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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
 
 
Monday 11th of January 2021
 
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Africa

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There are approx 86 billion neurons in the human brain, each has approximately 1000 synaptic connections. That’s 86e12 total synaptic connections - a greater number than the number of observable stars in the night sky. @OzzoRuco
Misc.

There are approx 86 billion neurons in the human brain, each has approximately 1000 synaptic connections. That’s 86e12 total synaptic connections - which is a greater number than the number of observable stars (to the naked eye) in the night sky.

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@DalrympleWill on Sicily’s Islamic past @FinancialTimes
Africa

 




On the far western shore of Sicily, with the hilltop town of Erice to one side and the salt flats of the lagoon of Marsala on the other, two towers rise vertically out of an olive grove, hemmed in by a windbreak of cypress and palm. 

The towers, built out of pale, warm, stone the colour of Pecorino cheese, stand over a secret, sunken garden. This is cut out of the rock, and centred on a rectangular pool of water, sheltered by thickets of oleander. 

The pool, protected from gusts of late summer winds billowing in from the sea, perfectly reflects the two looming towers.

Al Jafar is built out of the ruins of an Arab hunting lodge and preserves the name of Ja’far al-Kalbi II, an emir of an Arab dynasty who ruled Sicily from 998 to 1019.

A fine poet, writer and expert philologist who much preferred a life of learning and literature to the rigours of campaigning, he spent much of his time pursuing his pleasures in Al Jafar, surrounded by artists and writers. 

In September, in the window between the two lockdowns, I rented the twin towers of Al Jafar and used it as a base to explore the lost world of Islamic Sicily.

The day we arrived, dramatic autumnal cloud banks were forming into fantastic transfigurations around the peak of Monte Erice, with the sun’s rays splayed out across the bay. 

A spine of arid, rocky mountains, more north African than Italian, sloped off eastwards towards Palermo. 

Only on the lower slopes were there olives and vines, and only in the valleys was there grain. 

This was definitely a Mediterranean landscape but it felt more like the coastlines of Morocco, Tunisia or Algeria than those of Italy. It was no wonder that the Arabs felt so at home here during the two hundred years they ruled it.

The Arab conquest began in 827 when a fleet with 700 cavalry and 10,000 infantry set sail from Sousse, in modern Tunisia, and headed across the short stretch of sea separating the north African coast from Sicily. 

The Byzantines were waiting for them, but the invaders managed to get ashore and make a bridgehead and within a few years they had captured all the principal towns. 

These they held until the 1060s when a group of Norman adventurers seized them in turn, using the same cavalry manoeuvres with which they defeated the Anglo-Saxons, around the same time, at Hastings. 

By then, Muslims constituted a slight majority of Sicily’s population, though the island had a sizeable Greek Christian population and a small Jewish minority.




The Arabs had introduced lemons, Seville oranges and sugar cane, as well as cotton and mulberries for silk farming. They built sophisticated irrigation systems for their sustenance and gardens, like the one surviving in Al Jafar, for their pleasure. 

The prosperity this generated led to Sicily, and especially Palermo, becoming a rich hub in the trading networks of the Mediterranean, the meeting place for merchants from the Middle East, north Africa and the young Italian trading republics.



Even if the Arabs were ousted from power in the 11th century, they still left an indelible mark on Sicily’s people and the landscape they inhabit. 

Marsala, now known around the world for its sweet pudding wines, actually means “The Port of Allah.” 

The Arabic word qal’at, meaning fortress, survives in place names such as Caltanissetta, Caltavuturo and Caltagirone. 

Sicilian family names ending “à,” such as Fragalà, Mandalà and Zappalà, are all derived from Arabic names

Some historians even derive Sicily’s other main export — the Mafia — from traditions of Arab banditry that developed as the Normans drove the Muslims into the mountains above Corleone.



Moreover, the crops the Arabs introduced still flourish, and the food they enjoyed is still cooked. 

Trapani, the next large town to Al Jafar, hosts an annual couscous festival. Produce introduced from north Africa and the Middle East — almonds, artichokes, cinnamon, oranges, pistachios and watermelons — still forms the basis of the local cuisine

Sicilians also claim to have invented sorbet, or granita, developing it out of the Arab sherbets they used to make from ice gathered in winter from the slopes of Mount Etna. 

The flavours that still distinguish Sicilian gelateria are those of the sherbets introduced from the Arab world, especially mulberry and almond.




But the most visibly impressive memorial to Arab influence in Sicily is the legacy of art and architecture left by Arab masons, architects, and carpenters, ironically much of it created for Christian patrons. 

