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Sun, 18 Apr 2021
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New Zealand govt 'considering' outlawing tobacco altogether by 2025

ardern smoking
New Zealand is considering phasing out the legal sale of tobacco with a date-based ban on smoking products.

Lawmakers are mulling plans to gradually increase the legal age at which people can buy tobacco products as New Zealand aims to become smoke-free by 2025.

Comment: This makes a mockery of adults, freedom of choice, and law generally; if a person is legally old enough to vote, drive a car, have sex, drink alcohol, surely they can choose whether they wish to smoke?

In a consultation document, the government said: "A smoke-free generation policy would prohibit the sale, and the supply in a public place, of smoked tobacco products to new cohorts from a specified date.

Comment: That didn't work for prohibition in the US, nor has it worked for any country with marijuana. Moreover, it actually tends to make things worse by channeling those profits into organized crime.

Comment: One of the worst aspects of the whole smoking 'debate' is that those pushing for its prohibition are basing their opinions on erroneous data; smoking tobacco isn't harmful, moreover, for some people smoking tobacco can be highly beneficial. However, the corruption of science is nothing new, and we see similar deleterious effects on society with government dietary guidelines that have led to soaring rates of obesity and diabetes: For more on the matter, check out SOTT radio's: The Health & Wellness Show: The Truth about Tobacco and the Benefits of Nicotine


Hunter Biden's book 'Beautiful Things' sells less than 11k copies in first week, despite PR rush

Hunter Biden
© Getty Images
Failure to launch
Hunter Biden's memoir sold less than 11,000 copies in its debut week, despite a massive promotional campaign that included appearances by the author and presidential son on CNN, CBS News and ABC's late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live!

As of Friday, first-week sales of Beautiful Things: A Memoir were 10,638 copies, according to Publishers Weekly.

The book by President Biden's son came in 12th, just behind The Calcium Connection: The Little-Known Enzyme at the Root of Your Cellular Health, by Brunde Broady, a book about teeth health.

The No. 1 selling book was The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, by Amanda Gorman, whose popularity soared after her performance at President Biden's inauguration event. There were 42,318 copies sold last week.

Much of Biden's book focuses on his addiction problems and stories about the Biden family. Biden's overseas business dealing, include those in Ukraine, in part while his father was still vice president, became the focus of intense scrutiny during the 2020 election cycle.

Arrow Up

Castro confirms he is passing Cuban Communist Party leadership to new generation

Raul Castro
© file photo
Cuban First Secretary of the Communist Party, Raul Castro
Raul Castro confirmed he was handing over the leadership of the all-powerful Cuban Communist Party to a younger generation that was "full of passion and anti-imperialist spirit" at its congress that kicked off on Friday.

In a speech opening the four day closed door event, excerpts of which were broadcast on state television, Castro, 89, said he had the satisfaction of handing over the leadership to a group of party loyalists that had decades of experience working their way up the ranks.

Castro told hundreds of party delegates gathered at a convention center in Havana:
"I believe fervently in the strength and exemplary nature and comprehension of my compatriots, and as long as I live I will be ready with my foot in the stirrups to defend the fatherland, the revolution and socialism,"

Comment: Retirement marks the end of a 62-year history under a Castro control:
The Castro era has come to an end in Cuba. Raúl Castro, who has governed the island nation since his brother, Fidel, fell ill in 2006, officially announced his retirement from his powerful position as head of the Cuban Communist party as it opened its 8th party congress yesterday in Havana.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've concluded my task as first secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee," Castro declared at the opening ceremony of the party meeting. A formal transfer of leadership to his successor as party leader — presumed to be President Miguel Díaz-Canel — will take place before the party congress adjourns on Monday.

The changing of the old guard — Castro is turning 90 in June--to a new generation of leadership in Cuba has been expected since April 2018, when he yielded his position as president of the country to Díaz-Canel. At the time, Castro stated he would stay on as leader of the Communist Party until 2021.

He was now retiring, Castro said yesterday, with "the satisfaction of having fulfilled the mission and confident in the future of the fatherland."

Although Díaz-Canel has adopted the slogan of "continuity" there is mounting pressure on Cuba's new leadership to adopt bold new initiatives to reduce state-centric control of the economy and remove restrictions on private sector initiative.

After Fidel Castro fell ill with diverticulitis in July 2006, he ceded his duties as president of the country and first secretary of the party to his younger brother. Raúl Castro officially assumed the title of president in 2008 and of first secretary of the party in 2011.

As maximum leader, Raúl Castro tentatively initiated economic reforms in an effort to modernize Cuba's stagnant economy. To create incentives for agricultural production, he authorized farmers to sell a percentage of their crops in private farmer's markets; he designated a limited number of occupations to be licensed for small businesses and self-employment; permitted the use of cell phones, expanded Internet access and more.

Of most consequence for Cuba's economic development, Castro secretly negotiated a modus vivendi with the Obama administration. The historic accord to re-establish official diplomatic relations and work toward normalized economic ties was announced in December 2014, and resulted in a dramatic, if short-lived, expansion of Cuba's tourist sector. The Trump administration rescinded Obama's policy of positive engagement with Cuba, and the pandemic forced Cuba to close its borders to tourism for most of 2020.

As Cuba moves into its post-Castro era, he also reiterated his commitment to sustaining the revolution he led with his brother. Nobody should doubt, Castro said, "that while I am alive I will be ready, with a foot in the stirrup, to defend Socialism, the Revolution, and the Homeland."


Cruz no longer wears a mask in the Capitol

Ted Cruz
© Business Insider
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sans mask
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Thursday that he will no longer be wearing a mask at the Capitol since he is fully vaccinated. Cruz told CNN:
"At this point I've been vaccinated. Everybody working in the Senate has been vaccinated. CDC has said in small groups, particularly with people who were vaccinated, don't need to wear masks."
Cruz and many other lawmakers have been fully vaccinated against the virus, but the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still recommending vaccinated people wear masks in large groups of people since many have not been fully vaccinated yet. Some Capitol staffers and reporters are still waiting to be fully vaccinated, with one reporter asking Cruz last month to wear a mask during a press event. Cruz told the reporter:
"Uh, yeah, when I'm talking in front of the TV cameras I'm not going to wear a mask. And all of us have been immunized, so... You're welcome to step away if you like. The whole point of a vaccine ... CDC guidance is what we're following."
The House requires that lawmakers wear masks, but the Senate does not.

Cruz is joining Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) in walking around the Capitol and on the Senate floor without a mask.

Comment: Trailblazing the new normal (which was the old normal).


Oath Keepers founder to cooperate with prosecutors in first guilty plea from Capitol riot

Jon Schaffer
Oath Keepers' Jon Schaffer
A member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia pleaded guilty Friday to two charges stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.

Why it matters: It's the first guilty plea that federal prosecutors have secured in their sprawling investigation, and it comes exactly 100 days after the Jan. 6 siege. Jon Schaffer, 53, is expected to cooperate with the government and will receive "witness security."
  • Schaffer turned himself in to the FBI on Jan. 18 and has been jailed since. He originally faced six charges, including for using bear spray on police officers, but he will now plead guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon.
  • The Oath Keepers are a far-right group made up of former military, law enforcement and first responders.
The big picture: Prosecutors last month requested a delay in a series of cases related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, describing the massive undertaking as "likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice."
  • More than 300 suspects have been charged in connection with the attack, which FBI director Christopher Wray has described as "domestic terrorism."
  • In addition to individual crimes like assault, trespassing and destruction of government property, federal prosecutors are investigating "conspiratorial activity" that began before Jan. 6, including possible coordination between the Oath Keepers and other far-right groups.
  • The Justice Department expects that at least 100 more individuals will be charged, according to the court filing.

Comment: They have one, the first, the initial key to opening the floodgate for herd prosecution. A psychological win.


The case for lockdown collapsed when Sweden's epidemic began to retreat

Back in March of 2020, there was a reasonable case for lockdown. A new, highly contagious virus was spreading through the population, and while the death rate for young people was low, the death rate for elderly people was quite high. Early data pointed to an IFR of about 1%. We were told that - in the absence of drastic measures - the virus would continue to spread until about two-thirds of the population had been infected. A simple back-of-the-envelope calculation suggested that, if we did not take drastic measures, the death toll would be enormous.

Comment: Lockdowns and other moronic inhuman tyrannical measures will end up causing more damage and unnecessary deaths than the virus itself. What we have to worry about now is not how to protect from the virus, but how to stop this tyrannical and fascistic rule spreading across the entire planet from becoming our "new normal."

