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Anti-Empire

Anti-Empire

offsite link Tired of Thinking for Yourself? Join the... Tue Jan 26, 2021 08:14 | Baron Bodissey

offsite link Michigan Announces Re-Opening of Indoor ... Mon Jan 25, 2021 23:06 | Jeremy Schneider

offsite link Couldn’t Make It Up: Fauci Recommends ... Mon Jan 25, 2021 21:35 | Cory Stieg

offsite link Why Did the Entire World Lose Its Nerve? Mon Jan 25, 2021 19:53 | Hector Drummond

offsite link Gates Foundation Is Also Destroying Afri... Mon Jan 25, 2021 19:18 | F. William Engdahl

Anti-Empire >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Mainstream media: Failing to speak truth to power

offsite link David Quinn’s selective tolerance Anthony

offsite link A Woulfe in judges clothing Anthony

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality Anthony

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Poor Living Conditions for Migrants in Southern Italy Mon Jan 18, 2021 10:14 | Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Baron Bodissey - Tue Jan 26, 2021 08:14

It’s time to take a break from all the madness and watch a brief satirical video from Germany.

Actually, it doesn’t really provide a break from the insanity. But at least we get to laugh at it.

Many thanks to Hellequin GB for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes and RAIR Foundation for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:02 Tired of people still enjoying life?
00:05 That other people meet friends, but nobody wants to be your social contact?
00:09 Are you tired of distrusting the government and corporations,
00:13 seeing everything critically, and always from two sides?
00:16 Do you also want to give free rein to your deference to authority, and to belong to the majority?
00:21 Then we now have exactly the right thing for you:
00:24 CORONA CULT
00:28 A three-month membership in the Corona Cult can eliminate complaints
00:32 related to THINKING FOR YOURSELF, nonconformism,
00:37 critical rationalism, placing numbers in context,
00:41 love of freedom or awareness of history.
00:44 The Corona Cult guarantees you an uninhibited block warden mentality,
00:49 the expressing of your need for denunciation,
00:52 the opportunity to look down on others,
00:55 and at the same time to feel yourself to be on the morally right side, and much, much more.
01:00 Finally relive the delights of faith in science again,
01:03 the sacrifice for public health and the rectum of your government.
01:08 Have you got a hard on in your pants when they once again say: “Only Believe Official Sources”?
01:13 “These rules must never be questioned”
01:17 You, too, can become a denier of fundamental rights and trivialize collateral damage.
01:21 Do you finally feel part of the herd again?
01:24 When has that ever been problematic?
01:27 Contribute to the traumatization of your own children
01:30 and reap the admiring looks of your fellow Coronazis in return.
01:34 At last you can hear music from Wolfgang Niedecken and the “Ärzten” [the doctors] again.
01:39 The “science” has proven that Corona cult followers
01:42 contribute significantly to the division of society,
01:45 but can label themselves “considerate” and “in solidarity” at any time.
01:51 But don’t believe my words; just listen to what convinced Corona Cult supporters have to say.
01:56 Here is Gunnar before 2020:
01:59 “Science means above all the constant questioning of false certainties
02:04 and an open, factual discourse.”
02:07 “We have to be careful that we don’t give up basic rights too quickly
02:11 if we want to continue calling ourselves more liberal than China.”
02:15 “Whoever sacrifices security for freedom does not deserve either”
02:18 And here is Gunnar after only half a year with the Corona Cult:
02:22 “Pull the mask over your nose you Nazi kid, or do you want grandma to die?”
02:26 “Hello, police? Yes, I would like to report children who are sledding.”
02:30 “I also knew a Corona victim once. That makes me a better person
02:33 and automatically proves that I’m right about everything.”
02:36 “It’s just a small jab.” So what are you waiting for?
02:40 Follow the “science” and contribute to the total economic recession,
02:45 unemployment, the rise of depression and suicides
02:49 by simply slough off… everything. Say goodbye to
02:52 an awake inquisitive mind and become a Corona Cult follower…
02:56 …NOW…! The Corona Cult is also recommended
02:59 by great minds such as Richard David Precht [philosopher and TV host]
03:02 and the ex-journalist Gert Scobel. Corona Cult,
03:05 for everyone who would have raised their arm before ’33.
03:09 Ask your historian and totalitarian researcher about risks and side effects…
03:13 … NOT…! Better ask your government and the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Source: Gates of Vienna

It’s time to take a break from all the madness and watch a brief satirical video from Germany.

Actually, it doesn’t really provide a break from the insanity. But at least we get to laugh at it.

Many thanks to Hellequin GB for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes and RAIR Foundation for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

00:02 Tired of people still enjoying life?
00:05 That other people meet friends, but nobody wants to be your social contact?
00:09 Are you tired of distrusting the government and corporations,
00:13 seeing everything critically, and always from two sides?
00:16 Do you also want to give free rein to your deference to authority, and to belong to the majority?
00:21 Then we now have exactly the right thing for you:
00:24 CORONA CULT
00:28 A three-month membership in the Corona Cult can eliminate complaints
00:32 related to THINKING FOR YOURSELF, nonconformism,
00:37 critical rationalism, placing numbers in context,
00:41 love of freedom or awareness of history.
00:44 The Corona Cult guarantees you an uninhibited block warden mentality,
00:49 the expressing of your need for denunciation,
00:52 the opportunity to look down on others,
00:55 and at the same time to feel yourself to be on the morally right side, and much, much more.
01:00 Finally relive the delights of faith in science again,
01:03 the sacrifice for public health and the rectum of your government.
01:08 Have you got a hard on in your pants when they once again say: “Only Believe Official Sources”?
01:13 “These rules must never be questioned”
01:17 You, too, can become a denier of fundamental rights and trivialize collateral damage.
01:21 Do you finally feel part of the herd again?
01:24 When has that ever been problematic?
01:27 Contribute to the traumatization of your own children
01:30 and reap the admiring looks of your fellow Coronazis in return.
01:34 At last you can hear music from Wolfgang Niedecken and the “Ärzten” [the doctors] again.
01:39 The “science” has proven that Corona cult followers
01:42 contribute significantly to the division of society,
01:45 but can label themselves “considerate” and “in solidarity” at any time.
01:51 But don’t believe my words; just listen to what convinced Corona Cult supporters have to say.
01:56 Here is Gunnar before 2020:
01:59 “Science means above all the constant questioning of false certainties
02:04 and an open, factual discourse.”
02:07 “We have to be careful that we don’t give up basic rights too quickly
02:11 if we want to continue calling ourselves more liberal than China.”
02:15 “Whoever sacrifices security for freedom does not deserve either”
02:18 And here is Gunnar after only half a year with the Corona Cult:
02:22 “Pull the mask over your nose you Nazi kid, or do you want grandma to die?”
02:26 “Hello, police? Yes, I would like to report children who are sledding.”
02:30 “I also knew a Corona victim once. That makes me a better person
02:33 and automatically proves that I’m right about everything.”
02:36 “It’s just a small jab.” So what are you waiting for?
02:40 Follow the “science” and contribute to the total economic recession,
02:45 unemployment, the rise of depression and suicides
02:49 by simply slough off… everything. Say goodbye to
02:52 an awake inquisitive mind and become a Corona Cult follower…
02:56 …NOW…! The Corona Cult is also recommended
02:59 by great minds such as Richard David Precht [philosopher and TV host]
03:02 and the ex-journalist Gert Scobel. Corona Cult,
03:05 for everyone who would have raised their arm before ’33.
03:09 Ask your historian and totalitarian researcher about risks and side effects…
03:13 … NOT…! Better ask your government and the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Source: Gates of Vienna

Jeremy Schneider - Mon Jan 25, 2021 23:06

Last week, leaders in Michigan announced a plan to open indoor dining by February 1. Now, the state has released a new epidemic order that reopens more activities.

The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters, and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.“

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks. However, as of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people and stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20% capacity, up to 250 people. This will allow for additional attendance at high school football finals being hosted this weekend.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

Source: ABC


Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan is reopening indoor dining on Feb. 1.

The order, which runs through Feb. 21, says restaurants and bars will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25% capacity with up to 100 people and must close by 10 p.m. In addition, tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table.

“The science around this virus is settled, and if we can all wear masks and be very smart about congregating, and not do it unless it’s necessary, washing our hands, doing that social distancing, we will be in a strong position in a few weeks,” Whitmer said during a press conference. “And we’ll be able to do more. That’s the hope.”

Ahh, the science. And, maybe, a little bit of timing. Whitmer, whose insane lockdown restrictions have challenged even Gavin Newsom’s, announced her state is lifting a major ban just two days after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“That is just a coincidence,” the New York Times is probably drafting as we speak.

Social media did say Biden’s inaugural address made them want to run through a wall. Did Whitmer run back to Lansing so pumped that she decided to let the state live a bit again? I don’t make guesses, but I was glad to see Whitmer’s so happy on #InaugurationDay.

Whatever new evidence in the fight against COVID was found this week, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser noticed it too. Friday, the same day of Whitmer’s announcement, Bowser lifted the ban on indoor dining in D.C.

Whitmer has always wanted to be a trend-setter, and perhaps other unreasonable governors will now follow her lead. Though if you live in California, don’t get too excited. Due to Gavin Newsom’s unbelievable level of incompetence, his state must first fight its way out of ranking dead-last in administering the vaccines.

As of now, there is no word on what Michigan’s latest COVID ruling means for Whitmer’s husband and his boat.

Source: Outckick

Last week, leaders in Michigan announced a plan to open indoor dining by February 1. Now, the state has released a new epidemic order that reopens more activities.

The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters, and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will last three weeks, until Sunday, Feb. 21.“

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.

Indoor residential and non-residential gatherings are limited to 10 people and two households. MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings or to pick a single other household to interact with consistent with guidance already released by the department. Families are encouraged to stay home as much as possible to maintain momentum and to protect loved ones. Families are also encouraged to Mask Up, Mask Right, using guidance for what masks to wear and how to wear them.

The epidemic order continues to temporarily pause indoor contact sports and other venues and activities where participants have close physical contacts and are not consistently masked, like water parks. However, as of Jan. 22, stadiums can allow up to 500 people at venues that seat over 10,000 people and stadiums that seat less than 10,000 are allowed to be at 20% capacity, up to 250 people. This will allow for additional attendance at high school football finals being hosted this weekend.

As before, employees who work in jobs that cannot be performed from home can continue to go to work, while employees who can work from home should continue to do so.

Source: ABC


Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan is reopening indoor dining on Feb. 1.

The order, which runs through Feb. 21, says restaurants and bars will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25% capacity with up to 100 people and must close by 10 p.m. In addition, tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table.

“The science around this virus is settled, and if we can all wear masks and be very smart about congregating, and not do it unless it’s necessary, washing our hands, doing that social distancing, we will be in a strong position in a few weeks,” Whitmer said during a press conference. “And we’ll be able to do more. That’s the hope.”

