Ideas Forged: Steel is a lot older than you think

A paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science reports the first confirmed existence of chromium iron (aka stainless steel) not as a 20th century creation, but the 11th century in Persia.

Chromium crucible steel was first made in Persia


For more than a century, evidence for the production of crucible steel in Central and Southern Asia, prior to the European Industrial Revolution, has fascinated and challenged material scientists, historians and archaeologists. At the same time, chromium-alloyed stainless steel was developed in the early 20th century, building upon 19th century experiments with low chromium steel. Here we demonstrate new evidence of the intentional addition of chromium to steel nearly a millennium earlier, as part of the Persian crucible steel (pulad) tradition including the production of low-chromium crucible steel in early 2nd millennium CE Persia. We analysed archaeological finds from the 11th c. CE site of Chahak in Iran showing the intentional and regular addition of chromium mineral to the crucible charge, resulting in steel containing around 1 wt% chromium.

My immediate response to reading this was to remember the Mehrauli Iron Pillar in Delhi, India, which dates back to the 5th or 6th century CE.  It wasn’t stainless steel, but the pillar does not rust.  More than spices and cloth were traded along the silk road, so were ideas.  Travellers carried books, and it is less than 3000 kilometres from Mehrauli to Iran.  Is this an example of ideas taken from one place and improved upon by others?

Histrionics Repeats: It’s the Salem old thing

September 22, 1692 was the height of the Salem witch trials, the night when eight people were murdered for “the crime of witchcraft”, along with another twelve victims around the same time.  It was the height of religious depravity and depths of religious ignorance, the belief that false accusations made for political, social or financial gain shouldn’t be questioned.

Remembering the Victims of the Salem Witch Executions

On September 22, 1692, eight people were hanged for their alleged crimes as witches. They were among 20 who were killed as a result of the hysteria that took place in the New England village of Salem where fear of demonic possession struck panic among the Puritans and led to more than 200 accusations against anyone suspected of witchcraft.

The witch hunts resulted in the arrests of 150 people

In Massachusetts in the late 1600s, a few young girls (including Elizabeth Parris, age 9, Abigail Williams, age 11) claimed to be possessed by the devil and blamed local “witches” for their demons. This sent panic throughout the Village of Salem and led to accusations of more than 200 local citizens over the next several months, including Dorothy “Dorcas” Good who was by far the youngest accused at age 4 (she spent eight months in the prison’s dungeon before being released) along with her mother, Sarah Good (who was later executed).

Sometimes described as “witch hunts” (as also seen in Europe from the 1300s-1700s), this hysteria resulted in the arrests of nearly 150 people, multiple court hearings, and the guilty convictions of dozens. Those found guilty were often chained to the walls in the prison’s basement, known as the “witch jail:” a perpetually dark, cold, and wet dungeon infested with water rats. While in prison, the accused, many of them women, were repeatedly humiliated by being forced to strip naked and undergo physical examinations of their nude bodies.

About 20 years after the convictions, in 1711, the colony passed a bill pardoning those accused and granted monetary restitution to the surviving victims and their families. However, hundreds of lives were damaged by the Salem witch hunts. A total of 24 innocent people died for their alleged participation in dark magic. Two dogs were even executed due to suspicions of their involvement in witchcraft.

See also:, “Salem Witch Trials”

Witch hunts were the original “satanic panic”.  But they were as much an attack on women as an exhibition of ignorance.  Women who had status, education, or wealth could become targets of accusations, or just as easily those who rejected unwanted advances.

That sounds a lot like today and certain individuals.

Proctor’s Lodge in Salem, Massachusetts is a memorial to those murdered 328 years ago, the names of nineteen innocents engraved into a monument.  This link provides an online tour of the site.

Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials

July 19, 2017

The 19 men and women who were hanged at Proctor’s Ledge during the Salem witch trials 325 years ago have been memorialized at the site of their deaths in Salem, Mass.

The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of “witch trials” in 1692.

The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. According to the city, the memorial opened on the 325th anniversary of the first of three mass executions at the site, when five women were killed: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.

I consider today to be the beginning of Hallowe’en.  It’s forty days (inclusive) from September 22nd to October 31st.  Normally I view this as the first day of fun, but not this year as the extreme right keeps trying to drag the world backwards into the dark ages.