When the Normans seized control, they kept Palermo as their base and constructed an extraordinary hybrid palace complex, the Palazzo Reale, that reflected the nature of their kingdom on the frontier between Islam and Christendom, a world ruled by Christians but saturated with much that was magnificent about medieval Muslim civilisation.


This was a world where the greatest of the Norman kings, Roger II, known in some quarters as the “Baptised Sultan”, commissioned the Arab scholar al-Idrisi to produce an encyclopedic work of geography. 

Some of the oldest chess pieces to survive in Europe are the product of his court. In time, through the mediation of Norman Sicily, chess, an Indian game that reached its present form in Persia, would become the most popular game in the courts of Europe.

Eyewitnesses, both Christian and Muslim, were amazed by the way in which Sicily’s Norman kings maintained a Christian court so heavily influenced by Islamic ways. 

One Spanish Muslim who was shipwrecked in 12th century Sicily, Ibn Jubayr of Granada, left a description of what he regarded as a seductively cosmopolitan court, where Muslims interacted with Christians and Jews on a daily basis, at every level. 

“The king has many Muslim doctors and astrologers,” he wrote, “who he covets and takes great care of, to such an extent that when he becomes aware of a Muslim doctor or astrologer travelling through his land, he grants him such a lavish livelihood that he forgets his home.”

The Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela, visited in 1170 and reported that the king used to take trips on the palace lake in gold and silver-clad boats “with his women”. 

The Sicilian kings also maintained pleasure gardens, many built by their Arab predecessors. Here they bred leopards and hawks and kept menageries of giraffes, elephants, camels, lions, lynxes, apes, bears, peacocks and ostriches.

Today, though much has been lost, several tantalising fragments of this palace complex, the Palazzo Reale, survive in the middle of downtown Palermo. 

The different chambers and pavilions are now separated from each other and stand slightly overwhelmed by later baroque and more modern additions, but what remains more than lives up to Ibn Jubayr’s description.

The most impressive survivor is the celebrated Cappella Palatina, which stands as one of the great Islamic masterpieces of Europe, in many ways the equal of the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Cordoba. 

Today the palace chapel appears to be one room, where Byzantine, Islamic and Romanesque features merge into a single stunning space.

Recent art historical scholarship has, however, shown how this gem-like chapel was originally partitioned into two very different areas: a high-domed chancel, filled with dazzling Byzantine Christian mosaics — a perfect miniature Hagia Sophia — and, semi-detached from it by a tall iconostasis, a separate hall of private audience which in its original plan contained no Christian iconography at all, and whose entirely Islamic decoration was closely based on court styles of Fatimid Egypt. Dominating everything is the exquisitely carved and painted gilt honeycomb of a ceiling that still explodes like a supernova of Islamic starbursts in the light of the candles flickering below.






Upstairs, the dazzling display continues. Here are some of the most beautifully decorated chambers to survive from medieval Europe. 

Gilt mosaics of exquisite beauty show paired heraldic leopards, black-spotted and padding soft-footed under fruit trees as centaurs gambol amid a landscape of palms and cypresses.



Other fragments of the old palace complex can be found nearby, isolated and out of context, amid later city squares and car parks. 

Despite partial ruination, they remain jaw-dropping in their elegance and sophistication. 

The Zisa Palace, now home to a museum of Islamic art, was equipped with a type of medieval air-conditioning, by which draughts of air were convected between lower and upper floors, while the ground floor was cooled by fountains and runnels of water sparkling down cascades. 

Other palaces were fed with cool water via underground conduits, while the Cuba was decorated with intricate Arabic murqanas and polychrome squinches.



These elaborate palaces were not just places of pleasure. In these rooms decorated in such hybrid splendour, where Christian, Muslim and Jewish scribes once worked side by side, decisions were taken that affected the great power politics of the day, especially diplomacy with the Muslim powers of the Middle East, and innovations were adopted that have affected all our lives ever since.



It now seems likely that the numerals we all use, around the world, every day — the nearest thing the human race has to a universal language — entered the western blood stream in these buildings. 

In 1138 a coin was minted here by the government of Roger II that is the oldest official year-date in Europe using not the old Roman numerals but the newly introduced Indo-Arab numbers.

The front of the coin is decorated with a bust of Christ, very like that filling the apse of the Cappella Palatina. 

The back has four lines of Arabic reading, “By the order of Roger the Magnificent, The Powerful through God”, then the date 533 in the Muslim calendar, written in the Indo-Arabic form. 

On Roger II’s death, his treasurer, Thomas Brown, returned to England as Chancellor of the Exchequer to Henry II, where he tried to introduce these numerals but without success.