Ahh, the science. And, maybe, a little bit of timing. Whitmer, whose insane lockdown restrictions have challenged even Gavin Newsom’s, announced her state is lifting a major ban just two days after Joe Biden’s inauguration.

“That is just a coincidence,” the New York Times is probably drafting as we speak.

Social media did say Biden’s inaugural address made them want to run through a wall. Did Whitmer run back to Lansing so pumped that she decided to let the state live a bit again? I don’t make guesses, but I was glad to see Whitmer’s so happy on #InaugurationDay.

Whatever new evidence in the fight against COVID was found this week, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser noticed it too. Friday, the same day of Whitmer’s announcement, Bowser lifted the ban on indoor dining in D.C.

Whitmer has always wanted to be a trend-setter, and perhaps other unreasonable governors will now follow her lead. Though if you live in California, don’t get too excited. Due to Gavin Newsom’s unbelievable level of incompetence, his state must first fight its way out of ranking dead-last in administering the vaccines.

As of now, there is no word on what Michigan’s latest COVID ruling means for Whitmer’s husband and his boat.

Source: Outckick

Cory Stieg - Mon Jan 25, 2021 21:35

Editor's note: How much more evidence that this is nothing but performative virtue signaling are we going to get?


Could wearing two face masks at once during the pandemic provide more protection than just wearing one? According to White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, “it likely does,” he told NBC News’ TODAY on Monday.

As Fauci explained, masks are physical coverings that prevent respiratory droplets from spreading to other people and provide a degree of protection to the wearer.

“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told TODAY. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

Although the Centers for Disease Control has not recommended double masking yet, the practice generated buzz when people were seen wearing two masks at president Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday. Viewers noted that poet Amanda Gorman and Pete Buttigieg, who is Biden’s nominee to run the Transportation Department, wore surgical masks underneath cloth masks.

Researchers say that wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask provides maximal protection, because the surgical mask acts as a filter and the cloth adds an additional layer and helps with fit, according to commentary on mask-wearing published on Jan. 15. In places where it’s difficult to maintain social distance, such as on an airplane or at the store, two masks would provide additional protection. The next best option would be a three-layer mask that contains an inner filter.

Studies have shown that multilayer cloth masks can both block up to 50%-70% of fine droplets and particles and limit the spread of Covid. The CDC recommends that people wear masks that have at least two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets.

Disposable surgical masks made from a plastic-derived material called polypropylene have been shown to be more effective at filtering particles than just a cloth mask.

N95 respirators are face masks that are designed to fit very close to the face, forming a seal that filters 95% of airborne particles. These masks are not recommended for the general public, because they should be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

President Biden signed executive orders on Thursday that mandate wearing masks on airplanes, trains, buses, airports as well as on federal property.

A December survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 70% of Americans report wearing masks.

Source: CNBC

Editor's note: How much more evidence that this is nothing but performative virtue signaling are we going to get?


Could wearing two face masks at once during the pandemic provide more protection than just wearing one? According to White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, “it likely does,” he told NBC News’ TODAY on Monday.

As Fauci explained, masks are physical coverings that prevent respiratory droplets from spreading to other people and provide a degree of protection to the wearer.

“So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told TODAY. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

Although the Centers for Disease Control has not recommended double masking yet, the practice generated buzz when people were seen wearing two masks at president Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday. Viewers noted that poet Amanda Gorman and Pete Buttigieg, who is Biden’s nominee to run the Transportation Department, wore surgical masks underneath cloth masks.

Researchers say that wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask provides maximal protection, because the surgical mask acts as a filter and the cloth adds an additional layer and helps with fit, according to commentary on mask-wearing published on Jan. 15. In places where it’s difficult to maintain social distance, such as on an airplane or at the store, two masks would provide additional protection. The next best option would be a three-layer mask that contains an inner filter.

Studies have shown that multilayer cloth masks can both block up to 50%-70% of fine droplets and particles and limit the spread of Covid. The CDC recommends that people wear masks that have at least two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets.

Disposable surgical masks made from a plastic-derived material called polypropylene have been shown to be more effective at filtering particles than just a cloth mask.

N95 respirators are face masks that are designed to fit very close to the face, forming a seal that filters 95% of airborne particles. These masks are not recommended for the general public, because they should be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.

President Biden signed executive orders on Thursday that mandate wearing masks on airplanes, trains, buses, airports as well as on federal property.

A December survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that more than 70% of Americans report wearing masks.

Source: CNBC

Hector Drummond - Mon Jan 25, 2021 19:53

A few things to make clear up front: I am not ideologically opposed to state intervention in areas of public health; I believe vaccines work; I believe Covid-19 is a real, somewhat dangerous disease which emerged in China in late 2019 and can be fatal; I’m not a Brexiteer or libertarian.

But I believe a form of mass hysteria has spread through society in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rational thought about costs and benefits has evaporated, and we have done more harm than good in our response.

Instead of a conspiracy theory, here is a plausible ‘good faith’ explanation for why this may have happened.

Step 1: Confirmation bias and pet theories

The origins of the hysteria, in my view, lay with many researchers and public intellectuals who had been theorising about ‘The Great Pandemic’ for a long time.

It may not have been a mainstream topic of conversation, but anyone interested in fields like medicine, complexity science, and risk analysis would have heard chatter about the imminent pandemic threat.

We’d had a few false alarms in bird flu (2003) and swine flu (2009), and some nasty regional outbreaks of diseases like SARS (2002-04) and Ebola (2013-16).

There’s no doubt that some people were highly attuned to the possibility of a deadly pandemic. They had developed toolkits for forecasting and responding to it, often based on mathematical models they had fallen in love with.

The risk, as always in politics, is that you fight your last war. Many of the most draconian responses to Covid-19 have been promoted by people who cut their teeth on Ebola and SARS outbreaks.

Both those diseases are far more deadly than Covid-19 – making it easier to persuade the public to comply with tough control measures, and heavily penalising any society that fails to control an outbreak.

As anecdotal information arrived from China, Iran and Italy that something very bad was happening (and let’s be honest, it was!) this information wasn’t weighed up properly. People didn’t pause to think about whether the disease would behave like this in all settings, but began to accept that it was The Great Pandemic that everyone had feared.

Step 2: Availability bias and tunnel vision

The next step, after enough influential people had succumbed to confirmation bias, was to start distorting the information pipeline.

This wasn’t fake news, it was just a massive imbalance of information.

As the threat from Covid-19 became apparent, there was a well-intentioned global effort to churn out Covid-19 data as quickly as possible.

I doubt I was the only person to spend much of the early part of 2020 looking at Worldmeter time series of Covid-19 case and death counts in different countries.

John Burn-Murdoch at the FT produced a dazzling array of charts showing fatalities, introducing a lay audience to log-scale charts, and then publishing what he called ‘gold standard’ data on excess deaths.

It was very easy for anyone vaguely interested in data to become an expert of sorts, just by following a few Twitter accounts and reading the right newspapers.

But the catch was that the policy response to Covid-19 could not be judged solely on Covid-19 outcomes. We also needed to look at second order effects of each policy response: mental health problems, cancer deaths, job losses, mortgage defaults, domestic violence, child abuse, and so on.

Much of the data needed to judge these second order effects still does not exist. The urgent ramp up of Covid-19 data was not matched by any urgency to collect and publish this data at a similar rate. So the cost-benefit analysis is inherently biased in favour of Covid-19 preventation.

With public health officials judged exclusively on their performance on Covid-19 KPIs, tunnel vision was naturally going to set in.

Step 3: Clickbait journalism and influencer attention seeking

As the availability of Covid-19 data ramped up, this also created an active online market for fear porn.

We had uninformed attention seekers like Piers Morgan flying the flag for extreme reactions to Covid-19 on the basis of their own very rudimentary understanding of the statistics.

A particularly bizarre moment was a debate on Channel 4 News on 12th March 2020 where Tomas Pueyo (a ‘growth hacker’ at an e-learning company) debated John Edmunds (a professor of epidemiology and SAGE member).

Pueyo had written a blog post Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now, which had attracted global attention. It was superficially plausible, but riddled with overreaching arguments, overconfident predictions, and false equivalences.

On the programme, Edmunds says that we are past the stage where eradication is feasible, and that “the only way to stop this epidemic is indeed herd immunity” (one assumes he means via either infection-recovery or vaccination).

Pueyo, who has only recently appointed himself as an expert on pandemics, theatrically holds his head in his hands. “This is like deciding, you know what, this forest might burn, so let’s cut a third of it! This is crazy!”

He then says: “So you’re saying we want to kill 200,000 people in the UK!”

This kind of analysis quickly became mainstream. Initial case fatality rates (heavily skewed by early treatment failures and the virus’s higher spread in hospitals and care homes) were naively extrapolated to wider society.

Crude, back-of-a-fag-packet calculations and hand waving arguments were granted authority, because informed critics could not match the hysterics for eye-bulging certainty.

Unfortunately, social media platforms are a major reason why so many countries collectively lost their nerve. Pueyo’s accessible blog post spread like wildfire. Worldometer charts allowed people to naively compare their progress against other countries, and force change. Only Sweden held out.

Step 4: Politicisation and assumptions of bad faith

The final nail in the coffin was the sifting of Covid-19 viewpoints into old political tribes.

Lockdown scepticism started to become a Brexiteer/libertarian position. Strong support for masking and social distancing was associated with so-called ‘Karens’.

Teachers’ unions saw an opportunity to undermine the Johnson government by nonsensically advocating for prolonged school closures, despite plenty of evidence from other European countries that this was unnecessary.

In the States, anything Trump said about coronavirus was instinctively added to the list of wrongthink by his political opponents, even when he accidentally said sensible things.

Lest we forget, Trump was one of the first advocates for restricting travel from China when the outbreak first happened – in hindsight, a sensible move.

We now have Twitter dominated by Covid tribes like #WearAMask, #ClapForTheNHS and #KBF (Keep Britain Free). They each draw from predictable ends of the political spectrum. It is all very reminiscent of Brexit.

It is challenging to have a nuanced discussion about Covid-19 on social media now, although there are a handful of scientists who have held firm – Prof Francois Balloux is one of the most impressive at neither downplaying the genuine threat from Covid-19, nor succumbing to tunnel vision.

How do we escape this?

Eventually, we run into the old reality that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’. Covid-19 hysteria is an emotional, identity-driven position masquerading as a set of facts.

It has spread so widely, though, that there are few control cases available for comparison, besides Sweden.

Sweden is a useful example for lockdown sceptics, but it is too easy for pro-lockdown voices to dismiss Sweden as an outlier country that anyway experienced a higher death toll than neighbouring countries.

On individual questions like school closures, we are starting to see some emerging evidence that the hysterics were wrong. Perhaps similar evidence will emerge soon on measures like track and trace, mask wearing, and so on.

Many of the ‘Covid Hero’ countries like New Zealand will see that status diminish as they find themselves vulnerable to imported outbreaks. That may help to recalibrate the debate.

Sadly, though, I fear it will only be the rampant social, economic and psychological destruction we inflict on the world’s youth that will eventually up-end the mainstream consensus.

