Pretty good shape

Guardian:

“The pandemic is over,” the president said during an interview at the Detroit auto show. “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

The upcoming midterm elections may have also played a role in the president’s comments, said Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious disease epidemiologist and editor-at-large at Kaiser Health News.

The president was “signaling that the country is not suffering the way it was economically and socially from Covid the way it was”, said Gounder. “To say that we are coping with the pandemic better than we were, but that there’s still room for improvement would have been one thing. But essentially, this is declaring ‘mission accomplished’ when you still have thousands of people dying each week.”

The current rate would amount to about 150,000 deaths per year, which is equivalent to three bad flu seasons, said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. (Over the last decade, the highest number of deaths during a flu season was about 50,000, according to the CDC.)

“This ended pandemic is still three times as bad as something we would ordinarily consider pretty bad, and I think that’s important, especially because we expect cases to tick up in the fall and the winter,” Hanage said.

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Noam Chomsky, Truthout:

The core issue at stake, I think, is unipolarity-multipolarity. Since the U.S. took over the reins from Britain 80 years ago, reaching far beyond Britain’s dreams, it has sought a unipolar world, and to a substantial extent it has realized that goal, in ways we need not review. There has always been resistance.

In many ways the most significant, and least discussed, form of resistance has been the effort of former colonies to find a place in the international order: UNCTAD, the New International Economic Order, the New International Information Order, and many other initiatives. These were crushed by imperial power, sometimes reaching the level of assassination (the very important case of Patrice Lumumba) if other means did not suffice. Some elements survive, like BRICS [the economic alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa]. Most significantly in the modern global scene, rising China leads the effort to develop a multipolar order.

Right now, the long-term conflict is manifested in many concrete ways. One is the intense U.S. effort to impede China’s technological development and to “encircle” it with a ring of heavily armed U.S. satellites. Another is the NATO-based U.S.-run Atlanticist project, now given a shot in the arm by Putin’s criminality, and recently extended formally to the Indo-Pacific region. The major competing element is China’s huge development and investment project, the Belt and Road initiative backed by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, encompassing Central Asia and by now reaching well beyond. At an ideological level, the confrontation sets the UN-based international order against the rules-based international order (with the U.S. setting the rules). The latter is adopted with little controversy or even notice in the U.S.

The important specific issues raised in the question find their place within this broader framework. Their resolution depends on how the broad process of reorganization of the international order develops. A highly uncertain matter, one of great portent.

Not in the distant background is a more fundamental matter, which cannot be put aside. Unless the great powers find ways to accommodate to confront the most important threats that have arisen in human history — environmental destruction and nuclear war — nothing else will matter.

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Craig Murray:

As I said at the start, if you are in the west you are being conditioned to support the war, to at least as great an extent as people are being conditioned to support it in Russia.

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The space for truth is very limited, as the world crashes into full dystopia.

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Many of my regular readers are annoyed when I point out that Russia is far too weak a country to be a military superpower that can challenge NATO. It has an economy the size of that of Spain or Italy, and a military crippled by corruption. It has an economy that is not only small but woefully undeveloped and reliant on raw commodity export, be it energy, cereal or mineral.

To historians, the most significant thing about Putin may be his failure to develop manufacturing industry at a time when China raced into world manufacturing domination.

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For my entire lifetime, the western military industrial complex and its national and NATO functionaries have exaggerated systematically the “Russian threat” in order to justify their own bloated budgets. I have explained this throughout the Ukraine crisis and again and again I have said that Russia does not have the ability to conquer Ukraine – it is therefore utterly ludicrous for NATO propagandists to claim we have to squander fortunes to defend against Russia sweeping through all of western Europe.

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The logical fallacy of western politicians cheering Ukrainian advances around Kharkiv, and in the same time saying that still trillions more need to be spent on defence against Russian invasion by the USA, Germany, France, UK and others, would be obvious to a five year old. Yet peculiarly I don’t believe I have ever seen or heard the fallacy queried in the media.

Putin’s reaction appears to be escalation. The conscription is a huge statement internally which probably does make major military reverse not politically survivable, even for Putin. The proposed referenda in occupied districts also make any backtracking very problematic.

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Borders are not immutable. The borders of sovereign Ukraine only lasted 21 years before Russia annexed Crimea. A Ukrainian victory that retakes Crimea from Russia would involve a long war and a death toll rising into the millions.

There really are – and remember I worked over twenty years in British Foreign Office, six of them in the senior management structure – people in NATO, and in all western governments, who have no problem with the notion of hundreds of thousands of dead people, particularly as they are nearly all Eastern Europeans or Central Asians. They are not even particularly perturbed by the risk the conflict could turn nuclear. They are delighted that the Russian armed forces are being degraded and vast sums pumped into western military budgets. That is worth any number of dead Ukrainians to them.

I do not believe the USA, UK nor NATO has any political will for peace. This is a disaster. The question is whether the economic pain their populations will feel this winter will force the western politicians to consider the negotiating table. This war can only end with at least de facto international recognition of Russian control of Crimea, and with some kind of special status for the Donbass. The alternative is a war so destructive as to bring disaster across the entire world economy, with the possibility of nuclear escalation.

