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Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson

JohnnyBlaze
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^ Yep. Ron Johnson is considering running again in 2022. That explains the continued pushing of conspiracy theories on his behalf.

Ahavati
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I am interested to see who the RNC nomination will be. . .being it's splintered now. I am also interested in seeing what comes of the new republican party supposedly being formed by those who aren't idolizing one man.

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March 3, 2021

We’re in this weird eddy where Republicans are trying to cling to past politics to gain advantage and the Biden administration is trying to move forward. On top of this struggle are stories about how the previous administration pushed the boundaries of our laws or, worse, broke them.

Yesterday, two Republican governors, Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi, ended the mask mandates and other coronavirus restrictions for their states. So far today, the Johns Hopkins University tracker has reported 88,611 new cases and 2,189 new deaths. The numbers are dropping, but they are still wildly high compared to other nations. Texas and Mississippi are both in the top ten states in terms of deaths per capita.

It is hard not to see the reopening of Republican-led states as a deliberate affront to President Joe Biden, who asked for a 100-day mask mandate and who has sped up vaccine production to end the pandemic before new variants throw us back into a crisis. The Biden administration has tried to take politics out of the national response to the coronavirus, and made it a point to respond quickly to the crisis in Texas two weeks ago, when the unregulated Texas energy system froze. Health officials worry that a rush to reopen will undo all the progress we have made against the virus, and they are begging Texas and Mississippi to reconsider.

Nonetheless, Abbott has reopened his state and today tweeted: “The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities. The Biden Admin[istration] must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.”

While Abbott is mired in past politics, the Biden administration today laid out a new approach to foreign affairs. Shortly before the White House released a paper explaining its national security policies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a speech reiterating the administration’s belief that the world needs American leadership and engagement to help create order, and that countries must cooperate with each other.

Blinken promised to stop Covid-19 both at home and abroad, and to invest in global health security. He said we would address the economic crisis and the climate crisis and create a more stable, inclusive global economy. We will “renew democracy,” he said, “because it’s under threat.” Blinken promised to “incentivize democratic behavior” overseas without “costly military interventions or attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force.”

Blinken identified China as the greatest modern rival of the United States and promised to “engage China from a position of strength,” working with allies to counter that nation’s rising power through diplomacy.

The Secretary of State emphasized again how the Biden administration sees domestic and foreign issues as complementary. “Beating COVID means vaccinating people at home and abroad,” he said. “Winning in the global economy means making the right investments at home and pushing back against unfair trading practices by China and others. Dealing with climate change means investing in resilience and green energy here at home and leading a global effort to reduce carbon pollution.”

“[D]istinctions between domestic and foreign policy have simply fallen away,” Blinken said. “Our domestic renewal and our strength in the world are completely entwined.”

Biden’s paper was even clearer, noting that we are at an inflection point that will determine whether democracy will fall to autocracy. “I firmly believe that democracy holds the key to freedom, prosperity, peace, and dignity,” he wrote. “We must now demonstrate — with a clarity that dispels any doubt — that democracy can still deliver for our people and for people around the world. We must prove that our model isn’t a relic of history; it’s the single best way to realize the promise of our future.”

Meanwhile, stories continue to break about the previous administration.

Tonight, we learned that the Department of Justice under Trump loyalist Attorney General William Barr refused to investigate or prosecute Trump’s Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, even after that department’s inspector general asked for a review of what it said was a misuse of her office. The inspector general found repeated instances of Chao using her office to benefit the Chao family company, Foremost Group, a shipping company run by Chao’s sister. Chao is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Also, today, the inspector general for the Department of Defense issued a review of Representative Ronny Jackson, who was Trump’s White House physician before he was elected to Congress from Texas in 2020. The review says he has an explosive temper, made “sexual and denigrating” comments about a woman who was his subordinate, created a hostile work environment, and drank alcohol and took Ambien while on duty. The inspector general recommended that the Navy take “appropriate action” with regard to the retired officer. Jackson said, “Democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.”

[ Continued below ]

Ahavati
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Today’s biggest story about the previous administration, though, came from the Senate hearings about the January 6, 2021, attack, held before the committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the committee on Rules and Administration. While there is still confusion about what happened when, it became clear that there were some serious lapses in the protection of the Capitol, and it appears those lapses originated with Trump appointees in the Pentagon.