It was under Roger II’s grandson, the brilliant Frederick II (1194-1250), known as Stupor Mundi, the Wonder of the World, that this exotic Indo-Arabic innovation became normalised throughout Europe. 

A free-thinking intellectual, fluent in five languages including Arabic, among the scholars he attracted to his court in Palermo were Leonardo of Pisa (c1175-1250), better known by his nickname, Fibonacci, and a wandering astronomer and mathematician from the Scottish Borders, Michael Scot (c1175-1235).



Fibonacci had grown up in an Italian trading post in what is now Algeria, where he learned fluent Arabic as well as Arab mathematics. 

Aged 32, he wrote Liber Abaci (The Book of Calculation), which was the first work in the west to champion the Indo-Arabic numerals as better suited for both calculation and business. 

Fibonnaci dedicated his next book, Liber Quadratorum, to Frederick.



Then, three years later, in 1228, he dedicated a revised edition of the Liber Abaci to Scot, travelling back to Sicily to hand it over in person. 

Under the influence of the pragmatic Scot, this new edition of the book was aimed at a mercantile audience and showed the practical use of the Indo-Arabic numerals by applying them to book-keeping, money-changing and the calculation of profit and interest.



It was in search of Frederick and Scot that I went wandering through Palermo on my last day in Sicily. The seasons had turned during the fortnight I was there, and what had felt like late summer when I arrived had changed now to the paler light and longer shadows of autumn. 

As I walked towards the cathedral, with its great round apse decorated with interlocking Arab arches, rain suddenly began to fall, at first hesitantly, then with unstoppable Sicilian passion. 

By the time I arrived under the arcades of the cathedral portico, I was soaked and so were many others, all caught as unprepared as myself.

As the wet Sicilians competed to buy umbrellas, I headed inside. There, at the rear of the nave, lay a royal enclosure, cordoned off by red ropes. 

Behind the barrier lay a group of vast porphyry sarcophagi, an imperial necropolis where Roger II and his grandson Frederick had finally been laid to rest, their tombs supported on intertwined heraldic lions, first cousins of those in the mosaics of the Palazzo Reale. 

Whatever their Islamic sympathies in life, in death both men had assumed the trappings of late Roman or Byzantine emperors.





Traces of Scot were less easy to find, but as a teenager in the Borders I had heard stories of his final hours, which were said to have been spent in the Cathedral. 

As well as mathematics, astronomy and medicine, Scot had a reputation for fortune telling and, it was said, was even able him to foresee his own death. 

This he believed would be caused by a stone falling on his head, so as a precaution, he took to wearing an iron helmet at all times.



At least according to Border folklore, he took it off while taking mass in Palermo Cathedral and, as predicted, a small piece of stone broke off a voussoir in the ceiling and fell on his head, causing his instant death. 

He is the only Scot to appear in Dante’s Inferno, where his reputation as a necromancer won him a posthumous place in the Eighth Circle of Hell, enduring tortures in the company of other distinguished sorcerers, magi and enchantresses.



Standing in the cathedral, another Scottish Borderer in search of the secrets of the Sicilian Arabs, I wondered what he would make of the Indo-Arabic numerals he championed becoming standard around the world. I suspect, given his gift for foreseeing the future, that he would not be too surprised. 





 

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The American Abyss @nytimes
Misc.

 


When Donald Trump stood before his followers on Jan. 6 and urged them to march on the United States Capitol, he was doing what he had always done. He never took electoral democracy seriously nor accepted the legitimacy of its American version.

Even when he won, in 2016, he insisted that the election was fraudulent — that millions of false votes were cast for his opponent.

In 2020, in the knowledge that he was trailing Joseph R. Biden in the polls, he spent months claiming that the presidential election would be rigged and signaling that he would not accept the results if they did not favor him. 

He wrongly claimed on Election Day that he had won and then steadily hardened his rhetoric: With time, his victory became a historic landslide and the various conspiracies that denied it ever more sophisticated and implausible.

People believed him, which is not at all surprising. It takes a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what others around them believe, or what would make sense of their own previous choices

Plato noted a particular risk for tyrants: that they would be surrounded in the end by yes-men and enablers

Aristotle worried that, in a democracy, a wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the minds of the populace

Aware of these risks and others, the framers of the Constitution instituted a system of checks and balances. 

The point was not simply to ensure that no one branch of government dominated the others but also to anchor in institutions different points of view.

In this sense, the responsibility for Trump’s push to overturn an election must be shared by a very large number of Republican members of Congress. 