Homonationalism Exists, And It Kills

Last week, dating app company Hornet published a dubious survey of 10,000 gay men on the 2020 US election.  I say dubious because it was a self-reported survey, not scientific: those who were willing, motivated, had time to participate, and knew about and use Hornet, not gay men in general or a random selection.  And I suspect the respondents were predominantly white and English speaking.  Even so, the numbers are similar to official polls, and I suspect similar to the attitudes of cisgender gay white men.  (Given how rampant racism and ableism is in the gay dating scene I can guess the disparity of pro- and anti-trump voices.)

Hornet Asked 10,000 Gay Men to Weigh In on the Upcoming U.S. Election, Donald Trump

On Sept. 4, just shy of two months before the 2020 U.S. election, Hornet asked 10,000 queer men from every continent to weigh in on their candidate of choice, Donald Trump or Joe Biden, and also polled their level of support for Trump and his term in office. The survey’s results offer valuable insights — not just into how a subsection of the American queer male community says it will likely vote come November, but they also act as an ‘international report card’ of sorts on Trump’s time as president.

Of the 10,000 men Hornet surveyed, 12% identified themselves as U.S. citizens. Of those 1,200 American men, 51% answered they would be voting for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election, while 45% — just shy of one-half — said they would be casting their ballot for Donald Trump. Asked about their level of support for Trump’s term as president, 49% responded, “I do not support him at all”; 11% responded, “I disagree with him on most issues”; 9% responded, “I disagree with him on some issues and agree with him on others”; 11% responded, “I agree with him on most issues”; and 16% responded, “I fully support him.”

This data on the self-reported, self-predicted voting habits of American queer men is interesting when compared to national U.S. poll data, which as of September 2020 place Biden’s support between 49–51% and Trump’s support between 42–43%*. While the percentage of Biden-supporting queer men who took Hornet’s survey falls within that range of national polling, the percentage of Trump-supporting queer men who took the survey is higher than what’s seen in national polls. This percentage of Trump-supporting queer men is also higher than what Hornet saw from queer men worldwide; among all 10,000 Hornet users surveyed, 66% support Joe Biden and 34% support Donald Trump.

Emphasis in the text is mine.  Much more below the fold.

[Read more…]

The Wind Cries: Has it really been fifty years?

Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, fifty years ago.  He was only 27.  And yet despite how short his life and the length of time that has passed, his influence and music still resonate.  I was three when he died so I had no knowledge of the world, but I grew up with a generation of music and musicians influenced by him.

Hendrix’s music and career mirrors Robert Johnson who died 82 years ago, also age 27. Hendrix recorded only four albums (three studio, one live) and Johnson wrote only 29 songs.  And yet, the influence and shadow both cast over popular music of the last century is larger than nearly everyone else.

Many retrospective obituaries on Hendrix have appeared this week: Deutsche Welle, The Atlantic, Guardian, among others.  Benorce Blackmon (of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) reminisced about having Hendrix as his guitar tutor.  The Sydney Morning Herald has an inteview with Dr. John Bannister, the Australian doctor then working in London who tried to save Hendrix’s life.

The tragedy is that we never heard what was to come.  Hendrix had attracted the admiration and attention of Jazz legends Miles Davis and Gil Evans.  Hendrix had always played by ear and came from a Blues and Rock background.  But Evans taught him how to read music, and the two talked about working and recording together.  Sadly that never came to pass.  Imagine the sparks.


Ultimate Classic Rock has a list of quotes attributed to Hendrix worth reading.

“I think religion is just a bunch of crap. It’s only man-made stuff, man trying to be what he can’t. And there’s so many broken-down variations, all trying to say the same thing, but they’re so cheeky, all the time adding in their own bits and pieces. Right now, I’m working on my own religion, which is life.”

“[T]hat’s what the establishment’s waiting for, for people to start fighting against their own selves, like for instance black against white, yellow against pink and all that. But that’s not the idea of the thing. … The idea is against the new and the old, and the establishment causes this by playing games, by turning different colors against each other to make the younger generation weak.”

“There’s no such things as age brackets; not in my mind, ‘cause a person’s not actually old in numbers of years, but how many miles he’s traveled, you know? How he keeps his mind active and creative.”

A very popular comparison of quotes appeared a few years ago.  It’s not hard to guess where I stand on the issue (i.e. if you’re not playing instruments, you’re not a musician).

They Finally Spoke: Scientific American breaks with tradition

Scientific American has existed for 175 years.  In all that time, the journal has strenuously avoided politics because science must be objective and impartial, not cater to partisan politics.

