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Fri, 16 Apr 2021
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As vaccine passports are rolled out across the world, what price freedom?

IPhone vac certificate
© Alamy Stock Photo
It used to be that the crazy ideas of politicians seldom came to fruition because Government IT projects dragged on for years before being cancelled anyway. We were all protected by the ineptitude of civil servants who built the wrong things in the wrong way. That is not the case these days. Last year's NHS COVID19 app was a well-engineered piece of software, deployed at massive scale to 21 million people. In just two months it became one of the world's most downloaded medical software products.

It was certainly built in the right way, but did it live up to the barely credible claims made by the politicians? Has anyone heard NHSX, the app's creator, defending its claim that its venue QR codes "will help avoid the reintroduction of lockdown measures and support the country to return to a normal way of life"? That was two lockdowns ago, by the way.

Or can anyone provide evidence in support of NHSX's claim that "for every 1 to 2 people who download the app, an infection could be prevented"? Given that we know it was downloaded 21 million times that implies 11-21 million averted infections. The Alan Turing Institute gushed over its estimated 284,000 averted infections but failed to point out that meant NHSX were out by a factor of 56. We are indeed in an era of being able to successfully build the wrong systems in the right way.

Stock Down

Poll: 15% of Americans worse off a year into pandemic

job center
© AP/Damian Dovarganes
Pasadena, CA community job center during coronavirus outbreak
While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the U.S.

Overall, 55% of Americans say their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved, according to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But 15% say they are worse off.

The problem is more pronounced at lower-income levels: 29% of Americans living below the federal poverty line say their personal finances worsened in the past year. Roughly that many also find themselves in a deepening financial hole, saying they struggled to pay bills in the past three months.


One officer accused in pepper-spraying of black army officer during traffic stop fired

Windsor, (Va.) Police video
© Windsor Police via AP
In this image made from Windsor, (Va.) Police video, A police officer uses a spray agent on Caron Nazario on Dec. 20, 2020, in Windsor, Va. Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, is suing two Virginia police officers over a traffic stop during which he says the officers drew their guns and pointed them at him as he was dressed in uniform. Caron Nazario says his constitutional rights were violated by the traffic stop in the town of Windsor in December.
One of two police officers accused of pepper-spraying and pointing their guns at a Black Army officer during a traffic stop has since been fired, a Virginia town announced late Sunday, hours after the governor called for an independent investigation into the case.

The town of Windsor said in a statement that it joined calls from election officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam, in requesting an investigation by Virginia State Police into the December 2020 encounter in which two Windsor officers were accused of drawing their guns, pointing them at U.S. Army second lieutenant Caron Nazario and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.

Nazario was also pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, according to the lawsuit he filed earlier this month against them.

Comment: This is rich, coming from Northam. The Virginia governor is not popular even in his Democratic party because of his hypocrisy. The same party canceled college mascots and syrup logos because of Black Lives Matter, but it was ok for him to be photographed in blackface mask with a guy with a KKK mask, and to offend black people publicly. The media were silent about that. Note the asymmetry - conservatives wouldn't be able to get away with any of that. And the media are happy to amplify the asymmetry wherever and whenever possible.

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Get the kids early: Scrabble goes woke, bans 400 words in latest culture war salvo

scrabble board game
© https://cdni.rt.com/files/2021.04/article/60759d3085f5400e8a395e9d.jpg
Scrabble has followed Mr Potato Head and Barbie in trying to impose woke values on your children. Remember when toys and games used to be fun rather than tools used to ensure kids think in what's deemed an 'acceptable' manner?

Just when you imagined that the woke-inspired culture war could not get any crazier, you realise that they are desperately serious about turning people's lives upside down.

The toy manufacturer Mattel, which owns the rights to Scrabble outside North America, has just announced that it has decided to remove 400 words it considers derogatory from its list of officially accepted terms.

Comment: The kids are sitting ducks. It doesn't bode well.


Facebook, Instagram users can now ask 'oversight' panel to review decisions not to remove content

© TechCrunch
Facebook's self-styled 'Oversight Board' (FOB) has announced an operational change that looks intended to respond to criticism of the limits of the self-regulatory content-moderation decision review body: It says it's started accepting requests from users to review decisions to leave content up on Facebook and Instagram.

The move expands the FOB's remit beyond reviewing (and mostly reversing) content takedowns — an arbitrary limit that critics said aligns it with the economic incentives of its parent entity, given that Facebook's business benefits from increased engagement with content (and outrageous content drives clicks and makes eyeballs stick).

