Tackle climate crisis and poverty
1 April 2020

*Tackle climate crisis and poverty with zeal of Covid-19 fight, scientists urge.*

Lending to buy weapons
1 April 2020

The UK plans to lend over a billion dollars to countries so they can buy British weapons.

Buying weapons for a coup
1 April 2020

A retired Venezuelan general says he bought weapons to plan a coup using money provided to him by Guaidó, encouraged by the US. He announced this in public after the US government indicted him, along with Maduro, for alleged drug trafficking.

Factory farms
1 April 2020

Factory farms (of chickens or pigs) encourage evolution of especially virulent strains of flu. They also encourage small farms to move to areas close to wildlife. They may thus have contributed to the evolution of Covid-19.

Coronavirus guidelines
1 April 2020

Today I received a postcard saying, on the front, "President Trump's Coronavirus Guidelines for America." I laughed. Surely nobody but his fanatical supporters would trust advice because it carries his name.

It is also a mistake to reject advice because it carries his name. Someone checked, and the advice on that postcard is basically the same advice you'd get from WHO. It has no resemblance to the bullshitter's own views.

The thing to do with advice published under the bullshitter's name is not even look at it. That way you won't be in danger of being influenced by it in any manner. There are plenty of better places to get advice from.

A friend suggested that putting his name on advice is electioneering.

New giant aquifer
1 April 2020

New Zealand has found a giant aquifer of fresh water under the ocean.

To ensure it remains available for emergencies, it had better regulate the use of that water to avoid permitting extra growth that would require drawing water from it all the time.

Denied of needed treatment
1 April 2020

Kaiser Permanente denied a patient hydroxychloroquine which she needed to treat lupus, saying it was reserving the drug for future sufferers of Covid-19. There is no scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine is good for treating Covid-19, only speculations boosted by the bullshitter.

Adding insult to injury, the company thanked her for the "sacrifice" it was forcing on her.

I have no information on whether it is true that she can safely go without it for a month. I hope it is true.

Parliament shutdown and surveillance
1 April 2020

Netanyahu shut down Israel's parliament and imposed massive surveillance by decree. Israelis protested and were arrested in the name of the Covid-19 emergency.

As one protester said, officials that trample human rights and democracy is more dangerous than Covid-19. And that applies even more strongly to greedy nihilists such as the bully.

If Israel wants to use phone location data to check who might have passed Covid-19 to whom, it should set up a firm institutional structure to ensure that data obtained for this purpose cannot be used for any other purposes.

Selling weapons for violations
1 April 2020

Members of the House of Representatives have asked the State Department for detailed information on how Israel uses weapons procured from the US, including whether they are used for actions, such as demolishing Palestinians' homes, which violate the conditions US law places on those weapons sales.

Covid-19 denial
1 April 2020

Bolsonaro denies the reality of Covid-19 as a dangerous disease, and has opposed all measures to stop it from spreading in Brazil, even in his own life.

State governors who formerly supported him are now defying his orders in order to establish social distancing.

One measure he did take, supposedly for protection against Covid-19, was to reduce enforcement of forest protection laws. That is because he supports destroying the forest.

Tackling unemployment
1 April 2020

(satire) *Trump Announces Plan To Retrain Nation’s 3 Million Unemployed Americans As Human Ventilators.*

Starve or be shot
1 April 2020

India tells people to stay indoors and starve, and one state says people will be shot dead if they don't. Meanwhile, foreign visitors are being evicted because hotels are closing or they use up their funds. Will they be shot dead for this?

Australia is offering help to the Australians who face eviction or starvation. Maybe some other countries do, too.

Does the government offer some other way out to starving Indians, one not described in the article?

Bailout for end of tax-avoidance schemes
1 April 2020

Any company that wants a bailout should in exchange eliminate its tax-avoidance schemes.

Opportunity to reshape clothing industry
1 April 2020

The shutdown of much clothing production is an opportunity to reshape the industry to stop being grossly wasteful.

High-level planning meetings
1 April 2020

The numskull declared high-level planning meetings for dealing with Covid-19 government secrets. Thus, officials from spy agencies could participate and medical officials from the Department of Health and Human Services were excluded.

Urgent: Stop fighting wars
31 March 2020

US citizens: call on the US government to stop fighting wars and ocus on the real dangers: global health, migration, inequality, and climate disaster.

