as if she has done this all her life. Our brains react to movement with an orientation reflex that basically follows any movement, so her walking makes us pay attention to her. We can also appreciate that she comes from a working background, by the environment she has chosen. It humanizes her.

With the wave of a hand, she communicates “this is my realm.” It’s a welcoming gesture. In this particular moment, we also see that her thumbs are in the up position, which we do to let others know that we are speaking with confidence. She’s letting people know that she is confident that she fits right in and that we should be confident with her as a public figure.

Michelle Obama uses a number of hand gestures to emphasize, to demark, to point, to chop effectively, all of which add to the message she is sending. Because it’s on a Zoom-like medium and not on a stage, these behaviors are elevated to be in frame, but it doesn’t look contrived. Whatever she is saying, you know it is important. It made her delivery—saying that we have got to vote like our lives depend on it—more impactful.

Here we see a very powerful gesture with Kimberly Guilfoyle’s hands spread out wide away from the body, fingers spreading apart for emphasis. These kinds of gestures scream for attention and contribute to understanding the intensity of sentiment expressed. One cannot look away.

However, a very expansive gesture is great if you’re in an auditorium, but here you have a small screen. Even the cameraman or director noticed that and switched to a wider shot. Similarly, you can tell even with the sound off that she’s talking in a very loud voice. It feels discordant in this setting. This manner of presentation is too theatrical. Performances need to meet the audience, and if there’s no audience there, you should shape your performance around that. Most people don’t remember what politicians say, but we remember the presentation. It’s interesting to me that a woman who has always taken care of how she presents herself, including as a TV host, didn’t register that her message would be better conveyed if it were more suited to the format. Viewers register the disconnect, and that’s what sticks with them.

During his convention speech, Don Jr. tilts his head, cocking it slightly and squinting his eyes while at the same time making a wide gesture with his hands. Together, it conveys that he’s incredulous or suspicious about something. His body language communicates something to the effect of saying sarcastically, “Can you believe that?” In reality, at this particular moment, he says: “People of faith are under attack. You’re not allowed to go to church. But mass chaos in the streets gets a pass.” Some of these behaviors, like his slight twitch of the head and askance facial expression, are so fast that they’re what’s called “tachykinesic.” We don’t consciously realize that we notice it, but it registers subconsciously.

Senator Tim Scott is clearly a very dynamic speaker. Here we see two behaviors of interest: the furrowing of the glabella that communicates that he is troubled by something (even before he emphasizes that again with the shake of his head), and the pinched thumb and index finger, which is called a “precision grip.” This is usually used to indicate we are thinking about or articulating something very precisely. Both behaviors add to the message making it more powerful. He also emphasizes his message by leaning in slightly, and he punctuates it by arching his eyebrows, like Pelosi did. The viewer understands without even hearing his speech that he is an important figure with an important message.

What was most noticeable about Melania Trump’s speech was that she appeared to be someone who is not used to public speaking. We have to keep in mind that maybe this is not a role she would have wished for, but she is obviously willing to give it her best. She’s clearly reading from a teleprompter, and you see some tension in her face and neck that conveys some nervousness and straining. If you were to show this to an audience unfamiliar with who she is, they might say that she looks a little stressed. I don’t want to speculate too much, but the question our brains ask is: Do we see a high degree of comfort? And, politics aside, I don’t think we do. We don’t see a relaxed face.

What does that ultimately mean? Politics will still dictate how people felt about this, but as an ethologist, someone who studies behavior, I don’t think her tension depends on what she had to say but rather on the fact that she had to do this at all. She may not be uncomfortable with the message, but she appears very uncomfortable with the setting.

Kellyanne Conway’s speech struck me as really strange, because we know she is used to speaking to the public. Here, her arms were stuck to the side of her body, which is not normal for her. She knows how to convey effective messaging, but this is not that. The energy and emphasis that we would normally see is lacking. The human brain seeks to see the hands, and public speakers usually use that to communicate effectively. I’ve seen her talk to the media at the White House, but here we see a much more restrained face, and, most noticeably, her arms don’t leave her side. You can speculate all you want about what psychological forces might have been acting on her, but what matters to me is that the presentation was unusual and the audience registers that, even if they can’t articulate it.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s segment was another that was very effective in terms of nonverbal communication. On mute, his gestures are very relaxed and comforting, and when you turn the sound on, his tone of voice affirms that. His cadence simultaneously puts the viewer at ease and commands their attention. He comes across as cool, calm and collected. The stagecraft also evokes patriotism in a way that makes a lapel flag pin that nearly everyone else feels compelled to wear unnecessary. You understand that he served his country.

As a speaker, it is clear he is confident, and his gestures—open palms in the vertical “receptive” position—are consistent with his message. All of what’s communicated nonverbally here says: Listen to me because I’m important. He does it really well, and without knowing anything about him or his politics, I can tell that he’s a leader.

Rudy Giuliani pinches the corners of his mouth slightly, which is a signal of disdain or contempt. When I listened back, I saw that he was talking about “progressive Democrats.” Anytime you see air quotes, you know someone’s introducing something they’re going to ridicule, and then you see that reaffirmed with the pinching of his lips. You also can tell that he turns his head a little bit askance, like Don. Jr. did.

While there was no shortage of commentary about Melania Trump’s facial expression when Ivanka Trump joined the stage at the White House before Donald Trump’s speech, I think many people were reading too much into the moment. It may have appeared like she was betraying some deeper feelings about her stepdaughter. But in this case, I believe the simplest explanation is likely the right one: that Melania’s smile momentarily lapsed as she turned her head. It’s certainly awkward on camera, but overall, the first lady appears much more relaxed and comfortable standing alongside her husband in front of a crowd than she did earlier, when she had to speak on his behalf.

You can also see the contempt conveyed during President Donald Trump’s speech with the pinching of his lips. When you turn the sound on, you hear that he’s talking about mayhem in Democratic cities. But what stands out the most from his performance is the way he leans against the podium. It conveys that this is a very comfortable kind of space for Trump, and you don’t really see it in this kind of public speaking. Normally, a president isn’t this relaxed. It’s more common with smaller groups—for example, a professor speaking to a class might take on this position. He’s not just holding the podium but putting his weight on it, which you can see by the angle of his shoulders. For viewers, the White House is something almost reverent, and we are primed to want to see nonverbal communication consistent with the highest office. When we see behavior like this, it feels discordant and not very presidential.

Obviously, there are people who like that about Trump, who like that he doesn’t adhere to traditional notions of respectability but rather conveys open disdain for Democrats. Is he too cavalier? That’s up to the politics of the viewer. There’s no disagreement that all people are clearly receiving the message he’s giving off.

Comment  This old FBI man obviously loves female body language so long as they are ‘DEMOCRATS’ ( SIC ).  He finds some very interesting positives in old ‘Sleepy Joe’s’ body language, very presidential etc.  There is an interesting game being played with the black voters.  ‘If y’re votin’ fer Trump y’ ain’t democrat’ he slurs.’  I notice that our FBI trained social controller doesn’t explain Biden’s body language when it comes to females, even very young ones.  

I have no favourites in this presidential race.  Biden is most unlikely to complete his term, so this is a build up to a black female president.  Whichever way one looks at it, it is, as always image over substance.  However, the media bias and intrusion of pseudo science into electioneering should be a cause for concern.

Conflict between the U.S’s millions of poorly educated black and white poor ( the demonised ones ) is going to get worse, especially through the State refusal to face facts about Covid19 because the elite need it.  So the Democrats make pledges to blacks because their voting fodder is crucial to this election. Class is the real issue worldwide, but that is a truth the elite do not want us to think about.  R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook

Race To The Top September 4th 2020

Why do such peculiar people become presidential candidates ?

Why would a female academic in the U.S.A lie that she is black?  Apart from her dreadlocks it was obvious that she is white.

One commentator claimed that this was as normal as changing sex. That is nonsensical because gender is not race and the reality of a transsexuals birth gender cannot be denied. Transsexuals are a much softer target than ethics and those who use them to virtue signal.

Was this woman on the make or delusional ? Whatever, her race deception and fanatsy has earned her a lucrative book deal rather than jail.

There are all sorts of theories designed to obscure the most obvious reason.  That reason is that, with all of the positive discrimination about how women and blacks are a long suffering underclass, this woman was making a false claim to be part of this poor underclass for career advantage.  The only other possible explanation is that she is insane.

Whatever next ? Krug is a wonderful example of fake upper middle class white ethnic loving parasitical overpaid liberals who poison our education system and so much else in society.

R.J Cook

Islamic Sensibilities Most Important September 4th 2020 R.J Cook

Islamic Sensibilities were offended by Paris Charlie Hebdo Mag, so offending journalists were killed.

Five years have passed since Islamic maniacs slaughtered staff at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris.   We are repeatedly told that black lives matter.  These murder victims were white.

Muslims show their colours by claiming right to decide what is and isn’t free speech with posts like this one.

Islam was a spin off from Christianity, which in turn was a spin off from Judaism.  The latter two religions modernised, Islam did not.  The British dominated the Middle East and Indian sub continent.  

Here in these places, this arrogant elite stoked up religious bigotry to make stealing resources fairly simple.  Divide and rule work well, especially when mixed with religious bigotry and ignorance.

Christianity used to be a tyranny, with monarchs using it to terrify the masses and stop them lending money – leaving the money lending and banking to a Jewish monopoly via the Usury Laws.  Kings did not want anyone getting richer than them.

The Crusades were about warring between the two tyrannies of Christianity and Islam. The latter was confined to the Middle East, India and parts of Africa where it did a good job to date making sure the masses thought mainly about God, rather than the real reasons that they were led by con artists who were keeping them stupid and poor.

This is where satire comes in.  One doesn’t have to say much to upset the average Muslim.  The Muslims are not in to multi culture and never will be. Transsexuals or their women marrying white or black non Muslims makes them very scared and angry.

Charlie Hebdo republishes images that so offended Muslim Lunatics that they visited Hebo offices murdering all they found there.

British Muslim Writer Salaman Rushdie was condemned to death for his ‘Satanic Verses’ because it presented his version of truth about Islam.  This was in Britain.

There is only one truth according to Muslims, most of whom will never have read the Koran – a spin off from the Jewish Old Testament..  There is a very strong element of hypnotism involved in religious ritualism.  You cannot talk sense to a person in a trance.

It was a long struggle to push back the church control in Europe and the U.S. In Britain, the Monty Python team caused outrage with ‘The Life of Brian’ film, especially to the likes of Mary Whitehouse because it portrayed Jesus, using the name Brian, as a stupid con man among gullible people.  

Her and narrow minded die hards wanted the film banned.  The religious tyrants have always banned threatening ideas.  Left to Rome, there would have been no English Reformation, with all the new ideas that led to an Industrial Revolution.  

Europe would have remained, like the Middle East and whole Third World, living in an endless Dark Age praying to a non existent God for a better life after death. This is why Charlie Hebdo so offended and so many of its’ staff died for presenting cartoons of God. As with Judaism, the trick was never to show images or descriptions of God.  

This hides the absurdity of the concept, avoiding matters of said God’s size, substance, race, gender and beauty/or lack of it. It has to be a vague concept free from ridicule, criticism or humour.  

God must be feared all the more for us not knowing anything real about what we are dealing with. To contradict this tenet brings out the absolute mania, hatred and violence of the terrified religious bigot who kills what it sees as absolute evil.

Unfortunately, as the Christian Church receded and re branded , the State moved in to fill the vacuum.  New age liberals are desperate to please an ever expanding Islamic population – due to mass immigration and high birth rates.  

Thus we have a creepy ‘liberal’ ( sic ) agenda to cosset Muslim nut case killers in the name of race relations, so they tell us that right wing terrorist are a bigger problem and we are all racists if we think otherwise.

R.J Cook Sept 2020

According to ‘The New York Tomes’Aleksei Navalny Was Poisoned With Novichok,Because  German ‘Authorities’ Say So. September 3rd 2020

By Michael Schwirtz and Melissa Eddy  New York Times

The German government said that toxicology tests showed the Russian opposition leader was poisoned with a nerve agent from the same class used in a 2018 attack in Britain on an ex-Soviet spy.

Soon after a private plane carrying the poisoned Russian opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, touched down in Berlin last month, doctors treating him at the prestigious Charité hospital there became so alarmed, they called in the Army.

Mr. Navalny was certainly not suffering from low blood sugar, as the Russian doctors who first treated his mysterious illness had claimed, or even a standard detective-novel poison like arsenic or cyanide.

The German government said that toxicology tests showed the Russian opposition leader was poisoned with a nerve agent from the same class used in a 2018 attack in Britain on an ex-Soviet spy.

Soon after a private plane carrying the poisoned Russian opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, touched down in Berlin last month, doctors treating him at the prestigious Charité hospital there became so alarmed, they called in the Army.

Mr. Navalny was certainly not suffering from low blood sugar, as the Russian doctors who first treated his mysterious illness had claimed, or even a standard detective-novel poison like arsenic or cyanide.

It was, the German doctors suspected, something far more dangerous, requiring the attention of the Army’s chemical weapons specialists, German officials said.

It was, the German doctors suspected, something far more dangerous, requiring the attention of the Army’s chemical weapons specialists, German officials said.”

This extract is the Western Media’s official view.  We heard it all before with the Salisbury Poisonings – now a heavily biased mainstream film story.

The British and American public – who heavily influence Europe- are susceptible to propaganda and fear.  They have learned to mainline on it.  Russia is back big time as the bogey man.  

We saw it with the Douma affair, when the Russians warned of a fake chemical weapons attack, where a report from Western biased OPCW was edited to suit an Anglo U.S cover up . Then there was fitting Russia up over dubious sports doping allegations- where the U.S and U.K were covering up their own teams crimes.  One could go on.  Britain, U.S and the rest of the 5 Is are unscrupulous.  They could have poisoned the Russian ‘Opposition’ leader to discredit Vladimir Putin.

Navalny is no innocent.  He was a massive beneficiary of the corrupt Yeltsin era – Yeltsin and Bill Clinton adored each other, sharing many interests .  Navalny cares not for Russia’s working class and poor.  He is part of the Western led alliance for worldwide regime change.  This is a mindset so dangerous that risking Navalny’s life, even killing him is not beyond them.  

A martyr would be most helpful, assuming the illness is Novichok related.  Russia may have invented the weapon, but the formula is known and capable of manufacture in any advanced environment. In this case there has been nothing like the panic or fallout from Salisbury.  

But everyone accepted our elite blaming Russia in Salisbury, as they will in this case.  The Third World War is happening, with the weird

Covid 19 mystery obviously a part of it.  For the moment open warfare is confined to the Middle East and is about elite oil control -not democracy like the ones faked in the west.  

Intelligent people should be concerned as to where these power games might lead.  With 10% of the world’s population owning more wealth than the rest of the world put together -controlling most of it – the situation is highly unstable.  People like Navalny are presented as democrats.  

Like so many who hide behind this banner, they are false living to protect and increase their wealth as they have done massively well out of lockdowns while the masses are ground down even more and will pay ever higher taxes for what ever passes for a recovery.

Roberta Jane Cook

California Has Australian Problems Now September 2nd 2020

By David Wallace-Wells

It seems the more the world over populates, the sum of human intelligence is diluted it diminishes becauase the elite panders to an ever lower common denominator, making life very easy for the ruling elite to divide and rule in the name of humanitarianism. I suppose it is quite funny. As God is supposed to have said ‘The Fire Next Time.’

California is Australia now. Beginning late last year, in what is already known as the country’s Black Summer, bushfires burned through 46 million acres, or 72,000 square miles; killed several billion animals, pushing a number of species to extinction or the brink of it; flooding Sydney with air so thick with smoke ferries couldn’t navigate its harbor and fire alarms in office buildings rang out, registering the smoke as proof the building itself was in flame; and forcing beachfront evacuations in scenes that crossed Dunkirk with Mad Max.

The situation today in California isn’t yet quite as grim, although this week CalFire advised every citizen of the state — all 40 million of them — to be prepared to evacuate. Already, more than 100,000 already have. When I first began writing this article, 500,000 acres had been burned in the state; when I finished writing it, the it was 600,000, and when it was done being edited, it was 700,000 — a number that would have been, in recent memory, a historically devastating year of fire. In just five days, more land had burned than in all of 2019. And the number kept growing—well past a million acres to 1.25 million. In the Bay Area, the two Lightning Complex fires — in wildfire terminology, “complex” is when multiple blazes join forces — are now the second and third most destructive fires in the state’s history. The Complex could burn as many as a million acres, it’s been suggested—the state’s first “gigafire.” The lightning storms that set it off simultaneously ignited so many other wildfires the state authorities couldn’t keep track of all of them, just the 376 most significant ones. All told, more than ten thousand lightning strikes were recorded in a single day; the week saw 560 wildfires start. Big Basin Redwoods State Park has been burned through, prompting a conservation group to write, “We are devastated to report that Big Basin, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone.” These trees are between 800 and 1,500 years old. Some of them, older than Muhammad, had stood for a thousand years by the time Europeans first set foot in North America. The youngest of them are older than the Black Death, and precede the invention of the printing press by centuries. But the lamentations proved premature; reports immediately after the fire had them “scorched but still standing,” and NBC News later confirmed that most of the oldest trees in the park had survived the burn.

California has been on fire before, indeed in the distant past it burned this expansively quite regularly. What is most remarkable about the fires of 2020 is that these complexes are burning without the aid of dramatic wind, which is typically, even more than the tinder of dry scrub and forest, what really fuels California fire. Historically, this kind of burning is unimaginable in the absence of the Santa Ana winds; which is to say, believe it or not, things could be much, much worse. Indeed, the wind is actually calm, by and large, throughout the state, keeping the burning relatively contained but allowing the smoke to settle locally. Even so, the smoke covers nearly the entire western United States—choking 11 states and two Canadian provinces. And while two active, growing fires are already among the ten biggest ever to hit the state, we are only at just the very beginning of the fall fire season.

None of the initial reports in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, or the San Jose Mercury News even so much as mentioned climate change, though of course, especially in the absence of wind, the condition of the state’s landscape helps explain the outbreak (the frequency of extreme fire days has doubled since just the 1980s and is poised to grow even more in the decades ahead). And the signs of warming are unmistakable even looking past the fires, which, any Californian would tell you, you simply cannot. This past week, in Death Valley, a global temperature record was set, at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The next day, the forecast predicted 132. That is the temperature of steak cooked medium rare.

Fires are among the best and more horrifying propagandists for climate change — terrifying and immediate, no matter how far from a fire zone you live. They offer up vivid, scarring images it can be impossible not to read as portents of future nightmares even as they document present tragedies and horrors. In recent years, they have been a terrifying through-line: 2017’s golfing through the apocalypse, 2018’s Camp Fire evacuation videos, the image of a kangaroo back-lit by roiling orange like a fire diorama. This year’s fires in California have already produced such a photo, by Noah Berger, which reminds us that no wildfire, indeed no climate impact of any kind, unfolds in a vacuum, instead cascading upon communities often numbed to catastrophe even as they are made more and more vulnerable with each successive one. Notably, there are no people depicted, only a “Welcome” sign mordantly modified to offer pandemic guidance, in the hope that coordinated human response might protect us from that threat. It is less like a depiction of unfolding terror than a real-time relic from a world already lost.

A Hidden Tycoon, African Explosives, and a Loan from a Notorious Bank: Questionable Connections Surround Beirut Explosion Shipment September 1st 2020

Since the devastating explosion of a store of ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port on August 4, Lebanese citizens have taken to the streets in shock, outrage, and grief.

Beirut’s Grain Silo Was One Man’s Refuge Through Years of War. On August 4, It Was Where He Died

Read the story of one family’s loss from our partner

Above all, they have demanded answers: Where did the nearly 3,000 tons of explosive chemicals come from, and who owned it? Why did the rickety ship that brought the hazardous material to Lebanon end up stranded in the city’s port in late 2013? And how could the impounded chemicals sit for over half a decade in an unsafe warehouse before tragedy finally struck?

In Lebanon itself, the causes of the disaster appear to be tied to bureaucratic ineptitude. Just two weeks before the warehouse exploded, Lebanon’s president received an urgent report from the country’s security services warning him that the situation was critically dangerous.

The international side of the affair, on the other hand, quickly became lost in a maze of corporate and financial intrigue. Igor Grechushkin, the Russian man variously described as the owner or the operator of the Moldovan-flagged MV Rhosus, is said to have abandoned the vessel in Lebanon after declaring bankruptcy. The vessel’s deadly cargo had been purchased from the country of Georgia by a Mozambican firm that produces commercial explosives, via a British middleman trading firm linked to Ukraine.

The ownership of the Rhosus, and the companies that ordered the nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate to be transported halfway around the world in a rickety ship, are obscured by layers of secrecy that have stymied journalists and officials at every turn. Even the Lebanese government does not appear to know who actually owned the ship. Credit: Hannah McKay / Reuters A man stands near the Beirut blast site on August 11.

But an international team of investigative journalists has uncovered new facts about the lead-up to the explosion, which killed at least 182 people, injured over 6,000 and caused hundreds of thousands to lose their homes.

Reporters found that the circumstances for the tragedy were set in the baffling nowhere-world of offshore trade, where secretive companies and pliant governments allow questionable actors to work in the shadows.

Among those secretly connected to the Rhosus and its final voyage: a hidden shipping tycoon, a notorious bank, and businesses in East Africa previously investigated for ties to the illicit arms trade.