Rather than contradict Trump from the beginning, they allowed his electoral fiction to flourish. 

They had different reasons for doing so. One group of Republicans is concerned above all with gaming the system to maintain power, taking full advantage of constitutional obscurities, gerrymandering and dark money to win elections with a minority of motivated voters

They have no interest in the collapse of the peculiar form of representation that allows their minority party disproportionate control of government. 

The most important among them, Mitch McConnell, indulged Trump’s lie while making no comment on its consequences.

Yet other Republicans saw the situation differently: They might actually break the system and have power without democracy. 

The split between these two groups, the gamers and the breakers, became sharply visible on Dec. 30, when Senator Josh Hawley announced that he would support Trump’s challenge by questioning the validity of the electoral votes on Jan. 6. Ted Cruz then promised his own support, joined by about 10 other senators

More than a hundred Republican representatives took the same position. 

For many, this seemed like nothing more than a show: challenges to states’ electoral votes would force delays and floor votes but would not affect the outcome.


Yet for Congress to traduce its basic functions had a price. An elected institution that opposes elections is inviting its own overthrow. 

Members of Congress who sustained the president’s lie, despite the available and unambiguous evidence, betrayed their constitutional mission. Making his fictions the basis of congressional action gave them flesh. 

Now Trump could demand that senators and congressmen bow to his will. He could place personal responsibility upon Mike Pence, in charge of the formal proceedings, to pervert them

And on Jan. 6, he directed his followers to exert pressure on these elected representatives, which they proceeded to do: storming the Capitol building, searching for people to punish, ransacking the place.

Of course this did make a kind of sense: If the election really had been stolen, as senators and congressmen were themselves suggesting, then how could Congress be allowed to move forward? 

For some Republicans, the invasion of the Capitol must have been a shock, or even a lesson. 

For the breakers, however, it may have been a taste of the future. Afterward, eight senators and more than 100 representatives voted for the lie that had forced them to flee their chambers.


Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. 

Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. 

If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. 

Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around, and the era of Trump — like the era of Vladimir Putin in Russia — is one of the decline of local news. 

Social media is no substitute: It supercharges the mental habits by which we seek emotional stimulation and comfort, which means losing the distinction between what feels true and what actually is true.


Post-truth wears away the rule of law and invites a regime of myth. These last four years, scholars have discussed the legitimacy and value of invoking fascism in reference to Trumpian propaganda. 

One comfortable position has been to label any such effort as a direct comparison and then to treat such comparisons as taboo. 

More productively, the philosopher Jason Stanley has treated fascism as a phenomenon, as a series of patterns that can be observed not only in interwar Europe but beyond it.

My own view is that greater knowledge of the past, fascist or otherwise, allows us to notice and conceptualize elements of the present that we might otherwise disregard and to think more broadly about future possibilities. 

It was clear to me in October that Trump’s behavior presaged a coup, and I said so in print; this is not because the present repeats the past, but because the past enlightens the present.



Like historical fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term “fake news” echoed the Nazi smear Lügenpresse (“lying press”); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as “enemies of the people.” 

Like Adolf Hitler, he came to power at a moment when the conventional press had taken a beating; the financial crisis of 2008 did to American newspapers what the Great Depression did to German ones. 

The Nazis thought that they could use radio to replace the old pluralism of the newspaper; Trump tried to do the same with Twitter.

Thanks to technological capacity and personal talent, Donald Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. 

For the most part these were small lies, and their main effect was cumulative. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else

Once such personal authority was established, the president could treat everyone else as the liars; he even had the power to turn someone from a trusted adviser into a dishonest scoundrel with a single tweet. 

Yet so long as he was unable to enforce some truly big lie, some fantasy that created an alternative reality where people could live and die, his pre-fascism fell short of the thing itself.


Some of his lies were, admittedly, medium-size: that he was a successful businessman; that Russia did not support him in 2016; that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Such medium-size lies were the standard fare of aspiring authoritarians in the 21st century. 

In Poland the right-wing party built a martyrdom cult around assigning blame to political rivals for an airplane crash that killed the nation’s president. 

Hungary’s Viktor Orban blames a vanishingly small number of Muslim refugees for his country’s problems. 

But such claims were not quite big lies; they stretched but did not rend what Hannah Arendt called “the fabric of factuality.”


One historical big lie discussed by Arendt is Joseph Stalin’s explanation of starvation in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33. 

The state had collectivized agriculture, then applied a series of punitive measures to Ukraine that ensured millions would die. 

Yet the official line was that the starving were provocateurs, agents of Western powers who hated socialism so much they were killing themselves. 

