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Tue, 18 Jan 2022
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Rip it up: the vaccine passport experiment needs to end

vaccine passport torn up
Flying anywhere right now is difficult, but for those of us who are jabbed, it is at least possible. So just after Christmas I set off for America to see my family in Connecticut, armed with the NHS app technology which we were once assured would never be used as a vaccine passport. It's now precisely that.

I tapped my phone to summon my travel credentials en route to Heathrow, but to my astonishment my vaccination status wasn't there: 'No Covid-19 records found.' My 'passport' had been suspended.

My crime, it turned out, was to have caught Omicron in mid-December. I'd had a positive result on a lateral flow test and, following the guidance at the time, several days later had taken a PCR test to confirm it. By the time I was travelling, I had recovered and was comfortably out of isolation. But the app disagreed.

'You have had a positive PCR test result,' it said. 'You must wait ten days after a positive PCR test before you can either get an NHS Covid pass or start using an existing one again.' This did not line up with the official rules. Anyone infected with Covid can now stop isolating after seven days, as long as they test negative twice. I was on day 12.


Chris Hedges: The execution of Julian Assange

Julian Assange Supporters
© Reuters/Henry Nicholls
Supporters of Julian Assange hold aloft placards and unfurl a banner outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, UK, December 10, 2021.
He exposed empire as a criminal enterprise. He documented its lies, its callous disregard for human life, its rampant corruption, and its innumerable war crimes. But, as history shows, empires kill those who inflict deep wounds.

Let us name Julian Assange's executioners. Joe Biden. Boris Johnson. Scott Morrison. Theresa May. Lenin Moreno. Donald Trump. Barack Obama. Mike Pompeo. Hillary Clinton. Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett and Lord Justice Timothy Victor Holroyde. Crown Prosecutors James Lewis QC, Clair Dobbin QC and Joel Smith. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser. Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg. William Burns, the director of the CIA. Ken McCallum, the director general of MI5.

Let us acknowledge that the goal of these executioners, who discussed kidnapping and assassinating Assange, has always been his annihilation. That Assange, who is in precarious physical and psychological health, and who suffered a stroke during court video proceedings on October 27, has been condemned to death should not come as a surprise. The 10 years he has been detained, seven in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and nearly three in the high-security Belmarsh prison, were accompanied by a lack of sunlight and exercise, and unrelenting threats, pressure, anxiety and stress. "His eyes were out of sync, his right eyelid would not close, his memory was blurry," his fiancée Stella Moris said of the stroke.

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Is there a way to prevent psychopaths from getting into positions of power?

Despite a growing resurgence of interest in the science and psychology of narcissistic sociopaths and psychopaths it seems as though society today has lost track of how these people can sabotage the core fabric of a civilization or nation. It is very easy to hyper-focus on collectivist ideologies as the source of our problems and forget that these ideologies do not function in a vacuum; they cannot wreak havoc by themselves, they need psychopathic people directing them to do real damage.

There is something about collectivism that lends itself to projection and hypocrisy (collectivism is organization by FORCE instead of being voluntary). I suppose when your political ideology becomes your religion it's easy to turn into a zealot. And while zealots find power in their single-mindedness and their cultism they also tend to lack any self-awareness. They literally go insane with devotion to their cause to the point that they lose track of whether or not their cause is fair and just. Their behavior becomes increasingly erratic and disjointed and every person they run into that does not share their views is immediately seen as a heretical enemy that needs to be exposed or destroyed.


Sex, lies and trade deals: how a businessman bribed half the US navy

us flag
© Getty Images / RoschetzkyIstockPhoto
"Manilla, 2007. The chauffeured Mercedes crawled south for half an hour in the interminable traffic - the turbid waters of Manilla Bay on the right. The middle-aged men packed inside the cars were in an exuberant mood ... Leonard Glenn Francis was taking out the senior commanders of the US 7th Fleet. These were the most powerful navy officers in Asia, and they controlled the movements of around sixty ships and submarines, 150 aircraft, and 20,000 sailors in a huge operational area, stretching from Hawaii to India ..."

"The men moved quickly through an air-conditioned lobby and through a curtain at the back. On the other side, Filipino women - many just students - sat in rows in a kind of fish bowl, identifiable not by their names but by the numbers attached to their skimpy outfits ... Always the ... big boss or Lion King to these navy officers, Leonard dominated the action ..."

"The afterparty was in the $4,000-a-night McArthur Suite at the Manilla Hotel ... It was General Douglas McArthur's home and operational command during World War II. The men piled into the Spanish-Mission-style room with wooden ceiling beams, marble tiles, an ornate chandelier and heavily draped curtains. Leonard ... stocked the suite with $10,000 bottles of Dom Perignon ... The two-bedroom suite was filled with McArthur memorabilia. In the suite's study, two ornately carved wooden chairs - the only objects to survive the Battle of Manilla, stood in front of a desk ... One of the men, quite drunk by now, opened a case on the desk containing a replica of McArthur's famous corn-cob pipe and grabbed a woman."


FDA ordered to speed up release of approval data for COVID-19 vaccine

pfizer vaccine
© Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration was ordered by a federal judge Thursday to release tens of thousands of more pages a month about the data used in its approval process for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

Public Health and Medical Professionals sued the FDA under a Freedom of Information Act that demanded more transparency, Reuters reported last month.