In their joint investigation spanning ten countries, reporters found that:

  • Igor Grechushkin did not own the Rhosus but was merely leasing it through an offshore company registered in the Marshall Islands. Instead, documents show that the true owner of the Rhosus was Charalambos Manoli, a Cypriot shipping magnate. Manoli denies this, but declined to provide documents to back up his claim.
  • Manoli owned the ship through a company registered in the notoriously secretive jurisdiction of Panama, which received its mail in Bulgaria. He registered it in Moldova, a land-locked Eastern European country that is notorious as a jurisdiction with lax regulations for vessels that fly its “flag of convenience.” To do this, he worked through another of his companies, Geoship, one of a handful of officially recognized firms that set foreign owners up with Moldovan flags. Then, yet another Manoli company, this one based in Georgia, certified the ship as seaworthy — even though it was in such bad shape it was impounded in Spain days later.
  • At the time of the Rhosus’ last voyage, Manoli was in debt to FBME, a Lebanese-owned bank that lost multiple licenses for alleged money laundering offenses, including helping the Shia militant group Hezbollah and a company linked to Syria’s weapons of mass destruction program. At one stage, the Rhosus was offered up as collateral to the bank.
  • The ultimate customer for the ammonium nitrate on the ship, a Mozambican explosives factory, is part of a network of companies previously investigated for weapons trafficking and allegedly supplying explosives used by terrorists.The factory never tried to claim the abandoned material.
  • The intermediary for the shipment, a British company that was dormant at the time, convinced a Lebanese judge in 2015 to get the ammonium nitrate tested for quality with the intent of claiming it. The stockpile was found to be in poor condition, and the company, Savaro Limited, did not try to take back the ammonium nitrate in the end.

The new revelations show how, at almost every stage, the Rhosus’ deadly shipment was connected to actors who used opaque offshore structures and lax government oversight to work in the shadows.

The revelations also expose the particular dangers posed by the lack of transparency in the maritime shipping industry, according to Helen Sampson, the director of Cardiff University’s Seafarers International Research Centre.

The findings “highlight all the weaknesses of the [maritime shipping] system and how they can be exploited by those who want to exploit them,” Sampson said. Credit: Edin Pašović Offshore companies and convoluted ownership structures helped obscure the true ownership of the MV Rhosus.

The Rhosus’ True Ownership

The Moldova-flagged ship that set out from the Georgian port of Batumi in September 2013, carrying over 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate made by a local factory and bound for Mozambique, was in poor shape. The decks were corroded, it lacked auxiliary power, and had problems with radio communication. The vessel stopped in Beirut to pick up more cargo and never left. It was detained first by creditors seeking debts from its operator, and later by port officials who considered it unsafe to sail.

After the ship was abandoned and impounded in 2014, leaving Ukrainian and Russian crew members stranded on board for 10 months, the ammonium nitrate was moved to a warehouse at the port. The ship eventually sank behind a breakwater, where its wreckage remains.

Following the Beirut explosion, media reports and government authorities have focused on one man as responsible for abandoning the ship and its cargo: Igor Grechushkin. A 43-year-old Russian citizen living in Cyprus, Grechushkin has been repeatedly identified as the Rhosus’ owner. He has avoided all attempts by OCCRP and other outlets to speak to him, although he was interviewed by Cypriot police at the request of Lebanese authorities on August 6.

🔗The Ship Owner Who Wasn’t

Igor Grechushkin has attracted attention around the world for his role in the Lebanon explosion. But public records suggest that he has a history of acting as a corporate officer in companies run by others. He was also convicted of aggravated theft in the mid-2000s in Russia’s far east, for reasons that remain unclear.

At different times between 2006 and 2013, Greschushkin served as the secretary of two Cyprus-registered companies: Lyncott Enterprises and Hogla Trading, which provided ship chartering and maritime services. Both companies listed another Russian citizen, Alexander Galaktionov, as the director.

Both Grechushkin and his wife Irina have lived in Cyprus for several years. He appears to travel often between the island and Moscow.

Grechushkin was born in August 1977 in the far-eastern Russian port town of Vanino where his extended family still lives. According to his now-deleted LinkedIn profile, he attended the Far Eastern Public Administration Academy. Show

But Grechuskin, on paper at least, did not own the Rhosus. Instead, through a company in the Marshall Islands called Teto Shipping, he had chartered the ship from a company in Panama, Briarwood Corporation, according to official records from Moldova’s Naval Agency. Credit: OCCRP The Rhosus’ registration details from Moldova’ Naval Agency.

Panama, a notoriously secretive offshore jurisdiction, does not make public the ownership of companies registered there. But by searching through court records in Cyprus, OCCRP journalists found a 2012 document showing that Briarwood belonged to Manoli.

Three of Manoli’s other companies helped the Rhosus obtain its Moldovan flag, issued its seaworthiness certificates, and provided intermediary services that helped keep the ship at sea though it was riddled with serious defects.

Manoli’s connection to the Rhosus did not stop there. Records show that another of his companies, Geoship Company SRL, was responsible for officially registering the ship in Moldova, which has notoriously lax regulations for transparency, safety, and crewing.

🔗The Mysterious Manoli

Charalambos Manoli was born in 1960 in Famagusta, a coastal city in what is now the Turkish-controlled part of Cyprus. After studying shipbuilding in Scotland, he returned to Cyprus to work as a ship inspector, and went on to found multiple shipping companies.

Manoli is best known in Cyprus for his role in local football. From 2014 to 2017, he headed Anorthosis Famagusta FC, one of the country’s most popular teams. In 2015, he unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of the Cyprus Football Association.

In 2002, Manoli established Acheon Akti Navigations Limited, a Limassol-based ship management company. In 2007, he established another firm, Interfleet Shipmanagement Limited. Show

A Georgian company then owned by Manoli, Maritime Lloyd, acted as the ship’s “classification society” — a body responsible for certifying that ships are seaworthy. The company was sold in 2019.

In late July 2013, Maritime Lloyd issued a certification claiming the Rhosus had been safely constructed, inspection records show. But just days later, port inspectors in Seville detained the ship, citing 14 defects, including problems with its auxiliary power system. Credit: OCCRP

Solving that latter problem was key to getting the Rhosus back at sea one last time — and it was another of Manoli’s companies that did it. In August 2013, two months before the ship set off on its final voyage from Batumi, Manoli’s Cypriot ship management company, Acheon Akti acted as an intermediary to rent a new generator from international equipment rental firm Aggreko, a company representative said by email. The unpaid hiring cost for this generator would become one of the debts that stuck the Rhosus at the Beirut port.

According to Cardiff University’s Sampson, the complex web of companies around the Rhosus was typical of those used to minimize costs and shield owners from accountability.

“If you’re sailing a ship that you know is unseaworthy then you have an incentive to hide your identity,” Sampson said.

“The fact that it appears that the owner of the Rhosus actually owns the classification society which issued the ship with its certificate of seaworthiness — I’d say that means that the certificate isn’t worth anything, really.”

🔗A Debt to a Dirty Bank

Court records in Cyprus and documents obtained by OCCRP also reveal that, just two years prior to the Rhosus’ final voyage, the ship’s owner, Manoli, took out a $4 million loan from FBME. The Tanzania-registered financial institution operated mainly via its branch in Cyprus, which has since been shuttered for allegedly acting as a major banker for groups and individuals connected to organized crime, terrorism, and weapons profilferation.

Manoli took out the loan in October 2011 to finance the purchase of another ship, the MV Sakhalin, the records show. Just a month later, a Belize company owned by Manoli, Seaforce Marine Limited, missed the first repayment, court records show. Manoli responded by offering up the Rhosus as additional collateral. In March 2012, FBME secured a freeze on Manoli’s Cyprus real estate holdings after hearing that he intended to sell the Rhosus.

Internal FBME records obtained by OCCRP show that over US$962,000 of Seaforce’s debt was still unpaid as of October 5, 2014, meaning the debt was still current when the Rhosus made its journey.

There is no evidence linking Manoli’s debt to FBME with the circumstances surrounding the Rhosus’ last journey. The existence of the loan, however, shows that Manoli had dealings with a bank that would soon become notorious as a clearing house for dirty money.

Founded by the Lebanese Saab family, FBME effectively went out of business after being sanctioned in mid-2014 by the US government. Among FBME’s clients, according to the U.S. Treasury, was a financier for Hezbollah, as well as an associate of the Lebanese Shiite militant group and his company in Tanzania. Another FBME customer was an alleged front company for Syrian efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Although the Rhosus was offered to FBME as collateral, it was never used for that purpose, both Manoli and the bank told OCCRP.

“The MV Rhosus was never collateral for the loan and FBME Bank never had any involvement either with its financing or ownership,” the bank said in a statement.

It confirmed that it had made the loan to Manoli’s Seaforce for the purchase of the MV Sakhalin.

“Neither Mr Manoli nor SeaForce Marine Ltd made any repayments towards the loan, and the Bank initiated legal proceedings against them. Since the Administrators took over the Bank in July 2014, we are unaware of the current status of the case.

In a series of interviews, Manoli gave reporters changing accounts of the ship’s ownership. He initially claimed that his Panama company, Briarwood, had sold the ship to Grechushkin’s Teto Shipping in May 2012.

When later presented with documents that showed Briarwood still owned the ship — and that it had merely been leased to Teto Shipping — Manoli revised his statement. He acknowledged that Briarwood had indeed leased the Rhosus to Teto Shipping in 2012. But he claimed that later, in August 2013, just before the ship’s last voyage, he had transferred all the shares in the Panama company to Grechushkin, making the Russian the effective owner of the ship.

Manoli agreed to allow reporters to view documents showing a share transfer or a contract of sale, but subsequently refused reporters’ attempts to set up a video call to do this.

Manoli also sought to distance the ship’s owner — who he claimed was Grechushkin — from culpability in the explosion.

“The cargo went to Lebanon in 2013. Not now. They confiscated the man’s ship over there. And he declared bankruptcy because of the confiscation of the ship,” he said by phone. “Given this, what’s the responsibility of this man if Lebanese authorities didn’t properly store this fertilizer?”

Manoli denied there was any conflict of interest in his operating the companies that helped register and certify the Rhosus.

Registry documents also show that the Panama company that owned the Rhosus, Briarwood, maintained its mailing address at a now-defunct company in Bulgaria, named Interfleet Shipmanagement. The owner, Nikolay Petrov Hristov, confirmed that the company was a junior partner of a Cypriot firm of the same name owned by Manoli.

Hristov claimed he froze the Bulgarian company in 2012 after Manoli got him involved with the Sakhalin’s FBME loan without his knowledge.

Manoli, however, said that Bulgaria’s Interfleet Management had nothing to do with Sakhalin other than “technical management.”

One Last Stop

While OCCRP’s investigation shows that Grechushkin didn’t own the Rhosus, he was involved in much of the vessel’s direct operation. The ship’s captain at the time of its last journey, says Grechushkin personally ordered him to dock the Rhosus in Beirut on its way to Mozambique.

The stated reason for the last-minute stop, according to the captain, Boris Prokoshev, was to pick up trucks and other cargo in order to pay for passage through the Suez Canal. But the plan was scrapped after the first truck loaded onto the vessel almost damaged its deck, Prokoshev said. Credit: Edin Pašović. The route traveled by the Rhosus on its last journey from Batumi, Georgia, to Beirut.

This account is backed up by a document obtained from Lebanon’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

Grechushkin soon abandoned the ship. Captain Prokoshev and three crew members, however, would spend the next 10 months trapped aboard the vessel by Lebanese authorities as creditors pursued Grechushkin for his debts. Lebanese inspectors who boarded the vessel in April 2014 said the crew had almost no food or money, and garbage was piling up on deck.

Correspondence held by Lebanese authorities show that on at least one occasion, in March 2014, Grechushkin did try to rescue the crew. Captain Prokoshev, however, complained soon afterwards that Grechushkin’s company had stopped paying their salaries and was avoiding all communication with them.

Lebanese authorities and the ship’s creditors apparently had no idea that Manoli was the owner of the ship. Neither Manoli nor his companies are mentioned in any Lebanese court documents obtained by reporters. Nor is there any indication that any attempt was made to contact him.

The Mozambique Connection

The owners of the Mozambican factory that ordered the ammonium nitrate did not attempt to retrieve the cargo after the Rhosus was seized.

Documents obtained by OCCRP show that the factory, Fabrica de Explosivos de Mocambique, is part of a network of companies with connections to Mozambique’s ruling elite. The companies had been investigated for illicit arms trafficking and supplying explosives to terrorists.

The factory is 95-percent owned by the family of the late Portuguese businessman Antonio Moura Vieira, through a company called Moura Silva & Filhos.

In an email, Antonio Cunha Vaz, a spokesman for Fabrica de Explosivos, said it had ordered the ammonium nitrate through Savaro Limited. When the shipment never arrived in Mozambique, they simply placed another order.

Moura Silva & Filhos was previously investigated for allegedly supplying explosives used in the 2004 train bombings in Madrid that killed almost 200 people. The following year, after receiving a tip from Spanish authorities, Portuguese police raided four warehouses belonging to the company, seizing 785 kilograms of explosives allegedly concealed from its inventory system.

The company is also linked to Mozambique’s first family and military. Fabrica de Explosivos’ current head, Nuno Vieira, has since 2012 been the business partner of Jacinto Nyusi, the son of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, with whom he owns an events and marketing company.

The same year, Vieira, together with Mozambican state investment company Monte Binga and the country’s secret service, founded Mudemol, a munitions and explosives manufacturer that supplied the military. Filipe Nyusi was the minister of defense at the time. Monte Binga has since been flagged by the United Nations for allegedly breaking international sanctions by involving itself in military deals with North Korea.

The explosives factory that was meant to receive the Rhosus’ cargo also shares an address with ExploAfrica, a company co-owned by the Vieira family. Confidential corporate and government documents shared by the Conflict Awareness Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit, show that ExploAfrica and its affiliates were investigated by South African and Portuguese authorities for obtaining U.S. and Czech weapons that later ended up in the hands of rhino and elephant poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Parks on the border with Mozambique.

A South African front company that was allegedly used to buy the weapons, Investcon, is closely tied to Maputo-based Bachir Suleman, designated by the US government as an alleged “drug kingpin”.

In an email, Antonio Cunha Vaz, a spokesman for Fabrica de Explosivos, said that staff members from Moura Silva & Filhos were interrogated by police but were cleared of any wrongdoing. He said the company’s business links to the Mozambican president’s son were transparent, and denied any connection to alleged drug kingpin Suleman.

“All the deals made by ExploAfrica were perfectly legal and …If there was any use of weapons for purposes not complying to the law, ExploAfrica is not responsible for them,” Cunha Vaz added.

Comment There are some very nasty unpleasant people in the world and they are not all white. Africa is highly unstable, overpopulated and corrupt. The continent is rife with consequent disease and poverty which its leaders like to export.

Superior upper middle class white fake liberalism just makes things worse. Poor, if any education coupled to religious bigotry worshipping and hoping in God’s mercy, is delusional and so encouraged by the black and white money grabbing elite. They exploit the diverse underclass – and so we have ths explosion where true causes will never be exposed mainstream.

R.J Cook

Roberta Jane Cook
in Southsea

Anti Vaccine Movement August 31st 2020

Greer McVay insists she is “not an anti-vaxxer — not at all”. She is up to date with her own immunisations and had her son vaccinated when he was a child. But she fears the development of a vaccine for coronavirus is being dangerously rushed, in part to improve Donald Trump’s prospects ahead of the presidential election in November. “This situation is different, because of the politics that have been injected into the process and the speed at which they’re developing the vaccines,” says Ms McVay, a communications consultant from California and a supporter of the Democratic party. “Frankly, I don’t trust this president. It just gives me pause.” Ms McVay, 53, is one of a growing number of “vaccine hesitant” Americans who have not previously identified with the anti-vaxxer movement, which has traditionally been dominated by libertarian Republicans and those on the left who preach the benefits of alternative medicine over pharmaceuticals. “I don’t fall into either category,” she says. Chart showing percentage of American adults who would accept or refuse a Covid-19 vaccine if one became available Rather, Ms McVay fears that Mr Trump will put pressure on the US Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve a vaccine before the election. She cites as evidence the FDA’s decision to allow the use of hydroxychloroquine — a disproved drug touted by the president — to treat the virus before it performed a U-turn after several studies showed the medicine did not benefit patients. She is also mistrustful of Operation Warp Speed, a sprawling federally-funded effort that has paid billions of dollars to drug companies — including $1.2bn to AstraZeneca and $1.6bn to Novavax — to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses of their vaccine “at risk” or without full clinical trials in advance of definitive data. “The way that they are expediting the process is by doing things concurrently,” she says. “They’re beginning manufacturing before they’ve even completed the trial.”

Comment The true nature of the corona lockdown scenario is revealed by the official and mainstream media outrage toward anyone who doubts the motives behind it – and whether it is intended to achieve what they say it is for.

Clearly lockdown is pushing up unemployment , hardship, social unrest and potential for more causes of death. Mainstream media never mentions the potential link between lockdown and so called peaceful protests ( riots and lootings ) in the United States. Trump bashing is the media response to that in the U.S and it is the Far Right blamed in Britain.

Britain and the U.S share common culture and history, with an interwoven international elite – Trump is an outsider who has had little opportinity to seriously influence anything. This elite favours importing poverty and consequent disease in the name of ‘human rights and humanitarianism.’

This elite sneers at Russia’s vaccine because we must hate and suspect them across the board. So we must believe their vaccine is a hoax. Meanwhile a vaccine is supposed to be our only hope. It is a demonstration of Emile Durkheim’s anomie – ever receding horizons. Anti bodies don’t work they say, infections have been very high, covid related fatalities outside of BAME and the geriatric, have been too low.

Officially these inflated guesswork deaths would be much higher if we didn’t have lockdown. From the perspective of the sort of philosophy I was taught at the University of East Anglia, this is absolute bull-hit. Still, exploiting mass ignoarance, fear and stupidity, the elite are exploited, marching around with tense self righteous upper faces, mask wearing, masking the truth that Covid is not the great universal killer, the causes of spread rooted in age, life style and poverty, which the elite do not want to talk about.

Thus I have every sympathy with those opposed to lockdown. I grew up in the fifties where all sorts of deadly diseases were rife. My father vigorously opposed compulsory vaccinations. Being breast fed – not common in modern feminist/careerist Britain and U.S- I was resilient, surviving them all. Something much more frightening to me is the way the masses are being blinded by the pseudo science of Covid propaganda churned out by our totalitarian fake democracies.

Roberta Jane Cook relaxing at a friend’s home. Image Appledene Photographics

R. J Cook

Germany coronavirus: Anger after attempt to storm Reichstag

August 30th 2020

An attempt to storm Germany’s Reichstag during Saturday’s big Berlin protest against Covid-19 restrictions has been condemned by politicians across the political spectrum.

Demonstrators, many with far-right sympathies, broke through a cordon and ran up the steps of the parliament building before police dispersed them.

The interior minister said there should be “zero tolerance” for such behaviour.

Some 38,000 turned out for the wider, largely peaceful Berlin demonstration.

What happened at the Reichstag?

Demonstrators bearing the flag of former imperial Germany – used by the Reichsbürger (Reich Citizens) far-right group – overcame a handful of police to run to the building entrance.

Police put the number involved at several hundred.

Scuffles broke out and the protesters were then overcome by police using pepper spray. Several people were arrested.

Police rejected criticism of their small deployment, saying they could not “be everywhere all the time”.

What has the reaction been?

“The Reichstag is the domain of our parliament and the symbolic centre of our democracy. It is unbearable that troublemakers and extremists misuse it for their own purposes,” said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

President Frank Walter Steinmeier condemned “an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy”.

“Those angered by our coronavirus measures or who doubt their necessity can do so openly, in protests. But my tolerance ends when protesters hitch themselves to the wagon of enemies of democracy and political rabble-rousers.”

Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, from the Social Democrats, was one of several to condemn the display of far-right and German imperial symbols.

The Social Democrats have also called for improved security around parliament.

The organiser of the main protest, tech entrepreneur Michael Ballweg, said the Reichstag demonstrators had “nothing to do” with his movement.

What happened in the wider demonstration?

The protest had originally been banned but a court eventually allowed it to go ahead on condition that coronavirus measures such as mask-wearing and social-distancing were adhered to.

In all, 300 people were arrested at various locations, 200 after right-wing agitators threw stones and bottles near the Brandenburg Gate.

Police ordered the dispersal of the protest as the day went on because those taking part were failing to observe coronavirus rules.

Protesters were closely packed in places, and sat together on the ground at one point.

Among those arrested was cookery author and conspiracy theorist Attila Hildmann, who had addressed crowds through a loudspeaker.

Although Germany has so far not seen the wave of cases affecting some parts of Europe, its infection rate has been growing. New case numbers are reaching highs last seen in April.

Who organised the Berlin protests?

The demonstration was called by the Stuttgart-based movement Querdenken 711 (or Lateral Thinking 711). The group has more than 16,000 followers on Facebook and communicates largely through encrypted messaging service Telegram.

It believes that coronavirus regulations infringe on basic rights and freedoms enshrined in Germany’s constitution and wants them to be lifted.

The protests have also gained support from Robert F Kennedy Jr. The anti-vaccination campaigner, also the son of assassinated US Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F Kennedy and nephew of assassinated US President John F Kennedy, was at the demonstration in Berlin.

Participants also included families and children. Some people have said they just want the right to protest.

Counter-protests against the main march also took place, with about 100 people at one rally. “You are marching with Nazis and Fascists,” shouted some participants, according to broadcaster RBB.

What are Germany’s Covid-19 measures?

The country was one of the most effective in enforcing the framework of response referred to as prevent, detect, contain and treat.

It has been particularly effective in keeping the death rate among the over 70s lower.