A still grander fiction, in Arendt’s account, is Hitlerian anti-Semitism: the claims that Jews ran the world, Jews were responsible for ideas that poisoned German minds, Jews stabbed Germany in the back during the First World War. Intriguingly, Arendt thought big lies work only in lonely minds; their coherence substitutes for experience and companionship.

In November 2020, reaching millions of lonely minds through social media, Trump told a lie that was dangerously ambitious: that he had won an election that in fact he had lost. 

This lie was big in every pertinent respect: not as big as “Jews run the world,” but big enough. The significance of the matter at hand was great: the right to rule the most powerful country in the world and the efficacy and trustworthiness of its succession procedures. 

The level of mendacity was profound. The claim was not only wrong, but it was also made in bad faith, amid unreliable sources. 

It challenged not just evidence but logic: Just how could (and why would) an election have been rigged against a Republican president but not against Republican senators and representatives? Trump had to speak, absurdly, of a “Rigged (for President) Election.”


 

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26 MAR 18 :: "It's no use fighting elections on the facts; it's all about emotions."
Law & Politics


 "So the candidate is the puppet?," the undercover reporter asked. "Always," replied Mr Nix.

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05-DEC-2016:: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk."
Law & Politics

 


Beppe Grillo, the comic turned leader of the Five Star movement in Italy said: This is the deflagration of an epoch. It’s the apocalypse of this information system, of the TVs, of the big newspapers, of the intellectuals, of the journalists.”

He is right, traditional media has been disrupted and the insurgents can broadcast live and over the top. 

From feeding the hot-house conspiracy frenzy on line (‘’a constant state of destabilised perception’’), timely and judicious doses of Wikileaks leaks which drained Hillary’s bona fides and her turn-out and motivated Trump’s, what we have witnessed is something remarkable and noteworthy.

 

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The American Abyss @nytimes [continued]
Law & Politics

 


The force of a big lie resides in its demand that many other things must be believed or disbelieved. 

To make sense of a world in which the 2020 presidential election was stolen requires distrust not only of reporters and of experts but also of local, state and federal government institutions, from poll workers to elected officials, Homeland Security and all the way to the Supreme Court. 

It brings with it, of necessity, a conspiracy theory: Imagine all the people who must have been in on such a plot and all the people who would have had to work on the cover-up.


Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. 

The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. 

When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. 

Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.

On the surface, a conspiracy theory makes its victim look strong: It sees Trump as resisting the Democrats, the Republicans, the Deep State, the pedophiles, the Satanists. 

More profoundly, however, it inverts the position of the strong and the weak. Trump’s focus on alleged “irregularities” and “contested states” comes down to cities where Black people live and vote. At bottom, the fantasy of fraud is that of a crime committed by Black people against white people.



It’s not just that electoral fraud by African-Americans against Donald Trump never happened. It is that it is the very opposite of what happened, in 2020 and in every American election. 

As always, Black people waited longer than others to vote and were more likely to have their votes challenged. They were more likely to be suffering or dying from Covid-19, and less likely to be able to take time away from work. 

The historical protection of their right to vote has been removed by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, and states have rushed to pass measures of a kind that historically reduce voting by the poor and communities of color.

The claim that Trump was denied a win by fraud is a big lie not just because it mauls logic, misdescribes the present and demands belief in a conspiracy. It is a big lie, fundamentally, because it reverses the moral field of American politics and the basic structure of American history.

When Senator Ted Cruz announced his intention to challenge the Electoral College vote, he invoked the Compromise of 1877, which resolved the presidential election of 1876. 

Commentators pointed out that this was no relevant precedent, since back then there really were serious voter irregularities and there really was a stalemate in Congress. 

For African-Americans, however, the seemingly gratuitous reference led somewhere else. The Compromise of 1877 — in which Rutherford B. Hayes would have the presidency, provided that he withdrew federal power from the South — was the very arrangement whereby African-Americans were driven from voting booths for the better part of a century. 

It was effectively the end of Reconstruction, the beginning of segregation, legal discrimination and Jim Crow. 

It is the original sin of American history in the post-slavery era, our closest brush with fascism so far.

If the reference seemed distant when Ted Cruz and 10 senatorial colleagues released their statement on Jan. 2, it was brought very close four days later, when Confederate flags were paraded through the Capitol.



Some things have changed since 1877, of course. Back then, it was the Republicans, or many of them, who supported racial equality; it was the Democrats, the party of the South, who wanted apartheid. 

It was the Democrats, back then, who called African-Americans’ votes fraudulent, and the Republicans who wanted them counted. 