Source: Hector Drummond Magazine

A few things to make clear up front: I am not ideologically opposed to state intervention in areas of public health; I believe vaccines work; I believe Covid-19 is a real, somewhat dangerous disease which emerged in China in late 2019 and can be fatal; I’m not a Brexiteer or libertarian.

But I believe a form of mass hysteria has spread through society in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rational thought about costs and benefits has evaporated, and we have done more harm than good in our response.

Instead of a conspiracy theory, here is a plausible ‘good faith’ explanation for why this may have happened.

Step 1: Confirmation bias and pet theories

The origins of the hysteria, in my view, lay with many researchers and public intellectuals who had been theorising about ‘The Great Pandemic’ for a long time.

It may not have been a mainstream topic of conversation, but anyone interested in fields like medicine, complexity science, and risk analysis would have heard chatter about the imminent pandemic threat.

We’d had a few false alarms in bird flu (2003) and swine flu (2009), and some nasty regional outbreaks of diseases like SARS (2002-04) and Ebola (2013-16).

There’s no doubt that some people were highly attuned to the possibility of a deadly pandemic. They had developed toolkits for forecasting and responding to it, often based on mathematical models they had fallen in love with.

The risk, as always in politics, is that you fight your last war. Many of the most draconian responses to Covid-19 have been promoted by people who cut their teeth on Ebola and SARS outbreaks.

Both those diseases are far more deadly than Covid-19 – making it easier to persuade the public to comply with tough control measures, and heavily penalising any society that fails to control an outbreak.

As anecdotal information arrived from China, Iran and Italy that something very bad was happening (and let’s be honest, it was!) this information wasn’t weighed up properly. People didn’t pause to think about whether the disease would behave like this in all settings, but began to accept that it was The Great Pandemic that everyone had feared.

Step 2: Availability bias and tunnel vision

The next step, after enough influential people had succumbed to confirmation bias, was to start distorting the information pipeline.

This wasn’t fake news, it was just a massive imbalance of information.

As the threat from Covid-19 became apparent, there was a well-intentioned global effort to churn out Covid-19 data as quickly as possible.

I doubt I was the only person to spend much of the early part of 2020 looking at Worldmeter time series of Covid-19 case and death counts in different countries.

John Burn-Murdoch at the FT produced a dazzling array of charts showing fatalities, introducing a lay audience to log-scale charts, and then publishing what he called ‘gold standard’ data on excess deaths.

It was very easy for anyone vaguely interested in data to become an expert of sorts, just by following a few Twitter accounts and reading the right newspapers.

But the catch was that the policy response to Covid-19 could not be judged solely on Covid-19 outcomes. We also needed to look at second order effects of each policy response: mental health problems, cancer deaths, job losses, mortgage defaults, domestic violence, child abuse, and so on.

Much of the data needed to judge these second order effects still does not exist. The urgent ramp up of Covid-19 data was not matched by any urgency to collect and publish this data at a similar rate. So the cost-benefit analysis is inherently biased in favour of Covid-19 preventation.

With public health officials judged exclusively on their performance on Covid-19 KPIs, tunnel vision was naturally going to set in.

Step 3: Clickbait journalism and influencer attention seeking

As the availability of Covid-19 data ramped up, this also created an active online market for fear porn.

We had uninformed attention seekers like Piers Morgan flying the flag for extreme reactions to Covid-19 on the basis of their own very rudimentary understanding of the statistics.

A particularly bizarre moment was a debate on Channel 4 News on 12th March 2020 where Tomas Pueyo (a ‘growth hacker’ at an e-learning company) debated John Edmunds (a professor of epidemiology and SAGE member).

Pueyo had written a blog post Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now, which had attracted global attention. It was superficially plausible, but riddled with overreaching arguments, overconfident predictions, and false equivalences.

On the programme, Edmunds says that we are past the stage where eradication is feasible, and that “the only way to stop this epidemic is indeed herd immunity” (one assumes he means via either infection-recovery or vaccination).

Pueyo, who has only recently appointed himself as an expert on pandemics, theatrically holds his head in his hands. “This is like deciding, you know what, this forest might burn, so let’s cut a third of it! This is crazy!”

He then says: “So you’re saying we want to kill 200,000 people in the UK!”

This kind of analysis quickly became mainstream. Initial case fatality rates (heavily skewed by early treatment failures and the virus’s higher spread in hospitals and care homes) were naively extrapolated to wider society.

Crude, back-of-a-fag-packet calculations and hand waving arguments were granted authority, because informed critics could not match the hysterics for eye-bulging certainty.

Unfortunately, social media platforms are a major reason why so many countries collectively lost their nerve. Pueyo’s accessible blog post spread like wildfire. Worldometer charts allowed people to naively compare their progress against other countries, and force change. Only Sweden held out.

Step 4: Politicisation and assumptions of bad faith

The final nail in the coffin was the sifting of Covid-19 viewpoints into old political tribes.

Lockdown scepticism started to become a Brexiteer/libertarian position. Strong support for masking and social distancing was associated with so-called ‘Karens’.

Teachers’ unions saw an opportunity to undermine the Johnson government by nonsensically advocating for prolonged school closures, despite plenty of evidence from other European countries that this was unnecessary.

In the States, anything Trump said about coronavirus was instinctively added to the list of wrongthink by his political opponents, even when he accidentally said sensible things.

Lest we forget, Trump was one of the first advocates for restricting travel from China when the outbreak first happened – in hindsight, a sensible move.

We now have Twitter dominated by Covid tribes like #WearAMask, #ClapForTheNHS and #KBF (Keep Britain Free). They each draw from predictable ends of the political spectrum. It is all very reminiscent of Brexit.

It is challenging to have a nuanced discussion about Covid-19 on social media now, although there are a handful of scientists who have held firm – Prof Francois Balloux is one of the most impressive at neither downplaying the genuine threat from Covid-19, nor succumbing to tunnel vision.

How do we escape this?

Eventually, we run into the old reality that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’. Covid-19 hysteria is an emotional, identity-driven position masquerading as a set of facts.

It has spread so widely, though, that there are few control cases available for comparison, besides Sweden.

Sweden is a useful example for lockdown sceptics, but it is too easy for pro-lockdown voices to dismiss Sweden as an outlier country that anyway experienced a higher death toll than neighbouring countries.

On individual questions like school closures, we are starting to see some emerging evidence that the hysterics were wrong. Perhaps similar evidence will emerge soon on measures like track and trace, mask wearing, and so on.

Many of the ‘Covid Hero’ countries like New Zealand will see that status diminish as they find themselves vulnerable to imported outbreaks. That may help to recalibrate the debate.

Sadly, though, I fear it will only be the rampant social, economic and psychological destruction we inflict on the world’s youth that will eventually up-end the mainstream consensus.

Source: Hector Drummond Magazine

F. William Engdahl - Mon Jan 25, 2021 19:18

The same Gates Foundation which is behind every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic from financing much of the WHO budget, to investing in favored vaccine-makers like Moderna, is engaged in a major project in Africa which is destroying traditional small farmer production of essential food crops in favor of monoculture crops and introduction of expensive chemical fertilizers and GMO seeds that are bankrupting small farmers. The project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is directly connected with key global institutions behind the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset.

If we know the actual history of the Rockefeller Foundation and related tax-free undertakings of one of the world’s most influential families, it is clear that in key areas the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has inherited the Rockefeller agenda from the medical industrial complex to education to agriculture transformation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, working in tandem with the closely allied Rockefeller Foundation, is not only at the center of the orchestration of unheard-of severe economic lockdown measures for the much-disputed COVID-19 illness. The Gates foundation is also at the very center of the UN Agenda 30 push to transform world agriculture into what they call “sustainable” agriculture. A keystone project for the past 14 years has been Gates’ funding of something called the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa or AGRA.

AGRA Fraud on Africa

When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation founded AGRA in 2006, joined by their close ally, the Rockefeller Foundation, they proclaimed their goal was to “tackle hunger in Africa by working to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers.” AGRA promised to double the agricultural yields and incomes of 30 million small-scale food producer households by 2020. It is now 2020 and it has been a total failure in this regard. Notably, AGRA deleted these goals in June 2020 from its website without explanation. Based on what they have done we can assume that was never the true goal of Gates and Rockefeller foundations.

In a 2009 speech in Iowa promoting his New Green Revolution for Africa, Bill Gates declared, “The next Green Revolution must be guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment.” The Gates Foundation proclaimed that the AGRA “is an Africa-based and African-led effort to develop a thriving agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa.” Sounds very nice. Reality is quite different.

To further that “Africa-led” impression, Gates hired the former UN Secretary General, Ghana’s Kofi Annan. Annan had just retired amid an Iraq oil-for-food corruption scandal at the UN involving his son. Annan was to be the front face, the chairman of AGRA. In reality, the Gates Foundation ran things, with their guy, Rajiv “Raj” Shah, directing the implementation of policies in African target countries. When initial attempts to push Monsanto GMO seeds and pesticides on GMO-free African farmers met with great resistance, they shifted instead to sell conventional but Monsanto-owned seeds along with costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Suspiciously, the Gates Foundation and AGRA have been anything but open and transparent about what they have accomplished in 14 years. For good reason. The model they have pushed in 13 African countries has significantly worsened the food self-sufficiency of small farmers and instead created debt traps in which small producers are forced to take on heavy debt to buy expensive patented seeds, are forbidden to use own seeds or mixed crops, and forced to produce cash crops in a monoculture for export. AGRA has received more than $1 billion dollars from mainly the Gates Foundation, with USAID and the UK and German governments adding smaller sums.

False Promises

In a new detailed report evaluating results country-by-country, the reality of the Gates Africa agriculture project shows alarming, but not surprising, results. The report is called False Promises: The Green Revolution in Africa. It was prepared by a group of African and European NGO’S in collaboration with Timothy A. Wise, Senior Advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy of Tufts University. The report concluded, “yield increases for key staple crops in the years before AGRA were just as low as during AGRA. Instead of halving hunger, the situation in the 13 focus countries has worsened since AGRA was launched. The number of people going hungry has increased by 30 percent during the AGRA years… affecting 130 million people in the 13 AGRA focus countries.” That is no minor failure.

In an approach that is little different from the 19th Century racist European colonial practices, the Gates Foundation and its AGRA have seriously harmed small-scale food producers by subjecting them to high levels of debt. In Zambia and Tanzania, small-scale food producers were unable to repay the loans for fertilizer and hybrid seeds after the first harvest. AGRA projects also restrict the freedom of choice for small-scale food producers to decide for themselves what they want to grow. AGRA forces them to a one-sided cultivation of mainly maize for export markets, that global agribusiness wants. Not surprising as Bunge and other international grain cartel companies are involved with AGRA. Traditional climate-resistant and nutrient-rich crops have declined in alarming degrees in many cases.

The study found that for millet, an indigenous and vital cereal and fodder grain favored for 7,000 years due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions, AGRA has produced disaster. The report notes,“millet production fell by 24 percent in the 13 AGRA focus countries from 2006 to 2018. Moreover, AGRA lobbies governments on behalf of agricultural corporations to pass legislation that will benefit fertilizer producers and seed companies instead of strengthening small-scale food production.”

Rather than help local small farmers to improve their yield per acre, the AGRA merely repackages the 1960’s Green Revolution in Mexico and India for Africa, home to some of the world’s richest farmland soils. That Green Revolution of the 1960s, initiated by the Rockefeller Foundation, introduced industrial large-scale agriculture mechanization and introduction of chemical fertilizers and seeds from multinationals which went to the benefit of large farmers and destroyed much of the economy of small producers. That predictably bankrupted countless small producers. The result was that while select wealthy producers thrived, millions of poorer farmers were forced to flee to the cities where they settled in urban slums. But that in fact was a major aim of the first Green Revolution as it created a cheap workforce for the globalization drive of manufacture that was to follow.

The Gates and Rockefeller foundation-led AGRA in Africa is little different.  In 14 years, AGRA in Africa has influenced member governments to promote buying of multinational companies’ commercial seeds every year and expensive chemical fertilizers, by promising grand gains that do not materialize. In the process, traditional small farmers or farming communities are forbidden to use farm-saved or -bred seeds.

This is the same dependency model Monsanto and agribusiness has used with patented GMO seeds in the USA. The Gates Foundation is a significant shareholder in Monsanto, now part of Bayer AG. AGRA has done little or nothing to protect small farmers from being bankrupted by subsidized EU or USA imports.

Instead their traditional food crops are being displaced by monoculture maize production for international export, leaving African countries more than ever dependent on more imported foods. The Gates AGRA is succeeding, but not in its cosmetic stated goals. Rather it has made African food production more globalized and dependent than ever on the will of global multinationals whose aim is cheap inputs. Under the ruse of giving farmers a “wider choice” of patented high-yield seeds (most for maize), they in fact limit a farmer’s choice. He must buy those seeds and is forbidden to reuse his own indigenous seeds. If at harvest time farmers are unable to sell his AGRA-mandated maize to repay his debt for seeds and fertilizer, they often are forced to sell their precious cattle or to incur even more debt-a classic colonial debt slavery model.

Dubious Leadership

The Gates Foundation has promoted AGRA as an “African initiative” and put itself as far as possible in the background. The new chairman of AGFA since August 2019 is Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Desalegn, former chairman of the Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the dictatorial ruling party where WHO head Tedros was also a Politburo member, was forced to resign in 2018 following mass protests.

Less public board members of AGRA include two leading executives of the agribusiness giant, Unilever, and two senior officials of the Gates Foundation, as well as from the Rockefeller-founded CGIAR- Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. Other board members include a member of the Rockefeller Foundation trustees and a former Africa partner for the French bank, Rothschild & Cie.

As well, the new President of the Rockefeller Foundation, the founding perpetrator of the AGRA agenda, Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, is on the AGRA board. Shah left his earlier position with the Gates Foundation and was named USAID director under Obama. USAID not surprisingly became a partner of AGRA. In 2017 Shah moved from USAID to be tapped as President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Small world. The same Rockefeller Foundation is deeply involved in the World Economic Forum Great Reset. Shah just released a Rockefeller report, Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the US Food System. It is a precursor to a major global “reset” of the food system being prepared by the circles around Gats and Rockefeller and the UN. More on that another time.

Since 2014 the President  of AGRA has been a controversial Rwandan former Agriculture Minister under the corrupt Kagame dictatorship. Agnes Kalibata also is a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC), based in USA.

In December, 2019, just before the public alarm over outbreak of a “novel coronavirus” in Wuhan China, UN Secretary General , António Guterres, named Kalibata to head the 2021 UN  Food Systems Summit. In response, some 176 organizations from 83 countries, wrote to Guterres to repeal her appointment. Their letter stated, “Founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA’s efforts have centered on capturing and diverting public resources to benefit large corporate interests. Their finance-intensive and high input agricultural model is not sustainable beyond constant subsidy, which is drawn from increasingly scarce public resources. Since 2006, AGRA has worked to open up Africa—seen as an untapped market for corporate monopolies controlling commercial seeds, genetically modified crops, fossil fuel-heavy synthetic fertilizers and polluting pesticides.” In her defense, 12 voices wrote to Guterres urging him to stand firm. Eleven of the 12 had links to the Gates Foundation. Their voice prevailed.

During the global grain crisis of the mid-1970’s then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, another Rockefeller protégé, allegedly declared “Who controls the food controls the people.” The globalization of world food production and the creation of agribusiness, first guided by the Rockefeller Foundation and today with the Gates Foundation taking a more visible lead, is perhaps the most threatening factor to world health and mortality, far more than any coronavirus has shown. Notably the same people promoting fear and lockdowns for that putative virus are busy reorganizing world food production in an unhealthy manner. It seems to be no coincidence as Bill Gates is a known advocate of eugenics and population reduction.

Source: New Eastern Outlook

The same Gates Foundation which is behind every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic from financing much of the WHO budget, to investing in favored vaccine-makers like Moderna, is engaged in a major project in Africa which is destroying traditional small farmer production of essential food crops in favor of monoculture crops and introduction of expensive chemical fertilizers and GMO seeds that are bankrupting small farmers. The project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is directly connected with key global institutions behind the World Economic Forum’s Great Reset.

If we know the actual history of the Rockefeller Foundation and related tax-free undertakings of one of the world’s most influential families, it is clear that in key areas the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has inherited the Rockefeller agenda from the medical industrial complex to education to agriculture transformation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, working in tandem with the closely allied Rockefeller Foundation, is not only at the center of the orchestration of unheard-of severe economic lockdown measures for the much-disputed COVID-19 illness. The Gates foundation is also at the very center of the UN Agenda 30 push to transform world agriculture into what they call “sustainable” agriculture. A keystone project for the past 14 years has been Gates’ funding of something called the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa or AGRA.

AGRA Fraud on Africa

When the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation founded AGRA in 2006, joined by their close ally, the Rockefeller Foundation, they proclaimed their goal was to “tackle hunger in Africa by working to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers.” AGRA promised to double the agricultural yields and incomes of 30 million small-scale food producer households by 2020. It is now 2020 and it has been a total failure in this regard. Notably, AGRA deleted these goals in June 2020 from its website without explanation. Based on what they have done we can assume that was never the true goal of Gates and Rockefeller foundations.

In a 2009 speech in Iowa promoting his New Green Revolution for Africa, Bill Gates declared, “The next Green Revolution must be guided by smallholder farmers, adapted to local circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment.” The Gates Foundation proclaimed that the AGRA “is an Africa-based and African-led effort to develop a thriving agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa.” Sounds very nice. Reality is quite different.

To further that “Africa-led” impression, Gates hired the former UN Secretary General, Ghana’s Kofi Annan. Annan had just retired amid an Iraq oil-for-food corruption scandal at the UN involving his son. Annan was to be the front face, the chairman of AGRA. In reality, the Gates Foundation ran things, with their guy, Rajiv “Raj” Shah, directing the implementation of policies in African target countries. When initial attempts to push Monsanto GMO seeds and pesticides on GMO-free African farmers met with great resistance, they shifted instead to sell conventional but Monsanto-owned seeds along with costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Suspiciously, the Gates Foundation and AGRA have been anything but open and transparent about what they have accomplished in 14 years. For good reason. The model they have pushed in 13 African countries has significantly worsened the food self-sufficiency of small farmers and instead created debt traps in which small producers are forced to take on heavy debt to buy expensive patented seeds, are forbidden to use own seeds or mixed crops, and forced to produce cash crops in a monoculture for export. AGRA has received more than $1 billion dollars from mainly the Gates Foundation, with USAID and the UK and German governments adding smaller sums.

False Promises

In a new detailed report evaluating results country-by-country, the reality of the Gates Africa agriculture project shows alarming, but not surprising, results. The report is called False Promises: The Green Revolution in Africa. It was prepared by a group of African and European NGO’S in collaboration with Timothy A. Wise, Senior Advisor at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy of Tufts University. The report concluded, “yield increases for key staple crops in the years before AGRA were just as low as during AGRA. Instead of halving hunger, the situation in the 13 focus countries has worsened since AGRA was launched. The number of people going hungry has increased by 30 percent during the AGRA years… affecting 130 million people in the 13 AGRA focus countries.” That is no minor failure.

In an approach that is little different from the 19th Century racist European colonial practices, the Gates Foundation and its AGRA have seriously harmed small-scale food producers by subjecting them to high levels of debt. In Zambia and Tanzania, small-scale food producers were unable to repay the loans for fertilizer and hybrid seeds after the first harvest. AGRA projects also restrict the freedom of choice for small-scale food producers to decide for themselves what they want to grow. AGRA forces them to a one-sided cultivation of mainly maize for export markets, that global agribusiness wants. Not surprising as Bunge and other international grain cartel companies are involved with AGRA. Traditional climate-resistant and nutrient-rich crops have declined in alarming degrees in many cases.

The study found that for millet, an indigenous and vital cereal and fodder grain favored for 7,000 years due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions, AGRA has produced disaster. The report notes,“millet production fell by 24 percent in the 13 AGRA focus countries from 2006 to 2018. Moreover, AGRA lobbies governments on behalf of agricultural corporations to pass legislation that will benefit fertilizer producers and seed companies instead of strengthening small-scale food production.”

Rather than help local small farmers to improve their yield per acre, the AGRA merely repackages the 1960’s Green Revolution in Mexico and India for Africa, home to some of the world’s richest farmland soils. That Green Revolution of the 1960s, initiated by the Rockefeller Foundation, introduced industrial large-scale agriculture mechanization and introduction of chemical fertilizers and seeds from multinationals which went to the benefit of large farmers and destroyed much of the economy of small producers. That predictably bankrupted countless small producers. The result was that while select wealthy producers thrived, millions of poorer farmers were forced to flee to the cities where they settled in urban slums. But that in fact was a major aim of the first Green Revolution as it created a cheap workforce for the globalization drive of manufacture that was to follow.

The Gates and Rockefeller foundation-led AGRA in Africa is little different.  In 14 years, AGRA in Africa has influenced member governments to promote buying of multinational companies’ commercial seeds every year and expensive chemical fertilizers, by promising grand gains that do not materialize. In the process, traditional small farmers or farming communities are forbidden to use farm-saved or -bred seeds.

This is the same dependency model Monsanto and agribusiness has used with patented GMO seeds in the USA. The Gates Foundation is a significant shareholder in Monsanto, now part of Bayer AG. AGRA has done little or nothing to protect small farmers from being bankrupted by subsidized EU or USA imports.