Because the District of Columbia is not a state, its National Guard is under the control of the Defense Department, and it is overseen by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. The Commander of the D.C. National Guard, Major General William Walker, told the Senate that, in response to a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, Walker requested approval for the mission from McCarthy on January 1.

McCarthy’s approval did not come until January 5, when the event was already upon them. And, in what Walker saw as an unusual move, McCarthy withheld approval for Walker to deploy the Quick Reaction Force, guardsmen equipped with helmets, shields, batons, and so on, to respond to civil disturbance, without the approval of the Secretary of Defense.

Then, at 1:49 pm on January 6, then Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund, called Walker to say that the Capitol had been breached. “Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of as many guardsmen as I could muster,” Walker told the Senate. Walker immediately called the Pentagon for approval to move in his troops, but officials there did not give the go-ahead for 3 hours and 19 minutes. Once allowed in, the National Guard troops deployed in 20 minutes. But by then, of course, plenty of damage had been done.

The delay in deployment stood in dramatic contrast to the approval accorded to the National Guard to deploy in June 2020. Today’s testimony suggests that the Pentagon placed unprecedented restrictions on the mobilization of the National Guard on January 6, preventing it from responding to the crisis at the Capitol in a timely fashion.

The House will not meet tomorrow out of fears that militants will attack the Capitol again, expecting that March 4 will see former president Donald Trump sworn in for a second term.

—-

Submitted March 04, 2021

Notes:

Abbott:

Twitter avatar for @Rschooley
Schooley
@Rschooley
Ah, we're at the "blame the wind turbines" phase of bad governance on Covid. Image
March 4th 2021

27 Retweets177 Likes
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/03/texas-mississippi-mask-mandate-backlash/


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-chao-report/u-s-declined-to-prosecute-trump-transport-chief-after-inspector-general-review-idUSKCN2AV2YK

https://www.thedailybeast.com/jim-jordan-under-scrutiny-for-nearly-dollar3-million-in-unreported-campaign-funds

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/us/politics/elaine-chao-inspector-general-report.html

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/fivepoints/five-points-on-how-intelligence-and-military-officials-testified-to-the-failures-of-jan-6

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/02/politics/ronny-jackson-dod-inspector-general-report/index.html

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/03/973292523/dod-took-hours-to-approve-national-guard-request-during-capitol-riot-commander-s

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2021/03/02/christopher-wray-fbi-us-capitol-riot-trump-supporters-antifa-black-lives-matter-schneider-dnt-lead-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2021/01/12/why-the-dc-national-guards-role-was-limited-during-us-capitol-riot/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-pentagon-delayed-three-hours-in-sending-troops-on-jan-6-it-still-hasnt-given-a-good-reason/2021/03/03/aba3e0b8-7c62-11eb-b3d1-9e5aa3d5220c_story.html

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/03/biden-masks-texas-mississippi-473561

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/capitol-riot-hearing/2021/03/02/a4867a48-7b81-11eb-85cd-9b7fa90c8873_story.html

https://www.state.gov/a-foreign-policy-for-the-american-people/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/NSC-1v2.pdf

https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/03/politics/us-capitol-riot-hearing-dhs-fbi-pentagon/index.html

JohnnyBlaze
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This is where Mainstream news irritates me. Without Ttump's ridiculous antics to report on daily - ABC, NBC, CBS, etc is back to focusing on fluff. Why not spend 10 minutes reporting on Biden's agenda and the reactions to it?

Let's save the Buckingham Palace drama for future seasons of "The Crown". While such may be interesting to Royal history buffs, it's not news.

anna_grin
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ilchruthach
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are you talking about Harry n Meghan j

i mean i think in this case it’s a no news is good news situation

JohnnyBlaze
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anna_grin said:are you talking about Harry n Meghan j

i mean i think in this case it’s a no news is good news situation


Yes, them, but there is plenty of more worthwhile news to keep Mericans informed as opposed to swallowing whatever pops up in their Facebook feeds or visiting fake news sites like Infowars.

Ahavati
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JohnnyBlaze said:This is where Mainstream news irritates me. Without Ttump's ridiculous antics to report on daily - ABC, NBC, CBS, etc is back to focusing on fluff. Why not spend 10 minutes reporting on Biden's agenda and the reactions to it?

Let's save the Buckingham Palace drama for future seasons of "The Crown". While such may be interesting to Royal history buffs, it's not news.