It began relaxing physical distancing in early April but continued to track infections, which have seen a rise in August.

On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 federal states introduced a minimum €50 (£45; $59) fine for failing to wear a face mask where ordered. A ban on major public events was also extended until next year.

Germany has recorded 242,000 infections, fewer than the other major European nations. Its figure of 9,297 deaths is considerably lower than the numbers in Russia, the UK, Spain, France and Italy, Johns Hopkins University research shows.

Psychosis August 29th 2020


The Relationship Between Violence and Psychotic Disorders With Comment by officially diagnosed violent deluded drunken psycho Roberta Jane Cook August 29th 2020

They are both common—but occur together uncommonly.

Posted Jan 19, 2014


Violence is extremely common, violent crimes occurring literally in the hundreds of thousands every year. Individuals assault each other impulsively, almost casually, even those whom they love. The causes of violence are, consequently, the subject of much attention—especially now, in the wake of a number of mass shootings. Every time someone commits a violent act so egregious that it comes to public notice, a dozen reasons are given for it and for all acts of violence. Poverty is blamed, or prejudice, or overcrowding. But the truth is that the causes of violence are innumerable.

Mental illness is commonly alleged to be a principal cause for violent behavior. For that reason many uninformed people are frightened of someone who is obviously disturbed emotionally. Yet mental illness, like most physical illness, tends to impair the individual’s ability to act, aggressively or in any other way. Only a few such conditions have a significant potential to precipitate a violent act. Among these is paranoid schizophrenia, which may affect the individual so that he comes to believe that people are persecuting him. He may then attack whomever he imagines his enemies to be. Certain drugs—for example, amphetamines—produce psychotic paranoid states which can be dangerous for the same reason. As everyone knows, alcoholic intoxication, because it lowers impulse control, causes some people to become violent; and if they are chronic alcoholics, they become violent over and over again.

Certain rare forms of epilepsy and other confusional states that sometimes occur as a complication of organic disease may cause the individual to strike out indiscriminately at whoever is nearby; but since these attacks are unpremeditated and uncoordinated, they do not often result in someone being injured. Occasionally, sexually deviant individuals become notorious by committing sadistic or murderous acts, but they too are unusual and represent the behavior of only a tiny fraction of those who arc sexually disturbed or deviant. There are in addition certain very dangerous, very strange, hysterical psychoses—such as amok—which stimulate the individual to sudden and usually short—lived bouts of murder, but these are exceedingly rare. And they occur mostly in islands of the South Pacific.

And there are still other people who are labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, such as explosive personality, precisely because they are repeatedly violent irrationally and with little provocation. Such a term signifies nothing at all about them beyond the fact that they are indeed violent.  Certainly they are not psychotic, or mentally ill in any conventional sense. It is true, of course, that any psychotic or neurotic person can commit a violent act, but only because any person at all can commit such an act. The fact is that violence is an uncommon complication of mental illness.

Some attempts have been made to predict who will become violent, and who having once been violent, perhaps criminally violent, will become violent again. Not much success has been achieved. Psychiatrists, who are often charged legally with the responsibility for determining whether or not someone is dangerous, are often wrong, judging by subsequent events. What is not commonly appreciated is that these professionals are likely to exaggerate the danger rather than minimize it. They are more likely to hold patients indefinitely in a hospital on the sometimes arbitrary presumption of their dangerousness than they are to release homicidal persons into the community carelessly, as they are often accused of doing. article continues after advertisement

The indicators, such as they are, by which a person’s potential for violence is judged, are as follows:

  1. A previous history of violence. The more frequent and more vicious someone’s past violent acts, the more likely he is to be violent again. Often adults who have committed crimes of violence give a long history of other similar acts, dating back to their childhood. They may have had difficulty in school because of fighting. Or they may have exhibited an odd triad of symptoms: bed-wetting, fire-setting, and cruelty to animals. Probably any act of cruelty or wanton destructiveness is a sign of a defect of personality which may manifest itself at some point in the willful injury of others.
  2. Menacing behavior. Someone who threatens violence when he or she is angry, or who punches walls or breaks furniture, or who in some other way shows poor impulse control, is likely to strike out at someone when  particularly angry. Similarly, someone who nurses a grievance and constructs plans for revenge may undertake someday to consummate those plans. Threats are sometimes a prelude to an overt act. Threats can be expressed also nonverbally through the individual’s demeanor. Some people, before losing control, give warning by quarreling and shouting and by becoming agitated—in short, by appearing as if they are about to lose control.  And some people, of course, openly state their intention of committing a violent act.
  3. A pattern of engaging in activities where violent encounters are likely to occur. Certain social settings undermine the usual strictures against violence. For instance, someone in a rioting mob is capable of perpetrating a violent act even though ordinarily he is in good control of himself. Similarly, a person who frequents bars constantly or who associates with drug addicts places himself in a setting where violent behavior is tacitly encouraged because it is construed as a sign of manhood. Consequently, such a person may learn to be violent. Such learning occurs also in certain families so consumed by rage that their members repeatedly attack each other physically. Merely living with such a family is an incitement to violence.

As people become violent for different reasons, they are also violent in different ways:

One man became drunk regularly and punched his wife and children when he came home. On one occasion, his wife, presumably in a spirit of self-defense, stabbed him with a kitchen knife, precipitating the need for an emergency operation in order to save his life.

Another man, after a fight with his father, went to a park where he raped the first woman he saw. Another man, when he became angry at his wife, shot a rifle out of his window at passing cars.

A woman who had had no previous history of violent or abnormal behavior became so desperate upon delivering an illegitimate child that she killed it by throwing it into an incinerator.

A 12-year-old boy kicked his younger siblings at every opportunity and finally killed one of them with a hammer.

These examples could be multiplied endlessly. The variety of violence is extraordinary. The attendant risk to others depends on the strength and the intent of the violent impulse, the circumstances under which it arises, and the response those people who are immediately present. article continues after advertisement

The violent person is usually violent again and again; therefore proper treatment must extend past the moment of violence itself and over a period of time. His therapist—who in this case may be almost anyone, a parole officer perhaps, or even a lawyer—must accomplish with this difficult patient the basic goals of any therapy. He must establish a trusting relationship between them in which the patient can express frustration verbally instead of by striking out. Indeed, they must be able to discuss openly not only the patient’s violence but all of his, or her, behavior.

Obviously the first principle of managing someone potentially violent is to see to it, as far as possible, that he does not in fact injure anyone, for his own sake as well as for everyone else’s. Even for a psychopath, the knowledge of having harmed another human is terrible.

Consequently, if it seems that there is a real risk of someone becoming violent, the police or other legal authorities should be involved promptly, at a time when they can prevent his actions rather than punish them. Some people, rather than call the police, play the role of victim over and over. Being so passive, perhaps masochistic, they may actually provoke attacks on themselves. No one should subject himself, or herself, to repeated physical assaults—or allow others to be subjected to them. Surprisingly, some people refuse to take the dangerousness of physical attack seriously, especially if they are not themselves the victim.

An army corporal was sent for psychiatric examination after he was found choking another soldier in the bathroom of his barracks. It was the third such assault he had committed that month, each time on a different person. Each time, the attack was interrupted fortuitously by other personnel who happened to walk into the room. The only explanation the corporal gave for these attacks was that these individuals “did not deserve to live;” and so he set out to kill them. There was no particular reason why they were undeserving of life. In fact when pressed, the corporal went so far as to admit that so far, at the age of 19, he had not yet come across anyone who in his judgment deserved to live. article continues after advertisement

His life before he entered the army was marked by one violent incident after another. When he was small, he tortured arid killed small animals, then larger animals when he was older. He committed petty larceny at an early age, then graduated to armed robber and assault with a deadly weapon. He attacked members of his own family, once with a wrench. From the time he was ten, his family refused to allow him in the house, and he lived thereafter in different foster homes and then different reformatories, one after another. Finally, when he was 18 years old, a judge who found him guilty of assault gave him the choice of serving a jail sentence or of enlisting in the army. He chose to enlist.

The psychiatrist contacted the corporal’s commanding officer and asked why the corporal, who was so obviously dangerous, had not been discharged from the service following the first of these three serious assaults. “Because he’s the best gunner I have,” replied the captain unabashedly. The fact that the United States happened to be at peace at the time made no difference. Taken aback, the psychiatrist asked the captain what it would take to convince him that the corporal was potentially homicidal. “Only if he killed someone,” the captain said. “Anyone who really wants to kill someone has no trouble doing it.”

The corporal was discharged from the service on psychiatric grounds before this provocative theory could be put to the test.

Violent behavior should never be overlooked, fCommentor it is an indicator of more violence to come. However, the present attention paid to psychiatric patients, although welcome for other reasons, is not likely to work as a way of preventing  mass shootings.  A murder can take place even when someone is being observed closely, just as suicide can. (c) Fredric Neuman Excerpted from “Caring: Home Guide for the Emotionally Disturbed.” Follow Dr. Neuman’s blog at or ask advice at

Comment from an alleged psycho – Roberta Jane Cook August 29th 2020

My readers will know much of my story. I cannot say more for legal reasons. However, I will make mention again, of how I had completed over the two years living as a woman. I should have been lined up for gender reassignment surgery in February 2018, around the time the police raided my home, arresting me on suspicion of sending letters and pictures of a ‘private and personal nature’ of my ex wife, to various senior police and council people, along with alleged pictures of my ex wife and a porn video, to ex in laws, shopping myself for working as a ‘gay escort’ for my son..

After 6.5 hours in a cold dirty cell, with only one blanket, I was interviewed. The exhibits shown to me, of which I was not allowed to keep, were a badly written typed sheet with a stranger’s name on ( Obviously from my aggrieved ex partner – dumped by me- whose English was bad and tone vengeful ), and pictures of a strange woman in lingerie, and one of me laying on afreind’s bed wearing a lacey black short evening dress. My ex partner had the photo on her system and it was her dress. There was no porn video, but it was left on the record.

Roberta reclining on a male friend’s bed in 2016, one of the pictures sent to police by her ex partner. Police did no investigation BECAUSE THEY NEEDED A CONVICTION having lost a previous case because they had no evidence.
They said Roberta sent the pictures, letters and non existent porn video, having watched her remote house and monitired internet for at least five months. They argued that the photos, letters and non existent porn video represented evidence that Roberta was working for her son as a ‘gay escort’

That, of course is a hate crime because she is female and gay refers to a male homosexual. It is a hate crime that they took this seriously, and very distressing to Roberta because she is a very vulnerable female and cannot, therefore be ‘gay’.

She was fulfilling the GIC requirement to dress and live as a woman for two years, with evidence,hence the photo. Her friend was going to take her out for the evening – confidence building. But truth was not the issue for the police.

Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

So when I attended my last interview at the gender identity Clinic ( GIC ), I was confronted with my regular therapist, along with a senior person. – and paid a dubious compliment about how elegant I looked . This over eager compliment made me wonder whether this process was all about superficial image- I was ushered into a room.

Here. modestly dressed little me, sat down with Dr Kirpal Sahota and Dr Paul Johnson. Dr Sahota began by telling me that she wanted me to attend Johnson’s regular therapy sesssions for those with mental and behavioural problems. This had come out of the blue. At the outset of my ‘treatment’ I had warned the GP and clinic about my issues with police and allegations of untested undefined mental illness etc.

Dr Sahota then said, softly and ingratiatingly, ‘I will recommend and forward you for gender reassignment surgery if you will agree to taking anti psychotic drugs.’

Now I have some post graduate background in psychology. I have been very intersted in gender, feminism and political correctnesss for many years. One of my many publsihed books, ‘Man, Maid,Woman’ is on the subject of transgender. I realise that most transsexuals believe that hormones and sex change surgery will solve all of their problems. It won’t.

I made my views very clear, incluidng why the police had taken it upon themselves to inform my GP that I am mentally ill and have been for years, refusing treatment. This begs the question why I was ever referred for sex change treatment, involving castrating feminising hormones, in the first place. This near on additional two year police led delay means my genitals are so withered, I will be lucky if there is anything left to create new female ones. Frighteningly our police have power to make mental health jdgements, with off the record or blatant instructions. NHS officials trust the British police, especially the higher ranks.

The police raid on my home and arrest in February 2018, obviously was used as ammunition to block my gender reassignment surgery. Curiously, Dr Sahota wrote a letter to my GP after my February 2018 interview, saying that I had a secure female identity but my issues with police and ex in laws were troubling me. She recommended me for powerful hormone injections and said I could progress to gender reassignment surgery.

.A few weeks later three men in suits backed up my drive. I had been working all night on the road for about fourteen hours. I had not been warned they were coming. One was a psychiatrist. Dr C R Ramsay, the others ; a medical student and a well built mental health nurse. All were from Aylesbury’s ‘Whiteleaf Centre.’ They had been sent by the GIC, in a chain that started with the police ‘et al ! ‘

There followed two more weekly home meetings of equal length both after my long tiring work shifts. On the second occasion, I defiantly had a glass of wine on my desk – becaue I knew that certain parties including the police and my GP had passed on allegations that I am a violent alcoholic – in spite of my GP regularly signing of on my HGV medical to the effect that I am not mentally ill or an alcoholic. This label is essential to the psycho schizophrenic label.

According to Ramsay, I talked too fast. He recorded this as ‘pressured speech’ and evidence of paranoia and psychosis, but ‘ not needing hospital yet’ rather advocating a ‘multi agency approach – police GP and Oxford Menatl Health Care ( sic ).

Dr Ramsay, having lied on the record that I would not agree to a second opinion -which should have been compulsory if I was as mad as Ramsay concluded, -declines any form of explanation..

I have spent much of the last two years trying to get information from my GP, the Police, Gender Identity Clinic and , above all, the police. They refuse. Ramsay Ramsay had concluded that I have a paranoid personality disorder but would not say what I was paranoid about – he patronised me as a woman,officially reporting that ‘seeing all of the agencies files ‘would upset Roberta’.

My situation with the police has deteriorated further. On Monday, after 14 hours in custody, I nearly succeeded in strangling myself in my dark cold dirty little cell , under the one permitted blanket with banging, shouting and screaming coming from the other cells on a day when the house was very full indeed..

Apparently I had gone blue and was semi conscious and sectioned to the Whiteleaf Centre at midnight last Monday, remaining there for another 12 hours before going in front of a panel of three, two doctors and a mental health specialist. They concluded that I was not mentally ill, or at least fit enough to be released. These are very dangerous times for me, . Roberta Jane Cook

Roberta Jane Cook, as dressed rather expensively – very elegantly according to Dr Sahota of the GIC- for her February 2018 interview, not many days after being raided by 7 police officers and put in a cell on suspicion of sending letters to ex in laws and senior police and public servants, shopping herself as a ‘gay escort’ – Roberta said ‘we are proud women, not gay, so wouldn’t say that.’

However, police said they had been watching her home and monitoring her from October 2017- Feb 2018 , because they had ‘evidence she wasworking from home as a protitute for her son.

This information with no evidence or sign of true investigation was put on damning records sent to the GIC and helpful in blocking her GRS, writing her off as paranoid and psychotic.

Hence the sudden GIC announcement. preceding Ramsay’s sessions by several weeks and which were which were obviously a rubber stamp from an alleged professional opinion that she needed anti psychotic drugs. Mental health diagnosis can be a self fulfilling prophecy.
Roberta saw Dr Ramsay in passing on her way out of Whiteleaf – for nearly 2 years Ramsay has refused to explain his diagnosis- last Tuesday afternoon. He didn’t want to talk . saying it was not the time or place. H
e would only say, as he walked on by, ‘I did what was best for you ‘ Image Appledene Photographics.

Conspiracy Theories Effectively Against British Law Especially For Public Servants. NHS Worker should be sectioned for posting covid conspiracy theory says commentator. August 29th 2020

A worker at a major NHS provider is under investigation by her employer for posting a video on social media in which she claimed that Covid-19 does not exist.

Louise Hampton, who works for Care UK, posted a video to Facebook on Wednesday in which she claimed her service had been “dead” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and she had done nothing at all.

Brandishing her NHS badge and a certificate signed by a Care UK manager that thanked her for making a difference to patients, Ms Hampton said: “Apparently, I worked really hard during Covid.”

She then went on a rant peppered with profanity and claimed that she had done no work “because our service was dead. We weren’t getting the calls. It was dead. Covid is a load of …

“And I didn’t clap for the NHS. I didn’t clap for myself.”

In a statement, Care UK, which provides call centres and a range of other services to the NHS, said it was investigating.

“We are aware of this video, which we consider to be materially inaccurate in a number of ways, and can confirm that a member of staff is subject to investigation,” a spokesperson said.

“We expect all our colleagues and services to support the work of the NHS in giving the public the right information and support during the pandemic. Our call centres were, in fact, exceptionally busy, handling a peak of 400% more calls than usual. Our teams showed huge commitment and dedication in delivering the service, and we have rightly thanked them for the efforts they have made.”

The video quickly racked up nearly half a million views across Facebook and Twitter.

In a later post, Ms Hampton claimed she had received “messages of support from people including NHS workers who are speaking out”. Image copyright FACEBOOK Image caption Ms Hampton used several hashtags referencing popular online conspiracy theories

Her Facebook account includes a number of coronavirus conspiracy theories and references to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

However, copies of the video had already proliferated across social media sites. It was particularly popular in groups and communities promoting Covid-19 misinformation.

QAnon supporters – who believe Donald Trump is secretly saving the world from a cabal of paedophiles – have also spread unfounded theories about coronavirus, calling it a “deep state” hoax and promoting misinformation about face masks and vaccines.

She also made references to Plandemic, a coronavirus conspiracy theory video that went viral in May and was subsequently taken down by major social media networks.

Why do Covid fatalities remain low when infection numbers are rising? August 29th 2020

While some scientists believe the virus has become less deadly, others look at the factors that suggest otherwise

A football spectator buying a ticket at a screened turnstile

Some researchers believe that social distancing has led to smaller amounts of the virus being transmitted. Photograph: Bradley Collyer/PARobin McKieSun 23 Aug 2020 07.45 BST

Last modified on Sun 23 Aug 2020 23.26 BST

Are Covid-19 death rates decreasing?
Most statistics indicate that although cases of Covid-19 are rising in many parts of Europe and the United States, the number of deaths and cases of severe complications remain relatively low. For example, patients on ventilators have dropped from 3,000 at the epidemic’s peak in Britain to 70. At the same time, the number of cases in the UK have begun to rise in many areas.

What lies behind this trend?
Doctors are unsure exactly what is going on. Some suggest that medical interventions are more successful at treating those who suffer complications from the disease. For example, the drug dexamethasone was recently shown to improve survival rates among patients requiring ventilation. Others argue that different factors are involved. One suggestion is that Covid-19 is now becoming a disease of younger people who are less likely to die or suffer serious complications.

Does that indicate that the worst may be over?
No. Other researchers point to the situation in the US where there was a recent spike in cases among people in their 20s and 30s – but which was then followed by a spike in cases in older people who picked up the disease from younger people. As a result, there has been a jump in deaths. A similar pattern could occur in Europe and in the UK, possibly in a couple of weeks, some scientists warn.

Is the Covid-19 virus becoming less deadly?
This idea is supported by some scientists. They point to the fact that most viruses tend to lose their most lethal attributes because they gain nothing from killing off their hosts. This could be happening with the Covid-19 virus, they say. Other researchers disagree, saying such a process is unlikely to be happening this quickly. One alternative suggestion is that infectious doses of the Covid-19 virus, transmitted from one person to another, may be getting smaller thanks to social distancing. Lower doses would then be easier for our immune systems to tackle, so death rates would drop.

In the end, these issues remain unresolved and will require many more months, if not years of research, to work out, scientists war

Comment There is an entrenched prejudice favouring social distancing. It makes money, makes the masses more easily divided – in theory but social unrest and mental health issues are rife and rising, especially in the U.S. We don’t know exactly what is happening here, but policing is more vigilant and press clamp downs are hiding certain things. protests against Corona lockdown in Berlin, have been banned.

The British authorities, as well as Europe, suppress key data favouring reduced or getting rid of lockdown. The elite are manifestly benefitting from lockdown . mask makers are seriously in profit, with pampered non technical upper middle class mouthy favoured journalists doctoring and biasing the news.

The authorities have predicted a second wave, so they will again exaggerate the threat, blurring normal flu and Covid related to push up job losses, re jig the economy, asset stripping and favouring the awful elite who own more wealth than the rest of the world put together. R.J Cook

More Lockdown  August 29th 2020

More Lockdown  August 29th 2020

More Lockdown Says Macron

France has recorded its biggest daily rise in coronavirus infections since March, as President Emmanuel Macron raised the possibility of another nationwide lockdown.

A further 7,379 cases were confirmed on Friday, bringing the country’s total to 267,077.

It was the largest daily spike since 31 March, when 7,578 cases were tallied at the peak of the first wave.

France was seeing an “exponential” rise in cases, the health ministry said.

The ministry said Friday’s rise follows daily increases of 6,111 on Thursday and 5,429 on Wednesday.

Despite the sharp rise, hospital numbers and daily deaths were relatively stable, as young people less vulnerable to the disease make up most of the new infections, the ministry said.

Another 20 people were confirmed to have died with Covid-19 on Friday, bringing France’s overall death toll to 30,596.

Shortly before Friday’s figures were released, Mr Macron said a second national lockdown could not be ruled out if infections spiralled out of control.

However he said his government was trying to avoid the return of restrictions that would set back the country’s fragile economic recovery.

“Containment is the crudest of measures to fight against a virus,” said Mr Macron, urging people to be “collectively very rigorous”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption It is now mandatory to wear face masks in the French capital Paris

France began easing its eight-week-long lockdown in May. But some parts of the country – including the capital Paris – remained under tighter controls.

