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Sat, 04 Apr 2020
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UK mood shifts after first week of lockdown as Brits blast 'overzealous' police

british police
© AFP / Andy Buchanan
After clamoring for stricter measures, some in the UK have started complaining about a "police state." Transport minister Grant Shapps admitted some officers had been "heavy-handed" but insisted most have been doing a "good job.

The mood of most Britons seems to be shifting, just one week after Boris Johnson announced a coronavirus lockdown.

Following a raft of calls for more draconian measures, and criticism of the government for not imposing stricter controls, the country now appears to be concerned about a loss of civil liberties and about the hugely-damaging economic fallout.

Police have widely been slammed for being 'over-zealous' in enforcing the new rules, brought in to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Snakes in Suits

Revealed: Monsanto downplayed risks of new crop system, were aware it would damage US farms

Missouri farmer Bill Bader
© Bryce Gray/AP
Missouri farmer Bill Bader won a $265m jury verdict against Monsanto and BASF after alleging his peach trees were damaged by the illegal use of the herbicide dicamba
The US agriculture giant Monsanto and the German chemical giant BASF were aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms, internal documents seen by the Guardian show.

Risks were downplayed even while they planned how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto's new seeds just to avoid damage, according to documents unearthed during a recent successful $265m lawsuit brought against both firms by a Missouri farmer.

The documents, some of which date back more than a decade, also reveal how Monsanto opposed some third-party product testing in order to curtail the generation of data that might have worried regulators.


US ban bites into Huawei's profits as company warns of potential Chinese retaliation

© Karlis Dambrans via Shutterstock
What just happened? The US ban on Huawei is starting to have an effect on the Chinese giant's bottom line. The company reported a 5.6 percent rise in profit last year, its smallest increase in three years, and warned that 2020 would be its most difficult year yet. Huawei also predicted that the Chinese government could hit back against the US.

In its annual report, Huawei revealed that its net profit for 2019 was 62.7 billion yuan (around $8.8 billion). The 5.6 percent YoY increase paled in comparison to the 25 percent jump from a year earlier, and was the smallest increase since 2016, reports Reuters. Its carrier business, meanwhile, saw its sales rise by just 3.8 percent.

Revenue for the year was up 19.1 percent to 858.8 billion yuan (about $121.billion). Growth for the first half of the year was at 23.2 percent, meaning sales declined throughout 2019, and things are expected to get worse in 2020.


Spain's minister says older people have been found 'dead and abandoned'

Emergency unit
© Reuters/Susana Vera
Members of the Military Emergency Unit leave an elderly home after carrying out disinfection procedures during the coronavirus disease in Madrid, Spain.
Soldiers drafted in to help Spain tackle the coronavirus pandemic by disinfecting and running residential homes have found a number of elderly people abandoned and dead in their beds, according to the country's defence minister.

News of the grim discoveries came as Spain experienced a further rise in the number of coronavirus deaths and cases, and as health authorities set about distributing almost 650,000 rapid testing kits.

On Monday, the country's defence minister, Margarita Robles, said that members of the specialist Military Emergencies Unit had found the corpses as they carried out their duties. "During some of its visits, the army has seen some totally abandoned elderly people - even some who were dead in their beds," Robles told the Ana Rosa TV programme.

Robles said such inhumane treatment would not be tolerated and that anyone ignoring their responsibilities would be prosecuted.

Post-It Note

Signed by the Governor: Idaho expands "Constitutional Carry" gun law

Idaho Governor Brad Little

Idaho Governor Brad Little
Last week, Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a bill into law to expand a current "constitutional carry" law, and allow any U.S. citizen over 18 who can legally own a gun carry concealed in city limits without a permit.

The House State Affairs Committee introduced House Bill 516 (H516) in February. Under the new law, any U.S. citizen can now carry a concealed firearm without a permit within city limits in Idaho. Under the former law, people over 18 could carry a concealed weapon without a permit in most places in Idaho, but only Idaho residents could do so within city limits.

Last month, the House passed H516 by a vote of 56-14. On Wednesday, the Senate concurred with a vote of 27-5. With Little's signature, the law will go into effect on May 19.

Since passing a law allowing permitless concealed carry outside of city limits in 2015, the Idaho legislature has loosened restrictions several times. In 2016, it got rid of the requirement that Idaho residents must have a permit to carry concealed within city limits. In 2019, the age for concealed carry in city limits was reduced from 21 to 18.

Comment: No doubt there are many individuals and groups who are now not only deeply concerned about the elevation in violent crime that is likely to occur as a result of impending economic disaster, but also fear Federal Government over-reach and the infringement of basic constitutional rights in an ever-growing police state.

