Closing Thought–06Apr20

Covid-19 news has smothered all other news from the conversation….but thank goodness there is the old Professor to keep his readers abreast.

It appears that women will have to register for the draft…..that is right the draft that is used if we need to call up people to fill the ranks of our military.

If a commission’s recommendation is accepted, young women will have to register for the draft when they turn 18, just like their male counterparts. After a three-year study into whether women should be eligible for the draft, the panel has decided they should, reports Politico. The outlet got the first look at the commission’s report to the Pentagon. “This is a necessary and fair step, making it possible to draw on the talent of a unified Nation in a time of national emergency,” the 11 commissioners write. It next goes to the White House and to congressional staffers, and it would be up to lawmakers to change the law if they wish.

Forced conscription was abolished in 1973, notes the Military Times, but men are still required to register. In addition to the commission’s report, the matter is being addressed in the courts as well. A federal appeals court is currently weighing whether a male-only draft registration is constitutional. About 224,000 women currently serve in the armed forces, notes Politico. And thanks to a Pentagon move five years ago, they can serve in combat roles.

This may be a non-starter for most people in this time of pandemic hysteria……but I have a few things about the need for a draft…

on Jan. 2, as Americans contemplated a return to work after the New Year holiday, shocking news began to ricochet across the internet: The United States had conducted a deadly drone strike on Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, one of that country’s most esteemed military officers. Suddenly, the U.S. appeared to be on a war footing with a sovereign nation, one with nuclear aspirations.

As whispers of a possible World War III gained viral speed, something unexpected happened: The nation’s attention turned to a small federal institution that has been little more than a historical footnote since the end of the Vietnam War. Google search traffic for “the draft” reached its highest levels since at least 2004; the U.S. Selective Service System’s website, which officials say was undergoing maintenance at the time, slowed nearly to a halt as panicked visitors flooded in. In the days that followed, the U.S. Army was forced to issue an announcement combating a malicious hoax. No, officials said: We will not conscript you and order you off to basic training via text message.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/03/22/bringing-back-draft-5-possibilities-future-military-conscription.html

We may need the draft to protect our nation in this time of doubt and confusion.

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Pussy Galore Is Dead!

I am a huge James Bond fan….and one of my favorite characters was in the book Goldfinger and her name was Pussy Galore.

The actress was best known for her role as Cathy Gale in the 1960s TV series The Avengers and as Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger with Sean Connery as 007. Her family said in a statement to The Guardian: ‘It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 94. ‘She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.

‘As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/04/06/avengers-star-bond-girl-honor-blackman-dies-aged-94-12517490/

She will be missed.

May she rest in peace…

“lego ergo scribo”

Another Virus WTF

The world is fighting a war with the Covid-19 that is everybody but North Korea……and yet WHO will send them to help- fight a disease they say they have none of…….WTF?

North Korea may claim it has no coronavirus infections, but the country still is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the World Health Organization to contain the deadly virus.

Data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) shows the WHO will spend $900,000 to support North Korea’s efforts to fight COVID-19.

North Korea is bordered by China and South Korea, two of the countries that saw some of the worst impacts of COVID-19 at the start of the global outbreak. The Hermit Kingdom has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case on its soil and that it is implementing social distancing measures.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/north-korea-coronavirus-money-world-health-organization-prevention-no-cases

Then there is the other thorn in US foreign Policy…..Iran……

Talk about theocratic temerity. The regime in Tehran is calling on the International Monetary Fund to “stand on the right side of history” by giving Iran $5 billion to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the first time the Islamic Republic has sought financial aid from the multilateral institution. (The last time Iran asked was 20 years before the 1979 revolution.)

For the international community — and for the U.S., which has effective veto power on IMF decisions — this presents a quandary: The Iranian people definitely need the help, but their leaders can’t be trusted with the money.

The Islamic Republic is the third-worst hit country after China and Italy, with 429 people dead. The regime has manifestly failed to manage the crisis. In the first phase, the leadership lied about the extent of the outbreak, and made a series of decisions that only aggravated the contagion.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/iran-help-not-cash-fight-113438735.html

The Iranian problem will get worse…US sanctions will put the squeeze on the nation in this time of need…..

The war against the coronavirus pandemic is literally a life and death fight for nations. But Iran is waging it with an economy badly crippled by United States sanctions that have Tehran bereft of financial resources to mount an effective public health response.

Mahsa is a 28-year-old nurse in Mazandaran, a northern province in Iran that has been hard hit by the virus.

