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Fri, 26 Feb 2021
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Not lovin' it - Inflation wake-up call

McDonald's Sign
© Eric Peters Auto
Fast food has always had one thing going for it - cheapness. A lot of food for not much money. It is why fast food is popular, especially with people who haven't got much money.

McDonald's food, for instance, certainly isn't good food.

Now it's also expensive food - as anyone who has meandered through the drive-thru recently already knows.

A Big Mac - which is mostly bread, some stale lettuce, thousand island dressing and two meager "beef" patties - costs $4. Plus tax. A quarter-pounder costs about the same. Two dollars more buys you one large order of french fries. Add two medium sodas and this marginal meal for two costs almost $15.

Which isn't cheap given the food - both quality and quantity.

A meal for four on the same basis and there goes $40 if everyone gets their own french fries. For McDonald's.

If fast food is the food of the poor, the poor are in trouble - nutritionally and financially. Today's $4 Big Mac sold for $2.39 in 2000, which even adjusted for inflation is "only" $3.41 in today's money. Put another way, the clown has jacked up the real cost of the Big Mac by about 60 cents since 2000.

Vito the loan shark would be ashamed.


Man who killed wife 'in act of great violence' jailed for just five years in UK, judge felt lockdown affected his mental state

© PA/Gwent
Ruth and Anthony Williams.
Domestic violence campaigners have raised concerns over the leniency of a five-year jail sentence given to a man who strangled his wife days into the first coronavirus lockdown.

Anthony Williams, 70, who was on Monday found not guilty of murder, appeared for sentencing at Swansea crown court after admitting manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. The judge, Paul Thomas, said it was a "tragic case on several levels", but in his view Williams' mental state was "severely affected at the time".

"The overwhelming greatest tragedy here is a lady of 67, who had so much to live for, had her life ended by an act of great violence at the hands, literally, of a man she loved for very nearly 50 years," the judge said.

Bad Guys

Kiwi MP says sorry for tweeting 'women's rights are human rights', getting 'terfs excited'

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman
© 1 News
New Zealand Green MP Golriz Ghahraman
New Zealand will provide free period products at schools, but don't you dare call it a win for women's rights! Not if you are in the Green Party, whose MP was quickly reminded to use the expression "people with uteruses" instead.

Golriz Ghahraman, an Iranian-born legislator who serves as the Green Party's foreign affairs spokesperson, cheered on the government's decision to make the pilot program, which offers school students free period products, nationwide. "Women's rights are human rights!" she tweeted.

While nobody would argue that the news wasn't good, some commenters picked on the motto itself, saying Ghahraman should have said "people with uteruses" instead. Others welcomed her for not shying away from the word "women," but they were soon disappointed, as the MP corrected herself.

Comment: Gharhraman was quick to realize that not issuing a "correction" (to basic facts, no less) would be political suicide. The trans lobby is small but powerful.


Catalan rapper arrested for 'insulting monarchy' - 200 artists sign petition 'defending freedom of speech' - Anti-Madrid protest erupts in Barcelona - UPDATE: Riots ongoing

Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel is arrested by police at the University of Lleida, 150 kms (90 miles) west of Barcelona, on February 16, 2021 where he had barricaded himself.
A convicted Spanish rapper who had barricaded himself inside a university with supporters in an attempt to avoid arrest has now been taken into custody after a 24-hour standoff with the police.

Pablo Hasél, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duró, was due to begin a nine-month jail sentence for tweets and lyrics attacking the monarchy, but locked himself inside Lleida University in Catalonia on Monday.

Hasél was convicted for glorifying terrorism and slandering the crown and state institutions. The country's National Court issued an order for his arrest on Monday after a 10-day period for him to enter prison voluntarily expired on Friday.

Comment: Spain's monarchy is certainly worthy of criticism: Spain's retired king flees country ahead of investigation into financial corruption

Now protests have erupted in support of the rapper:

Barcelona protest demanding rapper's release descends into riots
Clashes erupted between protesters and riot police during demonstrations in Catalonia against the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasel, convicted for calling the former Spanish king a thief, with cops in Barcelona firing rubber bullets.

Hasel, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, was arrested earlier on Tuesday after barricading himself inside the University of Lleida in Catalonia. He is to serve a nine-month sentence handed down in 2018 over song lyrics and tweets regarding disgraced former monarch Juan Carlos I, and a social media post praising a Spanish Maoist terrorist group.

Over 200 artists have signed a petition against his imprisonment, saying it amounts to persecution of freedom of expression, and thousands of people took to the streets on Tuesday in a number of Catalonian cities to show their support for the rapper.

In the regional capital Barcelona, huge crowds marched through the city streets calling for Hasel's release. Clashes broke out there too, with protesters throwing various projectiles at police and turning dumpsters into flaming barricades while riot cops fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

The demonstrations in Lleida, where Hasel was arrested, also descended into unrest, with eyewitness footage showing motorcycles ablaze and protesters throwing plastic chairs and other debris at police vans before officers charged at them with the vehicles.

In the Spanish city of Valencia, officers were filmed repeatedly lashing out with their batons and striking protesters while they pushed to clear the main square. Demonstrators could be heard chanting "Without freedom of opinion there is no democracy".

Spain's government last week pledged to ease punishments for "crimes of express" such as hate speech and insults to the crown or to religion.
UPDATE 18/02/2021: Riots over the rapper's incarceration have not abated:
Valencia saw some of the worst violence on Thursday, where demonstrators could be seen clashing with riot police in footage posted to social media, while a helicopter appeared to be monitoring the protests from above.

Multiple injuries were reported amid the clashes in the eastern Spanish city, while some protesters appeared to hurl stones and bottles at officers.

In Barcelona, which saw the first protests two days ago, further violent clashes broke out on Thursday, as bins, bikes and a building were set on fire.

Protests in the Catalonian capital focused on the Ministry of the Interior, where a heavy police presence was in place, with helicopters also deployed. Barricades have also been erected in Barcelona and the windows of Spanish newspaper El Periódico have been smashed, according to El Pais.

Microscope 2

We'll have herd immunity by April

Mask Shield illustration
© Illustration: Martin Kozlowski
Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we'd call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?

In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

Comment: Despite the assumption that the vaccine will confer immunity, natural herd immunity is undoubtedly rising. But will this mean an end to lockdowns and social distancing initiatives?

See also:


Melbourne anti-vaxxers arrested as hundreds rally in Australian capital cities

melbourne police arrest anti-vaxxer
Victoria's chief health officer, Brett Sutton, has assured the public that "fervent anti-vaxxers" are a "small minority" as hundreds rallied in capital cities across Australia.

Multiple people were arrested at a Melbourne rally on Saturday amid clashes with the police, while protesters also marched through the Sydney CBD and large groups gathered in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Demonstrators in Melbourne voiced conspiracy theories and rallied "against mandatory Covid vaccinations", an idea that has already been rejected by the federal government and health experts.

Comment: See also:


Australian spy found dead reportedly planned to release classified data on Afghan 'war crimes'

afghanistan conflict
© AP Photo / Hadi Mizban
The officer was found dead in the Russell complex in Canberra just a month after the biggest scandal in the history of the Australian military. According to police reports, his death was not suspicious, as he had apparently committed suicide.

An Australian intelligence officer, who was found dead in the car park of army headquarters in December 2020, allegedly had an encrypted hard drive with him, as he was reportedly planning to release classified information on the misconduct of Australian troops in Afghanistan, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

"It is understood the intelligence officer was going to make the information public because the Brereton Report is an erroneous one-sided witchhunt against the SAS to try to appease the Afghanis", the source told the newspaper.

Bad Guys

'DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY': Madonna lashes out at shadowy cabal of men attempting to 'cut off her life force'

© REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Singer Madonna speaks to guests after receiving the Advocate for Change award during the 30th annual GLAAD awards ceremony in New York City, New York, US, May 4, 2019.
Pop icon Madonna has complained that a conniving cadre of scheming men has prevented her from reaching her full potential, but some believe that the obscenely wealthy and successful entertainer may be overreacting.

"The Patriarchy continues to try to crush my neck with their heavy boots, cut off my life force and take away my voice — Even those who call themselves artists..............You know who you are!!! DEATH TO THE PATRIARCHY! Now and Forever," Madonna tweeted, including a photograph of herself wearing a glittering tiara.

Comment: Looks like someone feels like she needs some attention.

See also:


TWO Boeing planes suffer rare engine failure in two days, parts break off over populated areas

boeing engine failure
© @speedbird5280 (Hayden Smith) via Instagram
A United Airlines Boeing 777 suffered an uncontained engine failure over Denver earlier today.
A United Boeing 777 was forced to return to Denver International Airport earlier today. The 26-year-old aircraft suffered an uncontained engine failure over the city, with parts of the engine cowling ending up in a local resident's front yard.

It's incredibly rare for an aircraft to suffer an uncontained engine failure. In August 2019, Simple Flying reported that a car window in Italy had been smashed by debris from a Norwegian 787's uncontained failure. However, today has been a day of incredible co-incidence as not one but two major uncontained failures occurred over populated areas. Earlier today, parts of a Boeing 747 engine ended up lodged in the roof of a car in the Netherlands.

Comment: See also:


MI6 chief apologises for 'wrong, unjust and discriminatory' treatment of LGBT+ recruits

richard moore MI6
The head of MI6 has issued a public apology for unjust treatment in the past of staff and recruits because of their sexuality, acknowledging that talented and brave people who wanted to serve their country suffered because of ignorance and prejudice.

Although same-sex relationships were decriminalised in 1967, the intelligence agencies continued to bar LGBT+ entrants until 1991. Even after that date, Richard Moore pointed out, serving officers who had not disclosed their sexuality during the vetting process faced harsh treatment.

The ban on LGBT+ entrants, said Mr Moore, was based on "misguided view" that they would be more susceptible to blackmail than straight people by hostile states, making them a security risk.

Comment: If the barring of LGBT entrants was lifted 30 years ago, why apologize now?

See also: