May 21, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:20 PM


Is QAnon the newest American religion? (Bonnie Kristian, May 21, 2020, The Week)

The QAnon movement started on 4chan, an anonymous message board influential in online culture but generally considered outside the bounds of the respectable internet, not least because it has repeatedly made the news in connection to child pornography. That makes the site an odd first home for QAnon, whose narrative centers on a cabal of powerful figures in government, business, academia, and media who make time for child sex trafficking and satanic sacrifice in their busy schedule of world domination. Q is the movement's anonymous digital prophet whose forum posts ("Q drops," now migrated from 4chan to a similar site called 8kun) reveal both the nature of the cabal and Trump's heroic plan to defeat it. QAnon's most fervent followers reach a point of obsession, clinging to it even at cost of total estrangement from their bewildered families.

An in-depth report on QAnon in The Atlantic's June issue closes with the suggestion that QAnon could become the latest in a series of "thriving religious movements indigenous to America." But research from a Concordia University doctoral student, Marc-André Argentino, shows the church of QAnon already exists and seems poised to spread. Argentino attended an online QAnon church where, he reports, two-hour Sunday services with several hundred attendees consist of prayer, communion, and interpretation of the Bible in light of Q drops and vice versa. The leaders' goal, Argentino says, "is to train congregants to form their own home congregations in the future and grow the movement." they have to have a different religion.

Posted by orrinj at 7:17 PM


Posted by orrinj at 3:08 PM


Just 7.3% of Stockholm had Covid-19 antibodies by end of April, study shows (Jon Henley,  21 May 2020, The Guardian)

Just 7.3% of Stockholm's inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country's light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be helping it build up broad immunity.

The research by Sweden's public health agency comes as Finland warned it would be risky to welcome Swedish tourists after figures suggested the country's death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May.

Posted by orrinj at 10:57 AM


Biden Leaked Ukraine Calls Were Released As Part of a Russian 'Special Operation,' Ex-President Claims (DAVID BRENNAN, 5/21/20, Newsweek)

Poroshenko said Wednesday on Facebook that the audio was "fabricated" and claimed the leak was the work of the "fifth column of the Kremlin," which he said "has launched a full-fledged special operation against Ukraine. By means of pulling Ukraine into the electoral struggle in the U.S. they are trying to undermine the U.S. bipartisan support of Ukraine."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


You Will Never Be #MAGA EnoughFox News Channel has been cancelled. (ROBERT TRACINSKI  MAY 21, 2020, The Bulwark)

The parallel to "wokeness" is exact. The left's standard for politically correct thinking is a series of artificial tests that are so arbitrary and unpredictable that one cannot always figure out ahead of time how to respond to them. Say a female artist creates a shirt adorned with busty female sci-fi warrior women. Is this an exercise in "female empowerment" or a perpetuation of the patriarchy? I'm afraid you can't know the answer until the woke Twitter mob decides.

The #MAGA mob has its own groupthink, but unlike the woke set, it has a single final arbiter: Donald Trump.

The artificial test, in this case, is hydroxychloroquine, a repurposed malaria drug that Trump has fixated on as a miracle cure for COVID-19. Whether HCQ is a safe and effective treatment for coronavirus is an open question that is in the process of being settled by clinical trials and scientific evidence.

But it has also been seized upon as a test of one's #MAGAness.

At least one Fox News host failed that test. When President Trump announced that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative--there is no evidence that it prevents infection--Fox's Neil Cavuto felt the need to add a strong disclaimer, warning viewers that there's a possibility the drug could kill you.

The weaker the mind the more rigidly you have to mouth the party line.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Michigan Voters Back Gov. Whitmer's Handling of COVID-19 Over Donald Trump's: Poll (JACOB JARVIS, 5/21/20, Newsweek)

Of 600 people surveyed, 63.7 percent approved of her handling of the situation, compared to 42.8 percent who felt the same way about the president's actions.

Around a third, 32.8 percent, disapproved of Whitmer's approach, while approximately half, 50.4 percent, were against Trump's.

She really needs some angry white guys to set her straight....
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'Rage Is Brewing': Navalny Warns Of Public Anger Over Russia's COVID-19 Response (RFE/RL's Russian Service, 5/21/20)

Russian citizens are expressing greater protest sentiment as the spread of the coronavirus and the state's fight against it has left many people dissatisfied, including doctors and small-business owners, said one of the nation's most influential opposition activists.

"Right now the degree of protest activity among citizens is probably one of the highest in recent times," Aleksei Navalny, the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a video interview with RFE/RL from his Moscow home on May 20.

"Such rage is brewing now among those that earlier were not visible in protest activity or direct politics. These are doctors, representatives of small business, and ordinary people that are now without an income," he said.

Russia has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 300,000 registered cases, the second-highest globally after the United States. The virus has put huge pressure on the nation's underfunded health-care system, with dozens of doctors dying from COVID-19 and some taking their own lives.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Americans Have Rediscovered Self-RelianceThe lockdowns are prompting Americans to relearn skills and revive almost-forgotten habits. (J.D. TUCCILLE | 5.20.2020, reason)

By preference and by necessity, people are rediscovering that they can do many things for themselves that they'd grown accustomed to outsourcing. They've acquired or honed skills that they may have never before thought they'd need, but are required in a world where conveniences disappeared overnight and creatively making-do is--as for past generations--how you live from day to day.

Whether Americans want to continue doing for themselves after the lockdowns ease and life returns to some form of normal depends on how much they enjoy the experience; many will pick a life of convenience if that's back on the menu. But harsh reality may dictate an extension of the DIY experiment for some time to come.

"The mean perceived probability of losing one's job in the next 12 months increased 2.4 percentage points to 20.9% in April," the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported last week. Voluntary social distancing efforts and mandatory lockdown orders alike have taken a brutal toll on the economy. Tens of millions of Americans are out of work--the official April unemployment rate was 14.7 percent, with worse to come.

Uncertain about the future, Americans are holding on to money rather than spending. The personal savings rate is now 13.1 percent, the highest level since 1981.

Worried about the future and stashing cash as a hedge against risk, many--not all, but certainly a good number--of Americans will continue cooking, baking, brewing, gardening, and repairing. They'll do so if only because it provides them what they want at lower cost than paying others to do it for them. They'll do it, too, because, having acquired the requisite skills, they no longer have to wait on somebody else's availability or permission. They can make or build what they want--within limits, of course, but much broader ones than before--without depending on the pleasure of others.

And when the pandemic and lockdown restrictions finally pass, something important will be left behind. Remaining in the wake of the crisis will be hard-learned skills and the confidence and sense of self-reliance for using them. We might wish these lessons had come more easily, but learn them we did, and they will help shape the world to come.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


About 83% of US coronavirus deaths could have been avoided if lockdowns were imposed March 1, researchers estimate (Lauren Frias, 5/21/20, Business Insider)

Researchers estimate that if nationwide lockdowns were imposed just two weeks earlier, on March 1, a vast majority of coronavirus deaths in the United States -- about 83% -- could have been avoided, The New York Times reported.

State-wide lockdowns were imposed in mid- to late-March as cases began to rise in the US. At the start of March, there were around 20 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Florida Health Department manager told to delete coronavirus data is fired (Langston Taylor, 5/20/20, Tampa Times)

One day before a top Florida Department of Health data manager lost her role maintaining the state's COVID-19 data, she objected to the removal of records showing people had symptoms or positive tests before the cases were announced, according to internal emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis said she had been fired.

According to the emails, department staff gave the order shortly after reporters requested the same data from the agency on May 5. The data manager, Rebekah Jones, complied with the order, but not before she told her supervisors it was the "wrong call."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Neofeudalism and its new legitimisersToday's oligarchs depend on a modern, overwhelmingly liberal clerisy for legitimacy (Joel Kotkin, 21 May, 2020, The Critic)

Half a century ago, Daniel Bell recognised an emerging "knowledge class," composed of people whose status rested on educational attainment and access to knowledge in a postindustrial society. Theoretically it represented a meritocracy, but this class has become mostly hereditary, as well-educated people, particularly from elite colleges, marry each other and aim to perpetuate their status. Between 1960 and 2005, the share of men with university degrees who married women with university degrees nearly doubled, from 25 percent to 48 percent. As Bell observed, parents of high status in a meritocracy will use their advantages to improve their children's prospects, and in this way, "after one generation a meritocracy simply becomes an enclaved class."

Michael Lind uses "professional and graduate degrees" as a way of measuring what he calls the "managerial overclass," which includes "private and public bureaucrats who run large national and global corporations" as well as directors of nonprofits and university professors. He estimates the "overclass" to be some 15 percent of the American population. Charles Murray defines a "new upper class" more narrowly, as the most successful 5 percent in managerial positions, the professions, and the media, and he estimates it at roughly 2.4 million people out of a country of over 320 million. (By comparison, the First Estate in France was around 1 percent of the population on the eve of the revolution.) In France today, Christophe Guilluy identifies a "privileged stratum" of people who gain from globalisation, or at least are not harmed by it, and who operate from an assumption of "moral superiority" that justifies their privilege.

What I designate as the clerisy is a group far larger and broader than the oligarchy. It spans a growing section of the workforce that is mostly employed outside of material production -- as teachers, consultants, lawyers, government workers, and medical providers. These professions are largely insulated from the risks of the marketplace. They also make up an increasing proportion of the workforce in the high-income countries: many of the fastest-growing occupations since 2010 have been in the arts, personal care, and health care, usually tied to nonprofits or the state. Meanwhile, those in private-sector middle-class jobs -- small-business owners, workers in basic industries and construction -- have seen their share of the job market shrink.

The picture is similar in Europe. In France, well over a million lower-skilled industry jobs have disappeared in the past quarter century, while the numbers of technical jobs have increased markedly in both the public and private realms. Those who work for state industries, universities, and other clerisy-oriented sectors enjoy far better benefits, notably pen- sions, than those working in the purely private sector.

Many of the people in these growing sectors are well positioned to exert a disproportionate influence on public attitudes, and on policy as well--that is, to act as cultural "legitimisers."

...besides peace, freedom, leisure and wealth?  Mr. Kotkin is undeniably correct about the connection between "neofeudalism" and high -income countries.  Indeed, the point of capitalism is to generate greater wealth. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Convicted 9/11 Terrorist Renounces al-Qaida, bin Laden (VOA News, May 20, 2020)

The only person convicted in a U.S. court in the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States claims he is renouncing terrorism, al-Qaida and its dead leader, Osama bin Laden.

"I denounce, repudiate Osama bin Laden as a useful idiot of the CIA/Saudi. I also proclaim unequivocally my opposition to any terrorist action, attack, propaganda against the U.S," Zacarias Moussaoui wrote in a note to a federal court in Virginia last month.

He also said he wants to "warn young Muslim against the deception and the manipulation of these fake Jihadis."

Loosen the restrictions and utilize him.