“Ventilators are very crucial for treatment of COVID-19 patients, but officials tell us that because of the sanctions, they have not been able to order enough of them from abroad,” she told Al Jazeera. “Medical goods are supposed to increase in accordance with the number of admitted patients, but these goods are very hard to find these days.”

https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/iran-struggles-fund-virus-fight-squeezing-economy-200401213650963.html

I am told the humanitarian aid is NOT part of the sanctions…..but is that true?

Another report….another WTF…… has come out that Trump sent the Guard out and refuse to let them have medical stuff……

Thousands of National Guardsmen around the country are in contact with people who’ve contracted COVID-19. But while the federal government has called on them for frontline assistance in battling the pandemic, it’s not giving them what they need to protect themselves: access to the military’s health insurance.

The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs. 

But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE—think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform—to cover them. Military Times first reported the eligibility shortfall. 

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-sent-the-guard-to-the-coronavirus-front-line-but-denied-them-military-care

Apparently we are NOT all in this together…..

It’s become a truism, almost trite, that with the coronavirus crisis, “we’re all in this together.”

But not everyone agrees.

A small but highly influential group of billionaires, executives and right-wing pundits have a different view: Some of them urge that we must “normalize” the economy as soon as possible, implicitly – and in some cases, explicitly – accepting that this would mean sacrificing lives. Others, apparently, just don’t care about those risks, or conveniently believe against evidence that they are not real or overblown

Proponents paint this callous approach as the kind of “tough” decision that strong leaders must make. They have had a dangerous influence on policy. And although their recommendations have been shunted aside for now, there’s a great risk that save-the-economy-and-let-the-chips fall-where-they-may chorus again gains the president’s favor, with potentially horrifying consequences.

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/02/even-during-pandemic-plutocrats-prioritize-profits-over-people

Now Kentucky, the state that brought us the spineless Mitch, has a new way to make virus sufferers lives even worse……

An ominous scoop by The Courier-Journal, a local paper in Kentucky: judges in the state are ordering coronavirus patients to isolate — a demand they’re enforcing by making them wear ankle monitors, as if they were under house arrest.

“The home incarceration program is well-suited for this,” Amy Hess, Louisville’s chief of public services, told the newspaper. “It provides us with the proper amount of distancing. We can monitor activity after (the monitoring device) gets affixed to them… to make sure they’re not further affecting the community.”

https://futurism.com/neoscope/kentucky-forcing-coronavirus-patients-ankle-monitors

The one great idea to come out of the fight against this pandemic is the call in the UN for a curbing of war during this time of crisis.

With the world in the throes of the calamitous COVID-19 pandemic, UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres is pushing for a global ceasefire, seeing a planet-wide halt to war as a chance to allow an all-out effort to fight the virus.

This is getting some interest beyond NGOs and the Pope. As of Friday, 11 countries have endorsed the idea, including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

While the UN is still looking for a big nation engaged in foreign wars to really make this a thing, but some of these nations have some substantial domestic conflicts that might benefit from a ceasefire, and countries like Syria may find themselves influencing others.

These are also some of the countries most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemics, with countries like Yemen, Libya, and Syria some of the nations least prepared for an outbreak, with war leaving the countries with little medical infrastructure.

Recognition that the wars would only make their situations worse, these nations are backing the global ceasefire, and while it’s still a long way from stopping any huge wars, it shows promising understanding that war and pandemic are two distinct priorities.

(antiwar.com)

There is an idea that all nations should sign onto…..we need all our resources to fight this pandemic…..not each other.

My latest list of WTF reports……I am sure there will be more….

Be Calm…..Avoid Crowds……Wash Hands Often…..Be Prepared

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“lego ergo scribo”

Coronomics (A New Term)

This damn virus, the Covid-19, has brought about a whole bunch of new thinking and responses to a crisis……even some new terms for the analysis…..Coronomics is the one that I wish to introduce to my reader.

Economics is not something that most people will want to read about….but maybe they should because this virus is playing fast and loose with their economic future.

The ugly side of the economics of the pandemic……

The chart shows that 9.9 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been made over the last two-week period, creating a graphic described as "difficult to stomach" by economic analysts. (Source: The Block/FRED)

That extension of the Unemployment insuarnce has its dark side as well…..

It’s worth noting that UI claims do not include many workers who are out of work due to the virus, including independent contractors, those who don’t have long enough work histories, those who had to quit work to care for a child whose school closed, and more, so the actually number of people out of work is higher than today’s’ data show us. One of the most effective parts of the CARES ACT, the relief and recovery act that Congress passed last week, is a $250 billion expansion of unemployment insurance, including an increase in the level of benefits and the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program which will be available to many workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance. These provisions are very important and will help millions. However, the broader stimulus package contains many weaknesses that reduce its effectiveness, which is regrettable because the job loss we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Based on new GDP forecasts, we project that nearly 20 million workers will be laid off or furloughed by July, with losses in every state. And importantly, the GDP forecasts these projections are based on include the impact of the CARES Act and they assume that Congress will pass another relief package focused on aid to states. That implies that far more than 20 million workers will be laid off or furloughed if there is not another meaningful relief and recovery bill.

(commondreams.org)

Small businesses are suffering because of this shelter in place orders and there are those that will take advantage of the situation…..those crooks in the “pay day loan” business…..

one industry, which offers an obscure form of financing to small businesses called Merchant Cash Advances (MCA), has seemingly taken a different approach.

“There’s lots of talk about helping small businesses. But in the last few days, lawyers running lawsuit mills are suing small businesses to extract cash,” Federal Trade Commission member Rohit Chopra tweeted on March 19 about the MCA industry. “The lawyers work for lenders that offer pricey payday-style loans using sketchy contract terms to restaurants and businesses.”

MCAs are a form of financing typically leveraged by small businesses that don’t have access to traditional loan options. MCAs are not loans, rather, they’re the sale of a portion of a business’s future income at a discount. Typical MCA agreements require businesses to make payments every business day of a set dollar amount until the agreement is settled.

MCA agreements often include “confessions of judgment,” clauses that force businesses to plead liable if the MCA provider alleges that the agreement has been breached, which can occur if the business misses just one or two of their daily payments. The agreements typically grant providers the immediate right to the outstanding balance from the business in the event of a breach.

https://dailycaller.com/2020/03/30/itria-ventures-merchant-cash-lawsuits/

Your ordinary economic solutions will be as worthless as the promises from the White House……

We have seen crashes before, recessions and depressions, but nothing like this. Our fear of coronavirus has hindered and halted every aspect of daily life. We look out of our windows and barely recognise the country we’re in: police film dog-walkers and pour black dye into lagoons to deter swimmers. We wait in queues for empty-shelved supermarkets. The stock market collapses, surges, then collapses again. None of the old rules make sense. Welcome to the world of Coronomics.

If this were a normal recession, the remedy would be simple: encourage people to go out, spend money and boost the economy. But today’s public health concerns require the government to repress the economy, while trying to keep it afloat at the same time. Streets are quiet, hotels are empty, restaurants, pubs and high-street shops are shuttered. To tackle the virus, the economy must hibernate.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/coronomics-ordinary-remedies-wont-be-enough-for-a-surreal-crash

The Atlantic has offered up 4 Rules for the economics of this pandemic……

Rule 1: “Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.

Last week, a group of economists from the Federal Reserve and MIT published a paper on the 20th century’s most murderous flu, the 1918 outbreak. Because the federal government in 1918 offered little if any economic assistance to suffering Americans, the local response from city leaders varied widely. Some places, such as New York and St. Louis, quickly ordered social distancing and other interventions, while others, such as New Haven and Buffalo, allowed public gatherings even weeks after the flu reached crisis levels. This variance gave researchers the ability to see which cities recovered the fastest after the outbreak.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/new-laws-pandemic-economics/609265/

These small businesses pay their taxes (or they should be) and if the government needs to step in and protect them from failing then I have NO problem with that solution.

I ask just one thing….please stop jumping down my throat when I write about socialism for this solution is socialism 101….

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HISTORY OF TOILET PAPER, PART II – BY ELLIN CURLEY — Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

I thought in these trying times in these trying times in the search for TP….I thought that a more in-depth look at the item and its history might help understand the need.

I recently wrote a blog about the history of toilet paper and the response was so enthusiastic, I decided to look further into the subject. Before toilet paper came into existence in 1857, people used leaves, moss, stones, corncobs or whatever was handy. The Romans used a sponge on a stick which doesn’t sound too […]

HISTORY OF TOILET PAPER, PART II – BY ELLIN CURLEY — Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

Middle East Round-up

In these dark days of the virus we get very little info about our wars that have been raging for decades….and that is where I come in……I will try to keep my readers as up to date as I can on the info about our ME wars.

The virus is major news and yet the neocons are still worried about the actions of Iran…..

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is looking at extending the deployment of a reaction force sent to the Middle East to counter Iran’s militia network, according to three sources and documents provided to The Daily Beast.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in the Mideast in January after Iranian-backed militias attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The roughly 3,000 paratroopers operate as an immediate reaction force, built to deploy on short notice to global hotspots.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-may-keep-paratroopers-mideast-191344294.html

Still a war of words on just what the policy is in the Middle East these days…….

Initially announced weeks ago, the US withdrawal of troops from western Iraq and concentration in the east looks more and more like preparation for another confrontation with neighboring Iran. Recent reports suggest that is one policy being advocated.

On Friday, reports suggested that the Pentagon had been ordered, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to start planning to wipe out certain Iraqi militias which they believe are Iranian proxies. Officials say the administration is increasingly divided on the plan.

Lt. Gen. Robert White was very averse to this idea, saying it would require the US bring in thousands of more troops, and divert from existing missions. He also warned it risks starting a war with Iran, which at least some of the proponents consider very much the point.

US Repositions Troops in Iraq, Preparing for Fight Against Iran

US keeps reporting that the militias are planning a “sneak attack”….

All the reports of some in the Trump Administration pushing for attacks on “Iranian proxies” in Iraq seem to be coming to a head, with President Trump claiming Wednesday that Iran is “planning a sneak attack” in Iraq, and threatening to make them pay a “very heavy price.

This is, of course, exactly the sort of thing the US would claim if they are going forward with plans to attack the Iraqi militias (or even Iran itself), as they could claim to be preempting what Iran is planning. The planned attacks in Iraq are advocated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and opposed by US generals in Iraq, who believe it would provoke a bigger war and require more troops than the US has in the country.

Since the US is constantly needling those militias, and presenting them as Iranians, it is only a matter of time before another one fires a few rockets which the administration can present as an Iranian “sneak attack” and then escalate it into a war. This already almost happened once this year, and officials seem to never really dial back the rhetoric so much as temporarily step away from the war to revisit it a few months later.

President Trump was previously said to be averse to attacking Iran during the coronavirus outbreak because it would harm public opinion. The US was also talking this week of easing sanctions on Iran for the sake of combating the pandemic. This would make zero sense as a time for Iran to attack, but convincing Trump such an attack is coming would be a way to sell him on the plans to attack the militias.

(antiwar.com)

This is the breakdown of the action in Iraq for the last month……

At least 128 people were killed, and 180 were wounded in Iraq during March. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, protests tapered off dramatically, reducing the reported violence significantly. However, the number of Coalition troop casualties surged. During February, at least 187 people were killed, and 558 were wounded.

Of the recent casualties, 25 civilians, 17 security members, and 54 militants were killed. Another 33 civilians and 45 security personnel were wounded. At least three protesters were killed, and 85 were wounded before quarantines were in effect. One mass grave was found, but the number of people in it was not released.

Four U.S. and one British servicemembers were killed in combat-related incidents. Twelve servicemembers were also wounded; their nationalities were not reported. Another three more American servicemembers were wounded in artillery fire. Also, a United States soldier died in a non-combat incident on March 30, that is believed unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in northern Iraq, two Turkish soldiers were killed and two were wounded. At least 21 guerrillas were killed.

(antiwar.com)

We have been exposed to a lot of news about Syria…..most of it is from Neocon pundits that have a stake in the wars in that country….but what do the Syrian people think…….

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news? Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more newsworthy than the obvious.

Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation. Qatar’s royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

A breakdown on how the virus is effecting the Middle East and conflict…..https://themuslimtimes.info/2020/04/05/what-impact-is-covid-19-having-on-middle-east-conflicts/\

The barbarous group ISIS has been defeated but the virus has many worried that it could assist them in making a come back….

The military is concerned that the Islamic State terrorist group could rebound amid an unfolding humanitarian crisis in northeastern Syria, as local officials sound the alarm about a lack of resources to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

In order to help prevent a crisis, the international coalition to defeat the militant group has begun sending basic medical equipment and other supplies to the Syrian Democratic Forces guarding thousands of ISIS prisoners, two senior coalition staff officers who work directly on this issue told POLITICO.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/02/us-military-fears-isis-resurgance-coronavirus-pandemic-162046

Just a few stories that I thought would give a good picture at what was happening in the Middle Est while most of us are otherwise distracted.

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