Instead their traditional food crops are being displaced by monoculture maize production for international export, leaving African countries more than ever dependent on more imported foods. The Gates AGRA is succeeding, but not in its cosmetic stated goals. Rather it has made African food production more globalized and dependent than ever on the will of global multinationals whose aim is cheap inputs. Under the ruse of giving farmers a “wider choice” of patented high-yield seeds (most for maize), they in fact limit a farmer’s choice. He must buy those seeds and is forbidden to reuse his own indigenous seeds. If at harvest time farmers are unable to sell his AGRA-mandated maize to repay his debt for seeds and fertilizer, they often are forced to sell their precious cattle or to incur even more debt-a classic colonial debt slavery model.

Dubious Leadership

The Gates Foundation has promoted AGRA as an “African initiative” and put itself as far as possible in the background. The new chairman of AGFA since August 2019 is Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Desalegn, former chairman of the Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the dictatorial ruling party where WHO head Tedros was also a Politburo member, was forced to resign in 2018 following mass protests.

Less public board members of AGRA include two leading executives of the agribusiness giant, Unilever, and two senior officials of the Gates Foundation, as well as from the Rockefeller-founded CGIAR- Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. Other board members include a member of the Rockefeller Foundation trustees and a former Africa partner for the French bank, Rothschild & Cie.

As well, the new President of the Rockefeller Foundation, the founding perpetrator of the AGRA agenda, Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, is on the AGRA board. Shah left his earlier position with the Gates Foundation and was named USAID director under Obama. USAID not surprisingly became a partner of AGRA. In 2017 Shah moved from USAID to be tapped as President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Small world. The same Rockefeller Foundation is deeply involved in the World Economic Forum Great Reset. Shah just released a Rockefeller report, Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the US Food System. It is a precursor to a major global “reset” of the food system being prepared by the circles around Gats and Rockefeller and the UN. More on that another time.

Since 2014 the President  of AGRA has been a controversial Rwandan former Agriculture Minister under the corrupt Kagame dictatorship. Agnes Kalibata also is a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the International Fertilizer Development Corporation (IFDC), based in USA.

In December, 2019, just before the public alarm over outbreak of a “novel coronavirus” in Wuhan China, UN Secretary General , António Guterres, named Kalibata to head the 2021 UN  Food Systems Summit. In response, some 176 organizations from 83 countries, wrote to Guterres to repeal her appointment. Their letter stated, “Founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, AGRA’s efforts have centered on capturing and diverting public resources to benefit large corporate interests. Their finance-intensive and high input agricultural model is not sustainable beyond constant subsidy, which is drawn from increasingly scarce public resources. Since 2006, AGRA has worked to open up Africa—seen as an untapped market for corporate monopolies controlling commercial seeds, genetically modified crops, fossil fuel-heavy synthetic fertilizers and polluting pesticides.” In her defense, 12 voices wrote to Guterres urging him to stand firm. Eleven of the 12 had links to the Gates Foundation. Their voice prevailed.

During the global grain crisis of the mid-1970’s then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, another Rockefeller protégé, allegedly declared “Who controls the food controls the people.” The globalization of world food production and the creation of agribusiness, first guided by the Rockefeller Foundation and today with the Gates Foundation taking a more visible lead, is perhaps the most threatening factor to world health and mortality, far more than any coronavirus has shown. Notably the same people promoting fear and lockdowns for that putative virus are busy reorganizing world food production in an unhealthy manner. It seems to be no coincidence as Bill Gates is a known advocate of eugenics and population reduction.

Source: New Eastern Outlook

BBC - Mon Jan 25, 2021 15:29

The UK will introduce a new visa at the end of January that will give 5.4 million Hong Kong residents - a staggering 70% of the territory's population - the right to come and live in the UK, and eventually become citizens.

It is making this "generous" offer to residents of its former colony because it believes China is undermining Hong Kong's rights and freedoms.

Not everyone will come. Some of those eligible to leave have expressed their determination to stay and continue the fight for democracy.

In the end, Britain estimates that about 300,000 will take up the visa offer over the next five years.

Since the UK handed back its former colony 23 years ago, relatively few of the territory's residents - less than 16,000 - have become British citizens.

That is certain to change, partly because the new visa scheme appears to offer few hurdles for the millions eligible to apply.

"I had clients applying to Canada, Australia and Taiwan who suspended their applications and now want to go to the UK," said Andrew Lo, a Hong Kong immigration adviser.

Another consultant in the territory, Colin Bloomfield, said the visa provisions did appear generous, although he said Britain might add more requirements that would make it harder to move.

The scheme is open to Hong Kong residents who claimed British National (Overseas), or BNO, status before the handover in 1997. A total of 2.9 million people registered and so can apply for the new visa.

Their dependants - an additional two-and-a-half million people - are also eligible to travel with them.

'Why should I leave?'

Although the British government admits that as many as one million people could apply for the visa over the next five years, it thinks only a few hundred thousand will actually do so.

It believes most people will choose to remain in Hong Kong.

Some residents will not want to leave behind elderly parents or learn a new language; the British weather is certain to dissuade others.

Many do not want to abandon the territory to its fate.

"There is a certain number of people who do not want to leave, particularly the young. They would rather die in Hong Kong," said Mr Lo.

"I have a lot of clients who fight with their kids because the children don't want to emigrate. They say: 'Why should I leave? I should try my best to change this place'."

There is also the difficulty of finding work in Britain, as the country tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and Brexit.

And if enough come, new arrivals could face resentment from British people who oppose too much immigration.

"In the cold light of day, many will decide to stay in Hong Kong," said Mr Bloomfield, whose company is called British Connections.

Regardless of how many apply, the British government said it had no choice but to offer Hong Kong people an escape route.

"This is not a question of numbers," said a Home Office spokesperson.

"The government is committed to giving British National (Overseas) citizens in Hong Kong a choice to come to the UK, fulfilling our historic commitment to them."

Source: BBC

The UK will introduce a new visa at the end of January that will give 5.4 million Hong Kong residents - a staggering 70% of the territory's population - the right to come and live in the UK, and eventually become citizens.

It is making this "generous" offer to residents of its former colony because it believes China is undermining Hong Kong's rights and freedoms.

Not everyone will come. Some of those eligible to leave have expressed their determination to stay and continue the fight for democracy.

In the end, Britain estimates that about 300,000 will take up the visa offer over the next five years.

Since the UK handed back its former colony 23 years ago, relatively few of the territory's residents - less than 16,000 - have become British citizens.

That is certain to change, partly because the new visa scheme appears to offer few hurdles for the millions eligible to apply.

"I had clients applying to Canada, Australia and Taiwan who suspended their applications and now want to go to the UK," said Andrew Lo, a Hong Kong immigration adviser.

Another consultant in the territory, Colin Bloomfield, said the visa provisions did appear generous, although he said Britain might add more requirements that would make it harder to move.

The scheme is open to Hong Kong residents who claimed British National (Overseas), or BNO, status before the handover in 1997. A total of 2.9 million people registered and so can apply for the new visa.

Their dependants - an additional two-and-a-half million people - are also eligible to travel with them.

'Why should I leave?'

Although the British government admits that as many as one million people could apply for the visa over the next five years, it thinks only a few hundred thousand will actually do so.

It believes most people will choose to remain in Hong Kong.

Some residents will not want to leave behind elderly parents or learn a new language; the British weather is certain to dissuade others.

Many do not want to abandon the territory to its fate.

"There is a certain number of people who do not want to leave, particularly the young. They would rather die in Hong Kong," said Mr Lo.

"I have a lot of clients who fight with their kids because the children don't want to emigrate. They say: 'Why should I leave? I should try my best to change this place'."

There is also the difficulty of finding work in Britain, as the country tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and Brexit.

And if enough come, new arrivals could face resentment from British people who oppose too much immigration.

"In the cold light of day, many will decide to stay in Hong Kong," said Mr Bloomfield, whose company is called British Connections.

Regardless of how many apply, the British government said it had no choice but to offer Hong Kong people an escape route.

"This is not a question of numbers," said a Home Office spokesperson.

"The government is committed to giving British National (Overseas) citizens in Hong Kong a choice to come to the UK, fulfilling our historic commitment to them."

Source: BBC

Erica L. Green - Mon Jan 25, 2021 14:44

The reminders of pandemic-driven suffering among students in Clark County, Nev., have come in droves.

Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.

The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.

In Clark County, it forced the superintendent’s hand.

“When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,” said Jesus Jara, the Clark County superintendent. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”

Adolescent suicide during the pandemic cannot conclusively be linked to school closures; national data on suicides in 2020 have yet to be compiled. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic. The actual number of those visits fell, though researchers noted that many people were avoiding hospitals that were dealing with the crush of coronavirus patients. And compilation of emergency calls in more than 40 states among all age groups showed increased numbers related to mental health.

Even in normal circumstances, suicides are impulsive, unpredictable and difficult to ascribe to specific causes. The pandemic has created conditions unlike anything mental health professionals have seen before, making causation that much more difficult to determine.

But Greta Massetti, who studies the effects of violence and trauma on children at the C.D.C., said there was “definitely reason to be concerned because it makes conceptual sense.” Millions of children had relied on schools for mental health services that have now been restricted, she noted.

In Clark County, 18 suicides over nine months of closure is double the nine the district had the entire previous year, Dr. Jara said. One student left a note saying he had nothing to look forward to. The youngest student he has lost to suicide was 9.

“I feel responsible.” Dr. Jara said. “They’re all my kids.”

Over the summer, as President Donald J. Trump was trying to strong-arm schools into reopening, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, then the C.D.C. director, warned that a rise in adolescent suicides would be one of the “substantial public health negative consequences” of school closings. Mental health groups and researchers released reports and resources to help schools, which provide counseling and other intervention services, reach students virtually. Mental health advocacy groups warned that the student demographics at the most risk for mental health declines before the pandemic — such as Black children and L.G.B.T.Q. students — were among those most marginalized by the school closures.

But given the politically charged atmosphere this summer, many of those warnings were dismissed as scare tactics.

Parents of students who have taken their lives say connecting suicide to school closings became almost taboo.

A video that Brad Hunstable made in April, two days after he buried his 12-year-old son, Hayden, in their hometown Aledo, Texas, went viral after he proclaimed, “My son died from the coronavirus.” But, he added, “not in the way you think.”

In a recent interview, Mr. Hunstable spoke of the challenges his son faced during the lockdown — he missed friends and football, and had become consumed by the video game Fortnite. He hanged himself four days before his 13th birthday.

Hayden’s story is now the subject of a short documentary, “Almost 13,” Mr. Hunstable’s video has more than 100 million views, and an organization created in his son’s name has drawn attention from parents across the country, clearly striking a chord.

“I wasn’t trying to make a political statement,” Mr. Hunstable said. “I was trying to help save lives.”

This fall, when most school districts decided not to reopen, more parents began to speak out. The parents of a 14-year-old boy in Maryland who killed himself in October described how their son “gave up” after his district decided not to return in the fall. In December, an 11-year-old boy in Sacramento shot himself during his Zoom class. Weeks later, the father of a teenager in Maine attributed his son’s suicide to the isolation of the pandemic.

“We knew he was upset because he was no longer able to participate in his school activities, football,” Jay Smith told a local television station. “We never guessed it was this bad.”

President Biden has laid out a robust plan to speed vaccinations, expand coronavirus testing and spend billions of dollars to help districts reopen most of their schools in his first 100 days in office.

By then, children in districts like Clark County, with more than 300,000 students, will have been out of school for more than a year.

“Every day, it feels like we have run out time,” Dr. Jara said.

Heading into the pandemic, youth suicide rates had been on the rise for a decade; by 2018, suicide had become the second-leading cause of death for youth and young adults, behind accidents. And the most recent behavioral risk survey, which was released last year by the C.D.C. and tracks health trends of high school students, shows a steady rise over the last decade in the percentage of students who say they felt persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, as well as in those who planned and tried suicide.

Since the lockdowns, districts are reporting suicide clusters, Dr. Massetti of the C.D.C. said, and many said they were struggling to connect students with services.

“Without in-person instruction, there is a gap that is right now being unfilled,” she said.

Suzie Button, the senior clinical director for high school programming at the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York that works on suicide prevention, said hundreds of schools and colleges — including Clark County’s — are teaming up with the organization to better serve students during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot we don’t know, but what we do know about schools is they are the nexus of adolescent life,” Dr. Button said. “And in times like this, young people are sometimes the canaries in the coal mine.”

Like many school districts, the Clark County school system marshaled its resources to plug gaps in services to its students. Truancy officers started doing wellness checks, school psychologists were working overtime, teachers were trained to look for trauma cues on screens, and school resource officers became the chief liaisons between the district and the coroner’s office.

By July, after the sixth suicide since March, the district invested in a program, the GoGuardian Beacon alert system, to send reports of mild to severe suicide risk. The system, which scans student writings on district-issued iPads, generated more than 3,100 alerts from June to October, indicating behavior such as suicide research, self-harm, written comments, or just the need for help or support.

By November, the deluge forced the district to upgrade its contract to include 24-hour monitoring and a service that would sort out the most severe cases, like students who were in “active planning,” meaning they had identified a methodology and were ready to act.

“I couldn’t sleep with my phone nearby anymore,” Dr. Jara said. “It was like a 24-hour reminder that we need to get our schools open.”

Recent graduates have also been affected.

Anthony Orr, 18, drove his car to a parking lot in August and shot himself with an AR-15 he had bought two weeks before. In the months since, his parents, Marc and Pamela, have looked for signs they may have missed. His father did not know anything was wrong until he found his son’s body in the car, grabbed his arm and asked, “Son, what have you done?”

The teenager, whose brother is a teacher in the district, seemed happy — he had graduated a couple of months before, decided that he wanted to take up a trade instead of going to college, and was settling in at his new job where he had made friends. The only disappointment he had expressed was that his senior year was disrupted and that prom and his sports seasons were canceled.

But he had met his goal to graduate with advanced honors, and he wore a white gown to a socially distanced, scaled-back ceremony that noted the achievement.

“That was a letdown for him, too. There wasn’t the pomp and circumstance,” his father said. “They did it nice, they got to run across the stage and get the paper, but it definitely took away from the party.”

His mother, Pamela, did not know whether quarantine pushed him over the edge, but she said: “Our kids are feeling hopeless. They’re feeling like there’s no future for them. I can’t see how there’s any other explanation.”

In November, school officials intervened when a 12-year-old student searched his district-issued iPad for “how to make a noose.”

The boy’s grandfather, whom The New York Times is identifying by his first name, Larry, to protect the boy’s identity, said the episode was a shock.

The boy’s father had retired to bed around 7 p.m. to rest for his 2 a.m. work shift. He did not hear the phone ringing until around 10 p.m., when the school district finally reached him. His father made it to his son’s room to find a noose from multiple shoestrings around his neck.

“If there wasn’t a security device that triggers that kind of alert, we would not be having this discussion,” his grandfather said. “It absolutely consumes you.”

His grandson, whose dog died during the pandemic, was doing well academically in virtual school but was “Zoomed out,” Larry said. The only indication the boy has given for what pushed him over the edge is saying repeatedly, “I miss my friends.”

“He is having a hard time functioning in this isolation,” his grandfather said. “It goes against everything that he is. There has to be an option of letting these kids go to school.”

A dozen schools in the district began a pilot program to allow for face-to-face counseling. Recently, the number of schools swelled to 68. The program has led to interventions in 30 cases where students were considering suicide.

The pilot has “grown into a monster,” said John Anzalone, the principal at one of the initial 12 schools, Sierra Vista High School. He knew that his diverse, largely working-class student population, whose families have suffered from Las Vegas’s tourism crash, would be hit hard by the virus. But he was still stunned by the effect.

“These young people are having to grow up really, really fast,” he said. “Some were alone even before the pandemic because their parents were working, and some are the breadwinners now.”

Adrienne, the mother of a 14-year-old high school freshman, had just finished a 12-hour shift last month when she received a call from her son’s principal, alerting her that her son had expressed suicidal thoughts. The teenager had told a friend that if they called the police, he would “do it.”

“He felt disconnected,” his mother said. “He felt left behind.”

His father had lost his small business. Two family members had died, one to the coronavirus. His mother was working 70 hours a week. Even when she was at home, she was not entirely present, as she tended to work and home life.

“He just felt like he had no control over his world anymore and felt like a burden,” Adrienne said. “He loves to help people, to make people laugh, and he feels like he’s failing.”

Indeed, failure is another crisis at the school, where flunking rates are 60 percent to 70 percent. That, in turn, is depressing the teachers and staff. The district is conducting a survey to see what supports it needs to queue up for its employees.

Colleen Neely, a counselor at Shadow Ridge High School, recalled how a young man she had advised since ninth grade used to stand outside her office every day after fourth period.

He had overcome so much by the 2019-2020 school year in his determination to graduate: When he was junior, he was homeless and the school connected him to a shelter; for a week, he lived in a park near the school, and staff gave him food and other resources; his schedule was shortened so he could work at McDonald’s.

In the spring of 2020, Ms. Neely sent the young man an email telling him how proud she was of him, that he was so close to getting what he wanted. Two weeks before graduation, she got the call that he had shot himself.

“Part of me will always wonder if he’d had access to his teachers, and his peers, and me, if it would’ve changed the outcome,” Ms. Neely said through tears. “I will never know. These suicides, they don’t impact one person and one family. They impact me to this day.”

Dr. Jara understood.

“I can’t get these alerts anymore,” he confessed. “I have no words to say to these families anymore. I believe in God, but I can’t help but wonder: Am I doing everything possible to open our schools?”

Source: The New York Times

The reminders of pandemic-driven suffering among students in Clark County, Nev., have come in droves.

Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.

The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.

In Clark County, it forced the superintendent’s hand.

“When we started to see the uptick in children taking their lives, we knew it wasn’t just the Covid numbers we need to look at anymore,” said Jesus Jara, the Clark County superintendent. “We have to find a way to put our hands on our kids, to see them, to look at them. They’ve got to start seeing some movement, some hope.”

Adolescent suicide during the pandemic cannot conclusively be linked to school closures; national data on suicides in 2020 have yet to be compiled. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentage of youth emergency room visits that were for mental health reasons had risen during the pandemic. The actual number of those visits fell, though researchers noted that many people were avoiding hospitals that were dealing with the crush of coronavirus patients. And compilation of emergency calls in more than 40 states among all age groups showed increased numbers related to mental health.

Even in normal circumstances, suicides are impulsive, unpredictable and difficult to ascribe to specific causes. The pandemic has created conditions unlike anything mental health professionals have seen before, making causation that much more difficult to determine.

But Greta Massetti, who studies the effects of violence and trauma on children at the C.D.C., said there was “definitely reason to be concerned because it makes conceptual sense.” Millions of children had relied on schools for mental health services that have now been restricted, she noted.

In Clark County, 18 suicides over nine months of closure is double the nine the district had the entire previous year, Dr. Jara said. One student left a note saying he had nothing to look forward to. The youngest student he has lost to suicide was 9.

“I feel responsible.” Dr. Jara said. “They’re all my kids.”

Over the summer, as President Donald J. Trump was trying to strong-arm schools into reopening, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, then the C.D.C. director, warned that a rise in adolescent suicides would be one of the “substantial public health negative consequences” of school closings. Mental health groups and researchers released reports and resources to help schools, which provide counseling and other intervention services, reach students virtually. Mental health advocacy groups warned that the student demographics at the most risk for mental health declines before the pandemic — such as Black children and L.G.B.T.Q. students — were among those most marginalized by the school closures.

But given the politically charged atmosphere this summer, many of those warnings were dismissed as scare tactics.

Parents of students who have taken their lives say connecting suicide to school closings became almost taboo.

A video that Brad Hunstable made in April, two days after he buried his 12-year-old son, Hayden, in their hometown Aledo, Texas, went viral after he proclaimed, “My son died from the coronavirus.” But, he added, “not in the way you think.”

In a recent interview, Mr. Hunstable spoke of the challenges his son faced during the lockdown — he missed friends and football, and had become consumed by the video game Fortnite. He hanged himself four days before his 13th birthday.

Hayden’s story is now the subject of a short documentary, “Almost 13,” Mr. Hunstable’s video has more than 100 million views, and an organization created in his son’s name has drawn attention from parents across the country, clearly striking a chord.

“I wasn’t trying to make a political statement,” Mr. Hunstable said. “I was trying to help save lives.”

This fall, when most school districts decided not to reopen, more parents began to speak out. The parents of a 14-year-old boy in Maryland who killed himself in October described how their son “gave up” after his district decided not to return in the fall. In December, an 11-year-old boy in Sacramento shot himself during his Zoom class. Weeks later, the father of a teenager in Maine attributed his son’s suicide to the isolation of the pandemic.

“We knew he was upset because he was no longer able to participate in his school activities, football,” Jay Smith told a local television station. “We never guessed it was this bad.”

President Biden has laid out a robust plan to speed vaccinations, expand coronavirus testing and spend billions of dollars to help districts reopen most of their schools in his first 100 days in office.

By then, children in districts like Clark County, with more than 300,000 students, will have been out of school for more than a year.

“Every day, it feels like we have run out time,” Dr. Jara said.

Heading into the pandemic, youth suicide rates had been on the rise for a decade; by 2018, suicide had become the second-leading cause of death for youth and young adults, behind accidents. And the most recent behavioral risk survey, which was released last year by the C.D.C. and tracks health trends of high school students, shows a steady rise over the last decade in the percentage of students who say they felt persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, as well as in those who planned and tried suicide.

Since the lockdowns, districts are reporting suicide clusters, Dr. Massetti of the C.D.C. said, and many said they were struggling to connect students with services.

“Without in-person instruction, there is a gap that is right now being unfilled,” she said.

Suzie Button, the senior clinical director for high school programming at the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York that works on suicide prevention, said hundreds of schools and colleges — including Clark County’s — are teaming up with the organization to better serve students during the pandemic.