This is EXACTLY why I post these letters, to hopefully get people away from mainstream news ( although some of her sources are mainstream - but they're news-worthy ) by providing an alternate source of information from the perspective of a well-educated and respected historian.

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March 4, 2021

This afternoon, the Senate voted to take up the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan recently passed by the House. The vote was 51 to 50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

Republicans have vowed to slow the passage of the bill. As soon as it passed, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) insisted on having all 628 pages of the bill read aloud, which the Senate clerks are currently doing at a rapid clip to a chamber that emptied of everyone but the presiding Senator (a Democrat), and one Republican (to insist on the process), almost immediately after the clerks began to read.[ hahahahahahaha - serves him right! ]

Once the reading is over, there will be up to 20 hours of debate on the bill, and then, led by Johnson, Republicans plan to offer hundreds of amendments to slow the bill down. Nonetheless, Democrats expect to pass the measure through the Senate by the end of next week. This will send it back to the House in time for any changes to be adjusted and to go to Biden to sign it into law before extended unemployment benefits run out on March 14.

For the bill to pass the Senate, Democrats have had to strip from it the establishment of a $15 an hour minimum wage phased in by 2025 and have had to target more tightly the $1400 stimulus payments. They also limited how $10 billion of the $350 billion in state and local aid could be spent, limiting that money to infrastructure needs and establishing that none of the state or local aid could be used to pay down pension costs or reduce future taxes.

The intense opposition to this measure from Republican lawmakers illustrates a gulf between them and ordinary Americans, including their own voters. The American Rescue Plan is wildly popular. A poll from Morning Consult says that a whopping 77% of Americans support the bill, including 59% of Republicans, making it one of the most popular pieces of major legislation in American history. But Republican lawmakers oppose it, seeming to recognize that it is a return to an idea they utterly reject: that the government has a role to play in regulating business, providing a basic social safety net, and promoting infrastructure.

This was the idea at the heart of the so-called “liberal consensus,” embraced by both parties until the 1980s, when Republicans began to call for slashing the federal government and turning its functions over to private industry. If Democrats implement the measure and it is popular, Republicans will have a hard time convincing people to turn back to the tax cuts that are at the heart of their program.

Republican lawmakers and right-wing personalities on the Fox News Channel are criticizing specific items in the bill, but more than that, they are flooding the airwaves with warnings that Democrats are trying to “cancel” American culture. They are, Republicans charge, erasing the works of popular children’s book author Theodor Geisel, more popularly known as Dr. Seuss (although he also wrote as Theo LeSieg), in an attempt to control what Americans think and say.[ There you go, anna ]

The real story is pretty straightforward: Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which is a division of book publishers Random House Children’s Books and Penguin Random House, announced that it would stop printing six of Geisel’s lesser-known works—“McElligot’s Pool,” for example—because of their racist imagery. It will continue to publish the rest of Dr. Seuss’s books, as usual.

For the last three days, the Fox News Channel has highlighted what personality Tucker Carlson says is an attempt by “the people in charge” to get rid of “a very specific kind of midcentury American culture, a culture that championed meritocracy and color blindness and the superiority of individual achievement.” Matthew Gertz of Media Matters counted 139 mentions of “Seuss” on the FNC on Tuesday, the day Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the announcement, over both “news” and “opinion” shows on all but three hours of the day’s programming. The next day had 59 mentions of the story, at one point over a chyron that read “IT’S NOW A PROBLEM TO TREAT PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS,” and the outrage continued today.

[ Continued below. . .]

Ahavati
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Another popular bill in Congress provides even more of a problem for Republicans than the American Rescue Plan. It is H.R. 1, the sweeping elections and government ethics bill that passed the House late Wednesday night.

The measure streamlines voter registration with automatic and same-day voter registration. It restores the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act gutted in 2013 by the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision. It allows early voting and mail-in voting. It curbs dark money in elections, and ends partisan gerrymandering by requiring independent redistricting commissions to draw state districts. It gets rid of insecure paperless voting. And it requires disclosures of presidential tax returns, gets rid of loose rules about congressional conflicts of interest, and requires the Supreme Court to create its own ethics code.

This measure is supported by a wide range of organizations interested in voting rights, including the League of Women Voters, which “strongly” supports it. President Biden has endorsed the measure, saying, “The right to vote is sacred and fundamental—it is the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring. This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right.”

But Republicans are well aware that they can no longer win elections without voter suppression. As an attorney for the Republican Party in Arizona told the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a measure making it easier to vote “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game…. It’s the difference between winning an election 50 to 49 and losing an election 51 to 50.” Using former president Trump’s lies about the 2020 election as justification, Republican legislators in 43 states have recently introduced bills to restrict the vote.

The rhetoric of Republican lawmakers about this bill is, as the Washington Post Editorial Board puts it, “apocalyptic.Former vice president Mike Pence, who has been staying out of sight since Biden’s inaugural, emerged this week to write a piece in The Heritage Foundation’s blog The Daily Signal calling the measure “unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic.”

The measure passed the House but may well not pass the Senate, where it would be susceptible to a filibuster, the process by which opponents of a bill can require that it receive 60, rather than simply 51, votes to pass.

The bill has “a noble purpose,” wrote the Washington Post, “making it easier for Americans to vote and encouraging the government to be more responsive to the people. Republicans’ apocalyptic rhetoric is so wildly disproportionate to the contents of the bill, one must wonder what they are really worried about…. Are they that afraid of democracy?”

—-

Submitted March 05, 2021

Notes:

Twitter avatar for @kylegriffin1
Kyle Griffin
@kylegriffin1
Biden says he'll sign H.R. 1 if it passes the Senate: "The right to vote is sacred and fundamental — it is the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring. This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right."
March 4th 2021

2,093 Retweets11,290 Likes
Twitter avatar for @frankthorp


Frank Thorp V
@frankthorp
Senate votes 51-50 to proceed to the COVID relief bill, with VP Harris breaking the tie.

Sen Johnson (R-WI) then objected to dispensing with the reading of the bill, so the clerk has begun reading all 628 pages.
March 4th 2021

157 Retweets601 Likes


https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/04/senate-biden-covid-relief-debate-473617

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/03/biden-limits-eligibility-stimulus-payments-under-pressure-moderate-senate-democrats/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/03/04/biden-stimulus-covid-relief/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/03/02/dr-seuss-racist-imagery/

Twitter avatar for @MattGertz
Matthew Gertz
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I've got 139 mentions of "Seuss" on Fox News between 4 a.m. yesterday and midnight, the author's purported cancelation was mentioned on all but three hours of the network's programming. ImageImageImageImage
March 3rd 2021

36 Retweets205 Likes


https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/supreme-court-gop-attorney-defends-voting-restrictions-saying-they-help-n1259305

https://my.lwv.org/california/diablo-valley/article/summary-hr-1-people-act

https://civilrights.org/resource/support-h-r-1-the-for-the-people-act/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-rhetoric-on-hr-1-is-apocalyptic-are-they-that-afraid-of-democracy/2021/03/04/22410f0c-7d2b-11eb-a976-c028a4215c78_story.html

JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:
Republican lawmakers and right-wing personalities on the Fox News Channel are criticizing specific items in the bill, but more than that, they are flooding the airwaves with warnings that Democrats are trying to “cancel” American culture. They are, Republicans charge, erasing the works of popular children’s book author Theodor Geisel, more popularly known as Dr. Seuss (although he also wrote as Theo LeSieg), in an attempt to control what Americans think and say.[ There you go, anna ]

The real story is pretty straightforward: Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which is a division of book publishers Random House Children’s Books and Penguin Random House, announced that it would stop printing six of Geisel’s lesser-known works—“McElligot’s Pool,” for example—because of their racist imagery. It will continue to publish the rest of Dr. Seuss’s books, as usual.

For the last three days, the Fox News Channel has highlighted what personality Tucker Carlson says is an attempt by “the people in charge” to get rid of “a very specific kind of midcentury American culture, a culture that championed meritocracy and color blindness and the superiority of individual achievement.” Matthew Gertz of Media Matters counted 139 mentions of “Seuss” on the FNC on Tuesday, the day Dr. Seuss Enterprises made the announcement, over both “news” and “opinion” shows on all but three hours of the day’s programming. The next day had 59 mentions of the story, at one point over a chyron that read “IT’S NOW A PROBLEM TO TREAT PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS,” and the outrage continued today.


O.M.G.


anna_grin
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oh dear oh dear that was not my argument against their discontinuation at all

it is not “white history” or “American history “ (which are being used interchangeably here) that i would be concerned about erasing, rather i don’t think we should lose proper ownership of the bullshit we done

i think we should recognise both the good and bad in Seuss’ works and life

anna_grin
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to say nothing of the gall of calling mid century america colour blind and a “meritocracy”

Ahavati
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It's insane. Utterly & absolutely. But, what's worse is who will actually believe it.

poet Anonymous

Ahavati, scanning this thread I don’t see what I can offer to it, because I’m not really interested in individual events, and certainly not in individuals. It’s easy to get what i think is “stuck” on an event, and miss the landscape.