Urgent: End diverting funds to the wall
31 March 2020

US citizens: demand an end to taking funds from important government activities to pay for the damaging border wall.

The wall does no good, but it does do harm.

Urgent: abortion clinics should stay open
31 March 2020

US citizens: call on Texas to let abortion clinics stay open and continue functioning.

Paying for abuses during colonial time
31 March 2020

The Netherlands will pay compensation for some of the abuses of its colonial rule over Indonesia.

Housing the homeless
31 March 2020

The UK government decided to give housing to all homeless people in Britain, to protect them from Covid-19.

This could have been done at any time; all that was lacking was the will. Better late than never.

It could be done at any time in the US, too.

Pollution allowed during Covid-19 crisis
31 March 2020

Using Covid-19 as an excuse, Republican saboteurs have given US companies almost unlimited permission to pollute air and water.

There may be some cases in which this is justified and necessary, but many companies will jump for the opportunity to dump toxins. They will kill people; they can even cause Covid-19 to kill more people. And there is no limit on it, and no requirement to look for the least dangerous alternative.

On trial for wanting to drive a car
31 March 2020

Loujain al-Hathloul, who was tortured in jail for agitating for the right to drive a car in Salafi Arabia, will soon be put on trial.

The acting king offered to release her if she would swear she had not been tortured.

Divide between democracy and oligarchy
31 March 2020

Robert Reich: *The real divide [in the US today] is between democracy and oligarchy.*

I think the term "plutocracy" is slightly clearer than "oligarchy", but under either name, we must put an end to it.

National security
31 March 2020

The "national security" apparatus sucks down lots of money, year after year, with little opposition. It does not make Americans secure; on the contrary, it puts our freedom in danger and persecutes the heroes that try to tell us about it.

Largest bailout
31 March 2020

*'Looting of America by Big Corporations': Progressives Appalled as Senate Unanimously Passes Largest Bailout Bill in US History.*

"COVID-19 emergency spending bill: $250 billion for direct payments to Americans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $4 trillion to bail out corporations. Seems like the balance is off a bit."

US airlines got a big bailout, with no commitments about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

350.org says this is not as bad as Republicans initially intended.

Forced to carry device
31 March 2020

Many European banks are forcing customers to carry a Stalin's Dream device, but there are some that will do two-factor authentication through a land line.

My landline does not report on where I am when I am not using it.

We need medicare for all
31 March 2020

*Coronavirus Proves It: We Need Medicare For All.*

Debt forgiveness
31 March 2020

Somalia has received substantial debt forgiveness. Many countries need the same.

Why is it so hard for countries to get their debts forgiven? Because many big lenders lure governments into borrowing too much. Often these governments are run by dictators who intend to pocket most of that money and keep it in tax havens where it cannot be tracked to them. The dictator figures that when perse someday face overthrow and flee, perse will still have that money and will have a cushy life.

It is totally unfair to make the people of that country keep paying that debt. However, the lenders and their submissive world powers insist that no country ever be allowed an exemption. If it were possible to be exempt, they say, every country would demand an exemption. The profitable business of lending to dictators, and flogging the people pay those debts decades after the dictator is dead, would come to an end.

Would you consider that a bad outcome?

Occasionally democratic governments also borrow too much. In an otherwise perfect world, maybe it would be unfair if they did not have to pay those debts.

But our world is far too aligned overall with the rich over the poor, which is a giant unfairness. Perhaps the unfairness of borrowing from the rich and under some circumstances not repaying the debt would be a morally legitimate compensation to reduce the giant unfairness.

I think it would be good if funds that lend to countries had to consider the question, "Is this money going to national development that will make the country more able to pay back the loan without oppressing everyone? Or is it going to something corrupt or unsustainable and we will not get paid back?"

This might make it harder for dictators to gain and keep power.

Abortion is essential
31 March 2020

A Republican Texas official is trying to make Covid-19 an excuse to ban abortion by labeling it as "nonessential".

You can't delay an abortion the way you can delay a hip replacement.

Guaranteeing income
31 March 2020

The UK is going to give self-employed people (except high-income ones) 80% of their normal income. However, waiting until June could put some of them on the street.

Tracking the movements of anyone with mobile phone
30 March 2020

Mobile phone companies around the world are figuring out how to implement world-wide tracking of the movements of anyone that has a mobile phone.

In this context it makes no difference whether the phone is "smart" or "dumb": the phone company can track any phone that is communicating.

"Smart" phones allow other kinds of tracking as well — by the operating system (Android or iOS) and by malicious apps.

Two friends of acting king charged with murder
30 March 2020

Turkey has charged two friends of acting king Mohammed bin Salman with murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As well as 18 more of his subjects.

Turkey cannot get its hands on those suspects, but the charges may put a crimp in their international travels.

China's "Belt and Road Initiative"
30 March 2020

China's "Belt and Road Initiative" is dangerous to ecosystems as well as threatening Chinese economic colonization around the world.

Economic imperialism is no better when it comes from China than when it comes from the US. It may indeed be worse, because the US has a public opinion one can try to influence, while the Chinese state has prohibited and obstructed the existence of public opinion.

Restless troll
30 March 2020

(satire) *a restless Donald Trump confirmed Monday that he couldn’t believe he was stuck inside with nothing to do except be president.*

Seizing the excuse of Covid-19 to crush democracy
30 March 2020

Around the world, freedom-hating politicians are seizing the excuse of Covid-19 to crush democracy — or trying to.

US nuclear reactor owners want a handout
30 March 2020

US nuclear reactor owners want a handout to keep aging nuclear reactors operating past their design lifetime.

They were rejected last year, so they hope Covid-19 will somehow provide an excuse this year.

I refer to the book Normal Accidents for why it is dangerous to keep old reactors operating.

Ads targeted at children
30 March 2020

(satire) *a disturbing new study … found American fifth-graders were only absorbing advertisements at a first-grade level. "Out of the 10,000 children we studied, over 75% of them scrolled right past products placed onto their social media feeds and did not even click or hover over the ad once…"*

Numskull's reaction to Covid-19
30 March 2020

The numskull has over 50% approval for his reaction to Covid-19 simply because he stopped saying it was no worse than flu.

That is a step up from a very low starting point. I think it shows how little keel Americans have today, except when rigidized by a church dogma.

Carrying "social distancing" to extremes
30 March 2020

Doctors disagree about carrying "social distancing" to extremes.

It is always the case, for any kind of risk, that there are bigger risks and smaller ones. A rational plan to reduce the total risk to some target level involves trying hard to avoid the bigger risks, while accepting occasional smaller risks. The lower the target level, the more you'll reject risks of any given size, but it will always be rational for you to accept small risks occasionally.

To put it another way, if you choose to ride in a car or bus, you're accepting some small amount of collision risk. It is not rational to take, for Covid-19 risk, the attitude that "any risk whatsoever is too much", while ignoring small risks of collision.

7-year monopoly over selling remdesivir
30 March 2020

The murderer's ministers gave Gilead, a particularly greedy Pharma company, a 7-year monopoly over selling remdesivir, the one known medicine that has a good chance of saving people who have a severe case of Covid-19.

Gilead's business model is to procure such monopolies in order to extort high prices from wealthy Americans who would otherwise die. The non-wealthy Americans can't afford those prices do then die.

Would someone like to prepare to start selling banners and bumper stickers that say,

Trump and Gilead "Sciences"
murdered my relative
If remdesivir does succeed as a treatment for Covid-19, there will be plenty of customers.

Cruelty of Britain's benefits system
30 March 2020

*The middle class are about to discover the cruelty of Britain's benefits system.* It will drive them into penury, as it has done to so many disabled Britons.

Physical store shutdowns helping Amazon dominate
30 March 2020

Shutting physical stores in some US states is helping Amazon dominate the US economy in an even more dangerous way.

I refuse to buy anything from or through Amazon. I always pay cash and only cash.

I tried to get take-out food for the first time since the shutdown. I called two restaurants near my home. One seemed to be not operating at all. The other was operating but would take only credit card payments. Since I refuse to buy any goods with a card, I changed my mind and did not order.

Feral hippos in Colombia
30 March 2020

Feral hippos in Colombia prove to be ecological replacements for the mammoths and protohorses that humans wiped out when they arrived in the Americas. Their presence makes the ecology more like what it was 15000 years ago.

Covid-19 economic rescue plans must be green
30 March 2020

*Covid-19 economic rescue plans must be green, say environmentalists*

Covid-19 may kill one or two percent of the world's population. If you think that is the ultimate horror, you may underestimate what climate mayhem could do. It may kill half of humanity or even more. It could destroy civilization. Some think it might make humanity extinct.

