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Sun, 16 Jan 2022
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A Pandemic of Bureaucracy

Brazil the Movie
© Off-Guardian
Some compare corona times to the novel 1984, but I thought that perhaps Terry Gilliam's Brazil could be an even more apt comparison.

In that movie, the totalitarian nightmare is coordinated by bumbling and incompetent bureaucrats, who nevertheless never give up in their indefatigable pursuit of more paperwork.

If there was one thing that this damn pandemic sure increased was bureaucracy. To travel, to meet people, or even to have a cup of coffee somewhere, anywhere, now you need to show your "papers" — or, at any rate, a QR-code in your smartphone.

I traveled to Italy during the "first wave" of the pandemic — or was it already the second? It's hard to recall, there were so many. At the time, the bureaucrats had invented some kind of contact tracing form that everyone needed to fill before boarding a plane, however there were four or five different forms available, and confusion reigned.

People weren't sure which form to fill or how to fill it, and in the end, no one at the airport even checked the forms.

The procedure has been streamlined, and now they certainly check all forms and digital passes, but the confusion has only increased.

Italians initially had a "Green Pass", then a "Super Green Pass"; now they seem to be inventing some kind of "Booster Green Pass", and yet, predictably, none of it is reducing cases. It appears, go figure, that viruses and diseases are immune to paperwork.

Bizarro Earth

Saudi Princess Basmah & daughter freed after three years in jail without charge or trial

Basmah
© AFP/File photo
Saudi Princess Basmah Bint Saud speaks during a discussion on the role of women in the Middle East at the Middle East Institute in Washington on 12 April 2017
Saudi authorities have released Princess Basmah bint Saud, 57, and her daughter who had been held without charge for nearly three years in the capital, a human rights group said on Saturday.

Alqst for Human Rights, in a post to Twitter on Saturday, said Princess Basmah "and her daughter Suhoud... have been released".

Princess Basmah is a member of the Saudi royal family long seen as a proponent of women's rights and a constitutional monarchy. She had been detained since March 2019.

Denied medical care

In April 2020, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were implored to release her on health grounds.

Comment: The case bears a number of similarities to the kidnap, detention and drugging of two other princesses who were critical of their 'evil' father, the ruler of Dubai.

See also:


Attention

Despite Sotomayor's absurd lack of Covid-19 knowledge, USSC seems skeptical of Biden vaccine mandates

Protesters
© Unknown
Protesting OSHA Vaccine Mandate, the public speaks out.
Update (1446ET): Aside from the utter lack of basic knowledge of Covid-19 exhibited by some of the USSC Justices (see below), the court seemed skeptical of the Biden administration's claim that it has the authority to force vaccine mandates on over 84 million private sector employees. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) vs. the Department of Labor, in the Court's first hearing, argued:
"OSHA's sweeping regulatory dictate," will "irreparably injure the very businesses that Americans have counted on to widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and protective equipment to save lives — and to keep them fed, clothed, and sustained during this now two-year-long pandemic.

The mandate will "convert hundreds of thousands of businesses into de facto public health agencies for two-thirds of America's private employees."
In the second case, Biden v. Missouri, the federal government is attempting to lift lower court stays which have blocked the enforcement of a Nov. 4, 2021 emergency regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Epoch Times reports.

Comment: Feedback is heavily critical of a certain justice's acumen and knowledge of the issues at hand:
The absurdity and ignorance of Sotomayor's remarks cannot be lost on the rest of the court. If so, pound the gavel and clear the bench!


Arrow Down

Putin's Quid: No offensive missiles in 'ABM' sites

Biden Putin
© epa/New Statesman/KJN
US President Joe Biden • Russian President Vladimir Putin
Take heart, most of you who fear war rather than profit from it. You would not know it amid the gloom and doom about "another Russian invasion" of Ukraine, but diplomacy - not war - is about to break out this month.

As senior U.S. and Russian negotiators begin talks early next week in Geneva, the makings of a first-step-in-the-right-direction deal are already at hand. And for this we can thank Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin for serious, attentive, one-to-one conversations in the past several weeks.

You don't need a degree in Kremlinology or tea leaves to understand how this came about and what led to the Biden-Putin talks: in one key respect the second (Dec. 7, virtual) was a carbon copy of the first (June 16 in Geneva).

Both came at Biden's initiative, after Russia moved tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine ready to stave off, or respond to, Ukrainian government threats to take back the Donbass and Crimea. By April 2021, things had come to a head, culminating in President Biden's strange call to President Putin on April 13. (It is a safe guess that it was Putin who called first and left a "voicemail" saying: "Your unleashed Ukrainians and the American crazies abetting them are playing with fire; please call me - and quickly").

Handcuffs

Biden conceals number of illegal aliens arrested, deported in 2021 after imposing 'sanctuary country' orders

Biden/ICE Arrest
© Johannes Eisele/Getty /AFP/AP/ICE/KJN
US President Joe Biden • ICE arrest
President Joe Biden's administration is seemingly concealing the number of illegal aliens arrested and deported from the United States over the last 12 months. At the end of each year, for more than a decade, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency releases a report detailing the number of illegal aliens arrested and deported from the U.S. in the prior Fiscal Year.

In 2020, former President Trump's last full year in office, the annual year-end ICE report revealed that more than 104,000 illegal aliens, including nearly 700 MS-13 Gang members, had been arrested despite the Chinese coronavirus crisis and close to 200,000 illegal aliens were deported from the U.S., including 4,200 gang members.

As of January 6, ICE has yet to release its annual report for Fiscal Year 2021.

Former ICE official Jon Feere, with the Center for Immigration Studies, told Fox News' Adam Shaw that he suspects the annual report is being withheld to manipulate arrest and deportation data, making it difficult to compare to prior years.

Comment: When crime starts at the top, it trickles.


Attention

What I got wrong about Julian Assange

Assange
© Unknown
Julian Assange
I wrote a piece for Australian online publisher Crikey just before Julian Assange's extradition hearings resumed in September 2020 in which I regurgitated a slur that has done enormous harm to his reputation.

Australian journalists should stop using the WikiLeaks treasure trove in their stories if they wouldn't speak up for Assange, I'd written. Journalists like to think they'd go to jail to protect a source. Well, their source was suffering in London's high-security Belmarsh prison, I said.

The problem was I also wrote that Assange dumped the Iraq and Afghan war logs on the internet without redacting names. I was wrong and lazy in repeating that slur which appeared whenever you Googled Assange's name. That must make it true, right? Two of Assange's well-known Australian supporters tried to correct me. To my shame, I brushed them off.

Their overtures nagging at the back of my mind, I recently did what I should have done at the time: read the submissions Assange's legal team made at his extradition hearings and transcripts of witness testimony. I soon realized how mistaken I was.

Why should anyone listen to me?

Propaganda

The Toronto Star calls for massive violations of Charter rights

Toronto Star
© Toronto Star/Deadline/KJN
Toronto Star front page • August 26, 2020
In an editorial dated December 20, 2021 the Toronto Star argues that
"refusing to get vaccinated (other than for religious or health reasons) is a willful, selfish, anti-social act that can no longer be condoned," and asks "is it time for our political leaders to make vaccination against COVID-19 the law?"
The Star asserts the following as "irrefutable" facts:
  • The government of Canada has declared COVID vaccines safe.
  • Vaccines reduce the risk of death from COVID and lower the burden on doctors and nurses holding our health care system together.
  • If you are not vaccinated, you put yourself at risk and intentionally burden the health care system supporting your family, friends, and colleagues.
  • When our hospital critical care units become overwhelmed with COVID care, they can no longer function to treat other diseases, injuries, and accidents.
  • With hospitals overwhelmed, our government will mandate forced lockdowns, resulting in social isolation that has been shown to contribute to increased drug overdoses, suicides, and spousal abuse.
It is certainly true that "the government of Canada has declared COVID vaccines to be safe" but government declarations do not create reality. In the 1940s, governments authorized the widespread spraying of the "safe" insecticide DDT on people, in a sincere effort to "save lives" from polio, but DDT was banned in the 1970s as dangerous to public health.

Comment: The Star is merely one twinkle in a whole galaxy of MSM tools. We don't have to read it.


Bad Guys

NATO rules out any halt to expansion, essentially rejecting Russia's deescalation proposal

Stoltenberg NATO
© AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after an extraordinary meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs via video link at NATO headquarters, in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday ruled out any halt to the continued expansion of the military organization to address Russian security concerns, rejecting a key part of President Vladimir Putin's demands for easing tensions with Ukraine.

"We will not compromise on core principles, including the right for every nation to decide its own path, including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels after an extraordinary meeting of NATO foreign ministers.


Comment: Except this 'right for every nation to decide it's own path' has been repeatedly violated by the US & NATO, such as their wars of aggression against Serbia, Afghanistan, and Libya.


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts held online talks to prepare for the first meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in more than two years. The meeting, set for Wednesday in Brussels, will give NATO ambassadors the chance to discuss Putin's security proposals with Russia's envoy face to face.