"So far, users have been able to appeal content to the Board which they think should be restored to Facebook or Instagram. Now, users can also appeal content to the Board which they think should be removed from Facebook or Instagram," the FOB writes, adding that it will "use its independent judgment to decide what to leave up and what to take down".

Comment: In other words, Facebook has constructed a nice distraction for the proles that will have no real effect on its censorship capabilities or its capacity to punt "acceptable" propaganda content.

Eye 2

What's happening in California prisons was entirely predictable

Meet Karen
For those who are wondering how the Democrats' "Equality Act" — requiring people to be treated according to their gender identity — will operate if passed, we're getting some foreshadowing from California. On January 1, a law went into effect holding that state prisoners must be housed in a facility consistent with their gender identity, regardless of their anatomy. To date, 261 prisoners — 255 of them men — have asked to be relocated.

The reasoning behind the law wasn't just the usual woke madness of treating transgenderism as if it were not a sad case of body dysmorphia but were, instead, a magical change in sex. Instead, there was a humane goal: men who identify as women, when placed in all-male prisons, are extremely vulnerable to prison rape. One man in Australia claimed that he was raped over 2,000 times, which, if true, is appalling.

However, when you place men in women's prisons, there's also a rape problem, with the men — many of whom claim to be lesbians — raping those women unlucky enough find themselves in the same cell, ward, or shower as one of these so-called "transgender women."

Comment: This phenomenon is exactly what has been warned about here: MindMatters: Joshua Slocum: We're Living in a Cluster B World


Canada to censor political taunts, implement internet kill switch

Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guibeault

Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guibeault
Constituents to remain fair game for abuse from party apparatchiks.

A colleague forwarded me the text of an article from Blackrocks Reporter, which covers Canadian politics from Ottawa, our capitol.

It's a report on Federal Heritage Minister Steven Guibeault's ongoing vendetta against non-conforming political speech on the internet, in which he's calling for censorship of "hurtful" comments against politicians and implementation of an internet killswitch to facilitate it.

Comment: See also:

Magic Wand

Huge gatherings at India's Hindu festival as virus surges

India Kumbh
© The Associated Press
India Kumbh
Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees gathered by the Ganges River for special prayers, many of them flouting social distancing practices as the coronavirus spreads in India with record speed.

Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees gathered by the Ganges River for special prayers Monday, many of them flouting social distancing practices as the coronavirus spreads in India with record speed.

The Kumbh Mela or pitcher festival, is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The faithful congregate in the northern city of Haridwar. Pilgrims take a dip in the waters of the Ganges, which they believe will absolve them of their sins and deliver them from the cycle of birth and death.

Comment: See also:


Protestors take to streets in Kyrgyzstan to demand ban against 'bride kidnapping' after young woman murdered by her captor

rally women's rights Kyrgyzstan
© Sputnik / Svetlana Fedotova
People attend a rally for the protection of women's rights in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek's police chief has been fired after hundreds of locals demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry in the Kyrgyz capital protesting about the killing of a 27-year-old woman, murdered during a so-called 'bride kidnapping.'

The practice, also known as 'bridenapping,' used to be a widespread phenomenon in the Caucasus and in several Asian nations. Nowadays, most abductions are purely ceremonial and a tribute to previous tradition. However, in Kyrgyzstan, there are still some cases where the bride has not consented.

On April 5, a 27-year-old woman named Aizada Kanatbekova was kidnapped by a group of unknown assailants. Following an investigation, the police quickly identified the would-be groom as Zamirbek Tenizbayev. Later that evening, they reached Tenizbayev by phone, who replied that he intended to marry Kanatbekova. He then turned off the device, and the police failed to find him.

Comment: It's quite shocking that such a backward, neanderthal practice is still tolerated in this day and age.

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Hundreds defy 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest of COVID-19 measure in Montreal

montreal curfew protest
© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew.
Montreal police arrested seven people and doled out more than 100 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 public health guidelines after a protest against an earlier curfew devolved into vandalism and violence.

Hundreds gathered in the city's Old Port on Sunday night to demonstrate against the Quebec government's decision to roll back curfew to 8 p.m. in Montreal and Laval amid the rise in infections in the province.

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault says events like those of Sunday night in Old Montreal "cannot be tolerated."

Comment: It's clear that more and more people have had enough of these draconian Covid restrictions and are acting out as a result. It seems that instituting more restrictions is going to be increasingly challenging in the future, as the public become more unruly in response.

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