We must not treat climate mayhem as the smaller danger just because the worst part of it is a few decades away.

Right-wing governments slow to act on Covid-19 problem
30 March 2020

* Rightwing governments have denied the problem [of Covid-19] and been slow to act. With coronavirus and the climate, this costs lives.*

China is an interesting special case. It is repressive, like a right-wing government, but unlike them the real rulers are not businesses that hide their power over the state; rather, they are the officials of the Communist Party and don't hide the fact that they control the state. China's response started with the typical denial of repressive governments, then flipped to an all-out effort which turned out to be quite effective, though it has surely been used for a permanent increase in control.

Staff cuts undermined Covid-19 containment efforts
30 March 2020

*[The numskull's] staff cuts have undermined Covid-19 containment efforts, watchdog finds.*

US government agencies have been warning for 15 years that the US needs a reserve of mechanical ventilators to treat people affected by an epidemic.

Since the numskull claimed there was no shortage, he now can't bear to recognize that competent, responsible officials were aware of the shortage.

Exploitation of coronavirus lockdown
30 March 2020

*Colombian [right-wing] groups exploiting coronavirus lockdown to kill activists.*

I suspect these are some of the paramilitares, Colombia's most vicious terrorists.

Urgent: license COVID-19 drug to all producers
30 March 2020

US citizens: call on Gilead Sciences to commit now to license its COVID-19 drug, if approved, to all qualified producers, in exchange for a modest royalty.

Urgent: medical care for everyone
30 March 2020

US citizens: call on Congress to establish a right to medical care for everyone in the US.

Self-employed people support
30 March 2020

The UK will provide support for self-employed people whose work has collapsed.

Drug licensing
30 March 2020

Gilead Sciences backed down and released the murderous monopoly that the US government offered it. But that is not enough. Gilead must commit to licensing the drug for other companies to produce.

Pipeline delays
30 March 2020

The Dakota Access pipeline hit a legal snag, as a court ordered a full environmental impact study. With luck, this could delay it long enough that it will never be built.

Migrant workers
30 March 2020

Migrant construction workers in Qatar are forced to keep working in dangerous conditions. Now those dangerous conditions include Covid-19 as well as high temperatures.

In general, foreign workers there are treated abominably.

Incentive for lay off
30 March 2020

In time of epidemic, US employer-funded medical "insurance" is an incentive to lay off the employees as fast as possible.

The article recommends that the US immediately extend Tricare, the medical system for military families, to cover all Americans.

Campaign to distrust expertise
30 March 2020

A previous generation of cruel right-wing leaders, including Reagan and Thatcher, started the campaign to distrust anyone with professional expertise.

Possible new outbreak
30 March 2020

Prematurely lifting Wuhan's measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 could lead to a new outbreak.

Filling up beds
30 March 2020

Private US medical insurance companies are slow to move patients from hospital beds to rehabilitation hospitals. This is filling up beds for people sick with Covid-19.

Paid sick leave
30 March 2020

Amazon part-time warehouse employees had to fight for it, but have won paid sick leave.

Espionage and jail treatment
30 March 2020

Chinese expat Yang Hengjun, now an Australian citizen, is expected to be charged with espionage in China. He has been jailed more than a year, finishing with three months of solitary confinement, and not allowed to see a lawyer.

I remind people that Julian Assange faces roughly similar treatment and has been prosecuted in such an unjust way that it is like a veiled form of what China does blatantly.

Global ceasefire
30 March 2020

*As 'Fury of Virus Illustrates Folly of War,' UN Chief Calls for Global Ceasefire.*

Clear warning shot
30 March 2020

*Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a "clear warning shot", given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was "playing with fire". They said it was almost always human behaviour that caused diseases to spill over into humans.*

Permanent drought
30 March 2020

Parts of England are headed for permanent drought due to global heating.

Urgent: Reports of malicious functionalities in Zoom
29 March 2020

I am looking for reports of malicious functionalities in Zoom. Please send me URLs of credible reports — I can't repeat a mere rumor.

Urgent: Oppose use of Covid-19 to deny basic rights
29 March 2020

US citizens: call on world leaders not to use Covid-19 as an opportunity to deny basic rights.

You will almost surely live to see Covid-19 be eliminated, but if you surrender any freedoms now without a fight, except in a carefully limited way, you miss those freedoms for the rest of your life.

*"Temporary" powers in an emergency have a habit of becoming permanent. In these circumstances, paranoia appears more a necessity than a delusion.*

*Yet it remains true that technology is not destiny. Politics counts for more than algorithms. Just as tyrannical governments, from Hungary to China, are using the pandemic to impose more controls, so democratic societies will need to show a liberal response to the virus.*

If you sign, please spread the word!

Urgent: Universal School Meals Program
29 March 2020

US citizens: support the Universal School Meals Program bill.

If you sign, please spread the word!

Right-wing fanatic recruits former US agents
29 March 2020

Eric Prince, former head of Blackwater, is a right-wing fanatic. He recruited former US agents to spy on organizations that the right-wing considers enemies. He attacked the American Federation of Teachers, perhaps at the request of his sister, Betsy DeVos, who is Saboteur of Education. I suppose the teachers' union got in her way.

It is legitimate, and admirable, to conduct stings by making recordings of meetings in which groups propose corrupt practices. However, right-wingers don't always limit themselves to that. Prince's infiltrators rummaged around in the office files and secretly recorded the others in the office. They did not find real corruption.

They also don't limit themselves to the truth. If they don't find corruption, they may fabricate some. ACORN used to help poor people and members of disprivileged groups register to vote. Right-wingers ran a sting against ACORN. They found no real corruption, but released misleadingly edited videos that falsely suggested corruption.

London packs more people together on fewer trains
29 March 2020

London has cut down service on trains to the point that the many who must still travel to work are packed together dangerously in them.

Boston and other cities are cutting train and bus service and presenting this as some sort of safety measure. This is announced as a measure to reduce contagion, and we are asked to take for granted that it does so. Perhaps it is a sacrifice that is supposed to cure by magic.

If the aim is to reduce the amount of travel, making travel more risky is a perverse way to do it.

If the number of riders falls very far, it could happen that some bus or train trips are useless and wasteful. If there are typically one or two passengers in each bus on a certain line at a certain hour, perhaps it is a harmless efficiency to cut the number of bus trips then and there in half, and have three or four riders in each bus. But this should not be carried too far.

I have not been on a subway train since a week ago, and I don't know how many riders there are nowadays on Boston trains at various times. I don't know whether Boston currently has the problem reported from London. But the MBTA should know, roughly. I do think the MBTA should explain just how this measure is supposed to help protect passengers, and the facts about how it is working out.

BlackRock hopes to reduce demand to tax it properly
29 March 2020

BlackRock hopes to reduce the demand to tax it properly on the billions of dollars it makes, so it is offering a mere $50 million to various community needs.

Wuhan eases lockdown
29 March 2020

*Wuhan eases coronavirus lockdown as restrictions intensify outside China.*

Orbán has Covid-19 has excuse to become dictator
29 March 2020

Covid-19 will give Orbán the excuse to make himself dictator of Hungary.

Covid-19, increased repression, and surveillance
29 March 2020

*We can't let the coronavirus lead to a 9/11-style erosion of civil liberties.*

It's not just increases in state repression and surveillance that threaten us. Pressure to surrender to nonfree software and its constant companion, surveillance, are a threat too — whether it is for work, for school, for purchasing, for leisure, for chatting, for political organizing, for whatever, it is unjust.

In resisting this, it helps to draw a clear line and refuse ever to cross it. If you say, "I don't like the idea of using Zoom/WhatsApp/Amazon/Google for this," people will argue back, "If you can do it for that, why refuse to do it for this?" By contrast, if you say, "I'd like to join you in this, but I do not use Zoom/WhatsApp/Amazon/Google — it is an injustice," people will find it hard to argue with your stance.

That doesn't mean you will always convince people to adopt your views. They may say, "We're going to use Zoom/WhatsApp/Amazon/Google; if you want to participate, that is the only way." How you respond to that will show what you're made of.

Funneling money towards sabotage of climate defense
29 March 2020

The Heatland Institute suggested a "donor-advised trust" as a way for businesses to funnel money to its efforts to sabotage climate defense.

It is ostensibly called the "Heartland Institute", but "Heatland" more accurately describes what it is heading towards.

Keeping Covid-19 out of prisons
29 March 2020

WHO has published guidelines for keeping Covid-19 out of prisons. If this is not achieved, prisoners, staff, and the public outside the prison will all be endangered.