Local authorities have been given powers to enforce lockdown measures, such as closing down bars and restaurants, in areas where cases are surging.

On Friday, masks were made mandatory outdoors in Paris to fight the rising infections.

How are other European countries faring?

Spain and Germany have also recorded their highest numbers of daily cases since the spring in recent days, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a resurgence of the disease in Europe.

On Thursday, Hans Kluge, the director general of the WHO’s Europe office, said young people should not be complacent about the virus.

“It may be that the younger people are not necessarily going to die from it, but it’s a tornado with a long tail. It’s a multi-organ disease, so the virus is really attacking the lungs, but also the heart and other organs,” he said.

As winter approaches, young people would also be in closer contact with older people, he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Friday that in the coming months things would become “even more difficult than now”, as people have been able to enjoy life outdoors over the summer.

A protest against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions was due to take place in Berlin on Saturday, despite a consistent rise in cases above 1,000 a day recently.

Spain, among the first European countries to see a second spike of infections, diagnosed 3,829 new cases on Friday. Ahead of the new school year, the government said school children aged six and over must wear masks to class.

Hungary announced on Friday it would close its borders to foreigners from 1 September to curb the spread of coronavirus. The country recorded 132 new infections on Friday, the highest daily number since the peak of the pandemic.

Turkey reported its highest number of deaths in 24 hours since 17 May on Friday. Another 36 people died, pushing the country’s death toll to 6,245. Meanwhile, the number of daily new cases again rose above 1,500, prompting the government to impose restrictions.

Why the Very Poor Have Become Poorer August 29th 2020

When the United States first explicitly defined an official poverty line in 1969, it was supposed to be adjusted every year to ensure that it represented a constant standard of living. However, two problems arose and were never fixed.

The New York Review of Books

  • Christopher Jencks


‘Tiny holding Horsey with Keanna,’ Seattle, 1993; photograph by Mary Ellen Mark from the exhibition ‘Tiny: Streetwise Revisited,’ at the Aperture Foundation, New York City, May 26–June 30. The book includes essays by Isabel Allende and John Irving and is published by Aperture. The film ‘Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell,’ made by Mark and her husband Martin Bell, will be shown at BAMcinemaFest on June 25, 2016. Photo by Mary Ellen Mark.

According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans living in poverty is higher today, in 2016, than it was in the late 1960s. In 2015 I argued in these pages that these “official” poverty statistics are extremely misleading.1 When the United States first explicitly defined an official poverty line in 1969, it was supposed to be adjusted every year to ensure that it represented a constant standard of living. However, two problems arose and were never fixed.

First, the Consumer Price Index, which was supposed to be used to adjust the poverty line for inflation, turned out to have flaws that made it rise faster than the cost of living. Second, the official measure uses pretax money income to measure families’ economic resources; but anti-poverty measures enacted since then, such as the expansion of food stamps and then the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), made low-income families’ total economic resources increase faster than their pretax money income. As a result of these problems, roughly half the families now counted as officially poor have a higher standard of living than families with incomes at the poverty line had in 1969.

In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer argue that what they call “extreme” poverty roughly doubled between 1996 and 2012. If they are right—and I think they are—the reader might wonder how I can still claim that poor families’ living standards have risen. The answer is that inequality has risen even among the poor. Half of today’s officially poor families are doing better than those we counted as poor in the 1960s, but as I learned from reading $2.00 a Day (and have spent many hours verifying), the poorest of the poor are also worse off today than they were in 1969. $2.00 a Day is a vivid account of how such families live. It also makes a strong case for blaming their misery on deliberate political choices at both the federal and state levels.


Kathryn Edin is a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has spent much of the past twenty-five years talking with low-income Americans about their lives.2 In 2010, when the national unemployment rate was over 9 percent, she began meeting parents who said they had no regular income whatever from work, from welfare, or from any other source. Their economic plight sounded worse than anything she had previously encountered, and she began pondering how to figure out what had happened, and why.

In 2011 Edin met Luke Shaefer, a young professor at the University of Michigan who had worked extensively with the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). This survey was the best available source of data on poor families, and Edin persuaded Shaefer to investigate what it showed about households with little or no income.3 To do that, they had to decide what criteria to use.

A single mother with two children was officially poor in 2011 if she reported an annual income below $18,123. If she reported less than half that amount, the Census classified her and her children as living in “deep” poverty. However, the Census had never had a term for families as poor as those Edin and Shaefer wanted to count, so they chose their own term: “extreme” poverty.

They also chose a third-world definition of who belonged in their new category. The World Bank counted third-world families as poor if they lived on less than $1.90 a day per family member. Edin and Shaefer rounded that up to $2.00.4 This cutoff was between 9 and 13 percent of the official poverty threshold for most American families. For a single mother of two, for example, Edin and Shaefer’s “extreme” poverty threshold was $6 a day while the “official” 2011 threshold came to just under $50 a day. Neither measure included noncash benefits or EITC refunds.

When Shaefer analyzed the SIPP data, he found that 4.3 percent of American households with children reported living on less than $2 a day per person for at least one month during 2011. When he looked back at the SIPP data for 1996, only 1.7 percent of parents had reported a month like that (see the first row of Table 1).


Edin and Shaefer were shocked by how much the SIPP estimate had risen, so they checked to see if other evidence pointed in the same direction. Their best comparison was with data collected by the Food Stamp Program. Families applying for food stamps must report their income to qualify for assistance, and they must then keep reporting it every year to remain eligible. The number of parents telling the Food Stamp Program that they had had a month without income matched the SIPP estimates closely in 1996 and 2005. From 2005 to 2012, however, the number of parents reporting a month without income rose faster in the Food Stamp Program than in SIPP.5 No one seems to know why the two trends diverged, but the divergence may mean that the 2011 SIPP estimates in Table 1 are too low.6

For reasons that will become clear momentarily, I now need to mention that Congress renamed the Food Stamp Program in 2008, calling it the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The name change reflected the fact that the program now gives recipients an electronic card instead of stamps to pay for their groceries. Outside Washington, D.C., however, most people still talk about food stamps, not SNAP. I will do the same, except when I discuss the SNAP card itself.

The most obvious explanation for the increase in extreme poverty between 1996 and 2011 is that jobs were harder to find in 2011, but that is only half the story. Until 1996 single mothers with no income were eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Edin and Shaefer argue that extreme poverty rose after 1996 because Congress replaced AFDC with an even less generous welfare program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Because TANF benefits are much harder to get than AFDC benefits were, parents who cannot find a job are more likely to find themselves penniless.7

Prior to 1996 each state had its own AFDC program, with the federal government paying about half the cost in rich states and far more than half in poor states. States could set their AFDC benefits as high or low as they wanted, but in each state the eligibility rules had to meet a variety of federal requirements, one of which was that all legally eligible applicants were entitled to benefits. A state could not turn away eligible applicants because the legislature wanted to use the money for some other purpose or because a caseworker thought an applicant had loose morals.

All states still get federal money to cover part of TANF’s cost, but they now have more leeway in deciding how to spend such money. They can divert federal TANF funds to programs like financial aid for college students and pre-kindergarten programs, for example. Such programs are worthwhile, but they do nothing to help poor single mothers pay their electric bill or their rent. States also have almost complete freedom to decide what applicants must do to qualify for benefits and retain them. States can also shorten the federal time limit on TANF eligibility.

If states cut the cost of TANF by reducing the number of recipients, they can use the savings for other purposes. That gives state officials a strong incentive to discourage TANF applications. Potential applicants may have to spend weeks applying for jobs before they can apply for TANF. Or they may have to produce documents that they cannot find or do not know how to get. Understaffed welfare offices can create long lines that discourage applications. Many TANF applicants also report having been turned down with no explanation at all.

The opening chapter of $2.00 a Day describes a Chicago mother whom the authors call Modonna Harris. Harris graduated from high school and then took out loans to attend a private university. However, she got no financial help from her divorced parents, and when she hit her student loan ceiling at the end of her second year, she dropped out. Misadventures in love followed, and after her marriage broke up she had a child to support. The best job she could find was as a cashier, but after eight years her employer fired her because her cash drawer was $10 short. The store eventually found the missing $10, but it did not rehire Harris.

Harris looked for new jobs, without success. After her unemployment benefits ran out, a friend noticed that Harris had no food in her apartment for herself or her child and persuaded her to apply for TANF. The welfare office opened at 8:30 AM, so Harris showed up at 8:00. At least on that particular day, however, there were only enough appointment slots for applicants who had joined the line in the rain outside the welfare office before 7:30. After waiting most of the day, Harris left without having been given a chance to apply, convinced that TANF would never help her.

It is tempting to say that Harris was too easily discouraged. However, it is also tempting to say that in Illinois, as in most other states, TANF’s primary goal is not to protect children whose parents cannot find work by ensuring that their family has shelter, heat, light, food, and shoes, but to cut program costs by reducing the number of recipients. (California, which now accounts for a third of all TANF recipients, is a partial exception to this rule.)

State efforts to cut the TANF rolls have been quite effective. The overall unemployment rate, which is a fairly good proxy for how hard it is to find work, was almost twice as high in 2009 as in 1996. Yet the number of families getting TANF in 2009 was less than half the number getting AFDC in 1996.8 Edin and Shaefer write about meeting poor parents who said they didn’t know anyone who got TANF. Some parents thought welfare had been abolished, or that it was no longer accepting new applicants. This grim story deserves more attention than it has gotten, and Edin and Shaefer deserve a lot of credit for emphasizing it.

They also report a shift in social norms that may have made TANF shrink. When Edin interviewed single mothers in the early 1990s, they often told her that a good mother should stay home with her children. In 2012, even mothers who could not find work said they wanted a job rather than a welfare check, because a working mother set a better example for her children than a welfare mother did. This shift in attitude presumably encourages single mothers to keep looking for work, but it does not create more jobs for them. As a result, reducing access to TANF leaves more single mothers with neither a paycheck nor a welfare check. As Edin and Shaefer document in some of their saddest stories, such mothers often find jobs when times are good, but many of those jobs vanish when the economy slows. When single mothers can’t find work, they sell their plasma to hospitals and scavenge for cans and bottles in trash barrels. Sometimes they also sell sex or drugs. As a result, their income is usually meager and erratic.

One basic goal of welfare reform in the 1990s was to “make work pay,” and the Clinton administration created a new system that did just that. Instead of giving parents more help when they could not find work, the new system gives parents more help when they find and keep a steady low-wage job. When Modonna Harris worked as a cashier, Edin and Shaefer estimate that her take-home pay was about $1,325 a month. The government topped that up with another $160 a month in food stamps.

The Clinton administration also persuaded Congress to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit between 1993 and 1996, so when Harris was working she got a check from the US Treasury for about $3,800 a few weeks after filing her federal tax return. That check provided her with an additional $317 a month. Overall, the government supplemented Harris’s paycheck with benefits worth $477 a month. Once she lost her job, she stopped accumulating EITC benefits. Her food stamp benefits rose from $160 to $367 a month, but she was still getting $110 a month less than she had from food stamps and the EITC when she had a monthly paycheck.


Edin and Shaefer’s descriptions of families in extreme poverty are both convincing and deeply troubling. However, two potential objections to their analysis deserve discussion. First, the estimates of extreme poverty in $2.00 a Day almost never include the value of food stamps, rent subsidies, or EITC refunds for work during the previous calendar year. Those omissions mean that Edin and Shaefer underestimate the resources available to most families in extreme poverty.

In papers published elsewhere Shaefer and Edin show how their estimates of extreme poverty change when they treat the value of EITC refunds, food stamps, and rent subsidies like income. The second row of Table 1 shows that including these resources reduces the estimated prevalence of extreme poverty among households with children from 1.7 to 1.1 percent in 1996 and from 4.3 to 1.6 percent in 2011. Because the reduction is so much larger in 2011 than it was in 1996, the increase in extreme poverty between 1996 and 2011 falls from 2.6 to 0.5 percentage points. In other words, the growth of EITC refunds and noncash benefits offsets about four fifths of the decline in extremely poor families’ pretax money income between 1996 and 2011.

Edin and Shaefer argue that we should not view a SNAP card that buys $500 worth of groceries every month as equivalent to $500 in cash, because the SNAP card can only buy food, whereas cash can buy whatever a family thinks it needs most. That is true. But if a family of three were given $500 in cash and used it to pay the rent, they would have to depend on local soup kitchens and food pantries to eat. Such institutions do not exist everywhere, and they are not open every day even in the places where they do exist.

I think Edin and Shaefer’s objection to treating food stamps like cash derives from a more fundamental problem, which is that a single mother with two children needs more than $500 a month to survive. If Edin and Shaefer were to treat a single mother’s $500 worth of food stamps like money, food stamps alone would represent about $16 a day in income. Because they have set the extreme poverty threshold for a three-person family at only $6 a day, treating food stamps like cash would mean that, according to the standard they have set, no family that got food stamps could be in extreme poverty, even if they had no money at all for rent, heat, clothing, or other necessities.

That problem cannot be solved by replacing $500 worth of food stamps with $500 in cash. Unless a single mother with two children has a federal rent subsidy that limits her payments to 30 percent of her income, she will need both $500 in food stamps to eat and another $500 (or more) for shelter and other expenses. A more transparent approach would, I think, be to adopt a broader measure of economic resources that included the EITC, food stamps, and the rental value of subsidized or owner-occupied housing, and then to set the threshold for extreme poverty at something like half the official poverty line.

Another concern about Edin and Shaefer’s estimates of extreme poverty in $2.00 a Day is that they include families whose income fell below $2 a day per person for even one month. If a single mother loses her job, has no relatives, no close friends, no romantic partner, and no assets she can sell or borrow against, one month without income can be catastrophic now that TANF is so hard to get. However, a single mother who has just lost her job often has some of those assets, as $2.00 a Day shows. When that is the case, her first month without income does not always mean that her family will go hungry, much less that they will all be put out on the street for not paying the rent. The longer she goes without income, however, the more likely she is to exhaust her relatives’ sympathy, her boyfriend’s willingness to bring over pizza for dinner, or the cash she had left from her EITC refund for her work during the previous year. There is no “one-size-fits-all” rule for deciding how long a family can survive without income, but for some, at least, one month need not be disastrous.

The fourth line in Table 1 shows that when Shaefer counted only those who had spent three or more months living on resources worth less than $2 a day, the prevalence of extreme poverty among households with children fell from 1.7 to 0.5 percent in 1996 and from 4.3 to 1.0 percent in 2011. This more stringent definition of extreme poverty among households with children clearly leads to a sharp reduction in its estimated prevalence. But it does not change the upward trend. The prevalence rises from 0.5 percent in 1996 to 1.0 percent in 2011, and the actual number rises from 189,000 to 373,000 households with children.


The best way to visualize how the economic lives of low-income families have changed since the 1960s is to track the flow of economic resources to households at different percentiles of the distribution. Figure 1 focuses on the bottom half of the resource distribution, showing changes at the second, fifth, tenth, and fiftieth percentiles. Each group’s resources are shown as a percentage of its resources in 1967. The labels for the lines identifying each of these four percentile are shown in boldface.9 I omit the top half of the resource distribution, because the rising share of income going to the top 1 percent is already so well known. I also omit the bottom 1 percent, because of doubts about the accuracy of the estimates.


Between 1967 and 1999 the resources flowing to the second and fifth percentiles grew by an average of two thirds, whereas the resources of the tenth and fiftieth percentiles grew by about half. As a result, inequality between the bottom and the middle of the resource distribution narrowed. This narrowing was driven primarily by the growth of food stamps and the EITC.

After 1999 this egalitarian trend reversed. The second, fifth, tenth, and fiftieth percentiles all suffered some reduction in their economic resources after 1999, whereas Figure 1 shows that the percentage decline was much larger at the second percentile than at the fifth, tenth, or fiftieth percentile. The fifth, tenth, and fiftieth percentiles also received about 50 percent more resources in 2012 than in 1967, but the second percentile received only 23 percent more, wiping out two thirds of its gains between 1967 and 1999.

Figure 1 supports my claim that Americans at the fifth and tenth percentiles are much better off today than they were in 1967. Those at the tenth percentile are counted as poor only because the poverty measure is flawed. However, the estimates in Figure 1 for the second percentile also support Edin and Shaefer’s claim that the poorest of the poor were a lot worse off in 2012 than in either 1996 or 1999. Had the federal government not handed their fate back to the states in 1996, these families might still be as well off as they were in 1999. That is not the kind of speculation that can be either verified or refuted; but it is worth serious consideration nonetheless.

Christopher Jencks is the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Social Policy at Harvard. He is the author of “Rethinking Social Policy” and “The Homeless,” among other books.


  1. See “The War on Poverty: Was It Lost?,” April 2, 2015.
  2. Full disclosure: I chaired Edin’s dissertation committee when she was a doctoral student at Northwestern University and wrote an introduction to her book with Laura Lein, Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work (Russell Sage, 1997). I had no part in $2.00 a Day and learned of its existence only a few weeks before it was published.
  3. Families have traditionally reported somewhat more income to SIPP than to other Census surveys. SIPP interviews participants every four months rather than once a year, and survey respondents are more likely to recall small amounts of income received at irregular intervals within the past few months than to recall similar amounts received a year before.
  4. According to the World Bank, 12.7 percent of the world population lived on less than $1.90 a day per person in 2012; see
  5. See Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin, “What Is the Evidence of Worsening Conditions Among America’s Poorest Families with Children?,” March 2, 2016.
  6. The less income food stamp applicants or recipients report, the more free food they get. Unlike SIPP respondents, therefore, food stamp recipients have an incentive to underreport their income. However, underreporting income can be risky for food stamp recipients. Employers have to report wage payments to the state in which their employee works. That makes it easy to identify food stamp recipients who fail to report all their earnings. Once detected, such a failure can lead to the loss of all food stamp benefits.
  7. Andrea Hetling, Jinwoo Kwon, and Correne Saunders present more detailed evidence on how TANF rules affect the number of mothers with no income in their paper “The Relationship Between State Welfare Rules and Economic Disconnection Among Low-Income Single Mothers,” Social Service Review, Vol. 89, No. 4 (December 2015).
  8. See the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chart Book: TANF at 19,” March 29, 2016, p. 3.
  9. Fox and Wimer extended existing estimates of federal and state taxes and noncash benefits back to 1967. Some of these estimates are fairly rough approximations. They then subtracted taxes from the Annual Social and Economic supplement (ASEC) estimate of each household’s pretax money income for the previous calendar year and added the estimated value of each household’s means-tested noncash benefits and the value of its EITC refund (if any) to get what I am calling “household resources.” At my request Wimer then divided this total by the square root of household size to adjust for size-based differences in households’ economic needs. Finally, we converted this total to 2012 dollars using the Consumer Price Index Research Series (CPI–U–RS).

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This post originally appeared on The New York Review of Books and was published June 9, 2016. This article is republished here with permission.

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Historic D Day Landing Craft Returns to Portsmouth August 27th 2020

Uncovered in Thames Estuary marshes, this magnificent D Day landing craft was moved into position under a specially constructed canopy in Southsea Portsmouth yesterday. Work was impeded by heavy rain and high winds. The craft has been lovingly restored by engineers and apprentices over several years at Portsmouth’s historic dockyard. Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Another Country August 23rd 2020

Would you buy a used car off this guy ?

“Kamala Harris has had your back — and now, we have to have her back,” he said. “She’s going to stand with me in this campaign, and all of us are going to stand up for her.”

“The President’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change,” Harris said at the afternoon event in Wilmington, Delaware.

“America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a President who cares more about himself than the people who elected him,” said Harris,

“Kamala Harris has had your back — and now, we have to have her back,” he said. “She’s going to stand with me in this campaign, and all of us are going to stand up for her.”

Biden also did not let the historic nature of his pick go unnoticed at their first event together. As Harris looked on, now firmly in the role of a supporting player, Biden imagined the reaction of “little Black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities.”

“Today, just maybe,” he said, “they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way.”

Shamelessness is the hall mark of the modern politician and many other success stories. Principles don’t matter and the masses have short memories.

The Death of George Floyd, like Covid 19 is passed off as Trump’s fault.  Trump tried to lock down New Your, a Covid 19 hotspot due to its massive BAME contingent, but they must not be offended.  They must be protected from the rest of us, especially God’s people. The Muslims.

So we have the rather dubious Starmer ‘Harmer’ style of lawyer lied up as an example to ‘little brown and back girls everywhere to quote biddable Biden.  Well we have seen him kissing little girls, so we know how much he cares about them.

Biden eager to kiss a voter from the future.

The Democrats ( sic ) have blocked Trump all the way through his tenure, with lackey ( or maybe leader ) Britain with them all the way in the British media.  Trump had no hope of cutting back on war, now it is even worse.  How could you trust any of them on either side of the Atlantic when money and naked power is their religion.

For sheer double speak Biden and Harris look like the perfect couple, with him at 78 unlikey to complete his term.  Enter Harris, just an ordinary black women.  Sorry I , silly me, ‘No black woman is ordinary if cut free from the white man’s chains.’

The cosseted over paid patronising media folk either don’t know or don’t want anyone else to know that the United States was built by men.  The only genocide was against the Red Indians, a process begun by the original British Colonialists who only broke free of the fat idiot Briitish King to avoid the lazy oaf ‘s insatiable demands for taxes.

Shamelessness is the hall mark of the modern politician and many other success stories. Principles don’t matter and the masses have short memories.

The Death of George Floyd, like Covid 19 is passed off as Trump’s fault.  Trump tried to lock down New Your, a Covid 19 hotspot due to its massive BAME contingent, but they must not be offended.  They must be protected from the rest of us, especially God’s people. The Muslims.

So we have the rather dubious Starmer ‘Harmer’ style of lawyer lined up as an example to ‘little brown and black girls everywhere to quote biddable Biden.  Well we have seen him kissing little girls, so we know how much he cares about them evenwhen they are not black or brown !

The Democrats ( sic ) have blocked Trump all the way through his tenure, with lackey ( or maybe leader ) Britain with them all the way in the British media.  Trump had no hope of cutting back on war, now it is even worse.  How could you trust any of them on either side of the Atlantic when money and naked power is their religion.

For sheer double speak Biden and Harris look like the perfect couple, with him at 78 unlikey to complete his term.  Enter Harris, just an ordinary black women.  Sorry I , silly me, ‘No black woman is ordinary if cut free from the white man’s chains.

The cosseted over paid patronising media folk either don’t know or don’t want anyone else to know that the United States was built by men.  The only genocide was against the Red Indians, a process begun by the original British Colonialists who only broke free of the fat idiot Briitish King to avoid the lzy oafs insatiable demands for taxes.

As Trump said of Covid 19, it is what it is. Mealy mouthed politcians like Biden and Harris, are what they are ; unscrupulous rich hypocrits exploiting poverty and ignorance which must never go away because they need to take advantage by pretending to care for the underdog.  The U.S is not one country, nor is Britain.  It has always been so, which is why Disraeli wrote a novel called ‘Two Nations’ and James Baldwin wrote one called ‘Another Country.’  Robert Cook

Some hope of that whoever wins
Thousands More Civilian Casualties
Belgian Health Minister joins EU cooleagues in war on obesity.

Cory Booker makes the working class pitch Democrats need

August 20, 2020 Joel Mathis

It fell to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to make a pitch for the working class on Thursday night during the Democratic National Convention.

You notice I didn’t say “white working class,” that subset of Donald Trump voters that campaign strategists and the media obsessed over in the aftermath of the president’s surprise 2016 victory. By telling the story of how his grandfather moved to Detroit and got a job working on an assembly line during World War II, Booker signaled that the working class is important to Democrats — and that it is far from monochromatic.

“I’m here because a union job lifted my family out of poverty and into the middle class,” Booker said, promising that Democrats would fight (for example) for a higher minimum wage for the kinds of folks “whose hands are thick with calluses, like my grandad’s were, who lifted me high, who held my hand when I was a boy.” It was the kind of personal touch speech that might’ve been given 20 years ago by a white, union-loving politician like Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) — or even Joe Biden himself.

But of course, the working class — like America itself — isn’t so white anymore. In most states, members of the labor force without a four-year college degree are more diverse than the overall population; in eight states, workers of color make up the bulk of the working class. That’s a trend that will only continue: One study predicts that people of color will comprise a majority of the American working class in 2031 — 11 years before the country itself is projected to become “majority minority.” This matters because nearly a third of Americans describe themselves as working class, a sizable chunk of the electorate.

All of this means that — despite ample fretting by Democrats after Hillary Clinton’s loss — politicians don’t have to choose between appealing to minorities or working class voters. As Booker suggested on Thursday, the two groups are often one and the same. Joel Mathis

Viral Video Seemed To Show BLM Storming A Church. The Real Story Is Much Darker.

“What people need to know is we’re not protesting churches. We’re protesting this church.” Anne Helen Petersen BuzzFeed News Reporter

The clip that was posted to Twitter — and subsequently viewed over 1.2 million times — purports to show protesters invading a church, screaming “Black Lives Matter” and even abusing parishioners. One demonstrator is filmed calling a church member “a dumb fuck.”

The clip was uploaded by Charlie Kirk, one of the leading voices in the Trump Youth Movement, who added his own interpretation of events: “Christians have not been allowed to attend church for months,” Kirk tweeted, referring to coronavirus-related pauses in services. “But when they finally are, BLM inc. rioters are allowed to assault them. Christianity is now under physical assault by radical left wing terrorism. Where is the media coverage of this?”

Kirk, the founder of Turning Points USA, has 1.8 million followers. His chief creative officer, Benny Johnson — who also tweeted the video, has more than 315,000. The video was picked up by a who’s who of conservative and fringe media: Dinesh D’Souza, Nigel Farage, Laura Ingraham, OAN, the Daily Wire, the Blaze, PJ Media, and Mike Cernovich. The Republican candidate for US House District 20 — which includes Troy, New York, where the events in the clip took place — tweeted it. So did RT, the state-controlled Russian propaganda network. The message of the coverage was a variation on the same theme: This is the real BLM, and they’re coming for your churches next.

But like any piece of local media that goes viral on a national level, the video is missing years — in truth, decades — of context. “It’s wild that the national story is that there’s a bunch of Marxists attacking Christians in the street,” one local, who asked not to use her name because of her employment affiliation, told me. “Everyone here knows that this is our Westboro Baptist.” (Grace Baptist Church and its pastor declined multiple requests for an interview).

The day of the video, the church was hosting its second AR-15 “raffle” in two days: In the middle of a neighborhood stricken with gun violence, the church was giving away one of the deadliest guns on the market. The Black Lives Matter protesters were invited inside by the church’s pastor, John Koletas, a self-proclaimed “bigot” who has preached against interracial marriage, defends the use of the n-word, and believes that Black people, as descendants of Ham and Canaan, are cursed by God. He thinks Black History Month is “communism and Marxism month.” He calls Black Lives Matter protesters “savages.” He places a pork product — a ham or hot dogs — at the door, and requires all church attendees to touch it, supposedly to ward off would-be jihadists. He abhors feminists and gay people. He hates Catholics and thinks Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in the country. He mocks sexual abuse victims and the #MeToo movement. And videos of Koletas preaching these beliefs are readily available on the church’s Facebook and YouTube pages. “I knew it was a trap.”

Grace Baptist is not the sort of Baptist church most people would associate with the denomination. It’s an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church, better known as IFB — a movement that broke off from the Baptists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in order to preserve their more conservative beliefs.

“I think a lot of people on the outside look at an IFB pastor and think, Oh, he’s just like the Methodists, or the Presbyterians,” Bruce Gerencser, a former IFB pastor, told me. “But they’re really not. And they’re not countercultural, either. They’re anti-cultural. Standing apart from culture is their main objective. They’re belligerent and arrogant — and they don’t care if you think that they’re in bad taste. That’s the point.”

“I knew it was a trap,” Lukee Forbes, one of the leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement, told me. They knew the church had orchestrated an event that would incite a protest — and that it’s easy for a video of a protest at a church to get distorted and go viral.

“What people need to know is we’re not protesting churches,” Forbes said. “We’re protesting this church. I’m a Christian. I’ve been saved. And it hurts to see people come out and drag us for fighting for our community. And now we’re the bad guys. But how do we feel safe in our own community when this church is in the middle of it?”

Black Lives Matter is a global movement with a local focus: Each group, from tiny towns to big cities, targets different areas, practices, and organizations for reform. In the “capital region” — which includes Albany, Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga — that focus has been on local policing, with its long history of misconduct, settlements for police brutality, and what one law professor calls “white protectionism.” But it’s also been directed at other, less obvious targets, like the owner of a local ice cream shop who’s been accused of using racial slurs.

The primary way BLM protesters target these entities is by directing attention: They show up, they refuse to shut up, they make things visible. The conflagration at Grace Baptist, then, is what happens when that sort of visibility is what its targets crave most.

The flyer advertising the AR-15 giveaway wasn’t fancy. It was printed in black and white, with graphics that look at least a decade out of date. An invitation to attend Grace Baptist Church on Sunday, June 28, was paired with a blurry picture of an AR-15 and a promise that all winners would have to undergo a New York background check. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is,” the flyer proclaims, “there is liberty.”

In the week leading up to the giveaway, members of the church distributed the flyers in the neighborhood surrounding the church. After decades of white flight and generalized urban blight, downtown Troy has recently experienced a gentrification-fueled renaissance — the phrase “Troy is the new Brooklyn,” with all its various connotations, echoes off the restored brick buildings, much to the annoyance of pretty much everyone, including the Brooklyners who’ve moved there.

The town, located on the Erie Canal, had once been one of the richest in America. When it started to decline in the ’60s, the slide happened so quickly, as one resident put it to me, that there wasn’t time or impetus to try and implement the “urban renewal” plans that plowed freeways through cities across the US. The result was a downtown still filled with architecturally beautiful, largely untouched, old buildings: When Martin Scorsese needed a place to shoot 19th century New York for his 1993 adaptation of The Age of Innocence, he chose Troy. Today, those buildings are the exact sort of thing people want to transform into lofts or coffee shops with reclaimed wood tables. But as nouveau bourgeois as downtown Troy has become, the renewal aesthetic fades within blocks.

Grace Baptist has always met in Lansingburgh, the long, skinny neck of Troy that stretches north along the Hudson River. For the first 25 years, the congregation met in the building that Koletas had purchased in the church’s early years. But in 2012, it moved to a new building: a once-beautiful brick structure that had been home to Mills Memorial Baptist Church for more than a century. After the pastor of Mills Memorial died in 2006, the dwindling congregation struggled to cover the growing cost of repairs. The remaining church members wanted to give the building to another church, any church. Koletas was the only one they could find. He bought the church for a dollar.

Tasheca Medina lives just a few blocks from the church in Lansingburgh. She has a degree in criminal justice, and has been involved in local activist work for the last five years — including, most recently, Black Lives Matter. When she looks around her neighborhood, she sees no place to get fresh fruit or vegetables. She sees streets without adequate lighting, making them targets for crime. She doesn’t see rec centers, or pools, or anything to keep kids occupied and out of trouble. But she hears gunfire what feels like every night. “It’s almost like they want us to kill each other,” she said. “Here, there’s trash everywhere. There’s kids riding bikes on the main roads. You go into the white neighborhoods, and their shit is all together.”

White people do live in Lansingburgh. The Koletas family had lived there, above the church, until Koletas could save enough money to buy a farmhouse several miles out of town. According to Koletas lore, retold in sermon after sermon, back in 1987, he was driving around the capital area, saw the broken windows and dilapidation of Troy, and decided to start a church there. He didn’t have any training as a pastor. He hadn’t gone to seminary. There’s no IFB seminary for prospective clergy, although some go to Bible college, and Koletas hadn’t done that either. You hear the calling, and you’re a pastor.

Most IFB pastors grew up in the church. But Koletas was different — in pretty much every way imaginable. He came to the church on a unique path, and has since carved out his own understanding of what an IFB church should be and stand for. He has no organizational support, no larger church governing body, no one to answer to — except, he’d say, God.

Koletas grew up on the Philadelphia Main Line, between Ardmore and Bryn Mawr, the son of Greek immigrants. Everyone in his family was Greek Orthodox. In sermons, he refers to this period of his life as a time of great radicalism: He was as Marxist and socialist as could be. But according to one of his daughters, recently interviewed on a podcast for people who’ve left the IFB church, none of his extended family members remember any Marxist or socialist politics. He just thinks of his entire life, pre-IFB, as unspeakably liberal.

In the late ’70s, Koletas enrolled in court reporting school, where a classmate gave him gospel tracks and invited him to her IFB church. He converted and, in 1980, made a vow that he’d join the Marine Corps if Ronald Reagan won the election. After Reagan won, he kept his vow — and became engaged to a 16-year-old girl, Irene, from his Greek Orthodox community back home. But he broke off the engagement, insisting that she leave her faith and become a Baptist. “My dad’s parents, my mom’s parents, they just went along with it,” Koletas’s daughter said. “Everyone just goes along with my dad because he can be very antagonistic, very confrontational … and they just don’t want to push his buttons. It’s just like, oh, that’s just crazy Johnny.” As soon as he starts preaching — behind the pulpit or in the streets — he becomes a different person. 

In 1983, two weeks after Irene turned 18, John and Irene were married. In June, Koletas’s father fatally shot his mother in a dispute in their New Jersey home, which, in his daughter’s words, “really shaped a lot of how my dad to this day thinks, believes, preaches, and reacts to everything.” In September, Irene gave birth to the first of the couple’s six children. A few years later, Koletas moved his family to Troy, found a job as a court reporter, started a church, and declared himself its pastor.

In person, Koletas is, as his daughter put it, a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Rev. Hyde: He can be charming and charismatic, and come off as totally normal, especially in his formal capacity as a government employee. But as soon as he starts preaching — behind the pulpit or in the streets — he becomes a different person.

If you’ve seen street preaching before, maybe you get it. Street preaching is different than a guy handing you a pamphlet and kindly asking you if you know about his cool pal Jesus. It’s also different than the proselytizing practiced by Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is loud, and confrontational, and urgent. Pastors who street-preach pick locations specifically designed to reach the largest number of people possible, even if those are places where people will be most annoyed with their presence. On my college campus, the local street preachers used to stand on the sidewalk outside the student union building, telling everyone who passed that they were damned. Others choose to preach outside movie theaters, at concerts, and state fairs.

Koletas liked to preach downtown. He’d yell so loudly, and persistently, that local business owners filed official complaints. “Most people think he’s really weird, and some are scared of him,” an assistant manager of a downtown clothing store told an AP reporter in 1990. “He screams so loud — people don’t want to walk by.”

Koletas would eventually be arrested seven times for disorderly conduct while street preaching (he was never convicted). In a photo of him following a court appearance, syndicated in papers throughout the capital area, he’s young, dapper-looking, dressed in a dark suit. He’s half-smiling. The look is similar to another old photo that currently serves as the banner on the church’s Facebook page: In this one, Koletas is on the street, his Bible in hand, his mouth open in a yell, and a camera crew stands to the side, filming it all. In 1990 — as in 2020 — the more coverage he received, the more righteous his message.

In the years to come, the congregation at Grace Baptist would hover between 70 and 100. They’d recruit new members through a combination of street preaching (which, Koletas admitted, attracted very few people), door-knocking, and sending buses to the projects to bring children back to the church. They’d distribute flyers advertising free foods or gimmicks, like Koletas swallowing a live goldfish, as a form of spectacle. They could always get a few new people in the door. The problem was getting them to stick around once they realized the extent of Koletas’s teachings.

IFB churches are some of the most conservative in the country: Women can’t serve any function in worship, but are also not allowed to wear pants — even pajama pants — and are strongly discouraged from cutting their hair. IFB believers don’t drink, do drugs, or gamble. Many send their children to IFB schools or homeschool because public school is far too liberal. Only the King James Version of the Bible, written in the 17th century, is accepted as Scripture. Many are also part of the Quiverfull movement, which calls upon couples to have as many children as possible and forgo all forms of birth control. As part of the directive to separate yourself from the world, IFB members don’t watch movies or television, or listen to “secular” music — including Southern gospel music. They are incredibly cloistered. As one former IFB member put it to me, “think Duggars plus Amish.”

That’s IFB. And within IFB, Koletas was stricter than anyone. “I don’t think there’s a pastor out there who’s to the right of my dad,” his daughter said. “My dad’s very proud of that — that he’s stricter than all of them.” That strictness — and far-right positioning — manifests in the home, in the pulpit, and in his dealings with the outside world. He preaches that Democrats are “mentally retarded.” Like many fundamentalists, his politics are best summarized as somewhere between libertarian and constitutionalist: There should be very little government intervention in, well, anything — but the Constitution, and American nationhood, is also divinely inspired. They could always get a few new people in the door. The problem was getting them to stick around.

“The whole theology is based on fear,” Ryan Burge, a professor of political theory and a Baptist pastor, told me. “Fear of hell, obviously, but also fear of the world. Christians are told to be in the world, but not of the world, and they take it to the extreme: Don’t watch TV and don’t listen to music, but also be afraid of Black people, and of the Other, and if anyone tries to infiltrate that world, be afraid of them, too.”

Some IFB churches do have Black members. There are even a handful of Black IFB pastors.

Koletas preaches that Black Americans have become slothful and lazy, turning their back on God, and that sin is at the root of every problem in the Black community — a belief that is also held by some Black conservatives. “But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy strain of racism that runs through the IFB church movement,” Bruce Gerencser, the former IFB pastor, told me.

“There were never signs on the door that said No Blacks Permitted,” Gerencser said, “but it was made known, in some churches, that Blacks weren’t welcome.” IFB members would sanction Black believers marrying each other, but not a Black church member marrying one of their white daughters. Or they would send their kids to Bob Jones University, where interracial dating was banned until 2000. At Gerencser’s church outside of Detroit, they’d run buses into the city to pick up Black kids. Back at the church, they’d have their own Sunday school classes, separate from the rest of the congregants. Those classes were referred to as “B school.” Many IFB members believe in the “curse of Ham,” which has historically been used to justify slavery. Today, pastors like Koletas point to the manifestations of centuries of systemic racism — poverty, reduced life expectancy, drug use, gun violence — and interpret them as evidence of God’s enduring curse.

“But if you would’ve called us a bunch of racists,” Gerencser said, “there would have been objections.”

Comment Religious bigotry and racial grievances have been stoked up by the ruling elite. Divide and rule is how you build and control empires. The Anglo Americns excel at this vile art. Along with all forms of religious bigotry and mania, it should have had its day by now, but there is too much money in too few hands.

The money grabbing elite make money from domestic aand foreign wars – stoking up fear among the masses, with women of all races particularly gullible and self seeking. Men will do anything to please them.

What started as a reasonable grievance and protest against moronic Anglo American style moronic policing, was hi jacked by black racists, white liberals and taken on board by an opportunistic elite who do not want there police running dogs in the frame.

Robert Cook

The epic battle against coronavirus misinformation and conspiracy theories August 21st 2020

Analysts are tracking false rumours about COVID-19 in hopes of curbing their spread.

Philip Ball &

Amy Maxmen

In the first few months of 2020, wild conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and the new coronavirus began sprouting online. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist who has funded efforts to control the virus with treatments, vaccines and technology, had himself created the virus, argued one theory. He had patented it, said another. He’d use vaccines to control people, declared a third. The false claims quietly proliferated among groups predisposed to spread the message — people opposed to vaccines, globalization or the privacy infringements enabled by technology. Then one went mainstream.

On 19 March, the website falsely claimed that Gates planned to use a coronavirus vaccine as a ploy to monitor people through an injected microchip or quantum-dot spy software. Two days later, traffic started flowing to a YouTube video on the idea. It’s been viewed nearly two million times. The idea reached Roger Stone — a former adviser to US President Donald Trump — who in April discussed the theory on a radio show, adding that he’d never trust a coronavirus vaccine that Gates had funded. The interview was covered by the newspaper the New York Post, which didn’t debunk the notion. Then that article was liked, shared or commented on by nearly one million people on Facebook. “That’s better performance than most mainstream media news stories,” says Joan Donovan, a sociologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Donovan charts the path of this piece of disinformation like an epidemiologist tracking the transmission of a new virus. As with epidemics, there are ‘superspreader’ moments. After the New York Post story went live, several high-profile figures with nearly one million Facebook followers each posted their own alarming comments, as if the story about Gates devising vaccines to track people were true.Coronavirus misinformation needs researchers to respond

The Gates conspiracy theories are part of an ocean of misinformation on COVID-19 that is spreading online. Every major news event comes drenched in rumours and propaganda. But COVID-19 is “the perfect storm for the diffusion of false rumour and fake news”, says data scientist Walter Quattrociocchi at the Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Italy. People are spending more time at home, and searching online for answers to an uncertain and rapidly changing situation. “The topic is polarizing, scary, captivating. And it’s really easy for everyone to get information that is consistent with their system of belief,” Quattrociocchi says. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the situation an infodemic: “An over-abundance of information — some accurate and some not — rendering it difficult to find trustworthy sources of information and reliable guidance.”

For researchers who track how information spreads, COVID-19 is an experimental subject like no other. “This is an opportunity to see how the whole world pays attention to a topic,” says Renée diResta at the Stanford Internet Observatory in California. She and many others have been scrambling to track and analyse the disparate falsehoods floating around — both ‘misinformation’, which is wrong but not deliberately misleading, and ‘disinformation’, which refers to organized falsehoods that are intended to deceive. In a global health crisis, inaccurate information doesn’t only mislead, but could be a matter of life and death if people start taking unproven drugs, ignoring public-health advice, or refusing a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available.

By studying the sources and spread of false information about COVID-19, researchers hope to understand where such information comes from, how it grows and — they hope — how to elevate facts over falsehood. It’s a battle that can’t be won completely, researchers agree — it’s not possible to stop people from spreading ill-founded rumours. But in the language of epidemiology, the hope is to come up with effective strategies to ‘flatten the curve’ of the infodemic, so that bad information can’t spread as far and as fast.

Comment Obviously there is a conspiracy to rubbish conspiracy theories, the ultimate conspiracy theory. This smug article is a protest against alternative views on social media. Conspiracy or ‘official secrets’ the outcome is still the same. The Hillsborough police cover up was a conspiracy. There are no greater or more malign conspirators than the British police. It is amazing how many young journalists are corrupted just to keep their careers in mainstream media. Robert Cook

Corona, A Taste to Encounter August 21st 2020

Corona The Loner by R J Cook

Corona, a taste to encounter, from the book by Robert Cook, ‘Portsmouth Voices’
Image Appledne Photographics Archive/Portsmouth

Corona a word from physics class

Now every thing comes to pass

Corona discharge from ionisation

Now petrifies this evil nation

Simple world of physics long past

Good things, good days never last

Ionised fluid turned to air, the conductor

High volts dance around the instructor

Government is the orchestrator

Police State now not sooner or later

Millions made from Summer Lockdown

Shops closed down all over town.

Corona used to be a drink

How come, that makes you think ?

Lovely fizzy fruity stuff

Tastes so nice can’t get enough

Corona now is something tricky

Strikes you down, makes you sickie

Corona came from an evil power

Spread all over, quite a shower.

Stay at home, lose your job

Live on the street, starve, die or rob

Corona sounds so very bright

Make you dance all day and night

Corona is a brand new drug

It’s on sale for every mug

Wear your mask and suffocate

Learn of fear, learn to hate.

R.J Cook  August 21st 2020

Why Black Student Organizers Are the Future—and the Present and the Past

Why we fight. August 21st 2020


  • Clarissa Brook

“Without this rage to define me when the morning comes how will they find me? It will be as if I never ever was.” — Zora Howard 

I feel like I have lived a thousand lives; I am 22. But, I have battle scars, too many broken comrades, and more than enough collective trauma. All of that, though, is what keeps me coming back to this thing we call organizing. Though the word “organizing” has multiple definitions, for most, for me, it means being committed to doing the legwork of building movements, from the smallest to biggest tasks. All of us come into the work scared and unsure of ourselves. It is in those moments of pain, uncertainty, and community that you find clarity. Direct action was the first time I tasted freedom, the first time I was an active participant in my own liberation. The sweet taste of the unknown is what keeps me doing the thing that could kill me every day. 

Across the country, black students are risking their lives. Whether from staging highway shutdowns, protesting elected officials, or knocking down Confederate statues, we are the kids that most media, most people, refuse to acknowledge and will always blame for civil unrest. We are an easy distraction, a source of blame, when years of liberal rhetoric continues to fail black communities. We are black students of varying intersections, who are all dedicated to a similar goal, that goal being black liberation from the multitude of systems that are still actively oppressing black communities. It is through social media and meeting on the frontlines of direct action that black college students are leading—and have long led—social change in this country.  

When I was 19, along with eight other students from the Atlanta University Center (encompassing Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University) all a part of a radical organizing group called AUC Shut It Down, I protested Hillary Clinton during a speech she gave in October of 2015. We decided to do so after realizing that much of Clinton’s campaign sought to galvanize young black voters without engaging with us in a real way. After being escorted out of the event for disrupting the event, we were met with her violent Secret Service escort, administrative sabotage from our respective colleges, and student backlash. It was that experience—before the era of Trump—that brought me to learn more about centering my organizing and activism work in black liberation. The Hillary action was the first time I was able to actively fight back against the systems that had plagued my life and made my existence seem expendable. 

My story is not unique, black students from all across the country have found themselves radicalized and given space to organize in new and different ways. Whether it be through working on issues like police violence or campus sexual violence, all the way to environmental racism, we all have varied stories and common experiences that keep us tethered to this thing we call liberation work. Though the work is gratifying, the idea that it is glamorous is a lie. Being an organizer in 2018 is nothing like what it was like at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s, we are trying to change a culture rooted in capitalismhomophobia, cissexism (the appeal to norms that enforce the gender binary, and gender essentialism, resulting in the oppression of gender-variant, nonbinary, and trans identities), and white supremacy. The work takes a toll on your body and mind. Many of us struggle with our mental health, housing insecurities, and dismissal from people who tell us we should let things go, and move on.

So why keep fighting? As Takiyah Thompson, a student organizer and member of the Workers World Party and Defend Durham, says, “Fighting for black people, I think, is my way of honoring the fearless black fighters of yesterday who I can thank for where we are today. It would just be corny of me to come from a people who gave us Toussaint Louverture and Marcus Garvey and acquiesce into a system that keeps its foot on black people’s necks to this very day.”

Miles Quarles, a screenwriter and student organizer at Virginia Commonwealth University, also speaks to the pressures of organizing but concurs that the strife is worth it. Quarles says, “For me and many, organizing feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and there will be days, weeks, or even months where you’ll feel like what you’re doing is futile. The duty of organizing will break you, and it will put you back together by feeding your ego small victories here and there. Being a black organizer is especially traumatizing because it is basically one big cycle of being shown how insignificant your life is. The moment is simply too pressing for me not to be involved in some capacity.”

But that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to be easy. Jonathan Saffold, a nonbinary student organizer with Howard University Resist, says, “When my scholarship was taken from me, [after the nine-day administrative building takeover], I was left to pick up the pieces myself. There is no support system to right the wrongs done to organizers. Student organizers, especially, should know that your organizing will cost you at some point.”

Delaney Vandergrift, a community organizer and the student body president at North Carolina A&T State University, makes clear that there are also difficulties in not being seen as the “right” kind of activist: “Each night was a different type of trauma that I thought I’d process the next day in between classes, except there was no processing. Only distraction. Only anxiety. How can someone focus on being a student leader after seeing my community members doused in pepper spray, violently arrested, and beaten by the police? The following semester the adrenaline wore off, and my mental health depleted right along with my GPA. I want to be clear that organizing for social justice in the spaces and communities that I am in is exactly what I believe I should be doing. I believe wholeheartedly that all people have a calling and I know that mine is to do the work of the people for the people. There is no grace for the student organizer that doesn’t fit the acceptable description of activist: black, cis, straight, and male.”

It can be difficult, then, to even feel like you have a place in the world to protest, that you have the ability to survive. Da’Shaun Harrison, a nonbinary writer, organizer, and public speaker, says, “Survival, for me, looks like surrounding myself with other black queer people… always. We hold each other in ways that we don’t often get held by others, and it matters to me that we create space amongst ourselves to love and protect each other—just as Assata Shakur said we should.”

But it goes beyond mere survival. Ramelcy Uribe, a Dominican queer educator and youth worker, explains, “I’m really trying to figure out what it means to be beyond surviving. I’m trying to thrive, and that means challenging my own internal glorification of hustling to live and financially struggling for the sake of ‘the work.’ I have to trust that I can ask for what I need and my community will show up.”

It’s a balancing act that few have figured out. It can seem daunting at times to be in multiple worlds at once and feel alone in the midst of it all. You have to be able to check your ego, privilege, and assumptions at the door when calling yourself an organizer. It can be easy to get caught up in the everyday petty arguments over how this verified Twitter activist is co-opting a movement, of that celebrity has been canceled this week, all the while hoping to god the HBCU vs. PWI debate dies forever. Yet you have to center your own care and find ways to do more— to not just survive but actually thrive in a world that sees you as expendable.

I forget that at my age many of my organizing elders were all in the trenches, that folks like Mumia Abu JamalAssata Shakur, and Angela Davis all were in harsher circumstances with fewer resources and fewer opportunities. So I have to sit back, breathe, and realize that I and my fellow organizers are not alone in this movement. We are all trying our very best to create the world that people treat as a joke—a world that people say will never happen. As organizers, we have to be dreamers before anything else, molding starshine out of clay and taking the scraps of black joy we find in the everyday. That is the real magic of it all, turning the mundane into fuel for the deep beyond—even if it means building the rocket ships for ourselves. NYLON

More from NYLON

This post originally appeared on NYLON and was published September 11, 2018

Alexei Navalny suspected poisoning: why opposition figure stands out in Russian politics

August 21, 2020

Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition politician and activist, has been hospitalised after a suspected poisoning.

Navalny’s spokeswoman suggested he was poisoned by something in tea he drank on the morning of August 20 before boarding a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow. While on the flight, Navalny became ill, and the plane made an emergency landing in Omsk (another city in Siberia) so that he could receive medical treatment.

Navalny was in Siberia supporting candidates running in local elections on September 13. United Russia, the Kremlin-backed party of power, is expecting more difficulty than usual in securing victories in this upcoming set of electoral races.

High-profile critic

A lawyer by training, 44-year-old Navalny is a high-profile critic of President Vladimir Putin and the ruling political elite in Russia.

Charismatic and anti-Kremlin, Navalny stands out in Russian politics. His profile is a sharp contrast to the politicians that lead supposed “opposition” political parties with seats in the national legislature. These parties, led by the likes of 67-year-old Sergei Mironov, 76-year-old Gennady Zyuganov and 74-year-old Vladimir Zhirinovsky, are seen as largely co-opted by the Kremlin. They might make critical comments occasionally, but can be relied upon to support the Kremlin’s line when needed.

Navalny has attempted to achieve elected office. He ran in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election, securing 27% of the vote according to the official figures. He claimed, however, that this figure did not reflect his true level of support in the capital, including due to falsification.

Navalny has ruffled feathers in the past with his sometimes-strident nationalist views – but whether these are sincerely held convictions or attempts to appeal to possible supporters is unclear.

He was formally barred from running in the 2018 presidential election following criminal convictions, which some regard as being politically motivated.

Navalny has had more success away from electoral politics. In 2011, he established the Anti-Corruption Foundation to investigate and publicise alleged corruption by senior politicians and state officials. He branded United Russia the “party of crooks and thieves” – a phrase that has stuck.

A 2017 YouTube video by the foundation laying out details of a corruption investigation into the-then prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has had nearly 36 million views.

In July 2020, Navalny announced that he was closing the Anti-Corruption Foundation, following a lawsuit linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Putin’s.

Not the ‘leader’ of the opposition

Although a prominent opposition figure, it would be wrong to call Navalny the singular opposition leader in Russia. For one thing, this might give a false impression of Navalny’s popularity and name recognition in Russia as a whole.

In an October 2019 survey conducted by the Levada Centre, 9% of respondents said that they related to Navalny’s activities “rather positively”, with 25% relating “rather negatively”. A further 31% said they knew nothing of his activities and the same percentage reacted to Navalny neutrally.

Quite how these figures, as well as election results, would change if Russia had a freer media and electoral landscape is not clear. But, as things stand, Navalny is the most high-profile Kremlin critic operating within Russia.

Another reason why labelling Navalny as an opposition leader is inappropriate relates to the fact that political opposition forces in Russia are fragmented. They often find it hard to coordinate their activities in a way that could mount an effective challenge to the authorities. And this certainly suits the Kremlin.

Navalny has, however, spearheaded an effort to help overcome the coordination problems facing the political opposition. Called “smart voting”, the aim is to coordinate tactical votes for candidates who are not members of, or affiliated with, United Russia. The initiative appears to have had some success, including in the 2019 elections for the Moscow City Council.

Past attacks

It’s too early to say with certainty why Navalny has fallen ill.

However, he has been attacked before, including in a 2017 incident when he was covered in an antiseptic green dye that left him with partial blindness in one eye. Navalny was then hospitalised in 2019 following what could have been a poisoning during his detention for violating protest laws.

If Navalny has been poisoned, then the specifics of this incident share distinct similarities with past cases. In 2004, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist and vocal critic of the Kremlin’s actions in the second Chechen war, was poisoned by drinking tea on a flight. Two years later, she was assassinated. And, in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB officer, was poisoned with polonium-210 added to tea he drank at a London hotel.

Yet, even if Navalny has been poisoned, it’s far from certain – and unlikely, even – that this was directly ordered by the Kremlin. What is certain is that the Kremlin has not taken steps to ensure the safety of opposition figures in modern-day Russia. This was made clear in February 2015 when former Russian deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov, was shot to death on a bridge next to the Kremlin in Moscow.

By many accounts, the assassination of Nemtsov shocked the Kremlin. But, insofar as this attack and others increase the perceived costs of political opposition to Putin’s rule, the Kremlin benefits from the chilling effect on critical voices in the country.

The Kremlin will want to distance itself from any suggestion that it was responsible for Navalny’s current illness. With protests in neighbouring Belarus after a disputed election and in the Russian city of Khabarovsk following the arrest of the sitting governor, the prospect of another reason for Russians to protest on the streets will be deeply troubling for Putin

Revealed: Who Profited From The U.K. Government’s Coronavirus Spending Boom August 21st 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought about an unprecedented peacetime public spending boom in the UK as the government pumped billions into trying to fight Covid-19.

But an investigation by HuffPost UK has led to renewed calls for an inquiry into government spending amid “scandalous and shocking” revelations about the way taxpayers’ money was handed out.

HuffPost UK has investigated which companies have profited from the pandemic that has killed 45,000 Brits and left millions at risk of redundancy.

We found deals involving “eye-wateringly large” sums of money that have proved highly controversial.

Revelations have already hit headlines about large PPE and testing contracts awarded to firms that ultimately supplied unsuitable products – such as Ayanda Capital Ltd and Randox – which has placed a spotlight on the government’s use of emergency procurement powers.

Now HuffPost UK can reveal other areas of government spending that raise further questions about how suppliers were selected and how these deals were arranged.

  • We found that PPE contracts worth £186m, the second largest amount spent with any PPE supplier, went to UK logistics firm Uniserve Limited, whose multi-millionaire owner is listed as a speaker for the influential pro-Brexit lobby group Prosperity UK. Other speakers listed on the site include chancellor Rishi Sunak and cabinet minister Michael Gove.
  • Another two large PPE contracts worth £49m in total went to a company, Initia Ventures Ltd, with assets of only £100. Companies House records list it as dormant.
  • Of the 10 companies that were handed the highest value deals to supply the government with PPE, we found that five had no apparent record of procuring PPE previously. 
  • One firm told HuffPost UK its plan to manufacture face masks in the UK for as little as 10p a unit was turned down by government, despite its offer to make 75m masks a month at no profit at the point when the NHS need for PPE was at its most dire.
  • Smaller UK testing companies also told HuffPost UK the process unfairly excluded them from winning orders and may have deprived the UK of vital tests at the peak of the pandemic. 
  • We found consultancy firm KPMG was paid almost £1m for three months’ work on one Nightingale hospital in Harrogate. This is the first time any information has come into the public domain about spending with top consultancy firms on the Nightingales. The government and NHS has faced criticism for its secrecy over the issue.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of any of these companies.

In many cases, the thousands of firms that won Covid-19 contracts from government were at the forefront of the national effort to tackle the virus.

But these deals and others revealed in the data raise questions about how the government, moving at speed and during a period of incredibly intense global demand, decided which companies should be appointed as suppliers. 

Under the guidelines that are in place under emergency Covid-19 procurement powers, known as Regulation 32 powers, government and other public authorities do not have to go out to competitive tender due to the need to appoint suppliers with “extreme urgency”.

However, it is unclear how the government sought to achieve best value for money without the usual checks and balances in place – for example, how the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would have selected a dormant company such as Initia Ventures Ltd, which has no history manufacturing PPE, as a supplier when it was not carrying out tendering processes.

“There must be an inquiry into the way government has handled the crisis and into the way public money has been spent,” said MP Rosie Cooper, who sits on the health and social care committee.

“It is scandalous and shocking that eye-watering sums of money appear to have been spent with companies that don’t have a track record in this field, such as PPE and test and trace. 

“Disgracefully, companies with experience were ignored, and government needs to explain how nearly £50m can be spent with a dormant company. Who authorised that and why?

“Why were smaller testing companies ignored while contracts were placed with large companies who failed to deliver? Who took each decision and why needs to be made public.”

She said taxpayers needed answers, adding: “It’s their money and they’re likely to be paying for these decisions for many years to come.”

A government spokesperson said proper due diligence was carried out for all contracts and collaborations with the commercial sector had strengthened the pandemic response.

“As a result of public and private sector organisations working together at pace, we were able to protect our NHS and strengthen our response to this unprecedented global pandemic,” he said.

But shadow health minister Justin Madders MP said significant questions remained about government accountability over this spending, with scrutiny vital because of the intense pressure coronavirus has placed on public sector finances.

“When we’ve got nurses, who have literally put their lives on the line for the last six months, protesting on the streets because they haven’t had a decent pay rise for a decade, you’ve got to ask whether all the money that’s been put into this has been spent wisely,” he said.

“And of course when a government is faced with decisions like that, it’s only right that every item of government expenditure is closely examined.”

Spending on personal protective equipment    

HuffPost UK analysed data on all public sector spending under emergency Covid-19 procurement powers from March to July this year, to find out which firms won out in the government’s pandemic spending boom.

The data provided by Tussell, a company that publishes information on UK government contracts, shows industries supplying products and services vital to battling the pandemic – such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing – have seen the highest level of spending.

The contracts issued to buy PPE in particular have proved highly controversial, already causing a mounting political row. The data show 471 PPE contracts were published from April to July, totalling £2.6bn.

PPE contract spending: Top 50

Ayanda Capital Limited252,500,000
Uniserve Limited186,425,000
Ramfoam Limited149,310,000
P14 Medical Limited120,205,968
Unispace Global Limited108,634,000
Clandeboye Agencies Ltd107,520,000
Purple Surgical UK Limited92,240,000
Honeywell Safety Products (UK) Ltd57,937,150
China Resources Pharmaceutical Commercial Group54,162,456
Bunzl Public Limited Company53,838,975
Urathon Europe Limited52,480,000
Initia Ventures Limited48,840,000
Fourds Limited43,530,696
Hospital Services Ltd40,000,000
Medicine Box Ltd40,000,000
Full Support Healthcare Limited39,136,152
Elite Creations (UK) Ltd.38,000,000
Crisp Websites Limited32,436,000
Survitec Group Limited30,544,869
Brandology Limited29,315,000
Monarch Acoustics Limited28,800,000
Pharmaceuticals Direct Limited28,800,000
Polystar Plastics Limited26,360,700
Bolle Brands (UK) Limited26,000,000
Luxe Lifestyle Limited25,780,000
Excalibur Healthcare Services Limited25,135,000
Ideal Medical Solutions Ltd24,993,600
SG Recruitment UK Limited23,899,000
Direct Corporate Clothing PLC22,272,091
Zenith Guild Enterprises Ltd21,890,000
British Polythene Limited20,630,949
Tower Supplies20,250,000
Fastenal Europe Ltd20,000,000
Techniclean Supply Limited20,000,000
KAU Media Group Ltd19,500,000
Aventis Solutions Limited18,480,000
Agile Medical Ltd18,427,796
PFF Packaging Group Limited18,361,173
Red E MED Limited18,084,000
Bunzl Retail & Healthcare Supplies Limited18,000,000
Creative Activity17,000,000
Photocentric Limited15,340,000
Gemini Surgical UK Ltd15,244,910
Yearntree Limited15,030,000
Myshipper Ltd15,002,300
3M United Kingdom Public Limited Company15,000,000
GI UK Medical Ltd14,930,000
Genmed Enterprises UK Ltd14,148,000
Rehear Labs Limited13,400,000
Pharmapac (U.K.) Limited12,800,000
Sum of Total Award Value (GBP)

Data provided by Tussell

HuffPost UK found firms who, on paper, appeared to have no record in manufacturing or supplying PPE were among those awarded huge contracts worth in some cases hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Five of the 10 PPE suppliers with whom the government spent the most money – £709m in total – were companies that had no apparent background in supplying PPE. 

One of those firms was Upminster based logistics and global trade management company Uniserve Limited, which won five contracts in April worth £186m – the second highest amount paid to any one company for PPE. The contracts were to supply gowns, gloves, aprons, face masks, face shields, and protective goggles. 

Questions have been raised about Uniserve’s connections to central government. 

In 2018, the firm was appointed as a UK government adviser on tech and customs, according to its website, and its owner and founder Iain Liddell is listed as a speaker for the influential pro-Brexit lobby group Prosperity UK, which is linked to a number of leading Brexiteer MPs.

Other Prosperity UK speakers listed on the site include chancellor Rishi Sunak, former business secretary Greg Clark, former Brexit secretary David Davis, and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.

The government said ministers were not involved in the awarding of contracts, so any connection through Prosperity UK had no bearing on the Uniserve deal. 

Uniserve did not comment.

Contracts worth £49m also went to a company called Initia Ventures Limited, which is listed as having assets of only £100 and in January 2020 was marked as dormant on Companies House.

HuffPost UK could find no website for the company, which is registered at the address of its accountant in Finchley, north London.

Despite the firm having no apparent trading history or background supplying PPE, DHSC awarded it one contract for isolation suits worth £32.6m on April 19 at the peak of the pandemic, and then another worth £16.3m just five days later on April 24.  

The company’s director Amogh Kalyanpur said it had provided “various levels of security and de-risking to the DHSC along with a highly credible manufacturer”, which he believes allowed it to win the contracts. 

“Yes, we did not have a history in the UK but the track record is in the businesses and manufacturers we are working with in China, Thailand, Hong Kong and India – which is where the goods are manufactured and which is also the bottleneck for logistics,” he said.

“None of our shipments have faced any of these issues or quality issues. And this is down to the team we have on the ground and the credibility of the manufacturer – with whom we have had an exclusivity for representation in the UK from the outset.”

He said the bid was made directly to the procurement team for the Covid-19 response and not through any contacts, political or governmental.

HuffPost UK asked DHSC how the Uniserve and Initia Ventures contracts were agreed.

The government said both companies had responded to a public call to action over PPE and went through the same due diligence as all suppliers who made bids.

My wife’s a GP and she managed to get Covid because their [health] trust were told to just go out and buy whatever they could. They shouldn’t be expected to be doing that

But other companies that missed out in this process have questioned the efficacy of the system.

One firm that offered the government the opportunity to manufacture Type IIR surgical face masks, which have the highest level of filtration, directly in the UK for only 10p a unit says its bid was rejected despite the NHS experiencing desperate shortages of PPE at the time. 

Market prices for this type of mask were averaging 59p to 64p a unit in April, according to government.

Total Productivity Solutions Ltd bid in early May to set up a UK manufacturing plant to produce face masks, guaranteeing that it had the equipment and necessary raw materials to do this.

The company says its proposal would have allowed the government to produce 75m masks a month cheaply, quickly and without paying manufacturers’ profit, and the facility would have been up and running within six weeks if the bid had won approval, guaranteeing supply.