See also:

Black Cat

BLM co-founder attempts defense of growing hoard of fancy homes in mostly-white neighborhoods: 'I see my money as not my own'

patrisse cullors
© Reuters / Carlo Allegri
Rich is the new poor
Black Lives Matter's chief and self-described "trained Marxist" Patrisse Khan-Cullors was forced to defend her real estate hoard on camera - by insisting that she sees her home in a well-off Los Angeles area as communal property.

"The way that I live my life is in direct support to black people, including my black family members," Cullors defiantly told former CNN journalist Marc Lamont-Hill on Thursday as outcry over the gap between her stated ideals and her life reached a boiling point.
I see my money as not my own. I see it as my family's money as well.
Cullors also sent out a stream of defensive Instagram posts, insisting she did not receive a salary or benefits from Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation - while mentioning nothing about her handsome remuneration for her work as one of the figureheads of the Black Lives Matter movement, the healthy paychecks she has received from book and TV deals, or the speech fees she has pocketed over the last few years. She did not attempt to deny any of the allegations regarding her profligate spending, acknowledging she had "definitely made mistakes" without explaining what those mistakes were.



Indianapolis FedEx gunman was a former employee UPDATE

FedEx Shooting tweetie
© Twitter/mykalmphoto
The gunman who killed eight people at a FedEx facility in the US city of Indianapolis was a former employee, the company says. Police named the suspect as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, who last worked at the company in 2020.

He began shooting "randomly" almost immediately after exiting his car, according to police. Seven people were also injured and the gunman apparently killed himself before police arrived, officials say. This is the latest incident in a recent increase in mass shootings across the US.

At least four of those killed were members of the Sikh community, according to local media. Gurinder Singh Khalsa, a leader of the local Sikh community, told Reuters news agency that the FedEx facility was known for employing members of the community who did not speak fluent English.

A statement from FedEx chairman and CEO Frederick Smith described the incident as a "senseless act of violence". The statement said:
"First and foremost, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families, friends, and co-workers of those team members. Our priority now is in responding to the situation on the ground and helping our team members and law enforcement."

Comment: So far reporting on the incident has offered little speculation as to its cause. Was this a set-up or a deranged individual in reactionary mode?
The FedEx facility employs more than 4,500 people and is the second-largest hub in the company's global network, according to the Indianapolis Star. Scenes from the shooting spree:

UPDATE 16/4/2021: The shooter was 'known' to authorities, flagged by a concerned family member:
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Craig McCartt said earlier in the day that investigators "have an idea" who the shooter is but declined to elaborate. He said the killer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound as police closed in.

CNN reporter Ana Cabrera said he's no stranger to law enforcement.
"Authorities were warned about FedEx suspect's potential for violence in the past, sources say. The suspect in the Indianapolis mass shooting was known to federal and local authorities prior to the attack."
For the police update video, go here.
Body taken
© Michael Conroy/AP
A body is taken from the scene where multiple people were shot at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis, Friday, April 16, 2021.

Star of David

Israeli settlers attack Palestinians and steal land with impunity: Imagine the outrage & calls for sanctions if any other state did it

palestinian protest israeli settlers
© REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma
A protest against Israeli settlers, in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 26, 2021
Every aspect of their existence on occupied Palestinian land is illegal. Still, the violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against civilians continues, propped up by Israel's legal system and the world's blind eyes.

Periodically, we will hear in the news something about the illegal colonies (settlements), but increasingly rarely over the years, and generally without a human face: just numbers and false promises to end the expansion of these colonies choking Palestinians from their land.


70-year-old woman savagely beaten on LA bus, allegedly because she 'looked Asian,' amid rash of hate crimes in California

instagram post
© Instagram / the_asian_dawn
An elderly Mexican-American woman was assaulted on a bus in Los Angeles, reportedly because her assailant thought she was Asian. The suspected hate crime follows a string of anti-Asian incidents in California.

The 70-year-old, identified in the media as 'Becky', was exiting a Metro bus on her way to a local supermarket when the attack occurred. According to Becky's son, the female assailant yelled racial slurs at his mother as she beat her.

The victim suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and her face and eyes were left severely swollen. The attacker even pulled hair out of her head. Becky's son provided photos to local media showing the horrific injuries. He claimed that no one tried to intervene as the attacker, whom he described as a "black girl," began hitting his mother on the head. Eventually, a passenger called 911.

Comment: See also: