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Midsummer Open Thread

by Bernard Fri Jun 19th, 2020 at 05:56:42 PM EST

It's been a while we haven't had one of these.

Malala Yousafzai completes Oxford University exams - BBC
Human rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai has expressed her "joy and gratitude" after finishing her final exams at Oxford University.

The 22-year-old, who survived a shot to the head by Taliban soldiers, studied politics, philosophy, and economics.

Tweeting earlier, she said: "I don't know what's ahead. For now, it will be Netflix, reading and sleep."

Ms Yousafzai was attacked for saying girls should be allowed to stay in education.

She was shot in the head, neck and shoulder while travelling home from school after writing an anonymous diary about life under the extremists.

After recovering from her near-fatal injuries, she and her family relocated to Birmingham.

by Bernard on Fri Jun 19th, 2020 at 06:40:48 PM EST
Coronavirus pandemic accelerating with Americas worst, warns WHO
GENEVA (Reuters) - The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating, with Thursday's 150,000 new cases the highest in a single day and nearly half of those in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

"The world is in a new and dangerous phase," Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from WHO headquarters in Geneva. "The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly, and most people are still susceptible."

More than 8.53 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 453,834​ have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1326 GMT on Friday.

Tedros, whose leadership of the WHO has been severely criticised by U.S. President Donald Trump, urged people to maintain social distancing and "extreme vigilance."

As well as the Americas, a large number of new cases were coming from South Asia and the Middle East, Tedros added.

by Bernard on Fri Jun 19th, 2020 at 07:05:25 PM EST
New Israeli Ambassador to the UK: Tzipi Hotovely

"This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that."

Senior community figures challenge incoming Israeli envoy Tzipi Hotovely

by Oui on Sat Jun 20th, 2020 at 06:25:04 PM EST
But they don't challenge her for trying to revive on of the worst modern antisemitic myths, the Judenzählung.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Jun 20th, 2020 at 06:33:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Sat Jun 20th, 2020 at 07:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So is her appointment as Israeli Ambassador to UK really a demotion because of the anger she caused in the USA? It seems a particularly insensitive appointment at a difficult time...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 11:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How pub sing-songs and Bono brought Ireland to a seat at the highest table

It is hard to fathom that a singsong with overseas guests in a Co Cork seaside village could have helped Ireland's election to a United Nations Security Council seat this week, but it did.

The night out in a pub in Crosshaven came during a visit by political leaders from small island developing states around the world to a conference on oceans and the climate.

The Department of Foreign Affairs wanted to build an emotional connection between the islands of the world by inviting them to the SeaFest maritime festival in Cork in June 2019.

The gathering was intended to show that Ireland could best represent their interests at the United Nations in the country's efforts to be elected to one of the temporary seats in the global body's most powerful table, the UN Security Council, for the fourth time in the State's history.

A highlight of the night in Crosshaven was when the former foreign minister for Kiribati, a country of 33 low-lying islands in the central Pacific Ocean, and now its ambassador at the UN, stood up to sing his "Millennium song" about a future of survival for the islands against rising sea levels. An Irish official responded in kind with a song of her own. It was an emotional evening.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney looks back at that informal summit of island nations as a "pivotal moment" en route to winning enough votes for Ireland to see off a "giant of the UN" in Canada and taking a two-year seat on the influential UN body.

"They are moments that solidify relationships and build loyalty that then lasts through the intensity of lobbying that we have seen over the last six weeks because there has been an incredibly aggressive and intensive campaign over that time," Mr Coveney said in an interview.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 11:12:21 AM EST
After speeches from the stage in the shadow of the Le Corbusier UN building in Manhattan, Bono and Ireland's ambassador at the UN Geraldine Byrne-Nason - described by the U2 singer as "Ireland's secret weapon in New York" - were mobbed by country ambassadors. They were later treated to a U2 gig at Madison Square Garden a few blocks away. The Canadians, as part of their campaign, invited ambassadors to a Celine Dion concert in March.

"All I can say is we got 128 votes and they got 108 so Bono should feel very proud of his popularity," said Mr Coveney, joking, when asked about what this says about the two singers.

The Tánaiste paid tribute to Bono for the effort he put into the campaign "for no personal gain or recognition". The singer and activist was asked to get involved in the campaign in January 2018.

Bono said the band has "always been there to be used to promote all things Irish."

"We'll sing for our supper, but we'll also arm-wrestle backstage. I did everything I was told - a speech here and a speech there - and a few things I was told not to," he said.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 11:17:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Canada had Céline Dion. Not the same star power, apparently.
by Bernard on Sun Jun 21st, 2020 at 02:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jun 22nd, 2020 at 01:41:52 PM EST
by Oui on Mon Jun 22nd, 2020 at 04:25:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just like the French government, then.
by Bernard on Mon Jun 22nd, 2020 at 06:09:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nigel Farage ridiculed for flying all the way to US for Trump's disastrous rally
Over the weekend, Donald Trump held the first of his presidential campaign rallies in months.

It had many issues - such as the fact that 6,200 people attended (in a 19,000 capacity stadium), and the fact that Trump's campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had tweeted about how many people would have attended, if not for `radical activists'. But some people had obviously expected it to be a massive event - people like Nigel Farage.

Farage posted a photo of himself on Twitter on Friday - in the USA. The caption suggested that he was "only 24 hours" from Tulsa, where Trump's rally took place.


It seemed that US officials exempted Nigel Farage from the travel ban in the US because of a `national interest' clause.

Which begs the obvious question: can they keep him?
by Bernard on Mon Jun 22nd, 2020 at 08:06:47 PM EST
A True Story: Math Wizard Behind Bars

An inmate's love of mathematics leads to discovery in number theory | Live Science |

by Oui on Tue Jun 23rd, 2020 at 06:21:19 AM EST
Decades of work needs to be done ...

by Oui on Tue Jun 23rd, 2020 at 07:47:42 AM EST
Now where did I put that surface-to-air missile?
by rifek on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 11:34:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Capitalism at work ...

by Oui on Tue Jun 23rd, 2020 at 01:25:52 PM EST
Feckless Southerners, corrupt and rotten to the core, dilapidated the lifelong savings of hard working German people. Oh, wait...
by Bernard on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 08:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wirecard seems to be Bavarian. Feckless Southerners, as you said.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 03:54:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are all someone's Southerner...
by Bernard on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 06:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Make that feckless Middle Easterners
As reported by The Times of Israel and other publications, Wirecard processed payments for Israel's widely fraudulent binary options industry, which stole billions of dollars from mom-and-pop investors worldwide. The extent of Wirecard's processing of payments for binary options remains to be fully elucidated.

Meanwhile, one of Wirecard's former executives, Dietmar Knoechelmann, a German man who married an Israeli woman and is now a German-Israeli dual citizen, was convicted in Israel in November 2016 of abetting fraud in the ICC-Cal money laundering scandal. The scandal was first exposed by Israel's Globes newspaper in 2009. In 2016, Knoechelmann pleaded guilty to helping to deceive Visa and Mastercard as well as US authorities by helping to process tens of millions of dollars of payments to online gambling websites that were illegally targeting Americans.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Jul 1st, 2020 at 05:35:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Mon Jul 6th, 2020 at 09:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Chomsky/Zinn commentary (h/t nakedcapitalism)
Zinn: A perfect example of what you're talking about is right here, when Strider attacks the Black Riders, "saving" Frodo from them.

Chomsky: Think of it from the Black Riders' perspective. No doubt they arrived at Weathertop thinking, "Can we ask a few questions? We'd like to talk to you."

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 23rd, 2020 at 07:18:38 PM EST
Amazing this has never shown up on some conservatard site claiming it's and actual commentary by Zinn and Chomsky.
by rifek on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 11:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's disappointing. If he didn't write this, he certainly should have
Zinn: But here the Elvish culture is revealed to be very elaborate, because, of course, they have better architecture. But I vastly prefer the real grittiness one finds in Mordor. Think of the suspiciously clean city of Rivendell. You don't see any life going on there. No people at all. There's hardly anyone in the streets. It should be said, though, that, on occasion, the Orcs have been known to eat one another.

Chomsky: That's cannibalism, sure, but maybe it's part of a sacred ritual with them. Maybe it's an ancient part of their culture. Who are we to judge? Still, I have problems with it, I agree.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 05:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Oui on Thu Jun 25th, 2020 at 04:48:35 AM EST

by Oui on Thu Jun 25th, 2020 at 02:08:26 PM EST

by Oui on Fri Jun 26th, 2020 at 05:55:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]

France: What happened to Adama Traoré?- Euronews

When Adama Traoré and his brother Bagui were stopped by the police in Beaumont-sur-Oise on that summer day in 2016 for what they were told was an ID check, Bagui, who the police were looking for, didn't move. Adama ran away. He did not have his ID on him and therefore risked an arrest, his family later explained.

Police caught up and arrested him. Adama Traoré died two hours later, in custody at the Persan police station.

No footage of his arrest exists and there were no witnesses; the only available information on Adama's death comes from the testimonies of the three officers who stopped him and several medical autopsies.

In the four years since his death, Traoré's family members have repeatedly claimed that police officers had tackled him to the ground. The officers deny using a tackling technique. At the time of the events, however, one of them declared to investigators: "We used necessary force to control him, but he took the weight of all our bodies."

by Bernard on Thu Jun 25th, 2020 at 05:08:30 PM EST
From panic buying to food banks: how Britain fed itself in the first phase of coronavirus
If there was a vertical relationship between farmers and retailers, so that food products simply went to where they were required, everything would have been fine. But it doesn't work like that. "There are many dairy farmers who supply processors, who in turn only supply cafes and restaurants rather than retailers," Hambling says.
Demand for eggs rose over 30% but there was both a shortage of supply and a packaging problem. Those for the hospitality sector come in trays of a couple of dozen or more. Egg cartons for domestic use are mostly made by three European manufacturers and one of them, in Denmark, closed. Likewise, there was lots of flour but the vast majority of it was packaged in 15kg sacks for bakeries. It was impossible to simply up production of smaller packs for domestic use.
Lang, who published a major book on Britain's fragile food security just as lockdown started, is less convinced. "My critics have said we were wrong, there was no mass starvation. It was messy but we got it sorted. Well yes, but that's because it's been an extraordinary bonanza for food retail." And it worked, he says, because "Europe fed us". Boswell has his own concerns. "My main message is please don't think this crisis is over. I'm terrified of the long-term issues, of the number of people who are going to need the help of frontline charities for a while to come."
archive: North Korea

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jun 27th, 2020 at 08:22:57 PM EST
Was just thinking of making this article into a low content diary due to the impending deadline for Brexit extension request.

Things start to get real in July right? And then realer in September-ish...

Maybe. Or perhaps some more muddling along and procrastination and a special case non-extension extension?

by asdf on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 12:06:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boris is probably going to go all the way to the cliff edge.... Then capitulate. He already did that on the Irish border, and appallingly, it didn't seem to do him any damage.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 11:35:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britons yet have to see the consequences of Brexit. These will eventually come next year. So far, they're mostly seeing the consequences of Boris' "what, me worry?" management of the Covid pandemic, with Britain being the most badly hit country in Europe, after "herd immunity" Sweden.
by Bernard on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 04:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, by per capita measurement, nobody comes close to San Marino.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 04:44:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking real countries, here, not glorified villages from the Middle Age.
by Bernard on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 06:51:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Abraham Lincoln had a different opinion.
To the Regent Captains of the Republic of San Marino Great and Good Friends

I have received and read with great sensibility the letter which as Regent Captains of the Republic of San Marino you addressed to me on the 29th of March last. I thank the Council of San Marino for the honor of citizenship they have conferred upon me.

Although your dominion is small, your State is nevertheless one of the most honored, in all history. It has by its experience demonstrated the truth, so full of encouragement to the friends of Humanity, that Government founded on Republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring.

You have kindly adverted to the trial through which this Republic is now passing. It is one of deep import. It involves the question whether a Representative republic, extended and aggrandized so much as to be safe against foreign enemies can save itself from the dangers of domestic faction. I have faith in a good result.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 07:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's only because the US is still working on it. Our goal is to be number one in every category.
by asdf on Tue Jun 30th, 2020 at 12:55:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden isn't aiming for herd immunity. Sweden used more carrots than sticks to break the spread, and looking at ICU, hospital care and deaths which all peaked late April, the spread of the virus in Sweden peaked late March.

New ICU admissions are now down to levels not seen since Mid-March. If this reflects spread two weeks ago, and if spread since then hasn't taken of again, we are getting close to the end of the epidemic here. Anti body testing indicates about 6% having had the virus, so far from herd immunity. Ironically, large scale testing is finally in place now, so confirmed cases are going up as actual cases are - in all probability - going down.

I think what happened is that Sweden had a large spread early on (late February/ early March, probably due to the February Sport break) and the carrots took legislation, and legislation takes time (even if in this case it was weeks and days rather than months). And then there was a lot of narrative creation. But it wasn't a strategy for herd immunity.

by fjallstrom on Tue Jun 30th, 2020 at 01:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the advantage if the aim wasn't herd immunity  ...

Sweden lifts travel warning for 14 countries | The Local SE |

The foreign ministry's recommendation is linked to travel restrictions and the fast-changing global situation, which could leave travellers stranded, rather than infection risks posed directly by the coronavirus itself.

For that reason, the countries included on the list above are generally countries that do not currently have restrictions, including quarantines, for Swedes who travel there. You will notice that its Nordic neighbours, who all have some form of restrictions in place for Swedish or other foreign tourists, are not included.

Shunned by its Nordic neighbors for its coronavirus strategy, Sweden says there are 'wounds that will take time to heal' | CNBC |

by Oui on Tue Jun 30th, 2020 at 04:05:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The primary advantage with the milder close down was more care staff on hand during the peak to prevent excess death due to lack of care (both from COVID and other causes). Not closing the schools meant less parents staying home to look after kids. The secondary aim was to have rules that could be held in place over a long time, because the needed amount of time was unknown at the time of the decision.

The clear disadvantage is that this way it has taken much longer to get rid of the spread in society. Wheter those that lost their lives later on were fewer than those who were saved at the peak will have to be a question for future study. Looking at other hard hit countries in the EU, Sweden's peak death rates are lower but it continues longer.

by fjallstrom on Sat Jul 4th, 2020 at 10:45:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweden's grim Covid-19 result: More death and nearly equal economic damage | Irish Times |

by Oui on Fri Jul 10th, 2020 at 04:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Jun 28th, 2020 at 05:41:52 PM EST
Tearing Down Statues Doesn't Erase History, It Makes Us See It More Clearly - Enzo Traverso - Jacobin
Indeed, it is interesting to observe that most political leaders, intellectuals, and journalists outraged by the current wave of "vandalism" never expressed a similar indignation for the repeated episodes of police violence, racism, injustice, and systemic inequality against which the protest is directed. They have felt quite comfortable in such a situation.

Many of them had even praised a different iconoclastic deluge thirty years ago, when the statues of Marx, Engels, and Lenin were toppled in Central Europe. Whereas the imagined prospect of living among these types of monuments is intolerable and suffocating, they are quite proud of the statues of Confederate generals, slave traders, genocidal kings, legal architects of white supremacy, and propagandists of fascist colonialism that constitute the patrimonial legacy of Western societies. As they insist, "we will not erase any traces or any figures from our history."

h/t Daniel Schneiderman

The "we will not erase any traces or any figures from our history" quote is of course from Emmanuel Macron.

by Bernard on Mon Jun 29th, 2020 at 06:56:39 PM EST
Il Foglio
In Mongolia il vaccino al coronavirus c'è già: è Genghis Khan
They couldn't have just defeated it themselves, a poor country where they probably don't even speak proper English. Here's another orientalist take in English. But to really find out what is happening, here is an account by an Indian who does his best to fight the "West is better" bias. First, low density
It's true that Mongolia is the least densely populated nation on Earth. As a nation, they're pretty socially distant by default. However, their capital Ulaanbaatar has an urban population of 1.5 million people. That's quite enough for COVID-19 to snack on.

In fact, Ulaanbaatar (307 people per km²) has a similar density to Bergamo, Italy (400 per)-- the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy; one of the worst-hit places in the world. Low density didn't save Bergamo. On its own, it won't save anybody.

So what did they do?
Mongolia has had the best COVID-19 response in the world. Not only do they have zero deaths, they have zero local transmissions. Mongolia didn't flatten the curve or crush the curve -- they were just like `fuck curves'. In Mongolia, there simply wasn't an epidemic at all.

And no, they didn't just get lucky.

Starting in January, Mongolia executed a perfect public health response, and they have never let up the pressure since. COVID-19 did not just leave Mongolia alone. Mongolia kicked its ass.


Imagine that you could go back in time to January 23rd with the horse race results and, I dunno, the new iPhone. People believe you. China has just shut down Hubei Province, the largest cordon sanitaire in human history. What would you scream to your leaders? What would you tell them to do?

You'd tell them that this was serious and that it's coming for sure. You'd tell them to restrict the borders now, to socially distance now, and to get medical supplies ready, also now. You'd tell them to react right now, in January itself. That's 20/20 hindsight.

That's exactly what Mongolia did, and they don't have a time machine. They just saw what was happening in Hubei, they coordinated with China and the WHO, and they got their shit together fast. That's their secret, not the elevation. They just weren't dumb.


As you can see, at every turn they're reacting like other countries only did when it was too late. This looked like an over-reaction, but in fact, Mongolia was always on time.

Other countries, however, were not as proactive as Mongolia, and I'm talking about the organized East Asian countries here, not the bleach drinkers of the west. In February, Mongolia suspended flights to Korea and Japan.

Mongolia also found time to help China, specifically by sending 30,000 sheep, which I don't quite understand, but cool. Note: as an update, apparently giving sheep is a traditional gesture of support during hard times, and someone visiting China at that isolating time would have meant a lot. When President Kh. Battulga returned from that trip, he himself went into quarantine for 14 days.

There is a link to the article about the sheep, but, I'm afraid, no picture.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 9th, 2020 at 06:58:20 PM EST
by das monde on Tue Jul 21st, 2020 at 06:57:50 PM EST

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