The pitch went in at a time when the government was agreeing riskier deals with companies such as the £253m contract with Ayanda Capital Ltd, an investment firm that had no PPE experience, which resulted in the purchase of 50m masks that were not unusable.

Nik de Villiers, senior partner at Total Productivity Solutions, said: “If you compare our solution, for the same money that was spent you could have actually manufactured a billion Type IIR masks. So on paper it’s really not comparable.

“Had we been given the go ahead back in May, we would have been up and running a serious production facility now that would be producing British-made masks of the highest quality that would be good enough for the NHS,” he continued.

“My wife’s a GP and she managed to get Covid because their [health] trust were told to just go out and buy whatever they could. They shouldn’t be expected to be doing that – they should be given the right tools to carry out their jobs.”

The company is now in talks with Amazon about taking the proposal forward, but says its preference would have been to supply the NHS.

“Amazon has indicated to us that our proposition will be by far the cheapest that they’ve seen that actually fits the standard of quality that they require,” said de Villiers. “But our preference has always been to do it for the government.”

DHSC did not comment on the bid but said its focus was on working with companies that could have the biggest immediate impact on protecting frontline workers. 

The data also shows that DHSC awarded contracts worth a total of £755m to 41 companies with “caution” or “high risk” credit indicators.

These include three of the highest value contracts with Ayanda Capital; P14 Medical Limited, which is owned by a Conservative councillor; and confectioners Clandeboye Agencies Ltd. All three have credit indicators of “caution”.

The sheer volume and variety of companies providing PPE revealed in the data points to the intense pressure the government was under to secure supplies as it looked outside of established supply chains at the height of the pandemic.

It also raises questions about why more PPE had not been stockpiled earlier and crucially whether lives might have been saved had the proper equipment been available sooner.

The Labour Party has now formally requested a probe by the National Audit Office into contracts awarded under emergency Covid-19 powers that bypassed competition rules due to urgency.

Rachel Reeves MP, shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “There is concern from the public but also from within the business community at some of the peculiar procurement decisions made by the Conservative government without goIng out to tender. 

“Labour has called for the National Audit Office to investigate the government’s approach to procurement so that there can be transparency, public confidence and a more effective approach taken in the crucial months ahead.”

Spending on Covid-19 testing 

The data on testing contracts handed out by Whitehall paints a similar picture about the government’s preparedness.

From March to July this year, 109 testing contracts worth £1.5bn have been published across the public sector.

In marked contrast to the PPE deals, the government has relied largely on established big pharma companies to provide testing, with three firms owned by US pharmaceutical giants featuring on the list of top suppliers.

HuffPost UK found some of the largest deals were awarded by DHSC, which has contracted out £646m in testing services since early March, and has relied heavily on multinationals.

Testing contract spending: Top 50

Office for National Statistics750,000,000
Hologic Limited151,219,210
Abbott Laboratories Limited137,881,357
Randox Laboratories Limited133,000,000
Serco Limited108,026,554
Life Technologies Limited68,442,039
Roche Diagnostics Limited34,464,000
Oxford Nanopore Technologies Limited28,027,872
Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics13,282,140
Biomerieux UK Limited9,000,000
Amazon Eu Sarl8,000,000
Perkinelmer Las (UK) Limited8,000,000
Mast Group Limited7,777,530
Pro-Lab Diagnostics Limited6,148,173
Almac Diagnostic Services Limited5,303,480
A. Menarini Diagnostics Limited5,246,400
Diasorin Limited3,974,700
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Ltd3,600,000
Hutchison Technologies Limited3,480,000
Tecan UK Limited3,400,000
Quantumdx Group Limited3,200,000
Hamilton Sales & Service UK Ltd2,161,500
Stanford Logistics Limited2,071,000
Perkinelmer (UK) Holdings Limited1,798,432
University of Oxford1,560,000
Thermo Fisher Diagnostics Limited1,159,200
Stone Computers Limited977,908
Bruntwood Group Limited900,000
Accu-Science Ireland Limited856,000
Luminex Corp805,000
ACF Technologies (UK) Limited800,000
Connexus Health Limited764,033
Hazmatlink Limited665,000
Integra Biosciences Limited585,000
Securitas Security Services (UK) Limited575,000
KPMG LLC500,000
Saving Lives500,000
Appleton.Woods Limited488,643
Sartorius Stedim UK Limited485,100
Meddx Solutions Limited474,000
Ernst & Young LLP400,000
Full Support Healthcare Limited389,520
Abbott (UK) Holdings Limited325,045
Business Moves Group Limited300,000
Fit Test IE300,000
Rpe2fit Ltd300,000
Public Health England275,000
Circular 1 Health Limited250,000
Eggplant Limited213,600
VWR International Ltd200,384
Sum of Award Value per Supplier (GBP)

Data provided by Tussell

The highest value contract, worth £151m, went to Hologic Ltd for the supply of coronavirus tests to laboratories across the UK. The Manchester-based company is ultimately owned by US pharmaceutical giant Hologic Inc in the US, which is expected to see bolstered revenue growth from testing sales this year.

Contracts worth £68m were issued to Life Technologies Limited, which is ultimately owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc – another pharma giant in the States. The US firm reported that its quarter two revenues for the year have soared by 10% driven by pandemic demand.

A £28m contract went to the UK firm Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd, which won a deal to supply test kits, training material and support.

The company was founded in 2005 as a spin-off from the University of Oxford. It is now one of a tiny group of what are called “unicorn” start-ups because they are rare in having grown to a value exceeding $1bn.

Swiss pharma giant Roche also won contracts worth £34m with Public Health England through its UK arm Roche Diagnostics Limited. Its machines and kits are used to process coronavirus tests in laboratories.

But smaller UK-based testing companies claim they were unfairly left out of the process, with the government being unduly reliant on large multinational companies to the detriment of supply.

Pro-Lab Diagnostics Ltd manufactures test kits and reagents. It won contracts worth £6.1m to supply kits to NHS labs – but its general manager Mark Reed said lots of other small and medium sized businesses felt locked out of the process.

Reed, who sits on the board of industry group the British In Vitro Diagnostic Association, told HuffPost UK: “I do know that some of my friends in the industry have been extremely vocal about how they felt it was unfair that competitive tenders weren’t issued and evaluations were done behind closed doors. 

“Now, we were fortunate because we positioned ourselves very well and we did get awarded a contract. But as time has moved on, there does seem to be a bit of a lean towards: ‘Let’s talk to the big boys first, and then we’ll talk to the medium-sized companies.’

“You can’t deny that there does seem to be a bit of favouritism towards these huge multinational corporations.”

It has caused even greater anger within the industry as there have been issues with some of the bigger deals – such as a £133m contract with Randox Laboratories Ltd. Last month the government ordered a pause on the use of Randox test kits saying some may not meet required safety standards.

Pro-Lab said it hasn’t reached full capacity of manufacturing a million tests a week, never getting above 400,000, and that it is now in a position where NHS labs are wanting to place orders but a block is occurring because of the bureaucracy of the central system.

Charlotte Duncan, the firm’s technical director, said: “It is very frustrating and it does feel very much like you’re just permanently banging on doors. The drive is coming very much from our customers.”

HuffPost UK found the largest single testing contract issued was by the Treasury, which awarded £750m to the Office for National Statistics to set up a Covid-19 infection survey.

The survey is being carried out to try and understand how many people in the UK have Covid-19 and the ONS has alerted the market to the fact that it will award one or more commercial contracts to work on the survey.

No further information is yet available about which firm, or firms, have been or will be appointed, and the ONS did not comment when asked by HuffPost UK.

But this could potentially end up being one of the largest set of contracts with the private sector under the emergency Covid-19 spending powers.

Another of the largest deals was the huge £108m NHS Test and Trace contract handed to outsourcing giant Serco, which has announced its profits soared by 53% in the first six months of the year.

The data also reveal the well publicised contract awarded to Amazon to provide postal services to deliver coronavirus tests was worth £8m.

Spending on the Nightingale hospitals 

Another area of significant public spending under emergency Covid-19 powers is on the NHS Nightingale hospitals.

The pop-up hospitals were constructed inside existing buildings in the first weeks of lockdown so the NHS would not be overwhelmed by the pandemic, and were the flagship policy in the government’s early response to Covid.

Contracts published to date show NHS England awarded £346m to hospital trusts to set up the Nightingales, but no information is yet available about the private firms that were paid in turn to actually build the hospitals.

HuffPost UK: Nightingale hospital contracts

Using hospital trust spending records, HuffPost UK has established that the consultancy firm KPMG was paid £923,000 over three months for what are described as “audit fees” related to the construction of just one of the Nightingale hospitals in Harrogate. 

KPMG says it did all Covid-19 contract work at cost price. NHS England did not comment on the deal.

But questions have gone unanswered about the role that consultancy firms played in the building of the Nightingales and in July the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which holds the government to account over spending, slammed the lack of transparency.

The PAC said: “We are concerned by the scarcity of information on contracts and costs. When asked, NHS England and NHS Improvement was unable, or unwilling, to provide any estimate of the cost of private sector capacity or the Nightingale hospitals.”

The PAC said it was “imperative” the DHSC and NHS provide information about costs and “how the Nightingales have been used and will be used in coming months”.

HuffPost UK reported onsecrecy surrounding these contracts, and calls for the government and NHS England to be more transparent, in June.

The figures that are available show the Nightingale West Midlands hospital in Birmingham cost almost twice as much as any of the other hospitals to build, at £109m. 

The contracted costs for the other Nightingale hospitals varied from £20.3m for the Devon and Cornwall hospital to £55.8m for the Nightingale Excel in London.

NHS England has not commented on how much it will cost to keep the facilities – which are based in privately owned buildings such as the Excel conference centre in the capital’s Docklands area, and the NEC in Birmingham – open and operating.

The government says the Nightingale hospitals will be repurposed as cancer testing centres, with most only ever having admitted a handful of coronavirus patients.

Why is this important?

Procurement experts acknowledge there was a need for the emergency Covid-19 spending powers, which relaxed competition rules due to the urgency of responding to the pandemic.

But this does not reduce the need for the government to be accountable for its decisions, which is why there have been mounting demands for an inquiry.

Experts say the perception of fairness and transparency in how large public contracts are awarded is vital in maintaining public confidence in government.

Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said: “It is incumbent on the government to prove it is delivering value for money, not just giving money to those it values. Allegations of cronyism can do untold damage to public confidence in its response to the pandemic.”

The amount spent by the public sector through emergency Covid-19 procurement has been colossal – with 1,188 contracts published from March to July totalling £5.8bn of taxpayers’ money.

Critically, every extra pound spent on PPE or testing contracts that could have been won at cheaper or more competitive prices also leaves less in the public purse at a time of significant spending pressure on the NHS, schools, and the welfare state.

To put some of the huge figures in context, chancellor Rishi Sunak allocated £25bn just for PPE and the government’s Test and Trace scheme in his coronavirus budget in July. This sum almost equalled the £30bn allocated to kickstart the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

The £755m the DHSC spent buying PPE from companies with caution or high-risk credit indicators was more than the £750m committed by the chancellor to support all frontline charities in the UK to keep delivering services during the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of The Equality Trust, said the revelations over some of the Covid-19 emergency spending would exacerbate the perception of one set of rules for government and another for everyone else.

“Many people face huge levels of conditionality for the money they receive as welfare payments. If they were late for appointments or failed to turn up at the job centre then they would quickly see payments docked,” she said. 

“This has tipped many into poverty, homelessness and debt. However, it’s a different story when vast amounts of taxpayers’ money is being handed out to big companies without much conditionality or even checking. 

“As Covid-19 exacerbates the already damagingly high levels of inequality in the UK, we must really ask what plans the government has for fulfilling its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 – reducing inequality.”Suggest a correction

News August 20th 2020

Russia’s Western Backed Wealthy Regime Change Hopeful Opposition leader apparently poisoned. August 21st 2020

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been put in a medically induced coma after suffering from what aides described as symptoms of poisoning. Doctors, who say his condition is critical, are now battling to save his life.

Mr Navalny, 44, is the most obvious face of opposition to Vladimir Putin inside Russia. The only opposition politician to command mass support, his investigations into graft at the highest levels of Russian government have been followed by millions. They have also made him many enemies inside the regime.

In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, Mr Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, described how the opposition politician fell seriously ill approximately 30 minutes after take-off from Tomsk, a city in Siberia, on a flight to Moscow. The pilot was forced to make an emergency stop 500 miles away, in Omsk, from where he was rushed to a hospital. According to Ms Yarmysh, doctors initially diagnosed him with poisoning, apparently delivered via a hot liquid.

“We believe Alexei was poisoned by something mixed into his tea,” she said. “It was the only thing he drank in the morning.”

Comment Anglo US and EU should stop meddling in Russian politics, fermenting dissent and arranging placemen. Russian workers have been robbed by oligarchs – post Glasnost -whom the bloated Western Elite want to infiltrate into power, then on to China. Global elite greed gets more dangerous everyday. Robert Cook

The covid-19 pandemic will be over by the end of 2021, says Bill Gates

But millions of deaths are yet to come in poor countriesInternational

Aug 18th 2020

The covid-19 pandemic will be over by the end of 2021, says Bill Gates August 20th 2020

But millions of deaths are yet to come in poor countries

MILLIONS MORE are going to die before the covid-19 pandemic is over. That is the stark message of Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s largest philanthropists via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in an interview with Zanny Minton Beddoes, The Economist’s editor-in-chief, in early August. Most of these deaths, he said, would be caused not by the disease itself, but by the further strain on health-care systems and economies that were already struggling. He also lamented the politicisation of the response to the virus in America, and the spread of conspiracy theories—some implicating him—both of which have slowed efforts to contain the disease’s spread. But he offered reasons for hope in the medium term, predicting that by the end of 2021 a reasonably effective vaccine would be in mass production, and a large enough share of the world’s population would be immunised to halt the pandemic in its tracks.

Mr Gates had spent much of his time thinking about viruses, and vaccines, well before the novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in the Chinese province of Hubei late last year. The Gates Foundation is central to the global alliance trying to eradicate polio by vaccinating everyone and to ease the burden of malaria and find a vaccine against it. It is several years since he warned that a new disease causing a global pandemic was a matter of when, not if, and called for the world to hold “Germ Games” along the lines of the wargames carried out by armies. The foundation has already pledged more than $350m to the covid-19 pandemic response, much of which is focused on reducing its impact in the developing world. But more is needed. “We all need to spend billions to get the vaccine out to save the trillions that the economic damage is doing “

Comment How convenient that Gates knows almost exactly when this will end, calling the vaccine tune rather than herd immunity and the admitting the fact that Third World deaths will always be high, from life style, over population and all sorts of nasty diseases that thrive in poverty and squalor, where masses live , sedated by religion and exploited by his global elite.

People maybe don’t know how much microsoft has exploited cheap Chinese labour to get rich, his part in the Bildeberg Group and how much more obscene wealth he and his sort have made from the so called global pandemic. Robert Cook

Lucrative Lockdown, ‘All in it together my pretty ars-‘
My guess has more factual basis than the so called ‘ex spurts. I guess this Covid 19 is bio engineered and the prime target was or is China.
Government taxpayer bail out billions has gone to big corporations creating an apparent paradox of mass unemployment and booming stock market.
Islam is not multi cultural and Anglo U.S wars on Middle East have created this nightmare.
This insanity is being happily and eagerly imported by Merkel and her EU – Britain included.
Africa became rife with dictators and corruption as soon as the whites left. The average African woman has 15 babies. They need somewhere to go. Violence, disease and famine are rife, war is inevitable. Africa is as tribal now as it was when the Colonialists arrived. White liberals do not want to face facts. religious bigotry, notably Islam, is a major issue..
Batty Man Bush and Boy Blunder Blair started it all. Libya and Iraq had been the bulwarks, but greedy western elites only care for resources, power and money.

Coronavirus: France’s champagne industry goes flat amid pandemic August 19th 2020

It’s been an exceptional year in Champagne.

The weather has been near perfect, with plenty of sunshine and rain falling at just the right time to give the vines their necessary oomph. The grapes in this famed French region are bursting with expectation for an early harvest.

But never in living memory have market conditions been so poor.

A billion bottles have been left idle in cellars. Weddings and business jollies have been cancelled because of the pandemic. Ultimately, who feels like celebrating when there’s a potential virus on the lip of every cut-glass flute?

These factors have led to plummeting demand and ignited tensions in the hundreds of wine villages around Reims and Epernay of a kind not seen since World War Two.

“Covid has left everything reeling,” says Bernard Beaulieu, a champagne producer and former head of the CGT Champagne winegrowers union. “The fall in sales is staring us in the face. It’s hastened a crisis that, if you ask me, has been a long time coming.”

These tensions will likely come to a head at a meeting on 18 August, when a decision must be made on how many champagne grapes each of the roughly 15,000 growers is allowed to put on the market.

Uniquely in French wine, the champagne region follows a “single-yield” rule. This means all growers, or vignerons, agree to sell only a fixed amount of grapes per hectare. Any surplus is left to rot in the field or is turned into a refrigerated “reserve” for use in case of poor future harvests. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The weather has been ideal for the annual grape harvest this year

There is always haggling between the growers and the négociants – the 300 or so dealers who buy up grapes for the prestigious champagne houses such as Bollinger, Krug and Mumm.

But this year things have reached fever pitch.

On the one hand the négociants, who are represented by the Union des Maisons de Champagne (Union of Champagne Houses), want a low yield of around 7,000kg per hectare – about 200m bottles – in order to spare themselves the cost of stocking millions more litres of unsold fizz.

But the vineries want a bigger yield of around 8,500kg. The union representing them says this is the minimum amount that would allow the growers to stay financially afloat. It is less worried about unsold stocks and says the current exceptional conditions are too good to miss.

Vile Pseudo English Elitist patronising fake humanitarianism August 17th 2020

The following Guardian article is all about whipping up support for casting China as enemy of the rich global elite for mindless support from their moronic masses. Those masses are far too stupid to appreciate how many of their cheap consumer goods come from that great country.

There is serious evidence that the Guardian editor has ties with Britain’s MI6 Security Service. He handed all the papers provided by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks to the authorities, offering no exposure or support against Assange’s ongoing abuse and torture in a British prison.  Britain is mealy mouthed about human rights, also one of the world’s greatest abusers along with allies across the world, especially in the totalitarian regimes it supports.  

As for China’s Muslims, they refuse to integrate and present an ongoing security threat.  Britain’s elite panders to people it calls BAME whilst being racist and patronising to the Chinese.  A major problem is that China is actually doing some good for infrastructure and trade in Africa while the Anglo U.S prefer to position and support ‘friendly’ dictators, ignorance disease, religious bigotry and backwardness – helps them exploit resources, with fake concern for the environment when it is all about their power and further enrichment.

The current Brmerican ( my term for British and U.S who move as one ) attitudes, behaviour and policies make all out war very likely, because trade wars tend in that direction when they as extreme as the Brmericans and EU scattering sanctions wherever there are obstacles to New World order in places they have yet to bomb.  It should be noted that Russia and China gets more for every dollar than the Anglo U.S and E.U because they haven’t got to put the fat cats of the military industrial complex’s profits top of the list.  

In short, they have the resources, manpower, efficiency and top class weapons to wipe out the West.  When the posh upper middle class overpaid person, writing the following, talks about China pitting itself against the world, he means the ‘western pampered greedy elite’.

In truth it is the West at war with China and deploying Covd19 was step one, which is why they have to go on exaggerating it and ramping up fear.  Fear is power.  The Brmerican fear is for loss of their obsecne riches.  They went for mass slaughter in two World Wars, faking all that freedom and democracy rubbish to keep it.  They did it for money and power then, and they will do it all again.

Robert Cook

Why Is Xi Jinping Pitting China Against the World?

Xi has stifled dissent at home and is increasingly willing for China to assert itself abroad . August 17th 2020

The Guardian

  • Lily Kuo


Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he drives during a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 2019 in Beijing. Photo by Kevin Frayer / Getty Images.

In mid-July, Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a rare meeting in Beijing with business leaders. Admitting that the Covid-19 pandemic had a “huge impact” on the country’s economy, Xi used a Chinese idiom to assure his listeners.

“While the green hills last, there will be wood to burn,” he said. “If we maintain our strategy … we will find opportunity in crisis and turbulence. The Chinese people will surely prevail over all difficulties and challenges ahead”.

Xi’s remarks – reported in state media under the headline: “Xi Jinping conveyed confidence! Confidence! Nevertheless, confidence!” – belie a difficult and increasingly hostile international environment, one that critics say the Chinese leadership brought on itself through miscalculation and stifled dissent within the ruling party.

In just the last two months, China has ordered the closure of a US consulate in the country’s southwest in response to a similar move from the US; fought a deadly border clash with India, an unresolved border that threatens to erupt again; seen the abrupt end of the so-called “golden era” of relations with the UK; engaged in a war of words with Australia, bringing relations close to an all-time low; forced a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, earning international condemnation; and fallen further into a rivalry with the US that is forcing other countries to choose sides. Increasingly, they are choosing the US.

Chinese companies and citizens have begun to suffer the cost of growing mistrust. Fifty-nine Chinese companies have now been locked out of India, one of the world’s fastest growing markets, including WeChat and TikTok – a third of whose global users were in India. Chinese national champion Huawei has lost access to a key foothold in Europe as the UK, aligning with the US, announced it was blocking the tech giant.

As countries welcome fleeing Hongkongers, the Chinese territory is likely to see a brain drain. More countries have begun speaking out against China’s mass detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, as advocates call for sanctions and legal measures. Chinese scientists, students and others have come under more scrutiny abroad.

“This changes the whole narrative of China’s intentions. China looks like it has very narrow self-interest that it is pursuing rather than a more cooperative approach, and that means that other countries are going to erect all sorts of barriers. There will be real costs – not just reputational but economic costs,” said Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego.

For years, China worked to assure the international community that its rise was peaceful, that it would not try to overturn the status quo. A more assertive China has emerged under Xi, one more willing to confront its critics and brave damage to its reputation. This past year, after containing the Covid-19 outbreak at home, Beijing has gained the upper hand over some of its rivals, such as the US, still struggling with the pandemic.

“This time they think, ‘Maybe we are strong enough. We are equals now and therefore we can cause as much pain to you as us. We can fight’,” said Dali Yang, a professor of political science focusing on China at the University of Chicago.

Chinese officials have ramped up attacks, criticising the US and other western countries for their Covid-19 response, defended its policies in Xinjiang, expelled foreign journalists and quickly implemented the security law in Hong Kong, with arrests made less than a day after the law was passed.

Beijing also finds itself locked in confrontations with countries not traditionally seen as rivals. After Australia pushed for an inquiry into Covid-19, China imposed 80% tariffs on Australian barley and sentenced an Australian man to death. As Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case in Canada proceeds, Chinese courts have begun the formal charges against two Canadians detained in what was widely seen as retaliation. Recent dispatches of Chinese ships to islands claimed by Japan and China have hurt years of rapprochement, with conservative lawmakers now calling on the government to cancel a state visit by Xi.

“There has long been a question of whether Beijing could be authoritarian at home while acting responsibly and constructively abroad,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the South China Sea, Huawei, come together in a distressing picture. It is hard not to feel like we have been given a preview of what sole Chinese global leadership would look like,” she said. “This puts all of its neighbours on guard at once.”

Analysts have been puzzled by the behaviour of the Chinese leadership over the last few months, cautioning that it is difficult to decipher why certain decisions have been made and who made them. But it is clear that the more centralised leadership of Xi has caused more backlash.

“It is rare actually that the Chinese leadership has picked fights with everyone at the same time,” said Shirk. “There is something broken with the policy-making process. This is a reflection of what Deng Xiaoping called the ‘over concentration of power’ that leads to policy mistakes. And why does it lead to policy mistakes? It’s because nobody dares tell the leader that this is a bad idea.”

Minxin Pei, an expert on governance in China at Claremont McKenna College, said: “Inside the system, voices of dissent, of disagreement are not heard. So one mistake follows another.”

At home, China faces the threat of high unemployment as the economy – already slowing before the pandemic – struggles to recover. After the outbreak, online censorship appears to have worsened. Those who have expressed critical opinions of the government or its Covid response have been detained, including a prominent law professor and young internet activists working to save information wiped from the Chinese internet.

“The Chinese people are probably starting to digest that their country is in this cold war with the US – the future looks pretty uncertain – and how they will deal with this because for the last 40 years, China lived in a very peaceful environment and now everything has changed,” said Pei.

For the Chinese leadership, what is most important may not be international reaction but maintaining support from its citizens. Officials maintain their country is only defending its own interests and pushing back against outside interference, a line aggressively pushed in state media.

Its success over the virus, compared to other countries, appears to have helped. A recent survey of 1,000 urban residents by the China Data Lab at the University of California, San Diego found that trust in the central government has increased. On a scale of one to 10, average trust in the central government was 8.65 at the peak of the outbreak in China in February and 8.87 in May, compared to 8.23 in June last year.

For Xi, who has spent the last several weeks making appearances around the country – talking with farmers in northeastern China, posing in an attack helicopter while visiting the air force, or giving “important instructions” on floods overwhelming much of the country – that may be more important than any international backlash.

“For the people who are making the decisions, they see it as the price to pay and they are willing to pay it,” said Yang.

Lily is the Guardian’s Beijing bureau chief. Twitter @lilkuo.

Britain Belarus Bullsh-t and Euro Trash August 17th 2020

It has become clear that Britain is not effectively leaving Europe, going down the road of the rule taking Norway Model. To date Britain has been a major influence on making EU rules and enforcing them more rigidly than any other state. It has also been teh main source of encouragement to mass immigration form North Africa and the Middle East – which along with the U.S it has been busy bombing people out of.

So now we come to its’ not at all surprising backing of the E.U’s efforts to destabilise Belarus in the name of ‘human rights’ ( sic ) and democracy (sic)

“Young Belarussians are not surprsingly attarcted to the illusions of a new life of sexy freedom and well paid luxury in the west, the German EU Empire. They aare being stirred up by Anglo U.S intelligence undercover and propaganda work to further contain enemy number 2 Russia. Enemy number i is of course China.. So we have our mainstream medai reporting as follows :

The UK has refused to accept the “fraudulent” result of the Belarus presidential election as protests continued against the rule of Alexander Lukashenko.

Demonstrators have repeatedly taken to the streets since the August 9 ballot which saw Mr Lukashenko claim victory but has been condemned as rigged by critics at home and abroad.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the vote was “unfair” and condemned the violence from the Belarusian authorities as they attempted to crack down on the protests.

Mr Raab’s comments come three days after the European Union said it did not recognise the results.”

Comment Britain’s elite is predictable in its lies and hypocrisy. Vladimir Putin is understandably considering Russia’s position but does not have the sort of smug Anglo U.S exceptionalist elite that operates for regime change in Latin America. He faces a west that wants his regime changed and thought it had it under Yeltsin.

It is what it is, but there are increasing risks of a major flashpoint. The most dangerous people are the most desperate, who feel they have run out of options. We are seeing this all over the world as more and more of global wealth goes into fewer and fewer hands, as a proportion of the swelling global masses.

As a former maths teacher and economist who has worked in the City of London, I consider the imbalance of wealth and weapons concentrations very dangerous. I believe Covid is a shut down smokescreen and intended to help faciliate a favourable outcome for the capitalist elite.

The masses are afraid, easily manipulated and taught, if anything at all, not to make abstract connections. Any person of intelligence who steps out of line is disparaged and maye even be sectioned as mentally ill – Soviet Russia may have gone but they did not invent the police state. Robert Cook

Belarus protests: ‘We can breathe for the first time in our lives’ August 17th 2020

By Abdujalil Abdurasulov BBC News, Minsk

There is a sense of euphoria on the streets in Belarus. Thousands of people gather in the capital Minsk to voice their opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko and the violent crackdown he unleashed against protesters. People wave the opposition flag – white with a red stripe – and they carry flowers and balloons to show that their movement is peaceful.

Car horns have turned into an instrument of opposition here. Drivers honk in support of the crowds. People wave back and cheer.

“[We] can breathe freedom for the first time in our lives! It’s an amazing feeling,” said Andrey, 33.

Many feel elated and optimistic that a new beginning is awaiting Belarus after 26 years of President Lukashenko’s rule.

“We are sure that everything will change. We believe in our victory. That’s why we will come out onto the street every single day,” said Yekaterina, who joined the crowd in the centre of Minsk on Saturday.

Anger has overcome fear here. Now, people openly go out to peacefully protest. But just a few days ago, violent clashes between police and protesters spread terror amongst Belarusians.

We witnessed how riot police and special forces grabbed people on the streets at random and threw them into police vans.

Pedestrians, passers-by – anyone became a target. Police stopped cyclists, tackled them to the ground and arrested them. They bent the arms of those who were talking on the phone and dragged them away. Even those who just got off a bus on their way home were detained.

At night it only became more violent.

On Tuesday, we went out for a night watch to observe the protest. A large crowd gathered at the Kamennaya Gorka metro station. Soon police trucks and buses arrived.

Men wearing military camouflage emerged from police vehicles, pointing their guns at protesters. They fired rubber bullets at people who tried to take cover behind buildings.

A projectile landed in the middle of the road with a whistle and exploded. A second later the deafening bang of a stun grenade forced people to flee in all directions. A big plume of smoke rose on the pavement. People coughed and spluttered, rubbing their eyes, stung by tear gas.

An entire police squadron descended on the area. In black uniforms, with helmets and shields, they chased protesters into the courtyards of buildings.

One man was caught at the entrance to an apartment block, and a dozen officers jumped on him, ferociously beating him with their batons.

As people were thrown into police vans, they were viciously assaulted and tortured. We heard sounds of beatings and cries for help coming from inside. Today, more personal accounts emerge of those who faced abuse in detention.

These protests that are spreading across the country are a major blow to Alexander Lukashenko’s claim that he won more than 80% of the popular vote during the presidential election. His regime is under pressure like never before.

Even state TV employees declared they would go on strike from Monday. One of their demands is to stop the censorship on TV and allow objective coverage of events in the country.

Despite such an unprecedented challenge to his rule, Mr Lukashenko is not ready to give up power.

At a defence ministry meeting on Saturday, Mr Lukashenko said that he was worried about Nato military drills near the country’s borders. He claimed that he had reached an agreement with President Vladimir Putin for Russia to provide “comprehensive assistance to maintain security in Belarus”.

Many here interpret this statement as a direct threat to end the protests with a bloodbath with the Kremlin’s help.

The violence that was used by the regime before only fuelled more demonstrations. The question is how far Mr Lukashenko is willing to go in order to maintain his grip on power.

Bore War August 16th 2020

E.U and Britain encourage regime change protests in Belarus ( White Russia ) right on Russia’s border.

I came a cross a statistic back in the 1970s, that said the U.S accounted for 6% of the world’s population, yet consumed 52% of all natural resources used every year.  When we consider the millions of white and black Americans in poverty, even more thrown on the scrap heal because of COVID, the picture is bad.  Neighbouring Mexico and Latin America are ongoing targets for U.S elite exploitation and regime change.

The United States is a war economy. Yesterday’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, for breach of sanctions was another alarming episode.  People at large appear bored by all of this international politics because they cannot or will not see the pattern.

The European Union runs a close second to the U.S in its provocative behaviour.  Clearly unrest in Belarus has been orchestrated by the EU and CIA.  The intention is regime change, pushing the EU border ever closer to Russia, the ultimate target for regime change.  

Britain is right behind this, and will never really disengage from Europe.  The western elite are greedy.  Truth and democracy have nothing to do with global politics.  Governments have too many secrets.  How the Anglo Us elite are treating Julian Assange says it all.

German students forced to pay fees to the ANTIFA ( Antifascist ) brigade in Europe, where elite politicians have encouraged mass immigration from North Africa and the Islamic World.
Meanwhile British authorities are on alert because they believe BLM has made the Far Right more racist. Obviously exaggerating the Covid issue helps this cause of social control as well as making BAME people feel they are special and protected. This is a dangerous situatio, but we have an elite headed by my genration of arrogant elite students now running the show into the grund. Robert Cook

Mealy mouthed elite recanting on Europe’s Imperial past, which includes colonising and genocide in the Americas, is not good enough. It is an elitist scheme to blame the lower order masses for racism and slavery – lower order masses fight over the world’s crumbs while the rich luxuriate and laugh- whilst continuing with duplicitous policies across the globe.  

Unites States sanctimonious Democrat Party. led by super rich hypocrits are more subtle than Donald Trump.  Trump’s tenure at the White House proves beyond doubt that the president is a figure head and puppet.  Anglo U.S smug upper middle class media folk are desperate to install old Joe Biden, with his rather nasty ‘coloured’ running mate woman ticking all the right boxes to take control, with like minded people.  The last four years have been bad enough.  Covid 19, man made for sure, has ramped up social unrest as the elite work to wipe out China and enshroud Russia. Russia is being slow to respond, because unlike the Anglo U.S alliance, led by my generation of elite educated and pleasure bent morons, they don’t want to blow up civilisation.  It is a shame people find this all so boring.  To paraphrase Lincoln, ‘You only have to fool some of the people some of the time, leave the rest to CIA and MI6. Robert Cook

Students are forced to pay for ANTIFA rather than governments face facts about the real price of mass immigration and the appalling problems in Africa and the Middle East.

August 15th 2020 Pro-Life News Report
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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On Tuesday, it was The New York Times flat-out lying by calling vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris a “pragmatic moderate.

Gaddafi’s prophecy comes true as foreign powers battle for Libya’s oil

A showdown looms in the fight for control of the country – with Africa’s largest oilfields as the prize

Bethan McKernan Middle East correspondent

Members of General Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), who are currently controlling Sirte where most of Libya’s oilfields are based. Photograph: Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images

In August 2011, as Libya’s rebels and Nato jets began an assault on Tripoli, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi delivered a speech calling on his supporters to defend the country from foreign invaders.

“There is a conspiracy to control Libyan oil and to control Libyan land, to colonise Libya once again. This is impossible, impossible. We will fight until the last man and last woman to defend Libya from east to west, north to south,” he said in a message broadcast by a pro-regime television station. Two months later, the dictator was dragged bleeding and confused from a storm drain in his hometown of Sirte, before being killed.

Nine years on, after the outbreak of a second civil war, Gaddafi’s proclamation is not far from the truth – but as the US has retreated from the role it played in his downfall, a constellation of emboldened regional powers has descended on Libya instead. As the battle moves to Sirte, gateway to the country’s oil crescent, a potential showdown over control of Libya’s oil wealth is looming.

Sirte’s fortunes turned after Gaddafi’s death; once a gleaming showcase for his vision for Africa, the villas on eucalyptus-lined avenues that belonged to regime apparatchiks were flattened in the revolution, and the city was terrorised by Islamic State before the jihadists were driven out in 2016.

In violation of an international arms embargo, the city and surrounding desert have been flooded with weapons and fighters in recent weeks as forces loyal to the government in Tripoli mobilise on one side of the frontline, and those fighting for General Khalifa Haftar, appointed by the rival parliament in Tobruk, line up on the other.

At stake is Libya’s greatest treasure: the largest oil reserves in the entire African continent. The majority of the country’s oilfields are in the Sirte basin, worth billions of dollars a year. Haftar’s forces, who are in control of Sirte, imposed a blockade on oil exports in January, causing revenues to plummet as daily production dropped off from around 1 million barrels to just 100,000 barrels a day.

Forced to impose pay cuts for civil servants and currently spending from reserves inherited from the Gaddafi era, Tripoli is desperate to dislodge Haftar’s forces.

Colonel Gaddafi

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Two months before his death, Colonel Gaddafi called on his supporters to defend Libya from foreign invaders. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

West Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) , officially recognised by the UN as the counry’s legitimate government, was created in 2015. It is at odds with the Tobruk administration, formed when MPs decamped to the eastern city following disputed elections. Tobruk appointed Haftar, a former army commander under Gaddafi and one-time CIA asset, to lead its self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) the same year.

To the Haftar camp, the GNA is run by Islamists and terrorists, while the commander’s detractors say he is little more than a would-be military dictator in Gaddafi’s mould, albiet one who counts salafists as allies. The fighting has steadily drawn in foreign backers with differing ideological, political and economic stakes in Libya’s future.

The GNA’s main allies are the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Turkey and Qatar, and to some extent Italy, which relies on the GNA to stop the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to its shores.

Haftar is supported by leaders of the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who view political Islam as a threat to their own power, and by Russia, which is fresh from its successes in Syria and is intent on expanding its footprint in the Arab world.

The UK government under David Cameron and France under Nicolas Sarkozy were instrumental in overthrowing Gaddafi – but while London now works diplomatically from the sidelines, Paris has kept a strong hand in events on the ground.

Recognising the need to help its former Sahel colonies combat the growth of jihadist movements in the region in the aftermath of Libya’s 2011 revolution, France now backs Haftar and a secular-led Libya to ensure the safety of its troops further south.

The fighting is further complicated by tribal dynamics, the proliferation of drone warfare and an ever-expanding presence of foreign mercenaries: Russia’s state-linked Wagner group has provided key tactical support to the LNA since last year.

About 10,000 Syrians – their own proxy war still raging – are also now fighting on both sides of the war, lured by higher salaries than they can earn at home. Both the GNA and LNA’s backers face accusations of recruiting men from Chad, Somalia and Sudan to work as security guards or in support line units, who instead find themselves deployed on Libya’s frontlines as cannon fodder.

“In many ways, you can think of the wars in Syria, Ukraine and now Libya as equivalents to the Spanish civil war back in the 1930s,” said Peter Singer, a specialist in 21st-century warfare and senior fellow at the New America foundation. “It is not just that various powers are fighting proxy wars there, through a mix of official and hired forces, but that they are also using the conflicts as a kind of test ground for both what works and what they can get away with.

“Just like the 1930s, we will see the ripple effects of this for years to come.”

2020 has already brought a dizzying escalation in Libya’s conflict, and LNA-controlled Sirte – along with oilfields south of the city – could trigger unprecedented clashes between foreign powers on Libyan soil.

At the end of last year Haftar was close to seizing Tripoli after a months-long campaign that killed more than 3,000 people and displaced up to 500,000 civilians from their homes. In January Turkey took dramatic action to prevent the capital from falling, following up a declaration of overt military support for the GNA by sending Turkish troops, drones, air defence systems and Syrian fighters to drive the renegade general’s forces back.

The bold move paid off: in the space of a few months, Turkey turned the tide of the war, and Haftar was forced to retreat from much of western Libya.

The GNA has since begun a steady march eastward in the hope of pressuring Haftar to give up control of the Sirte oil basin, but faced with an LNA on the back foot, Tobruk’s international backers are doubling down to redress the balance.

To counter Turkey, last month Egypt’s parliament also declared open military intervention in Libya, warning that if pro-GNA forces advance on Sirte, Cairo will respond with “direct action”.

Wagner mercenaries acting on behalf of Moscow and Abu Dhabi are consolidating their presence at al Jufra airbase to the south of Sirte, deploying at least 14 MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter jets from Syria, and have reportedly also taken control of the country’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, and the exporting port Es Sider.

A Woman of These Times August 14th 2020

ust two women have even been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their parties both lost in the elections of those years.

But who is Kamala Harris and what does she stand for?

.@JoeBiden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals.

I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do what it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 11, 2020

The basics

Harris is a 55-year-old first-term senator with a background in law enforcement, having served as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco.

Her mother was an Indian immigrant and her father was a Jamaican immigrant and she has described herself as “a proud American” whose African American and Indian heritage “are of equal weight in terms of who I am”.

Future vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris with her younger sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, outside their apartment on Milvia Street in Berkeley, 1970.— John McMurtrie (@McMurtrieSF) August 11, 2020

Harris won her first election in 2003 when she became San Francisco’s district attorney. In the role, she created a reentry programme for low-level drug offenders and cracked down on student truancy.

She was elected California’s attorney general in 2010, the first woman and the first Black person to hold the job, and focused on issues including the foreclosure crisis.

The presidential bid

There’s no escaping the fact that vice-president would be something of a consolation prize for Harris, who ran her own campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

After being elected to the Senate in 2016, she quickly gained attention for her assertive questioning of Trump administration officials during congressional hearings.

She launched her campaign in early 2019 with the slogan “Kamala Harris For the People,” a reference to her courtroom work.

Harris was one of the highest-profile contenders in a crowded Democratic primary and attracted 20,000 people to her first campaign rally in Oakland.

In one memorable moment last year, Harris tripped up Attorney General William Barr when she repeatedly pressed him whether President Trump or other White House officials had ever pressured him to investigate anyone.

At the time, Trump was accused of trying to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with Barr in order to investigate Biden’s son Hunter over unfounded allegations of corruption.

But the early promise of Harris’s campaign eventually faded. Her law enforcement background prompted scepticism from some progressives, and she struggled to land on a consistent message that resonated with voters.

Facing fundraising problems, Harris abruptly withdrew from the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes of the primary were cast.

The policies

As a presidential candidate, Harris proposed a government-run system that would still allow private insurers to offer plans; she also supported a fracking ban. Biden has not embraced either proposal, Reuters reports.

Harris’ record as California attorney general and district attorney in San Francisco was heavily scrutinised during the Democratic primary and turned off some liberals and younger Black voters who saw her as out of step on issues of systemic racism in the legal system and police brutality.

She tried to strike a balance on these issues, declaring herself a “progressive prosecutor” who backs law enforcement reforms.

Harris also declined to defend California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage and was later overturned by the US Supreme Court, PA Media reports.

A Brit's Guide To Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's New Presidential Running

The competition

Biden, who spent eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, has spent months weighing up who would fill that same role in his White House.

He pledged in March to select a woman as his vice president, easing frustration among Democrats that the presidential race would centre on two white men in their 70s.

Biden’s search was expansive, including Massachusetts Sen Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive, Florida representative Val Demings, whose impeachment prosecution of President Trump won plaudits, California representative Karen Bass, who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, whose passionate response to unrest in her city gained national attention.

The reaction

Republicans immediately tried to portray Harris as a “radical” who embraces allegedly far-left priorities such as sweeping police reform and a ban on fracking.

During a White House briefing on Tuesday, Trump called Harris “the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful” and “most liberal” senator and said she was his “No.1 draft pick” given her unsuccessful presidential campaign.

On a conference call the Trump campaign hosted for reporters, Republican senator Marsha Blackburn asserted that Harris supports eliminating private insurance in favour of Medicare for All and said her selection reflects the “leftist takeover” of the party.

On the Democratic side, former president Barack Obama hailed his former vice president’s running mate selection of Harris, saying: “Joe Biden nailed this decision.”

“By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgement and character.”

Obama described Harris an “ideal partner to help him tackle the very real challenges America faces right now and in the years ahead”.

The context

The 2020 race comes a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people in the US, far more than the toll experienced in other countries.

Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused an economic collapse. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.

President Trump’s uneven handling of the crises has given Biden an opening, and he enters the autumn campaign in strong position against the president.

In adding Harris to the ticket, he can point to her relatively centrist record on issues such as healthcare and her background in law enforcement in the nation’s largest state.