The storming of Capitol Hill is a good example. This isn’t really interesting, and is more a media event to stir emotions than anything else (I think)

(I will now however go on a longish and possibly pompous-sounding sidetrack of how I think about the US, to prove my point about something I claim to not be interested in)

When I think of the us I think of the last 50-70 years, and how this moment is somewhat inevitable on a continuum of previous events.

These include:

- giving corporations the same rights as a human being, but then excusing any one individual from taking responsibility for the behaviour of that corporation.

- the privatisation of healthcare, education and prisons

- the gutting of taxes on companies and the wealthy (wealth and corporate taxes)

- allowing lobbying-for-profit

- the build-up of a military-industrial complex post ww2

- the intertwining of outdated free speech legislation, the rights of the tech industry and their social media platforms, and for-profit lobbying

- the rise and fall of the middle class in America, the ones who could buy a house and a car and put their kids in college on the salary of one blue collar worker (mostly this came from external pressures, but the US never figured out how to protect themselves)

- a two-party us/them political system, where you either win all or loose all

What have these things led too....what do you get as a society when the above plays out?

- an increasing gap between rich and poor (the greatest at any time, anywhere, in history). This is the most common and stark predictor of civil war and societal collapse

- an economy that can’t produce, because it’s workers are unproductive, uneducated, in jail, sick, poor, and poorly informed

- powerful media interests using their total control of what you hear and see to suit their private agendas, or the agenda they are paid to present

- a low-literacy population with no sense of history, philosophy, or their place in history. A rabble, to put it bluntly.

- polarised politics, because it is win all/loose all, so you lie, cheat, steal, gerrymander, pay off....you do whatever you have to to win

- a federal budget that has the highest military budget in the world. Who has the biggest military airforce in the world? The United States. What is the second biggest military airforce in the world? The US navy. What is the effect of this? It is a war machine incentivised to sell the “global policeman” narrative to politicians and the public? What does this mean to an American citizen? It means schools and hospitals you can’t afford, education you can’t pay for, because your war machine is eating it. The us war machine is a vampire on its own people. No politician could survive the suggestion to address this in any real way, not when every ball game, every high school event, everything has a military presence embedded in it....the us population is a martial people, and paying dearly for it

- a great robbery of wealth (look at the us share markets gains through quantitative easing to “help the us economy”). To protect the moneyed class the news media are being bought to tell the citizens that immigrants are the problem, that China is the problem, that drugs are the problem, that blacks are the problem, that democrats are the problem....anything but that democracy has been stolen by wealthy people, the war machine, and corporate banks.

- you get polarised, stupid, dog-whistle tuned idiots on all sides

- you get a trump. A fascist leaning personality cult figure who seeks only power and gets it by choosing an “other” to blame all ills on, to get enough votes to get in to power.


What happens now?


Nothing or everything. The us needs a fundamental and seismic shift in several key areas of their political system to avert civil war, and in fact it may be civil war that is required.  It will happen tomorrow or in 20 years, but it’s coming as plain as day.

So, do I care about trump, or who said what on what day....no. He/it/this is a symptom of a sick system.

In regard to how I take my news, I scan a variety of news sources every few days, across the globe, and from all sides of the media-ownership spectrum. I’m interested in how an event is reported across countries and outlets. I only actually read commentary, and remain a fan of some dead guys (Alistair cook, Hitchens) as well as pilger, Chomsky, and the great Nz based Kim hill who guides conversations and holds people to account rather than prints her own pieces.

I also read Roman history. Everything you see above you has played out in Roman society. You don’t have to speculate on what might happen in a particular trend/period, you can just go look for the times that same thing happened in Roman history. There is a great series on YouTube that is about 150 hours of the history and politics of Rome, and that alone would give anyone a better grounding in how powerful people run societies than even many people with PhDs in political science.

Long way of saying I have nothing to add to this conversation.

(Last word: if you look up the relationship between pandemics and times of civil uprisings and system change, you will find a fascinatingly close association between the two....something to reflect on when combined with that other great indicator, the wealth gap)

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