This is now reversed. In the past half century, since the Civil Rights Act, Republicans have become a predominantly white party interested — as Trump openly declared — in keeping the number of voters, and particularly the number of Black voters, as low as possible

Yet the common thread remains. Watching white supremacists among the people storming the Capitol, it was easy to yield to the feeling that something pure had been violated. It might be better to see the episode as part of a long American argument about who deserves representation.

The Democrats, today, have become a coalition, one that does better than Republicans with female and nonwhite voters and collects votes from both labor unions and the college-educated. 

Yet it’s not quite right to contrast this coalition with a monolithic Republican Party. Right now, the Republican Party is a coalition of two types of people: those who would game the system (most of the politicians, some of the voters) and those who dream of breaking it (a few of the politicians, many of the voters). 

In January 2021, this was visible as the difference between those Republicans who defended the present system on the grounds that it favored them and those who tried to upend it.



In the four decades since the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have overcome the tension between the gamers and the breakers by governing in opposition to government, or by calling elections a revolution (the Tea Party), or by claiming to oppose elites. 

The breakers, in this arrangement, provide cover for the gamers, putting forth an ideology that distracts from the basic reality that government under Republicans is not made smaller but simply diverted to serve a handful of interests.

At first, Trump seemed like a threat to this balance. His lack of experience in politics and his open racism made him a very uncomfortable figure for the party; his habit of continually telling lies was initially found by prominent Republicans to be uncouth. 

Yet after he won the presidency, his particular skills as a breaker seemed to create a tremendous opportunity for the gamers. 

Led by the gamer in chief, McConnell, they secured hundreds of federal judges and tax cuts for the rich.



Trump was unlike other breakers in that he seemed to have no ideology. His objection to institutions was that they might constrain him personally

He intended to break the system to serve himself — and this is partly why he has failed. 

Trump is a charismatic politician and inspires devotion not only among voters but among a surprising number of lawmakers, but he has no vision that is greater than himself or what his admirers project upon him. 

In this respect his pre-fascism fell short of fascism: His vision never went further than a mirror. He arrived at a truly big lie not from any view of the world but from the reality that he might lose something.

Yet Trump never prepared a decisive blow. He lacked the support of the military, some of whose leaders he had alienated. (No true fascist would have made the mistake he did there, which was to openly love foreign dictators; supporters convinced that the enemy was at home might not mind, but those sworn to protect from enemies abroad did.) 

Trump’s secret police force, the men carrying out snatch operations in Portland, was violent but also small and ludicrous. 

Social media proved to be a blunt weapon: Trump could announce his intentions on Twitter, and white supremacists could plan their invasion of the Capitol on Facebook or Gab. 

But the president, for all his lawsuits and entreaties and threats to public officials, could not engineer a situation that ended with the right people doing the wrong thing. 

Trump could make some voters believe that he had won the 2020 election, but he was unable to bring institutions along with his big lie. 

And he could bring his supporters to Washington and send them on a rampage in the Capitol, but none appeared to have any very clear idea of how this was to work or what their presence would accomplish. 

It is hard to think of a comparable insurrectionary moment, when a building of great significance was seized, that involved so much milling around.


The lie outlasts the liar. The idea that Germany lost the First World War in 1918 because of a Jewish “stab in the back” was 15 years old when Hitler came to power. How will Trump’s myth of victimhood function in American life 15 years from now? And to whose benefit?



 

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Global 811,227 #COVID19 cases yesterday above 698,256/day 1wk avg. exponential avg growth rate of 0.81% is accelerating @jmlukens
Misc.

 


Global 811,227 #COVID19 cases yesterday above 698,256/day 1wk avg.  Global total now 88,840,840 and exponential avg growth rate of 0.81% is accelerating.  Deaths increased 14,758 yesterday, above 12,239 1wk avg, and 1,912,951 death total on track to 2M in ~1wk.



 

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04-JAN-2021 :: 'Reported'' Daily numbers are in the 650,000 to 750,000 daily range and set to undergo an exponential Phase Shift higher this month.
Misc.

 


The ''warp speed'' Vaccine Roll Out is chasing the coat Tails of the Virus.

''Reported'' Daily numbers are in the 650,000 to 750,000 daily range and set to undergo an exponential Phase Shift higher this month.

Therefore the Virus remains an exogenous uncertainty that is still not resolved.

 

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COVID-19 2wk avg case/day increase @jmlukens
Misc.

 


#Lesotho: 997%

#Ireland: 625%

#Zambia: 335%

#Bolivia: 129%

#Mozambique: 119%

#Spain: 112%

#Israel: 102%

#Lebanon: 100%

#Portugal: 86%

#Sweden: 80%

 

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What is the source of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2)? @Rootclaim
Misc.

 


The virus was developed during gain-of-function research and was released by accident. (81% probability)

This indicates that, if it was used as a bioweapon, it would probably not be released as a method of killing people but for a different purpose such as disrupting the world economy.

There are no obvious natural sources for COVID-19 in the Wuhan area (Hubei province). 

The most similar coronavirus is found among bats that don’t live nearby, and scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact point where SARS-CoV-2 transferred to humans. 

SARS-CoV-2 has parts in common with two different viruses, but those individual viruses do not share these similarities with each other, indicating it is a chimera. Such chimeras are found both in nature and in labs that conduct gain-of-function research. 

SARS-CoV-2 has a furin cleavage site - an amino acid sequence that causes the protease furin to cut the virus in a way that facilitates its entry into cells. 

This feature is missing in related coronaviruses, and its placement in the genetic code looks like an insertion rather than a mutation, making it less likely to develop in nature.


Then, in January 2020, WIV researchers published a paper claiming to have found a previously unknown coronavirus named RaTG13 that was a 96% match with SARS-CoV-2.

But RaTG13 is a new name given to BtCoV/4991, a coronavirus that the WIV discovered (along with many other viruses) when they examined a bat cave after six miners contracted a pneumonia-like disease and three died.


they sent Major General Chen Wei from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences to oversee COVID-19 efforts at the WIV, which could potentially indicate the involvement of a bioweapon



 

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” ― Origin of the #CoronaVirus #COVID19
Misc.

 


“There's always more to it. This is what history consists of. It is the sum total of the things they aren't telling us.”

“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on. ”

 

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04-JAN-2021 :: Today only the Paid for Propagandists and Virologists and WHO will argue that there is a ''zoonotic'' origin for COVID19. There is no natural Pathway for the Evolution of COVID19.
Misc.


It is remarkable that the Propaganda is still being propagated more than a year later. There is no natural Pathway for the Evolution of COVID19.

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‘’Zoonotic’’ origin was one that was accelerated in the Laboratory.
Misc.


There is also a non negligible possibility that #COVID19 was deliberately released

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However, after sequencing the full genome for RaTG13 the lab’s sample of the virus disintegrated, he said. “I think they tried to culture it but they were unable to, so that sample, I think, has gone.”
Misc.

 



According to Daszak, the mine sample had been stored in Wuhan for six years. Its scientists “went back to that sample in 2020, in early January or maybe even at the end of last year, I don’t know. They tried to get full genome sequencing, which is important to find out the whole diversity of the viral genome.”

However, after sequencing the full genome for RaTG13 the lab’s sample of the virus disintegrated, he said. “I think they tried to culture it but they were unable to, so that sample, I think, has gone.”




 

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Currency Markets At A Glance WSJ
World Currencies

 


Euro 1.2175

Dollar Index 90.417

Japan Yen 104.19

Swiss Franc 0.8884

Pound 1.3496

Aussie 0.7699

India Rupee 73.4885

South Korea Won 1098.565

Brazil Real 5.4217

Egypt Pound 15.6989

South Africa Rand 15.4066

 

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$GBPUSD 1hr Chart: 6:06pm NY. It has exactly what I'm looking for when wanting to post and speak of the short-term trend. The purple bars represent Sterling, the aqua bars Euro, red UsdChf. @FXPIPTITAN
World Currencies

 


$GBPUSD 1hr Chart: I've been fighting with this chart and the shown indicator all afternoon and it's now 6:06pm NY. It has exactly what I'm looking for when wanting to post and speak of the short-term trend. The purple bars represent Sterling, the aqua bars Euro, red UsdChf.



 

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Bitcoin. Bad news: at one point it was down 20% since Friday. Good news: it's still up 23% for the year, which is only 11 days old. Never a dull moment @johnauthers 35,022.00
World Currencies

 




I believe $BTC's recent surge puts it now in ''nose-bleed'' territory. I believe its a Trading Sell with a very wide Stop. It is currently at its maximum ''Safe Haven'' / Fiat debasement premia. 04-JAN-2021 ::  What Will Happen In 2021




How's the avocado market? @jeffh690






08-JAN-2018 :: The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy.


The ‘’Zeitgeist’’ of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.


Gladwellian level move. “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire”- Malcolm Gladwell. 

High tech, millenial, crypto, avocado economy exhibits viral, wildfire and exponential and even non-linear characteristics not unlike Ebola.