The FDA — citing staffing issues — agreed to release 12,000 pages by the end of January and a "minimum" of 500 pages a month going forward, the report said. The group found that number unacceptable and said there are more than 400,000 pages of data needed, which could mean it may be 2097 before all the documents are made public.


Have we reached the point where Big Tech censorship is simply accepted?

Marjorie Taylor Greene
© Carol Guzy/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
The most shocking thing about Twitter's ban of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the first national US politician since Donald Trump to be de-platformed, was the lack of outcry about Big Tech's self-appointed role as the arbiters of truth.

Shockingly, the permanent suspension of hard-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from Twitter and her temporary suspension from Facebook does not appear to shock us anymore.

What is at stake here is far more critical than one congresswoman spreading nonsense on social media. The precedent set a year ago, where unaccountable Big Tech simply banned an elected president from the public square, has morphed into a new reality: unaccountable tech barons have become the judge and jury of political debate and what is true or not in society.

The dangers of this reality cannot be stressed enough. Whatever one thinks of Greene or her bonkers views on Covid-19 vaccinations or the QAnon conspiracy theory, the censoring of her opinions from the public realm - particularly by private social media companies - is far worse, for two related reasons.


Launch date for Trump's 'TRUTH Social' app revealed

© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.jpg
Former US President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump's 'TRUTH Social' app is due to be released on February 21, according to a listing on the Apple App Store, paving the way for the venture to launch on Presidents' Day.

The social media platform, developed by the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), is available to pre-order and will go live in the latter half of February, according to The Guardian.

Similar to Twitter, the site will give users the ability to follow one another, discuss trending topics, and post a message called a 'truth'. Reposting another user's post will be called a 're-truth' (similar to a retweet on Twitter), according to The Verge.

A February launch for Trump's alternative social platform would come roughly 13 months after the former president was booted off Facebook and Twitter.


Wisconsin lawmakers look to add natural immunity to state's coronavirus rules

Murphy/Wis Capitol
© The Edgewater
Wisconsin Rep. Dave Murphy • Capitol building, Madison, Wisconsin
Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are moving to allow people who've already had COVID-19 to get credit for overcoming the virus.

The Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics is discussing AB 675, which would require businesses in the state to accept proof of natural immunity instead of vaccination proof or regular coronavirus testing.

Rep. David Murphy, R-Greenville, said at a hearing o the measure Wednesday:
"We can't force people to get vaccinated, and I certainly would be strongly against that. So that leaves people in the situation of either being forced to do something they don't want to do, or they leave their job."
The push comes as companies across the state wait to see if President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for all businesses with 100 or more employees is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to hear arguments Friday on lawsuits challenging the mandate.

It also comes as Wisconsin is reporting new records in coronavirus cases, and as hospitals across the state are filling up.

Murphy said hospitals across the state have fired or pushed out hundreds of doctors and nurses for not getting their coronavirus vaccines. He said that doesn't help anyone who needs medical treatment for something other than the coronavirus.
"If I were a cancer patient, I would rather have a doctor or nurse who is unvaccinated than not have one at all. And I think we're coming down to that point where we have to choose between a perfect world and one where we're still getting health care."

Star of David

Jerusalem: Israeli authorities demolish health centre in Jabal al-Mukaber

houses demolished
Israeli excavators demolish Palestinian-built houses
Village of Sair, West Bank • August 5, 2021
Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished a healthcare centre in occupied East Jerusalem without prior notice, according to Palestinian reports.

Bulldozers arrived early in the morning as security forces cordoned off the area around the Abdallah al-Shaikh health centre, which was treating people at the time, in the neighbourhood of Jabal al-Mukaber before the demolition was carried out.

Ghassan Jalajel, director of the centre, told Palestinian news agency Wafa the building was torn down without notice despite an appeal previously submitted to Israeli courts against the demolition order.

He said half of the centre, which serves 20,000 people living in the neighbourhood, was demolished.

Translation: Occupation forces demolish a health centre in Jabal al-Mukaber this morning


EV's and the lessons of I-95

I-95 Traffic Jam
© Eric Peters Auto
A few days ago, Virginia - home to this writer - was hammered by a sudden-onslaught blizzard that dumped almost a foot of snow along the I-95 corridor, the name we Virginians use to reference the stretch of Interstate 95 that runs from Richmond up to Northern Va, near DC - before it threads up the east coast to New York and beyond.

The snow was so fierce and heavy it paralyzed traffic on I-95, which became a kind of extended parking lot for much of the distance between Richmond and Northern Virginia, which is more than 100 miles.

Thousands of drivers were stuck inside their cars, for as long as 27 hours - which is more than one full day, if you're counting. This is extremely inconvenient - as well as uncomfortable, assuming your car isn't an RV with beds in the back and cable TV.

It could be something else - if your car happens to be electric.

EVs don't like sudden, unplanned things - because they're more likely to be not ready for them - since it takes them hours to charge, if not plugged in to a "fast" charger - and none of these are at home. You have to drive to where they are.

This is hard to do if you can't drive to where they are.