Comment: Meanwhile the usual suspects seem to be trying to get at Russia by other means: Steppe on Fire: Kazakhstan's Color Revolution

See also:


Attention

Kazakh crisis: Order 'mainly restored,' dozens killed & Baikonur terror threat level raised - ex-security chief arrested on high treason

Kyrgyzstan's peacekeepers
© AP
Kyrgyzstan's peacekeepers are set to fly to Kazakhstan on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.
Constitutional order was "mainly restored" in Kazakhstan on Friday, according to president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. However, the unrest is seemingly far from over, with almost 4,000 people detained and dozens killed.

Mass protests began on January 2, prompted by public discontent with a sharp increase in prices for liquefied petroleum gas. The tensions quickly spread, turning violent in some places, including the largest city, former capital Almaty.

Security forces back 'in control'

President Tokayev claimed on Friday morning that the country's security forces had managed to largely restore constitutional order in all the regions with local authorities now back on top of the situation. The state of emergency will now therefore be gradually lifted, the president said.

Use of lethal force authorized

The use of lethal force was also authorized by Tokayev, who announced the launch of an anti-terrorist operation and dismissed the notion of negotiating with "bandits and terrorists" as "nonsense". Law enforcement and the military are now allowed to "shoot to kill without warning."

Comment: Tokayev offered the following narrative for recent events:
Tokayev presented a timeline of the crisis, taking to Twitter with a large English-language thread late on Friday. Tokayev said he promptly addressed the initial demand of protesters, who were angered by a sharp hike in liquefied petroleum gas prices. He instructed the government "to regulate the price" on January 2 - effectively as soon as the protests took off.

"Regretfully, the protests in several regions of Kazakhstan and Almaty led to escalation of violence. Therefore, I decided to fire the government and imposed a nationwide curfew," he added.

This move also failed to stop the unrest, as "the protests led to further escalation of violence all over the country," Tokayev admitted. The president reiterated his earlier claims that the chaos was a result of "an armed act of aggression, well prepared and coordinated by perpetrators and terrorist groups trained outside the country."

Tokayev claimed that as many as 20,000 "gangsters and terrorists" were involved in the violence, with the country's largest city of Almaty enduring "at least six waves of attacks of terrorists." The rioters were "very well trained, organized and commanded by the special center," the president alleged, claiming that some of them were apparently foreigners "speaking non-Kazakh languages."

Tokayev reiterated his resolve to "neutralize" the "terrorists and gangsters" behind the unrest. Earlier in the day, he said no dialogue was possible with those who refuse to lay down arms, authorizing law enforcement to open fire on rioters without warning.

"They were beating and killing policemen and young soldiers, [setting] fire [to] administrative buildings, looting private premises and shops, secular citizens, raping young women," he claimed. "In my basic view: No talks with the terrorists, we must kill them."
For Kazakh security chief Karim Masimov, a close ally of ex-leader Nazarbayev, was arrested this week on suspicion of "high treason."
The KNB had launched a pre-trial investigation on January 6, it said in a statement, adding that its former chairman, Masimov, and others had been arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on the same day. The agency provided no further details on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

A veteran politician, Masimov, had served as the head of the KNB from 2016 almost until his detention. He was sacked by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on January 5, amid an outbreak of violence in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, where rioters stormed and ransacked government buildings and set them on fire.
Amid rumors that Nazarbayev fled the country during the riots, his spokesman claims he is still in the capital. He has reportedly been holding "consultations" with Tokayev.

An RT was embedded with the Russian troops deployed to Kazakhstan as part of the CSTO mission:

In Almaty, RT freelance reporter Stanislav Obishchenko was detained by Kazakh military while trying to report on the ongoing protests.

For a broad analysis of the situation, including its background and geopolitics, see this Twitter thread by Clint Ehrlich.


Russian Flag

Moscow smacks Blinken for 'Russians in your house' comments

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
The US secretary of state receives a sharp rebuke to his 'history lesson'

Russia's Foreign Ministry has denounced remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Moscow's involvement in Kazakhstan, telling Washington it would know better about arriving somewhere uninvited and overstaying its welcome.

Asked about ongoing protests and rioting across Kazakhstan during a Friday press briefing, Blinken argued the situation there is distinct from brewing tensions over another Russian neighbor, Ukraine, but claimed that Moscow might have ulterior motives in spearheading a joint security response to quell the violence.

"I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it's sometimes very difficult to get them to leave," he said at the tail-end of the press conference, offering no elaboration.

Comment: Twitter was happy to join in:



U.S. military presence has been a sore spot for decades: