UK, Holland, Germany, Israel, Russia and South Korea rush to contain Avian Flu outbreaks culling hundreds of thousands of birds

Avian flu outbreaks europe, russia, israel, south korea
Avian flu outbreaks in Europe, Russia, Israel, South Korea

It seems we jump from one outbreak to another.  The highly infectious bird flu virus is currently sweeping across Europe, infecting thousands of animals in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and further east in Russia, Israel and South Korea.

Germany and The Netherlands

Two poultry farms in Holland and Germany have been attacked by H5N8, forcing the culling of more than 200,000 chickens in Puiflijk, the Netherlands.

These Dutch farms are just 30km (19 miles) from the German border. The main risk is that the infection spread out-of-control on both sides.

Although the H5N8 bird flu strain isn’t too dangerous for humans, its economic cost can be significant. People should avoid touching sick or dead birds. Chicken and eggs are safe to eat if cooked thoroughly.

UK

Farms in the UK are also infected. In Frodsham, north-west England, farmers had to cull 13,000 birds last Monday.

In south-east Kent, a smaller cull involving animals infected by H5N2 is currently underway.

Russia

H5N8 has been detected in migratory birds from Russia.

Moreover, Russia has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza on a farm in Russia’s western Kostroma region on October 27, 2020, which has killed more than 14,000 birds.

Meanwhile, officials have culled more than 283,000 birds to stop the disease.

Israel

The Avian flu was discovered in wild birds mid-October. Meanwhile, several outbreaks were reported on several poultry farms across Hazafon and Haifa, where over 226,000 birds have been culled.

These are the first outbreaks on commercial farms since April 2019, most probably linked to wild migratory birds.

South Korea

Officials and farmers in South Korea are on high alert after the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza strain was detected in wild bird droppings for the first time in 32 months.

Quarantine and biosecurity measures to block a bird flu outbreak among domestic poultry have been set up around farms across the country.

The spread of wild bird flu to farms is relatively rapid. So we will see how many of these birds will be culled in the next few weeks.

More outbreak and bird flu news on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle.

Sea Lions in Cowichan Bay

Pics by Damien Ferreira

Cowichan Bay (English: /ˈkɪæn/)[1] is a bay and community located on the east coast of southern Vancouver Island near Duncan, in British Columbia. The mouth of the Cowichan River is near Cowichan Bay. Mount Tzouhalem and its hiking trails and ecological reserve stands to the north. The bay is known for its fishing and scenic value. The area’s main industries are fishing and tourism.

No description available.

No description available.

Forensic analysis exonerates WE Charity and the Canadian government

File:WE Charity Logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Last week, Federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion exonerated former Finance Minister Bill Morneau of conflict of interest charges over his participation in two volunteer trips for WE Charity.

Morneau stood accused of not disclosing these trips; he maintained that he believed he had paid for them and reimbursed the charity once he learned otherwise. Mr. Dion agreed: “I accept that you genuinely believed you had paid for the entire cost of both trips, including the portion of the trip that involved the use of non-commercial chartered aircraft.”

Welcome words, but cold comfort: Mr. Morneau was still forced to resign his portfolio and his seat in the House of Commons. His demise was one of the many casualties of the rush to judgment made by politicians, the media, and ordinary Canadians about the awarding of the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) to WE Charity.

The biggest casualty, of course, was WE Charity itself, which has all but ceased its Canadian operations. Much of the controversy related to how and why WE Charity came to be chosen to deliver the CSSG. The media narrative was that WE Charity’s senior leaders, Marc and Craig Kielburger, approached the government with the CSSG idea to rescue the charity from financial crisis and make a personal profit themselves. But was that narrative grounded in fact or fiction?

As a police officer and former deputy solicitor general of Ontario, I’ve overseen hundreds of complex investigations. Because of my background, I was asked to examine the steps taken in selecting the organization to administer the $543M program announced in June and cancelled in July due to political controversy.

I examined more than 5,000 pages of government documents, emails and other material released by federal departments to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, and more than 360 pages of documents WE Charity provided to the committee.

My conclusion? The evidence is clear that the government reached out to WE Charity, not the reverse. Bureaucrats examined their options, considered other organizations, like the YMCA and Shopify, but concluded that WE Charity was the right choice.

As has been documented by the finance committee, it was senior bureaucrat Rachel Wernick who contacted Craig Kielburger to discuss WE’s potential involvement in administering the program that would later be known as the CSSG. While that’s not as enticing a storyline as the generally accepted narrative, it happens to be the truth.

Concurrent to my review, two forensic auditing firms were hired. Forensic accounting expert Dr. Al Rosen reviewed the relevant financial materials to test the theory that WE Charity was on the brink of financial collapse as the pandemic took hold. Rosen is a certified fraud examiner who has provided expert testimony before the Supreme Court of Canada. He concluded:

“WE was financially viable at the time of the signing of the CSSG Funding Agreement with the Federal Government and was not in any financial peril.”

On the question of potential profit for WE Charity or the Kielburgers, Rosen concluded: “the CSSG program reimbursed only incurred expenses and WE was not entitled to or able to receive a profit.”

Froese Forensics further conducted a forensic audit examining the charity’s financial conduct and its relationship with social enterprise ME to WE. They concluded, “We did not identify any concerns in relation to interactions between WE Charity and M2WSE (ME to WE Social Enterprise)”.

On the contrary, 100 percent of ME to WE’s profits were donated to the charity or reinvested in the next social program. WE co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger also submitted their personal finances to a forensic audit to address character attacks implying personal gain. The auditors concluded: “We found no evidence of improper transactions which benefited the Kielburgers personally.”

The case is clear: WE Charity was not looking for a lifeline. It didn’t get special treatment. It was properly approached by the bureaucracy. And neither the charity nor its co-founders stood to profit from the CSSG.

But a story like that doesn’t sell papers or threaten to bring down a government. All it does is hurt thousands of children and dim the flame of volunteerism, at a time when Canada — and the world — has never needed it more.

Doug Casey on the End of Western Civilization

International Man: The decline of Western Civilization is on a lot of people’s minds.

Let’s talk about this trend.

Doug Casey: Western Civilization has its origins in ancient Greece. It’s unique among the world’s civilizations in putting the individual—as opposed to the collective—in a central position. It enshrined logic and rational thought—as opposed to mysticism and superstition—as the way to deal with the world. It’s because of this that we have science, technology, great literature and art, capitalism, personal freedom, the concept of progress, and much, much more. In fact, almost everything worth having in the material world is due to Western Civilization.

Ayn Rand once said, “East minus West equals zero.” I think she went a bit too far, as a rhetorical device, but she was essentially right. When you look at what the world’s other civilizations have brought to the party, at least over the last 2,500 years, it’s trivial.

I lived in the Orient for years. There are many things I love about it—martial arts, yoga, and the cuisine among them. But all the progress they’ve made is due to adopting the fruits of the West.

International Man: There are so many things degrading Western Civilization. Where do we begin?

Doug Casey: It’s been said, correctly, that a civilization always collapses from within. World War 1, in 1914, signalled the start of the long collapse of Western Civilization. Of course, termites were already eating away at the foundations, with the writings of people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx. It’s been on an accelerating downward path ever since, even though technology and science have been improving at a quantum pace. They are, however, like delayed action flywheels, operating on stored energy and accumulated capital. Without capital, intellectual freedom, and entrepreneurialism, science and technology will slow down. I’m optimistic we’ll make it to Kurzweil’s Singularity, but there are no guarantees.

Things also changed with the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Before that, the US used gold coinage for money. “The dollar” was just a name for 1/20th of an ounce of gold. That is what the dollar was. Paper dollars were just receipts for gold on deposit in the Treasury. The income tax, enacted the same year, threw more sand in the gears of civilization. The world was much freer before the events of 1913 and 1914, which acted to put the State at the center of everything.

The Fed and the income tax are both disastrous and unnecessary things, enemies of the common man in every way. Unfortunately, people have come to believe they’re fixtures in the cosmic firmament. They’re the main reasons—there are many other reasons, though, unfortunately—why the average American’s standard of living has been dropping since the early 1970s. In fact, were it not for these things, and the immense amount of capital destroyed during the numerous wars of the last 100 years, I expect we’d have already colonized the moon and Mars. Among many other things…

But I want to re-emphasize that the science, the technology, and all the wonderful toys we have are not the essence of Western Civilization. They’re consequences of individualism, capitalism, rational thought, and personal freedom. It’s critical not to confuse cause and effect.

International Man: You mentioned that the average American’s standard of living has dropped since the early 1970s. This is directly related to the US government abandoning the dollar’s last link to gold in 1971. Since then, the Federal Reserve has been able to debase the US dollar without limit.

I think the dollar’s transformation into a purely fiat currency has eroded the rule of law and morality in the US. It’s similar to what happened in the Roman Empire after it started debasing its currency.

What do you think, Doug?

Doug Casey: All the world’s governments and central banks share a common philosophy, which drives these policies. They believe that you create economic activity by stimulating demand, and you stimulate demand by printing money. And, of course, it’s true, in a way. Roughly the same way a counterfeiter can stimulate a local economy.

Unfortunately, they ignore that and completely ignore that the way a person or a society becomes wealthy is by producing more than they consume and saving the difference. That difference, savings, is how you create capital. Without capital you’re reduced to subsistence, scratching at the earth with a stick. These people think that by inflating—which is to say destroying—the currency, they can create prosperity. But what they’re really doing, is destroying capital: When you destroy the value of the currency, that discourages people from saving it. And when people don’t save, they can’t build capital, and the vicious cycle goes on.

This is destructive for civilization itself, in both the long term and the short term. The more paper money, the more credit, they create, the more society focuses on finance, as opposed to production. It’s why there are many times more people studying finance than science. The focus is increasingly on speculation, not production. Financial engineering, not mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering. And lots of laws and regulations to keep the unstable structure from collapsing.

What keeps a truly civil society together isn’t laws, regulations, and police. It’s peer pressure, social opprobrium, moral approbation, and your reputation. These are the four elements that keep things together. Western Civilization is built on voluntarism. But, as the State grows, that’s being replaced by coercion in every aspect of society. There are regulations on the most obscure areas of life. As Harvey Silverglate pointed out in his book, the average American commits three felonies a day. Whether he’s caught and prosecuted is a subject of luck and the arbitrary will of some functionary. That’s antithetical to the core values of Western Civilization.

International Man: Speaking of ancient civilizations like Rome, interest rates are about the lowest they’ve been in 5,000 years of recorded history. Trillions of dollars’ worth of government bonds trade at negative yields.

Of course, this couldn’t happen in a free market. It’s only possible because of central bank manipulation.

How will artificially low-interest rates affect the collapse of Western Civilization?

Doug Casey: It’s really, really serious. I previously thought it was metaphysically impossible to have negative interest rates but, in the Bizarro World central banks have created, it’s happened.

Negative interest rates discourage saving. Once again, saving is what builds capital. Without capital you wind up as an empty shell—Rome in 450 A.D., or Detroit today—lots of wonderful but empty buildings and no economic activity. Worse, it forces people to desperately put their money in all manner of idiotic speculations in an effort to stay ahead of inflation. They wind up chasing the bubbles the funny money creates.

Let me re-emphasize something: in order for science and technology to advance you need capital. Where does capital come from? It comes from people producing more than they consume and saving the difference. Debt, on the other hand, means you’re living above your means. You’re either consuming the capital others have saved, or you’re mortgaging your future.

Zero and negative interest rate policies, and the creation of money out of nowhere, are actually destructive of civilization itself. It makes the average guy feel that he’s not in control of his own destiny. He starts believing that the State, or luck, or Allah will provide for him. That attitude is typical of people from backward parts of the world—not Western Civilization.

International Man: What does it say about the economy and society that people work so hard to interpret what officials from the Federal Reserve and other central banks say?

Doug Casey: It’s a shameful waste of time. They remind me of primitives seeking the counsel of witch doctors. One hundred years ago, the richest people in the country—the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and such—made their money creating industries that actually made stuff. Now, the richest people in the country just shuffle money around. They get rich because they’re close to the government and the hydrant of currency materialized by the Federal Reserve. I’d say it’s a sign that society in the US has become quite degraded.

The world revolves much less around actual production but around guessing the direction of financial markets. Negative interest rates are creating bubbles, and will eventually result in an economic collapse.

International Man: Negative interest rates are essentially a tax on savings. A lot of people would rather pull their money out of the bank and stuff it under a mattress than suffer that sting.

The economic central planners know this. It’s why they’re using negative interest rates to ramp up the War on Cash—the push to eliminate paper currency and create a cashless society.

The banking system is very fragile. Banks don’t hold much paper cash. It’s mostly digital bytes on a computer. If people start withdrawing paper money en masse, it won’t take much to bring the whole system down.

Their solution is to make accessing cash harder, and in some cases, illegal. That’s why the economic witch doctors at Harvard are pounding the table to get rid of the $100 bill.

Take France, for example. It’s now illegal to make cash transactions over €1,000 without documenting them properly.

Negative interest rates have turbocharged the War on Cash. If the central planners win this war, it would be the final deathblow to financial privacy.

How does this all relate to the collapse of Western Civilization?

Doug Casey: I believe the next step in their idiotic plan is to abolish cash. Decades ago they got rid of gold coinage, which used to circulate day to day in people’s pockets. Then they got rid of silver coinage. Now, they’re planning to get rid of cash altogether. So you won’t even have euros or dollars or pounds in your wallet anymore, or if you do, it will only be very small denominations. Everything else is going to have to be done through electronic payment processing.

This is a huge disaster for the average person: absolutely everything that you buy or sell, other than perhaps a candy bar or a hamburger, is going to have to go through the banking system. Thus, the government will be able to monitor every transaction and payment. Financial privacy, even what’s left of it today, will literally cease to exist.

Privacy is one of the big differences between a civilized society and a primitive society. In a primitive society, in your little dirt hut village, anybody can look through your window or pull back the flap on your tent. You have no privacy. Everybody can hear everything; see anything. This was one of the marvellous things about Western Civilization—privacy was valued, and respected. But that concept, like so many others, is on its way out…

International Man: You’ve mentioned before that language and words provide important clues to the collapse of Western Civilization. How so?

Doug Casey: Many of the words you hear, especially on television and other media, are confused, conflated, or completely misused. Many recent changes in the way words are used are corrupting the language. As George Orwell liked to point out, to control language is to control thought. The corruption of language is adding to the corruption of civilization itself. This is not a trivial factor in the degradation of Western Civilization.

Words—their exact meanings, and how they’re used—are critically important. If you don’t mean what you say and say what you mean, then it’s impossible to communicate accurately. Forget about transmitting philosophical concepts.

Take for example shareholders and stakeholders. We all know that a shareholder actually owns a share in a company, but have you noticed that over the last generation shareholders have become less important than stakeholders? Even though stakeholders are just hangers-on, employees, or people who are looking to get in on a shakedown. But everybody slavishly acknowledges, “Yes, we’ve got to look out for the stakeholders.”

Where did that concept come from? It’s a recent creation, but Boobus Americanus seems to think it was carved in stone at the country’s founding.

We’re told to protect them as if they were a valuable and endangered species. I say, “A pox upon stakeholders.” If they want a vote in what a company does, then they ought to become shareholders. Stakeholders are a class of being created out of nothing by Cultural Marxists for the purpose of shaking down shareholders.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.

NHS Nurse Publicly Resigns, Blasts COVID Lockdown Policy

I cannot validate the veracity of this post. Paul Watson is a right-wing thinker who learned his “provocateur” skills with Alex Jones on Prison Planet.

NHS Nurse Publicly Resigns, Blasts COVID Lockdown Policy

summit.news

“Unfortunately, I can’t lie anymore.”

Video Screenshot

An NHS nurse in Britain publicly resigned while wearing her uniform before releasing the real numbers of COVID patients in her hospital and denouncing the government’s disastrous lockdown policy.

The whole of England officially entered lockdown 2.0 today despite numerous experts warning that lockdowns will eventually end up killing more people than coronavirus itself.

A video out of Cornwall shows a nurse in uniform giving a speech explaining why she decided to resign from her job.

“I don’t need the uniform to prove that I work for them, but today, I’m publicly resigning,” she stated.

The nurse then revealed how she received an email from her bosses demanding an explanation as to why she was being critical of official COVID policy and that people were “reporting” her.

“Unfortunately I can’t lie anymore,” said the nurse, explaining how she took a screenshot of internal hospital data showing there were just three people across three hospitals in the region infected with COVID.

The total deaths from these three hospitals across the last 7 months is just 76 people, roughly 10 deaths a month, according to the nurse, who questioned why it was necessary for her region to go into lockdown given such sparse figures.

“I’ve decided there’s no point, I have gone against the rules within the NHS, I have shared confidential information that people need to see,” said the nurse, adding that other doctors and nurses were trying to speak out.

As we highlighted earlier, the enforcement of a new lockdown is likely to bring with it more draconian measures of enforcement.

A woman in Skipton was threatened with a police visit for not downloading the NHS COVID ‘track and trace’ app, while another woman in Wales was questioned by police on whether buying custard counted as an ‘essential purchase’.

Chris Hedges: American Requiem

The empty jousting between a bloviating President Donald Trump and a verbally impaired Joe Biden is designed to mask the truth. The oligarchs always win. The people always lose. It does not matter who sits in the White House. America is a failed state.

consortiumnews.com

However inequitable its bias, capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse.

Art by Mr. Fish. (Original to Scheerpost)

Well, it’s over. Not the election. The capitalist democracy. However biased it was towards the interests of the rich and however hostile it was to the poor and minorities, the capitalist democracy at least offered the possibility of incremental and piecemeal reform. Now it is a corpse.

The iconography and rhetoric remain the same. But it is an elaborate and empty reality show funded by the ruling oligarchs — $1.51 billion for the Biden campaign and $1.57 billion for the Trump campaign — to make us think there are choices. There are not.

The empty jousting between a bloviating President Donald Trump and a verbally impaired Joe Biden is designed to mask the truth. The oligarchs always win. The people always lose. It does not matter who sits in the White House. America is a failed state.

“The American Dream has run out of gas,” wrote the novelist J.G. Ballard. “The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now.”

There were many actors that killed America’s open society. The corporate oligarchs who bought the electoral process, the courts and the media, and whose lobbyists write the legislation to impoverish us and allow them to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth and unchecked power.

The militarists and war industry that drained the national treasury to mount futile and endless wars that have squandered some $7 trillion and turned us into an international pariah. The CEOs, raking in bonuses and compensation packages in the tens of millions of dollars, that shipped jobs overseas and left our cities in ruins and our workers in misery and despair without a sustainable income or hope for the future.

The fossil fuel industry that made war on science and chose profits over the looming extinction of the human species. The press that turned news into mindless entertainment and partisan cheerleading. The intellectuals who retreated into the universities to preach the moral absolutism of identity politics and multiculturalism while turning their backs on the economic warfare being waged on the working class and the unrelenting assault on civil liberties. And, of course, the feckless and hypocritical liberal class that does nothing but talk, talk, talk.

Contemptible Class

If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient. The liberal class, once again, served as pathetic cheerleaders and censors for a candidate and a political party that in Europe would be considered on the far-right.

Even while liberals were being ridiculed and dismissed by Biden and by the Democratic Party hierarchy, which bizarrely invested its political energy in appealing to Republican neocons, liberals were busy marginalizing journalists, including Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, who called out Biden and the Democrats. The liberals, whether at The Intercept or The New York Times, ignored or discredited information that could hurt the Democratic Party, including the revelations on Hunter Biden’s laptop. It was a stunning display of craven careerism and self-loathing.

Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America.

“OWN Your Vote” event with Oprah, Oct. 28, 2020. (Joe Biden, Flickr, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are, the election has illustrated, oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country. They stand for nothing. They fight for nothing.

Restoring the rule of law, universal health care, banning fracking, a Green New Deal, the protection of civil liberties, the building of unions, the preservation and expansion of social welfare programs, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, the forgiveness of student debt, stiff environmental controls, a government jobs program and guaranteed income, financial regulation, opposition to endless war and military adventurism were once again forgotten.

Championing these issues would have resulted in a Democratic Party landslide. But since the Democratic Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of corporate donors, promoting any policy that might foster the common good, diminish corporate profits and restore democracy, including imposing campaign finance laws, was impossible.

Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America. At least the neofascists have the courage of their demented convictions.

The liberal class functions in a traditional democracy as a safety valve. It makes piecemeal and incremental reform possible. It ameliorates the worst excesses of capitalism. It proposes gradual steps towards greater equality. It endows the state and the mechanisms of power with supposed virtues.

It also serves as an attack dog that discredits radical social movements. The liberal class is a vital component within the power elite. In short, it offers hope and the possibility, or at least the illusion, of change.

The surrender of the liberal elite to despotism creates a power vacuum that speculators, war profiteers, gangsters and killers, often led by charismatic demagogues, fill. It opens the door to fascist movements that rise to prominence by ridiculing and taunting the absurdities of the liberal class and the values they purport to defend.

The promises of the fascists are fantastic and unrealistic, but their critiques of the liberal class are grounded in truth. Once the liberal class ceases to function, it opens a Pandora’s box of evils that are impossible to contain.

Disease of Trumpism 

The disease of Trumpism, with or without Trump, is, as the election illustrated, deeply embedded in the body politic. It is an expression among huge segments of the population, taunted by liberal elites as “deplorables,” of a legitimate alienation and rage that the Republicans and the Democrats orchestrated and now refuse to address. This Trumpism is also, as the election showed, not limited to white men, whose support for Trump actually declined.

Fyodor Dostoevsky saw the behavior of Russia’s useless liberal class, which he satirized and excoriated at the end of the 19th century, as presaging a period of blood and terror. The failure of liberals to defend the ideals they espoused inevitably led, he wrote, to an age of moral nihilism.

In Notes From Underground, he portrayed the sterile, defeated dreamers of the liberal class, those who hold up high ideals but do nothing to defend them. The main character in Notes From Underground carries the bankrupt ideas of liberalism to their logical extreme. He eschews passion and moral purpose. He is rational. He accommodates a corrupt and dying power structure in the name of liberal ideals.

The hypocrisy of the Underground Man dooms Russia as it now dooms the United States. It is the fatal disconnect between belief and action.

“I never even managed to become anything: neither wicked nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect,” the Underground Man wrote. “And now I am living out my life in my corner, taunting myself with the spiteful and utterly futile consolation that it is even impossible for an intelligent man seriously to become anything, and only fools become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent man of the nineteenth century must be and is morally obliged to be primarily a characterless being; and a man of character, an active figure – primarily a limited being.”

Portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky by Vasili Perov, 1872. (Wikimedia Commons)

The refusal of the liberal class to acknowledge that power has been wrested from the hands of citizens by corporations, that the Constitution and its guarantees of personal liberty have been revoked by judicial fiat, that elections are nothing more than empty spectacles staged by the ruling elites, that we are on the losing end of the class war, has left it speaking and acting in ways that no longer correspond to reality.

The “idea of the intellectual vocation,” as Irving Howe pointed out in his 1954 essay This Age of Conformity, “the idea of a life dedicated to values that cannot possibly be realized by a commercial civilization — has gradually lost its allure. And, it is this, rather than the abandonment of a particular program, which constitutes our route.”

The belief that capitalism is the unassailable engine of human progress, Howe wrote, “is trumpeted through every medium of communication: official propaganda, institutional advertising and scholarly writings of people who, until a few years ago, were its major opponents.”

“The truly powerless people are those intellectuals — the new realists — who attach themselves to the seats of power, where they surrender their freedom of expression without gaining any significance as political figures,” Howe wrote. “For it is crucial to the history of the American intellectuals in the past few decades — as well as to the relationship between ‘wealth’ and ‘intellect’ — that whenever they become absorbed into the accredited institutions of society they not only lose their traditional rebelliousness but to one extent or another they cease to function as intellectuals.”

Populations can endure the repression of tyrants, as long as these rulers continue to effectively manage and wield power. But human history has amply demonstrated that once those in positions of power become redundant and impotent, yet retain the trappings and privileges of power, they are brutally discarded. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia, a conflict I covered for The New York Times. 

The historian Fritz Stern in The Politics of Cultural Despair, his book on the rise of fascism in Germany, wrote of the consequences of the collapse of liberalism. Stern argued that the spiritually and politically alienated, those cast aside by the society, are prime recruits for a politics centered around violence, cultural hatreds and personal resentments.

Much of this rage, justifiably, is directed at a liberal elite that, while speaking the “I-feel-your-pain” language of traditional liberalism, sells us out.

“They attacked liberalism,” Stern writes of the fascists emerging at the time in Germany, “because it seemed to them the principal premise of modern society; everything they dreaded seemed to spring from it; the bourgeois life, Manchesterism, materialism, parliament and the parties, the lack of political leadership. Even more, they sense in liberalism the source of all their inner sufferings. Theirs was a resentment of loneliness; their one desire was for a new faith, a new community of believers, a world with fixed standards and no doubts, a new national religion that would bind all Germans together. All this, liberalism denied. Hence, they hated liberalism, blamed it for making outcasts of them, for uprooting them from their imaginary past, and from their faith.”

We are in for it. The for-profit health care system, designed to make money — not take care of the sick — is unequipped to handle a national health crisis. The health care corporations have spent the last few decades merging and closing hospitals, and cutting access to health care in communities across the nation to increase revenue — this, as nearly half of all front-line workers remain ineligible for sick pay and some 43 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance.

The pandemic, without universal health care, which Biden and the Democrats have no intention of establishing, will continue to rage out of control. Three hundred thousand Americans dead by December. Four hundred thousand by January. And by the time the pandemic burns out or a vaccine becomes safely available, hundreds of thousands, maybe a few million, will have died.

Inevitable Unrest

The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principal instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent.

The economic fallout from the pandemic, the chronic underemployment and unemployment — close to 20 percent when those who have stopped looking for work, those furloughed with no prospect of being rehired and those who work part-time but are still below the poverty line are included in the official statistics — will mean a depression unlike anything we have seen since the 1930s.

Hunger in US households has already tripled since last year. The proportion of US children who are not getting enough to eat is 14 times higher than last year. Food banks are overrun. The moratorium on foreclosures and evictions has been lifted while over 30 million destitute Americans face the prospect of being thrown into the street.

There is no check left on corporate power. The inevitable social unrest will see the state, no matter who is in the White House, use its three principal instruments of social control — wholesale surveillance, the prisons and militarized police — buttressed by a legal system that routinely revokes habeas corpus and due process, to ruthlessly crush dissent.

People of color, immigrants and Muslims will be blamed and targeted by our native fascists for the nation’s decline. The few who continue in defiance of the Democratic Party to call out the crimes of the corporate state and the empire will be silenced. The sterility of the liberal class, serving the interests of a Democratic Party that disdains and ignores them, fuels the widespread feelings of betrayal that saw nearly half the voters support one of the most vulgar, racist, inept and corrupt presidents in American history.

An American tyranny, dressed up with the ideological veneer of a Christianized fascism, will, it appears, define the empire’s epochal descent into irrelevance.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.” 

This column is from Scheerpostfor which Chris Hedges writes a regular column twice a month. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Who invented the Electoral College? 

Source

theconversation.com

J.F. Ackerman Professor of Social Studies Education; Director, Ackerman Center; Associate Director, Purdue Center for Economic Education, Purdue University

Nov 4, 2020

A transcript from the Constitutional Convention records the official report creating the Electoral College. U.S. National ArchivesCC BY-NC-ND

The delegates in Philadelphia agreed, in the summer of 1787, that the new country they were creating would not have a king but rather an elected executive. But they did not agree on how to choose that president.

Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson called the problem of picking a president “in truth, one of the most difficult of all we have to decide.” Other delegates, when they later recounted the group’s effort, said “this very subject embarrassed them more than any other – that various systems were proposed, discussed, and rejected.”

They were at risk of concluding their meetings without finding a way to pick a leader. In fact, this was the very last thing written into the final draft. Had no agreement been reached, the delegates would not have approved the Constitution.

I am a civics educator who has also run Purdue University’s Constitution Day celebration for 15 years, and one lesson I always return to is the degree to which the founders had to compromise in order to ensure ratification. Selecting the president was one of those compromises.

Three approaches were debated during the Constitutional Convention: election by Congress, selection by state legislatures and a popular election – though the right to vote was generally restricted to white, landowning men.

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention had to invent an entire new form of government. Howard Chandler Christy/Architect of the Capitol

Should Congress pick the president?

Some delegates at the Constitutional Convention thought that letting Congress pick the president would provide a buffer from what Thomas Jefferson referred to as the “well-meaning, but uninformed people” who, in a nation the size of the United States, “could have no knowledge of eminent characters and qualifications and the actual selection decision.”

Others were concerned that this approach threatened the separation of powers created in the first three articles of the Constitution: Congress might choose a weak executive to prevent the president from wielding veto power, reducing the effectiveness of one of the system’s checks and balances. In addition, the president might feel indebted to Congress and yield some power back to the legislative branch.

Virginia delegate James Madison was concerned that giving Congress the power to select the president “would render it the executor as well as the maker of laws; and then … tyrannical laws may be made that they may be executed in a tyrannical manner.”

That view persuaded his fellow Virginian George Mason to reverse his previous support for congressional election of the president and to then conclude that he saw “making the Executive the mere creature of the Legislature as a violation of the fundamental principle of good Government.”

The Committee on Postponed Questions

These 11 men agreed on a compromise that created the Electoral College. The Conversation, from Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-ND

Letting state lawmakers choose

Some delegates thought getting states directly involved in picking the leader of the national government was a good approach for the new federal system.

But others, including Alexander Hamilton, worried that states would select a weak executive, to increase their own power. Hamilton also observed that legislators are often slower to move than top leaders might be expected to: “In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit.”

It’s not as pithy as the musical, perhaps, but the point is clear: Don’t trust the state legislatures.

Power to the people?

The final approach debated was that of popular election. Some delegates, like New York delegate Gouverneur Morris, viewed the president as the “guardian of the people,” whom the public should elect directly.

The Southern states objected, arguing that they would be disadvantaged in a popular election in proportion to their actual populations because of the large numbers of enslaved people in those states who could not vote. This was eventually resolved – in one of those many compromises – by counting each enslaved person as three-fifths of a free person for the purposes of representation.

George Mason, a delegate from Virginia, shared Jefferson’s skepticism about regular Americans, saying it would be “unnatural to refer the choice of a proper character for chief Magistrate to the people, as it would, to refer a trial of colours to a blind man. The extent of the Country renders it impossible that the people can have the requisite capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the Candidates.”

The manuscript records first discussing the proposed Electoral College

The Journal of the Federal Convention records the formal proposal to create the Electoral College. U.S. National Archives
The manuscript records first discussing the proposed Electoral College
The Journal of the Federal Convention records the formal proposal to create the Electoral College. U.S. National Archives

11 left to make the decision

The delegates appointed a committee of 11 members – one from each state at the Constitutional Convention – to solve this and other knotty problems, which they called the “Grand Committee on Postponed Questions,” and charged with resolving “unfinished business, including how to elect the President.”

At the beginning, six of the 11 members preferred national popular elections. But they realized they could not get the Constitution ratified with that provision: The Southern states simply would not agree to it.

Between Aug. 31 and Sept. 4, 1787, the committee wrestled with producing an acceptable compromise. The committee’s third report to the Convention proposed the adoption of a system of electors, through which both the people and the states would help choose the president. It’s not clear which delegate came up with the idea, which was a partly national and partly federal solution, and which mirrored other structures in the Constitution.

Popularity and protection

Hamilton and the other founders were reassured that with this compromise system, neither public ignorance nor outside influence would affect the choice of a nation’s leader. They believed that the electors would ensure that only a qualified person became president. And they thought the Electoral College would serve as a check on a public who might be easily misled, especially by foreign governments.

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But the original system – in which the winner of the Electoral College would become president and the runner-up became vice president – fell apart almost immediately. By the election of 1800, political parties had arisen. Because electoral votes for president and vice president were not listed on separate ballots, Democratic-Republican running mates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied in the Electoral College, sending the contest to the House of Representatives. The House ultimately chose Jefferson as the third president, leaving Burr as vice president – not John Adams, who had led the opposing Federalist party ticket.

The problem was resolved in 1804 when the 12th Amendment was ratified, allowing the electors to cast separate ballots for president and vice president. It has been that way ever since.

Trump’s reign has proved the US president is merely a figurehead. Does it really matter who wins the vote?

Helen Buyniski

Helen Buyniski
is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23
5 Nov, 2020
Trump’s reign has proved the US president is merely a figurehead. Does it really matter who wins the vote?
Four years of Trump slugging it out with the permanent political class he calls the “Deep State” has proven that president is at best a ceremonial post. Why are we still biting our nails over who won, when it changes so little?

Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump has done more than any other politician this century to pull up the curtain on the entrenched political interests that really run Washington, drawing them out of the shadows to defend what they believe is their turf against the spray-tanned barbarian at the gates. Between his uncouth mannerisms and his alarmingly sane policy promises, Trump in 2016 broke all the unwritten rules of being president, leaving his Deep State nemeses to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together.

Four years later, Trump has been largely neutered, his media crucifixion and lamentably orthodox term a cautionary tale to all future presidents who might try to buck the system. The powers that be no longer need to assassinate a troublesome president – it’s far easier (and less messy) to kill their spirit. Trump has not ended any wars (indeed, he’s dropped more bombs on more civilians than superhawks George W. Bush and Barack Obama), nor has he drained the Washington ‘swamp’ of lobbyists, career politicians and think tank goons (unless you count appointing them to his cabinet as ‘draining’).

Instead, he’s cut taxes for the rich, rolled back the regulations that kept Big Business from polluting America’s air and water, and given away the store to Israel, even assassinating one of its most powerful enemies, the Iranian Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.

While some of his supporters no doubt love those latter policies, these are the kind of ‘wins’ any other president would secure to please his wealthy masters – hardly the actions of a maverick like Trump fans believe their hero to be. The square peg has been stuffed into the round hole. Trump has become a creature of the establishment that (ironically) still hates him, even as he blusters about locking some of them up.

Indeed, what’s probably the most ironic aspect of the nail-biting coverage of the still-undecided 2020 election is how similar a Joe Biden administration would be to Trump’s.

The US would remain at war in Syria and Afghanistan, continue trying to provoke war in Iran and needling Russia (probably China too, since Biden would be wary of seeming ‘soft’ on the foreign entity he’s said to be controlled by), maintain its practice of bending over backwards to service Israel, and keep screwing its own working-class out of a decent standard of living.

Progressive Democrats who held their nose and voted for Biden out of the misguided belief they would be able to drag him to the left once in office will feel awfully stupid when, as president, he governs as he did as Obama’s sidekick. The tear-jerking spectre of ‘kids in cages’ arose from Obama’s immigration policies, after all – he wasn’t called the “deporter in chief” for nothing – and Biden was a fervent cheerleader for the five wars and thousands of drone strikes his boss launched. It was Obama whose 2012 decree made it legal to detain a US citizen indefinitely, anywhere, without habeas corpus under the aegis of fighting terrorism, and Biden whose 1994 crime bill has packed American prisons with black and brown men guilty of non-violent (and in some cases, shockingly minor) crimes.

Yet the establishment media narrative has cast the Biden campaign as crusaders for social justice and equality – so opposite the ‘racist’ and ‘misogynist’ Trump campaign that it comes with a woman of color as vice president in Kamala Harris.

Four years of Trump has made abundantly clear that while presidents are allowed to talk tough and promise the moon, the minute they try to actually put those crazy policies into action – by bringing troops home, making nice with geopolitical rivals, or choking off the cross-border flow of cheap illegal immigrant labor – the not-so-invisible hand of the Deep State intervenes. There’s always a ‘chemical weapons attack’ that can be staged to keep a lucrative war going, and opposition research firms have plenty of disgruntled Russian PR execs on speed dial willing to spin up fantastic stories about lascivious hotel romps. Those kids in cages will be thrown in people’s faces until the president gets his mind right about borders, too – it doesn’t matter who built the cages. Trump hasn’t helped, claiming that the former California attorney general, who loved mass incarceration so much she wanted to lock up the mothers of truant kids, is a radical leftist. A Biden campaign would be a Trojan horse for socialism, the right has wailed, even though Biden is so chummy with Wall Street he far outstripped the president in donations from the financial sector. How many Wall Street donors did democratic socialist Bernie Sanders attract when he was running? Exactly.

The president’s role is merely to serve as the pretty face explaining away the ugly reality of empire – which explains why Trump has rankled the establishment so deeply. When your ‘pretty face’ is a walking caricature of the Ugly American, other countries’ ruling classes don’t take you seriously. It also explains why Trump initially appealed to so many Americans – it was voters’ chance to drop a giant turd in the geopolitical punchbowl, sticking it to their ruling class oppressors in a way they seldom get the opportunity to do.

A Biden presidency will appear calmer on the surface, as the former VP is not interested in upending the established order – something he made abundantly clear decades ago. The media might even start reporting that the country has turned the corner in the Covid-19 pandemic, that the economy’s disastrous self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot is healing, that it’s ‘morning in America’ again.

But millions of Americans will still be out of work, hopelessly in debt, threatened with eviction, and forced to watch impotently as their infrastructure crumbles and their tax dollars are shovelled into the Pentagon’s furnace to pay for more war. Attempts to complain online will be mercilessly censored – just as they are now, despite the president’s bloviating about repealing social media platforms’ Section 230 liability protections. But individual Americans will be told they’re the only ones who don’t like the shiny new coat of paint hiding the rot.

Neither ‘side’ will concede without a fight, and whoever is ultimately named the victor, the other’s supporters will almost certainly take to the streets and make a mess. Under Biden, these riots will be denounced as extremist violence; under Trump, they will be hailed as peaceful manifestations of democracy. As with Obama’s election in 2008, any ‘resistance’ to Trump’s excesses will evaporate immediately if Biden wins, even as he commits the same excesses in service to the same ruling class. And if Trump wins? Get ready for more of the same, America.

‘Time to fact-check the fact-checkers’: Candace Owens vows to SUE Facebook’s partners over censorship

‘Time to fact-check the fact-checkers’: Candace Owens vows to SUE Facebook's partners over censorship
Conservative activist Candace Owens has announced plans to sue Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers, accusing them of censorship and vowing to expose the relationship between the social media giant and fact-checker “activists.”

“It is time to fact-check the fact-checkers,” Owens said in a video posted to her social media accounts.

I’m going to put these suckers through discovery and figure out what the relationship is that they have with Facebook.

The defendants in the lawsuit include USAToday, as well as Lead Stories Fact Checker – both third-party, fact-checking partners for Facebook. Owens said she was also planning to bring “independent fact-checking” nonprofit PolitiFact to court as well.

Owens accused the fact-checkers and Facebook of being a part of the allegedly ongoing attempt to turn the US into a “communist” country, where “wrong” opinion is suppressed, speaking of her experience with the platform. The fact-checkers are “activists for the left that shut down your speech if they don’t like it,” Owens argued.

“Quite literally a doctor gave his opinion about Covid-19, which I shared, and Facebook issued a strike on my account because they said only information that they agree with about Covid-19 … was acceptable,” she said, adding that her Facebook account was subsequently demonetized.

Similar – and even harsher – measures have been introduced by other social media networks, including Twitter. Instead of employing third-party fact-checkers to stay “neutral” like Facebook, it rolled out its own algorithms, labelling “misleading” content and providing links to information it deems “credible.”Facebook’s fact-checking program was rolled out back in 2016 the aftermath of the US presidential election, with the social media giant insisting it was needed to promote an “authentic environment” while still “enabling people to have a voice.” Instead of bluntly removing the content disapproved by the fact-checkers, the network reduces its visibility in the feed, as well as issues various warning labels ranging from “altered” and “missing context” to outright “false.” The process has repeatedly faced criticism from various, primarily conservatively-minded, users, who accused the fact-checkers of having a strong left-wing bias and exercising political censorship.

Ahead of the US presidential election, which has still not yielded a final result, Twitter even prohibited its users, including candidates, from prematurely claiming victory until it’s called by at least two “authoritative” news outlets. The updated rules have resulted in multiple warning labels of “disputed and misleading” content on US President Donald Trump’s messages, which claim there is voter fraud.

China bans travellers from countries with coronavirus outbreaks

Nov 6, 2020
The country that gave birth to the deadly coronavirus does not want it back.

China has barred entry for almost anyone travelling from Britain, Belgium, Bangladesh, or the Philippines, to keep Covid out of the country.

Meanwhile, all passengers from the United States, France, Germany, and Thailand bound for mainland China must take both a nucleic acid test and a blood test for antibodies against the coronavirus before being allowed in.
China has largely contained the spread of coronavirus within the country but continues to record imported cases from overseas.

The rejection of non-Chinese travellers from Britain came as England entered a month-long lockdown, starting today.

Britain’s death toll is the highest in Europe, and it is grappling with more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases a day.