“The space for truth is very limited, as the world crashes into full dystopia.” Several concepts here are quite interesting. “Space for truth”? Is there truth, as opposed to truths? Why is it dystopia is always and inevitably in the future? This is something I see especially in US media, but it’s certainly not limited to the US. Is this, like global heating or species loss, a reality so horrible that it cannot be held in the mind?

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I found this placement quite funny.

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Hotel Lux

Bernhard Pötter, taz:

Klimakrise in Deutschland: Wo bleibt der Aufschrei?

Keiner drängt auf Klimaschutz, weil das Problem weit weg ist, hieß es Früher. Jetzt brennen Wälder und trotzdem ist die Erderhitzung kein Thema.

Wer sich ernsthaft mit der Klimakrise beschäftigt, fragt sich irgendwann: Warum gibt es keinen Aufschrei? Warum stürmen die Leute nicht die Regierungs- und Konzernzentralen, wenn sie die Daten und Prognosen der Wissenschaft hören, und verlangen sofortigen, radikalen Klimaschutz?

Die Antwort war lange klar: Die Krise ist nicht akut, sie kommt schleichend, ist poten­ziell lebensbedrohlich, aber nicht hier und jetzt. Es trifft andere, die Armen und die weit Entfernten. Wir werden in unseren Routinen nicht gestört.

Jetzt ist alles anders. In diesem Sommer trocknete der Rhein aus, in Berlin brannte tagelang der Grunewald, Felder wurden zur Steppe. Die Klima­krise ist nicht mehr weit entfernt, sondern hier und jetzt. Sie trifft nicht (nur) Pakistan und Südafrika, sondern auch Berlin-Zehlendorf und die Loreley. Und: kein Aufschrei. Ein Spiegel-Titel, einmal „Hart aber fair“. Ansonsten: Schweigen im staubtrockenen Walde. Erregt debattieren wir über einen möglicherweise kalten Winter statt über den tatsächlich heißen Sommer. Warum?

The answers to the question presented here are not as interesting or significant to me as the fact that the question is asked, and asked as simply one of a number of articles. The question is accepted, the answers proffered, the reader moves on. Ernst Fischer’s explanation of the environment in the Hotel Lux applies here I think:

Und als ich ihn [Ernst Fischer] mit mehr und mehr Fragen löcherte, lieferte dieser erfahrene und kluge und ehrliche Intellektuelle mir zum Schluss ein kindliches Schlüsselwort: »Ja, wir dachten: Wenn es so grauenhaft ist, wie es aussieht, dann kann es gar nicht so sein, wie es ist.«

—Wolf Biermann, »Warte nicht auf bessre Zeiten!«, (Berlin: Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH, 2016), 148.

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The services struggle

09.15.22 Ltr to POTUS re Student Loans
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SZ:

Nach dreistündiger Debatte verkündete Fraktionschef Dietmar Bartsch: “Wir haben versucht, dass wir gemeinsam aus dieser Sitzung herauskommen. Das haben wir hingekriegt.” Der Parlamentarische Geschäftsführer Jan Korte konnte berichten: “Es gibt keine Verletzten.” So was hat in diesen Tagen Nachrichtenwert bei den Linken.

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SZ:

“Ich muss betonen, dass wir heute nicht so sehr mit der Ukraine, der ukrainischen Armee, sondern mit dem kollektiven Westen kämpfen”, sagte der Verteidigungs­minister. “Weil die Waffen, die die Ukraine hatte, heute tatsächlich zu Ende sind.”

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Bürger statt Konsumenten

FAZ:

Am Ausgangspunkt steht eine Analyse der problematischen Tendenzen der bestehenden „Konsumentendemokratie“, die anhand von vier Stichworten erfolgt: Ökonomisierung, Emotionalisierung, Infantilisierung und Pädagogisierung.

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Dass die Fehlentwicklungen andernorts schon viel weiter vorangeschritten sind als in Deutschland, wo das Niveau der öffentlichen Debatte immer noch relativ hoch sei, gesteht der Autor zu, der sich auch ansonsten jeglichen Kulturpessimismus versagt.

“die Fehlentwicklungen andernorts schon viel weiter vorangeschritten sind als in Deutschland, wo das Niveau der öffentlichen Debatte immer noch relativ hoch sei” I found really very funny, as it is something I’ve tried to communicate to US friends for years.

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U.S. adults should get regular anxiety screenings

San Francisco Chronicle:

American adults under the age of 65 should regularly be screened for anxiety, according to updated recommendations from an influential group of health experts.

This marks the first time the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent agency, has recommended regular screenings without symptoms. It also recommends depression screenings for adults and children. Its proposals were posted on its website on Tuesday and will remain open to public comment through Oct. 17. The research that went into the recommendation started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the task force said the past two years have likely worsened issues such as social anxiety, excessive fear, and worry.

“Excessive fear”? 🤔

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