“There’s a lot we don’t know, but what we do know about schools is they are the nexus of adolescent life,” Dr. Button said. “And in times like this, young people are sometimes the canaries in the coal mine.”

Like many school districts, the Clark County school system marshaled its resources to plug gaps in services to its students. Truancy officers started doing wellness checks, school psychologists were working overtime, teachers were trained to look for trauma cues on screens, and school resource officers became the chief liaisons between the district and the coroner’s office.

By July, after the sixth suicide since March, the district invested in a program, the GoGuardian Beacon alert system, to send reports of mild to severe suicide risk. The system, which scans student writings on district-issued iPads, generated more than 3,100 alerts from June to October, indicating behavior such as suicide research, self-harm, written comments, or just the need for help or support.

By November, the deluge forced the district to upgrade its contract to include 24-hour monitoring and a service that would sort out the most severe cases, like students who were in “active planning,” meaning they had identified a methodology and were ready to act.

“I couldn’t sleep with my phone nearby anymore,” Dr. Jara said. “It was like a 24-hour reminder that we need to get our schools open.”

Recent graduates have also been affected.

Anthony Orr, 18, drove his car to a parking lot in August and shot himself with an AR-15 he had bought two weeks before. In the months since, his parents, Marc and Pamela, have looked for signs they may have missed. His father did not know anything was wrong until he found his son’s body in the car, grabbed his arm and asked, “Son, what have you done?”

The teenager, whose brother is a teacher in the district, seemed happy — he had graduated a couple of months before, decided that he wanted to take up a trade instead of going to college, and was settling in at his new job where he had made friends. The only disappointment he had expressed was that his senior year was disrupted and that prom and his sports seasons were canceled.

But he had met his goal to graduate with advanced honors, and he wore a white gown to a socially distanced, scaled-back ceremony that noted the achievement.

“That was a letdown for him, too. There wasn’t the pomp and circumstance,” his father said. “They did it nice, they got to run across the stage and get the paper, but it definitely took away from the party.”

His mother, Pamela, did not know whether quarantine pushed him over the edge, but she said: “Our kids are feeling hopeless. They’re feeling like there’s no future for them. I can’t see how there’s any other explanation.”

In November, school officials intervened when a 12-year-old student searched his district-issued iPad for “how to make a noose.”

The boy’s grandfather, whom The New York Times is identifying by his first name, Larry, to protect the boy’s identity, said the episode was a shock.

The boy’s father had retired to bed around 7 p.m. to rest for his 2 a.m. work shift. He did not hear the phone ringing until around 10 p.m., when the school district finally reached him. His father made it to his son’s room to find a noose from multiple shoestrings around his neck.

“If there wasn’t a security device that triggers that kind of alert, we would not be having this discussion,” his grandfather said. “It absolutely consumes you.”

His grandson, whose dog died during the pandemic, was doing well academically in virtual school but was “Zoomed out,” Larry said. The only indication the boy has given for what pushed him over the edge is saying repeatedly, “I miss my friends.”

“He is having a hard time functioning in this isolation,” his grandfather said. “It goes against everything that he is. There has to be an option of letting these kids go to school.”

A dozen schools in the district began a pilot program to allow for face-to-face counseling. Recently, the number of schools swelled to 68. The program has led to interventions in 30 cases where students were considering suicide.

The pilot has “grown into a monster,” said John Anzalone, the principal at one of the initial 12 schools, Sierra Vista High School. He knew that his diverse, largely working-class student population, whose families have suffered from Las Vegas’s tourism crash, would be hit hard by the virus. But he was still stunned by the effect.

“These young people are having to grow up really, really fast,” he said. “Some were alone even before the pandemic because their parents were working, and some are the breadwinners now.”

Adrienne, the mother of a 14-year-old high school freshman, had just finished a 12-hour shift last month when she received a call from her son’s principal, alerting her that her son had expressed suicidal thoughts. The teenager had told a friend that if they called the police, he would “do it.”

“He felt disconnected,” his mother said. “He felt left behind.”

His father had lost his small business. Two family members had died, one to the coronavirus. His mother was working 70 hours a week. Even when she was at home, she was not entirely present, as she tended to work and home life.

“He just felt like he had no control over his world anymore and felt like a burden,” Adrienne said. “He loves to help people, to make people laugh, and he feels like he’s failing.”

Indeed, failure is another crisis at the school, where flunking rates are 60 percent to 70 percent. That, in turn, is depressing the teachers and staff. The district is conducting a survey to see what supports it needs to queue up for its employees.

Colleen Neely, a counselor at Shadow Ridge High School, recalled how a young man she had advised since ninth grade used to stand outside her office every day after fourth period.

He had overcome so much by the 2019-2020 school year in his determination to graduate: When he was junior, he was homeless and the school connected him to a shelter; for a week, he lived in a park near the school, and staff gave him food and other resources; his schedule was shortened so he could work at McDonald’s.

In the spring of 2020, Ms. Neely sent the young man an email telling him how proud she was of him, that he was so close to getting what he wanted. Two weeks before graduation, she got the call that he had shot himself.

“Part of me will always wonder if he’d had access to his teachers, and his peers, and me, if it would’ve changed the outcome,” Ms. Neely said through tears. “I will never know. These suicides, they don’t impact one person and one family. They impact me to this day.”

Dr. Jara understood.

“I can’t get these alerts anymore,” he confessed. “I have no words to say to these families anymore. I believe in God, but I can’t help but wonder: Am I doing everything possible to open our schools?”

Source: The New York Times

Ted Galen Carpenter - Mon Jan 25, 2021 13:27

One unmistakable goal of the incoming Biden administration is to repair the damage that the Trump administration inflicted on America’s relations with its traditional diplomatic and strategic partners, especially the European allies [vassals]. Biden and his advisers have explicitly criticized Trump’s “America First” approach with respect to both economic and security policies. Instead, they emphasize strengthening multilateral efforts to achieve common objectives in those arenas. 

Biden himself has made it clear that one of those objectives is to induce Europe to join the United States in a common front to deal with China. “As we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts,” he said in remarks delivered on December 28, “our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defense of our shared interests and values.”

Biden added that “on any issue that matters to the U.S.-China relationship,” including “ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, [we] are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.”

Biden’s quest is likely to fail. Indeed, just two days after the president-elect’s comments, the European Union signed a major investment deal with Beijing. RealityChek blogger Alan Tonelson contended that the EU’s action constituted a “punch in the mouth.”  That may be an exaggeration, but negotiations had been going on for seven years, and there was no reason why EU leaders could not have held off and consulted with the Biden administration after it took office before taking final action. Their failure to do so indicated that the EU will chart its own course regarding economic relations with China based on an assessment of European interests, not U.S. policy preferences.

Evidence is even stronger that Washington cannot count on European solidarity with the United States if it comes to a diplomatic confrontation with Beijing over human rights or other issues. That point became glaringly apparent last year when the Trump administration tried to enlist Europe in a united response to the PRC’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. U.S. leaders wanted a joint statement of condemnation as well as the imposition of some sanctions in response to Beijing’s brazen erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Allied backing was tepid and grudging, at best. Among the major European powers, only Britain (Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler) joined the United States in embracing a hardline approach. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas argued that the best way for the European Union to influence China on the Hong Kong dispute was merely to maintain a dialogue with Beijing.

The European Union’s response was anemic and evasive as well. Apparently determined to avoid becoming entangled in America’s escalating rivalry with China, EU foreign ministers embraced Germany’s approach and emphasized the need for dialogue about Hong Kong. After a videoconference among the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell emphasized that only one country bothered to raise the subject of sanctions. Borrell added that the EU was not planning even to postpone diplomatic meetings with China.

Such actions suggest that European governments have little interest in being part of a U.S.-led common front to deal with Beijing even on diplomatic and economic issues, much less security problems. In adopting that stance, they accurately reflect European public opinion. 

Europeans want no part of a possible confrontation with China. When a September 2019 survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations asked, “Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and China?” the results were emphatic against backing America.

Support for Washington was meager even among the usually Amerophile populations in Central and Eastern Europe. Just 19 percent in the Czech Republic, 17 percent in Romania, and 13 percent in Hungary supported the U.S. position. The outcome among Washington’s long‐​standing economic and security partners in Western Europe was similar. Only 18 percent of French respondents, 20 percent of Italians, and 10 percent of Germans chose solidarity with the United States in a showdown with China. Overwhelming majorities in all countries surveyed favored neutrality.

Such a stance is unsurprising. The United States is a Pacific power with extensive economic and security interests in East Asia. China’s economic and military rise poses a serious challenge to the status of regional hegemon that the United States had enjoyed since the end of World War II.

Europe’s situation is fundamentally different. The European powers have limited economic interests and even fewer security concerns in the region. The risks associated with waging even a diplomatic feud with China — to say nothing of a trade war or a military confrontation — would appear to most Europeans to outweigh any conceivable benefits. From the standpoint of European interests, discreet neutrality regarding relations between the United States and China is the prudent course.

Given that reality, the Biden administration is likely to be disappointed in the probable European response to calls for a joint response to China’s transgressions. The new president may scorn the “America First” doctrine and seek to revitalize the coalition of Western democratic powers. But at least when it comes to policy toward China, Biden will find that the United States is a leader with few followers. 

Source: Responsible Statecraft

One unmistakable goal of the incoming Biden administration is to repair the damage that the Trump administration inflicted on America’s relations with its traditional diplomatic and strategic partners, especially the European allies [vassals]. Biden and his advisers have explicitly criticized Trump’s “America First” approach with respect to both economic and security policies. Instead, they emphasize strengthening multilateral efforts to achieve common objectives in those arenas. 

Biden himself has made it clear that one of those objectives is to induce Europe to join the United States in a common front to deal with China. “As we compete with China and hold China’s government accountable for its abuses on trade, technology, human rights, and other fronts,” he said in remarks delivered on December 28, “our position will be much stronger when we build coalitions of like-minded partners and allies to make common cause with us in defense of our shared interests and values.”

Biden added that “on any issue that matters to the U.S.-China relationship,” including “ensuring security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, [we] are stronger and more effective when we are flanked by nations that share our vision for the future of our world.”

Biden’s quest is likely to fail. Indeed, just two days after the president-elect’s comments, the European Union signed a major investment deal with Beijing. RealityChek blogger Alan Tonelson contended that the EU’s action constituted a “punch in the mouth.”  That may be an exaggeration, but negotiations had been going on for seven years, and there was no reason why EU leaders could not have held off and consulted with the Biden administration after it took office before taking final action. Their failure to do so indicated that the EU will chart its own course regarding economic relations with China based on an assessment of European interests, not U.S. policy preferences.

Evidence is even stronger that Washington cannot count on European solidarity with the United States if it comes to a diplomatic confrontation with Beijing over human rights or other issues. That point became glaringly apparent last year when the Trump administration tried to enlist Europe in a united response to the PRC’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong. U.S. leaders wanted a joint statement of condemnation as well as the imposition of some sanctions in response to Beijing’s brazen erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Allied backing was tepid and grudging, at best. Among the major European powers, only Britain (Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler) joined the United States in embracing a hardline approach. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas argued that the best way for the European Union to influence China on the Hong Kong dispute was merely to maintain a dialogue with Beijing.