For the first time, SA has broken tradition and has chosen to endorse Joe Biden for president.  I read this as an admission by SA that objectivity and education is no longer possible on one side, and that scientists have to speak for the survival of the planet, not party politics.

The Guardian: Prestigious US science journal to back Biden in first endorsement in 175-year history

In a break with its 175-year tradition, the prestigious US magazine Scientific American has for the first time endorsed a candidate in a US presidential election – the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden.

The magazine has taken the line because, it says, “Donald Trump has badly damaged the US and its people – because he rejects evidence and science.”

Excerpts from the Scientific American editors’ statement are below the fold, the link in the title.

[Read more…]

Make Believe: Cops co-opt and bootlickers lick

Defunding cops is a necessity, primarily in the US but also elsewhere, and the justification for it is obvious. So what are cops doing to justify the budgetary waste and make the public side with them?  They have started lying and fearmongering.  In response to the call to defund cops, I see a disturbing trend three fictions being told.

1) “They want to defund cops AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!”

Not one Black Lives Matter statement has advocated defunding fire departments. But cops (and some fire departments) are spreading this lie. Less money for cops would mean more for fire and ambulance services, more for social workers.

2) “If they defund cops, fire fighters will be at risk!”

Bootlickers within fire departments are spreading this lie. It’s probably union astroturfing, not a genuine thing. How often are fire fighters and their trucks targeted at the scene of a fire? Has that ever even happened?

I’ve searched and can’t find a single news item.  But finding willing liars is easy.

What ‘defund the police’ means for Firefighters

Asking, again, for people to consider how vital Firefighters and Medics are in the long run, and how much they do for the community.

Because if you consider defunding the police, it will mean defunding the fire department.

That goes so far beyond a non sequitur that there isn’t a term in Latin, English, German or any other language.  Considering how many cops have perpetrated violence against fire fighters doing their jobs, I can’t fathom a reason for fire fighters to support cops other than corrupt unions and systematic and systemic racism.  And considering how many racist fire fighters there are, that doesn’t surprise.

3) Cities are claiming that “fire and police budgets are linked”

Sacramento is threatening citizens with an all-or-nothing proposition: “if we defund cops, we’ll defund fire departments”. They are using fear to intimidate people into supporting cops.

Sacramento City Council rejects call to ‘defund’ public safety agencies

The Sacramento City Council appears to be moving forward with a plan to redirect money from the city budget toward a new “participatory budget” fund.

However, it appears unlikely the council will reduce its public safety budgets to support the new fund, despite recommendations from a citizen committee and requests by some activists. The city’s two largest public safety unions sent a letter to the council on Tuesday opposing reductions to their budgets.

The city’s Measure U Community Advisory Committee recommended the council remove $15 million from the city budget to put into a new fund to allow the public to decide how to spend it. The committee suggested the money come from the police and fire budgets, or from money set to fund capital improvement projects and pay down debt.

Seattle is trying to kill people in BLM protests. The city refuses to sent ambulances to the CHOP area “without police backup”. Why would they need “police backup” when it is the cops who are shooting people, when BLM protesters have not perpetrated any violence?

If police are defunded, Seattle firefighters could face a new reality

In the early hours of Saturday, June 20, volunteer medics called 911 to inform dispatchers of a shooting in the Black Lives Matter protest zone known as CHOP. “We need an ambulance. He needs to go to the hospital,” one caller can be heard telling a dispatcher a little before 2:30 a.m.

For the next 20 minutes, a series of callers implored 911 dispatchers to help transport the victim. “He’s bleeding out on the table,” one caller said. “We’ll be there as soon as we can,” the dispatcher responded.

But dispatchers also made clear fire officials would not venture into the CHOP without a police presence. Instead, volunteer medics would have to carry the patient a block away to meet the ambulance.

New Jersey’s chief bootlicker/toady in the fire department also pretends that cutting police budgets in favour of fire and ambulance services is a “threat to public safety”. This while many fire departments have budget shortfalls and need money diverted away from egregious police budgets.

Council Members Say ‘No’ to Effort to Defund Police

Jersey City Fire Department Chief Steven McGill also spoke, saying that cuts to public safety are unwise at any time, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is exactly the wrong time to defund public safety,” he said, praising Fulop’s efforts to build professional departments that have created a safer city.