See also:

Stock Down

Stocks sag in volatile trading as Dow heads for worst-ever first quarter

stock market face mask coronavirus covid-19
Stocks fell on Tuesday, the last day of the first quarter, as investors wrapped up a period of historic market volatility sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 197 points lower, or 0.9%. The S&P 500 was down by 0.9%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.3%. The 30-stock benchmark was up as much as 152 points earlier in the day; it has fallen as much as 293.63 points, or 1.3%.

Investors digested a slew of news that may be contributing to the volatile swings on Tuesday, along with the monthly rebalancing of portfolios:



A review of 'Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family'

louise perry review feminism book surrogacy family
A review of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family by Sophie Lewis, Verso, 224 pages (May 2019)
Why is it that when we grab for heaven — socialist or capitalist or even religious — we so often produce hell? I'm not sure, but it is so. Maybe it's the lumpiness of human beings. What do you do with people who somehow just don't or won't fit into your grand scheme?
So writes Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, the most influential vision of a misogynist dystopia ever created. But Sophie Lewis, author of Full Surrogacy Now, has little time for Atwood. She is suspicious of the "'universal' (trans-erasive) feminist solidarity" that seems to be promised by the novel. In the fictional country of Gilead, women are valued for their reproductive capacities alone, while their social status is stripped away. This foregrounding of bodies, and what those bodies can do — or not do — seems to make Lewis uncomfortable, and she is not alone in that view. In 2018, Michael Biggs, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and Quillette contributor, was condemned as transphobic in a student newspaper for tweeting an image of several handmaids, captioned with the line: "But I told them I am non-binary." The reality of sexual dimorphism apparent in The Handmaid's Tale does not sit easily within contemporary feminist politics.

Lewis finds herself in a difficult situation. She has set out to write a book about pregnancy, but is determined not to refer directly to the class of people who can become pregnant. She pointedly avoids words like "women" and "mothers" and instead writes of "people who can gestate," with only occasional lapses. "There can be no utopian thought on reproduction that does not involve uncoupling gestation from the gender binary" Lewis says in her introduction. It does not make for a promising start.



Instacart workers in US begin nationwide walkout as Whole Foods workers plan sickout Tuesday

Workers for Instacart, a grocery shopping and delivery service, began a nationwide walkout in the United States today to protest the company's refusal to protect them or provide hazard pay during the coronavirus pandemic. They have vowed not to return to work until the company meets their demands. Instacart employs more than 150,000 workers across the country.

The planned walkout is part of a nationwide and international fight by workers to demand safe conditions, including strikes and protests by Amazon workers, sanitation and public transit workers and workers in the auto, steel and meatpacking industries. Amazon workers in Staten Island plan to strike Monday, and workers at Whole Foods — also owned by Amazon — plan to strike Tuesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased demand for shopping and delivery services dramatically, as many people stay at home or in quarantine. Last week, Instacart announced plans to hire 300,000 new workers during the next three months to meet this demand.


UK media generating confusion about death of Chloe Middleton: Coroner says 21-year-old did NOT 'die from Covid-19' - UPDATE: Guardian deletes article

Chloe Middleton
© Facebook
Chloe Middleton was taken to hospital after a heart attack, but attempts to resuscitate her failed.

Comment: Note: This article has been scrubbed by the Guardian. The original link now says "This article was removed on 28 March 2020 pending review."

The death of 21-year-old Chloe Middleton - the UK's youngest coronavirus victim, her family believe - has not been recorded in the official toll because of confusion about how she died, the Guardian can reveal.

Middleton was taken to Wexham Park hospital in Slough last Thursday after having a heart attack. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she was pronounced dead soon after arriving, a source said.

A Berkshire coroner said the death was related to Covid-19 after being told Middleton had a cough, the source said. But this surprised medics at the hospital, who have not recorded it as a coronavirus incident.

Comment: This just illustrates the complete hysteria around the current coronavirus outbreak. People are not acting rationally and officials are not being careful in how they are reporting deaths. To say that someone 'died of coronavirus' simply because they had a cough is completely irresponsible. And there's a very big difference between 'dying of coronavirus' and 'dying with coronavirus', a turn of phrase the media has been all too willing to exploit.

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Red Flag

Megachurch pastor who promised to cure the US of coronavirus, arrested for service flouting social distancing

Rodney Howard-Browne
© Courtesy Hernando County Sheriff
Rodney Howard-Browne has been an outspoken opponent of social distancing requirements, claiming his church has machines that can stop the coronavirus.

A controversial Florida pastor who refused to stop holding packed church services, in violation of coronavirus restrictions, was arrested Monday by a local sheriff who said the preacher was putting his followers' lives at risk.

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was booked on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violation of public health rules after flouting social distancing orders at The River at Tampa Bay church.

Howard-Browne — an ally of President Donald Trump — has been an outspoken opponent of social distancing requirements, claiming his church has machines that can stop the coronavirus and vowing to personally cure the state of Florida himself.