The European Union’s response was anemic and evasive as well. Apparently determined to avoid becoming entangled in America’s escalating rivalry with China, EU foreign ministers embraced Germany’s approach and emphasized the need for dialogue about Hong Kong. After a videoconference among the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell emphasized that only one country bothered to raise the subject of sanctions. Borrell added that the EU was not planning even to postpone diplomatic meetings with China.

Such actions suggest that European governments have little interest in being part of a U.S.-led common front to deal with Beijing even on diplomatic and economic issues, much less security problems. In adopting that stance, they accurately reflect European public opinion. 

Europeans want no part of a possible confrontation with China. When a September 2019 survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations asked, “Whose side should your country take in a conflict between the United States and China?” the results were emphatic against backing America.

Support for Washington was meager even among the usually Amerophile populations in Central and Eastern Europe. Just 19 percent in the Czech Republic, 17 percent in Romania, and 13 percent in Hungary supported the U.S. position. The outcome among Washington’s long‐​standing economic and security partners in Western Europe was similar. Only 18 percent of French respondents, 20 percent of Italians, and 10 percent of Germans chose solidarity with the United States in a showdown with China. Overwhelming majorities in all countries surveyed favored neutrality.

Such a stance is unsurprising. The United States is a Pacific power with extensive economic and security interests in East Asia. China’s economic and military rise poses a serious challenge to the status of regional hegemon that the United States had enjoyed since the end of World War II.

Europe’s situation is fundamentally different. The European powers have limited economic interests and even fewer security concerns in the region. The risks associated with waging even a diplomatic feud with China — to say nothing of a trade war or a military confrontation — would appear to most Europeans to outweigh any conceivable benefits. From the standpoint of European interests, discreet neutrality regarding relations between the United States and China is the prudent course.

Given that reality, the Biden administration is likely to be disappointed in the probable European response to calls for a joint response to China’s transgressions. The new president may scorn the “America First” doctrine and seek to revitalize the coalition of Western democratic powers. But at least when it comes to policy toward China, Biden will find that the United States is a leader with few followers. 

Source: Responsible Statecraft

Andrew Mark Miller - Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:33

The unemployment rate in South Dakota has dropped to a level lower than before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“NEWS: South Dakota's unemployment rate dropped to 3.0% in December,” Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Twitter Friday. "That's lower than it was BEFORE the pandemic.”

Statistics from the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation confirm that the state had an unemployment rate of 3.5% in December 2019, compared to 3.0% in December 2020.

Noem has consistently touted the economic success of her state amid the coronavirus pandemic and has often pointed out that she was one of the few governors to resist strict coronavirus lockdowns.

Critics have slammed Noem for the high infection rate in her state and for her position on wearing face masks, but Noem has vocally rejected those critiques.

"Many in the media criticized this approach, labeling me ill-informed, a 'denier,' and reckless," Noem told reporters last month. "Some have even asserted that South Dakota is 'as bad as it gets anywhere in the world' when it comes to COVID-19, a demonstrably false statement."

The unemployment rate in the United States overall sits at 6.7% in December 2020, which is up from the 3.6% rate it registered in December 2019.

On Friday, President Biden provided an update on the economic forecast in the country and said that the economic crisis is “only deepening” and “it’s not getting better.”

Biden’s prompted some on social media to cite the economic success of South Dakota and suggest that strict lockdown measures across the country should be eased.

“South Dakota’s unemployment rate just reached a point lower than before the pandemic began,” the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Fifield tweeted. “The economy is recovering wherever government isn’t a boot on the neck of working people.”

The coronavirus death count in the U.S. currently stands at just over 426,000, out of a nationwide total of over 25 million cases.

Source: The Washington Examiner

The unemployment rate in South Dakota has dropped to a level lower than before the coronavirus pandemic began.

“NEWS: South Dakota's unemployment rate dropped to 3.0% in December,” Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Twitter Friday. "That's lower than it was BEFORE the pandemic.”

Statistics from the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation confirm that the state had an unemployment rate of 3.5% in December 2019, compared to 3.0% in December 2020.

Noem has consistently touted the economic success of her state amid the coronavirus pandemic and has often pointed out that she was one of the few governors to resist strict coronavirus lockdowns.

Critics have slammed Noem for the high infection rate in her state and for her position on wearing face masks, but Noem has vocally rejected those critiques.

"Many in the media criticized this approach, labeling me ill-informed, a 'denier,' and reckless," Noem told reporters last month. "Some have even asserted that South Dakota is 'as bad as it gets anywhere in the world' when it comes to COVID-19, a demonstrably false statement."

The unemployment rate in the United States overall sits at 6.7% in December 2020, which is up from the 3.6% rate it registered in December 2019.

On Friday, President Biden provided an update on the economic forecast in the country and said that the economic crisis is “only deepening” and “it’s not getting better.”

Biden’s prompted some on social media to cite the economic success of South Dakota and suggest that strict lockdown measures across the country should be eased.

“South Dakota’s unemployment rate just reached a point lower than before the pandemic began,” the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Fifield tweeted. “The economy is recovering wherever government isn’t a boot on the neck of working people.”

The coronavirus death count in the U.S. currently stands at just over 426,000, out of a nationwide total of over 25 million cases.

Source: The Washington Examiner

The Times of Israel - Mon Jan 25, 2021 11:41

Editor's note: Truth in media: Israel gets to place demands on the US, courtesy of the weakness of the US President compared to some other, less formal institutions of the Empire. Left unstated is that Israel has only one goal in all of this: get the US to demand such harsh and humiliating terms from Iran that the nuclear deal is scuttled for good.


 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to dispatch Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to Washington in the coming weeks to lay out Israel’s demands of the Biden administration for any new version of the Iran nuclear deal, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.

The network said Cohen, one of Netanyahu’s most trusted colleagues, is to travel to the US within the next month and will be the first senior Israeli official to meet US President Joe Biden. He is also expected to meet with the head of the CIA.

On Saturday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office’s announced that Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat spoke by phone with his new American counterpart Jake Sullivan, in the first confirmed high-level conservation between Israeli officials and the Biden administration.

“The two agreed to soon discuss many topics on the agenda, including the Iranian issue, regional matters and advancing the Abraham Accords,” the PMO said in a statement.

In the US, Cohen and his team are expected to present the Biden administration with all the information gathered by Israel on the progress of Iran’s rogue nuclear program, according to the report, and demand what amounts to a radical overhaul of the 2015 deal with far more stringent commitments from Tehran to ensure it cannot attain nuclear weapons.

The TV report further said Cohen will set out what Israel believes are core components to which the Iranian regime would have to commit under the terms of any resumed version of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Netanyahu publicly lobbied the Obama administration in vain against the deal, successfully encouraged president Donald Trump to withdraw from it, and has urged Biden to reconsider his declared intention to rejoin it.

Were the US nonetheless move to rejoin the nuclear deal, Cohen will present the following demands that Israel’s government believes must be incorporated, Channel 12 said: That Iran must halt the enriching of uranium; stop producing advanced centrifuges; cease supporting terror groups, foremost Lebanon’s Hezbollah; end its military presence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen; stop terror activity against Israeli targets overseas; and grant full access to the IAEA on all aspects of its nuclear program.

Israel fears a revived deal under which Iran will be able to both continue enriching uranium and be granted financial relief that will enable the Islamist regime to repair the economy, the TV report said. It did not name sources for the story, but cited “messages” conveyed between the Biden administration and Israel.

Cohen has led the Mossad for the past five years, including overseeing the Mossad operation that smuggled a trove of material from a warehouse in Tehran documenting the regime’s rogue nuclear program, which was in place before the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers went into effect. Netanyahu revealed the haul in April 2018, and declared that it proved “Iran lied” when denying it was working toward the bomb.

Cohen was in the US earlier this month, for a farewell meeting with secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Congratulating Biden on taking office on Wednesday, Netanyahu urged the new US president to work with Israel to confront “the threat posed by Iran.”

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the administration would consult with Israel and other allies before a return to the 2015 deal.

Source: The Times of Israel

Editor's note: Truth in media: Israel gets to place demands on the US, courtesy of the weakness of the US President compared to some other, less formal institutions of the Empire. Left unstated is that Israel has only one goal in all of this: get the US to demand such harsh and humiliating terms from Iran that the nuclear deal is scuttled for good.


 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to dispatch Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to Washington in the coming weeks to lay out Israel’s demands of the Biden administration for any new version of the Iran nuclear deal, Channel 12 news reported Saturday night.

The network said Cohen, one of Netanyahu’s most trusted colleagues, is to travel to the US within the next month and will be the first senior Israeli official to meet US President Joe Biden. He is also expected to meet with the head of the CIA.

On Saturday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office’s announced that Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat spoke by phone with his new American counterpart Jake Sullivan, in the first confirmed high-level conservation between Israeli officials and the Biden administration.

“The two agreed to soon discuss many topics on the agenda, including the Iranian issue, regional matters and advancing the Abraham Accords,” the PMO said in a statement.

In the US, Cohen and his team are expected to present the Biden administration with all the information gathered by Israel on the progress of Iran’s rogue nuclear program, according to the report, and demand what amounts to a radical overhaul of the 2015 deal with far more stringent commitments from Tehran to ensure it cannot attain nuclear weapons.

The TV report further said Cohen will set out what Israel believes are core components to which the Iranian regime would have to commit under the terms of any resumed version of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Netanyahu publicly lobbied the Obama administration in vain against the deal, successfully encouraged president Donald Trump to withdraw from it, and has urged Biden to reconsider his declared intention to rejoin it.

Were the US nonetheless move to rejoin the nuclear deal, Cohen will present the following demands that Israel’s government believes must be incorporated, Channel 12 said: That Iran must halt the enriching of uranium; stop producing advanced centrifuges; cease supporting terror groups, foremost Lebanon’s Hezbollah; end its military presence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen; stop terror activity against Israeli targets overseas; and grant full access to the IAEA on all aspects of its nuclear program.

Israel fears a revived deal under which Iran will be able to both continue enriching uranium and be granted financial relief that will enable the Islamist regime to repair the economy, the TV report said. It did not name sources for the story, but cited “messages” conveyed between the Biden administration and Israel.

Cohen has led the Mossad for the past five years, including overseeing the Mossad operation that smuggled a trove of material from a warehouse in Tehran documenting the regime’s rogue nuclear program, which was in place before the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers went into effect. Netanyahu revealed the haul in April 2018, and declared that it proved “Iran lied” when denying it was working toward the bomb.

Cohen was in the US earlier this month, for a farewell meeting with secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Congratulating Biden on taking office on Wednesday, Netanyahu urged the new US president to work with Israel to confront “the threat posed by Iran.”

Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the administration would consult with Israel and other allies before a return to the 2015 deal.

Source: The Times of Israel

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