Where Modern Gaming Began: Ultima IV turns 35

Richard Garriott (aka Lord British) created the Ultima game series beginning with Akalabeth and Ultimas I, II and III. But it was his next effort, “Ultima IV, Quest Of The Avatar”, that would change everything.  Released by Origin Systems on September 16, 1985, it was a groundbreaking game then and remains one of the most influential today.

Ultima I, II and III were among the first “open world” computer games, with entire planets to explore, along with towns and even flying in space. But prior to Ultima IV, games were primarily “hack and slash”: read the background story, buy equipment, kill monsters, level up, repeat until you fight the final battle. In the days of minimal computer resources (e.g. 48KB of RAM and running off floppy disks), these and others like Elite were the most expansive games on offer.

Then Ultima IV came along. It didn’t just break the mould, it smashed the entire potter’s wheel. This wasn’t a game of killing and looting, because there was no “big bad” to defeat. It was a moral tale and adventure, about the player fulfilling the “eight virtues”, learning and deciding right from wrong. It changed game narratives and forced companies to create much more immersive gaming experiences, design realistic worlds to explore, write dialogue, storylines, give NPCs with far more depth.

The New Yorker: The Computer Game That Led to Enlightenment

The healer, as well as the sorcerer and his legion of resurrected bones, were little more than four-color graphics, crudely animated against the simple playing screen of the computer game Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, which is turning thirty-five this year. Compared with contemporary games, this two-dimensional adventure is an anachronism. From an aesthetic point of view, there is little to recommend it, save for the invigorating nostalgia that it induces in those old enough to remember the original. Nevertheless, the journey to fulfill my character’s spiritual destiny was starting to feel a little personal. Over video chat, the game’s developer, Richard Garriott, explained that this feeling was exactly what he wanted players to experience. “You yourself are the character—it is not an alter ego,” Garriott said. “It is your moral compass guiding their actions.”

[. . .]

Garriott was an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons and a compulsive reader of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy; he wanted his next game to feel like a living world with its own mythos and history. [. . .] By the mid-eighties, the phenomenon known as the Satanic Panic was reaching its peak, with many conservative and religious leaders viewing role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons as corrupting influences, turning young people toward witchcraft and violence. The mother of one Ultima player was so horrified by the image of a demon on the cover art for Ultima III—which Garriott told me is based on the devil Chernabog from the Walt Disney film “Fantasia”—that she sent a letter to Garriott, who was twenty-two, calling him “the Satanic perverter of America’s youth.”

It was the fan mail that set Garriott on a path toward reimagining what a computer role-playing game (C.R.P.G.) could do. In these letters, people described how they played the first three Ultimas, which were open-world games that did not require a linear path to complete, giving players the freedom to steal from shops or kill townsfolk. The letter writers explained, according to Garriott, that “the easiest way to gain power was not to play as a good guy.” He was despondent. “I inadvertently made games that drove the players to act dishonorably, as this was the path of least resistance.” What if, he wondered, there were a game in which your moral choices had consequences? He wanted the next installment of Ultima to reward honor and courage, and to penalize players for casual depravity. Garriott’s family and colleagues warned him that players might feel as if they were being punished for having admitted to enjoying robbing and murdering, but Garriott ignored them. “This was the art I was compelled to make,” he said.

More below the fold….

[Read more…]

A Feedback Loop Feeds Back: “Predictive AI” is predictably bad

A Florida sheriff’s office is repeatedly harassing certain families within a county, abusing authority and writing up people for false charges, filing multiple nuisance charges like “disorderly conduct” repeatedly against the same people.  He claims his “predictive AI” says certain people have committed crimes, so he’s targeting them.  That’s bad enough, but his false arrests are fed into that AI and used as “data” or proving they’re committing more crimes.

That’s not “evidence”, that’s self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s the ignorant assuming they have knowledge when they don’t even understand how it’s supposed to work.

Everyone who reads this story keeps saying “Minority Report”, but I hated that movie.  I prefer to quote Arthur Conan Doyle from “The Sign of Four”:

You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.

Predictions and trends are only guides, not proof.  And no matter how good a model, or how much you know about human behaviour, you cannot convict people for things they haven’t done.  A serial criminal who commits the same crime a hundred times still can’t be assumed guilty until you prove they did it the 101st time.  It is possible for repeat offenders to stop.

Some of those harassed in Florida have no criminal history or arrest record before this.