27 NOV 17 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!"







 

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Africa 28,409 avg #COVID19 cases/day up 35% past 2wks and accelerating. @jmlukens
Africa

 



North America 303,279 cases yesterday above 270,527/day avg.Europe 230,664 cases yesterday below 250,829/day avg.

Asia averaging 43.3k cases/day & Middle East 37.4k cases/day.




 

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#SouthAfrica 21,606 #COVID19 cases yesterday above accelerating 17,898/day 1wk avg @jmlukens
Africa

 


#Zambia 762/day avg #C19 cases up 408% past 2wks & accelerating 

#Morocco 1,357 avg COVID cases/day down 38% past 2wks

#Africa countries’ COVID-19 daily cases, total cases, & growth rate vs time

 

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CoViD19-ΛFЯICΛ: Confirmed: 3 021 650 (+ 35221) Actives: 497 065 (+ 17997) @NCoVAfrica
Africa

 



Confirmed: 3 021 650 (+ 35221)
Actives: 497 065 (+ 17997)
Deaths: 72 876 (+ 677)
Recoveries: 2 449 581 (+ 16547)
Update: Jan 10, 2021 - 09:10 am



Conclusions



Actives at ATH & Daily Cases +68.739% above Wave 1 High

 

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Talked to Deputy Prime Minister of #Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen and conveyed the EU’s alarm over the situation in #Tigray. This is not an EU demand - this is international law. @JosepBorrellF
Africa


Talked to Deputy Prime Minister of #Ethiopia Demeke Mekonnen and conveyed the EU’s alarm over the situation in #Tigray. Full and unrestricted humanitarian access must be granted. This is not an EU demand - this is international law.

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@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.
Africa

 


Ethiopia which was once the Poster child of the African Renaissance now has a Nobel Prize Winner whom I am reliably informed

PM Abiy His inner war cabinet includes Evangelicals who are counseling him he is "doing Christ's work"; that his faith is being "tested". @RAbdiAnalyst

@PMEthiopia has launched an unwinnable War on Tigray Province.

 

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Turning To Africa Spinning Top
Africa

 




Democracy from Tanzania to Zimbabwe to Cameroon has been shredded.

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''

Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator


Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000?

This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.

The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

 

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Politics during 2021 will be dominated by the power struggle between the two official winners – losers, in reality – of 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, President Félix Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila. @Africa_Conf
Africa

 



The struggle between the President and his predecessor overshadows everything, including a possible IMF programme

Politics during 2021 will be dominated by the power struggle between the two official winners – losers, in reality – of the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections, President Félix Tshisekedi and ex-president Joseph Kabila. 

The battle intensified during the final month of 2020, when the President formally dissolved the coalition between his political formation, Cap pour le changement (CACH) and Kabila's Front Commun pour le Congo, and announced his intention to form a new majority in the National Assembly that excludes the FCC. 

A day before, in an unprecedented move, security forces at Kinshasa's N'djili airport were said to have prevented Kabila and his entourage from flying to Lubumbashi, where he had been due to meet FCC leaders to discuss their next moves.




 

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J-Lo suffers party backlash The credibility of President's break with the country's kleptocratic and undemocratic recent past is fading fast @Africa_Conf
Africa

 


President João Lourenço promised an end to the corruption that characterised the rule of his predecessor, José Eduardo dos Santos, to the impunity of the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, and a new role for an emboldened civil society. 

Yet, as the equally ambitious drive to restore the economy falters, so has the anti-corruption drive and efforts to increase accountability. 

The President finds himself unable to use greater democracy, accountability and the law to substitute for the traditional methods of rule, such as naked repression, bribery and patronage. 

With the economic climate so grim, his options are extremely limited.

 

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Election-mania takes hold All the government’s energies are focused on winning the 12 August poll as it tries to ignore an economy in freefall @Africa_Conf
Africa

 


Aware that it looked odd that it did not have a plan to restore the nation’s economic fortunes, the government quickly rushed out its Economic Recovery Programme on 17 December as the latest International Monetary Fund mission left the country (AC Vol 61 No 25). 

Yet sources in Lusaka and Washington alike call it a cosmetic exercise, a programme designed only to buy the government time, while all the efforts of the ruling Patriotic Front and government ministers direct themselves to re-electing President Edgar Lungu and increasing their majority in parliament. All else is secondary.


December 9, 2019 Time to Big Up the Dosage of Quaaludes



 

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Handshake to face poll test @Africa_Conf
Africa

 


The President’s coalition with his former adversary will be put to the electorate in 2021 against a backdrop of economic pain



 

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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January 2021
 
 
 
 
 
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