A sheriff launched an algorithm to predict who might commit a crime. Dozens of people said they were harassed by deputies for no reason.

  • A Florida sheriff’s office deployed a futuristic algorithm that uses crime data to predict who is likely to commit another crime.

  • In a sweeping six-month investigation published this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the algorithm relied on questionable data and arbitrary decisions and led to the serial harassment of people without any evidence of specific crimes.

  • According to the report, former sheriff’s office employees said officers went to the homes of people singled out by the algorithm, charged them with zoning violations, and made arrests for any reason they could. Those charges were fed back into the algorithm.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I can imagine a conversation with a journalist going something like this:

Reporter: “Why did you arrest them?”

Sheriff: “Our AI said to because they were arrested before.”

Reporter: “Why were they arrested previously?”

Sheriff: “Because our AI said they would commit crimes.”

Reporter: “But what crimes did they actually commit in the past?”

Sheriff: “That doesn’t matter, this is about prevention.”

Reporter: “So you’re arguing that you can arrest people because you’ve arrested them before?  That your unjustified arrests in the past are justification for repeatedly arresting them in the future?”

Sheriff: “Maybe I should feed your name into the database.”

I was expecting Marcus Ranum to post this story first.

Another Has Passed: Shere Hite, 1942-2020

Shere Hite (November 2, 1942 – September 9, 2020) was a naturalized German citizen (born in the US), a sex educator and feminist.  Her book The Hite Report (1976) was a groundbreaking effort, focusing and advocating women’s sexual pleasure for the benefit of women.  Playboy (one of Bill Cosby’s favourite hangouts) referred to her as “Shere Hate”.

From the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University:

Author, sex educator, and feminist, Shere Hite is known for her groundbreaking research on female sexuality. From 1972 to 1982, she directed the feminist sexuality project for the National Organization for Women, New York Chapter. In 1976, she published her influential study The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which was based on anonymous responses to questionnaires in which women detailed their sexual experiences. She later published additional studies based on responses to questionnaires, including The Hite Report on Male Sexuality (1981), The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up under Patriarchy (1994), and The Hite Report on Women Loving Women (2007), among others. Hite lectured internationally, became a regular columnist for several newspapers, and in the late 1990s, founded the Hite Research Foundation to increase the visibility and potential of women around the world.

I usually link to obituraries in the media, but all those I’ve seen about Hite are quoting known TERF trash Julie Bindel.


The One That Matters: Commemorating September 11th

One of the worst terrorist and political attacks in modern history occurred on September 11th, 1973.  The CIA overthrew Salvador Allende’s popular and democratically elected government in a country with a long history of democracy, replacing it with fascist and mass murderer Augusto Pinochet.

Democracy Now: Sept. 11, 1973: A CIA-backed Military Coup Overthrows Salvador Allende, the Democratically Elected President of Chile

September 11, 2003

We turn now to another September 11: September 11, 1973.

30 years ago today, the democratically elected President of Chile Salvador Allende was overthrown and died in a bloody CIA backed military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet oversaw the killing of at least 3,000 Chileans during a brutal 17-year military reign, which lasted until 1990.

The coup was backed by then-President Nixon and Secretary of State National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger. Salvador Allende was honored yesterday in a ceremony at the palace were he died 30 years ago.

In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London on torture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge. British authorities later released Pinochet after doctors ruled him physically and mentally unfit to stand trial.

ITV: The other September 11th: Families looking for answers 45 years after Chile coup

More below the fold.

[Read more…]

The Golden Hoard: A distraction-slash-feel good story

During the year I’ve been tracking which countries are doing better, worse, or are in complete crisis with COVID-19.  Most of those doing the best have been island nations, which makes sense since air and boat arrivals are bottlenecks, and it’s easy to test incoming people.  Land borders tend to be porous and it’s easier to spread.

Not all landlocked or bordered countries are doing poorly.  Four Southeast Asian countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are all doing well despite bordering countries in crisis.  But (to me) the most notable exception has been Mongolia, landlocked between Russia and China.  There are few more than 300 cases, 12 active, and zero deaths as of today.

Just because Mongolia has 8000km of border with the two neighbors doesn’t mean it’s easy to get in.  Much of it is mountainous or through the Gobi Desert.  Driving into Mongolia can be as dangerous as it is distant, so most travel in and out is either by rail or by plane.  Mongolia cut rail travel to Russia and China in February and as of June still blocked most air travel in and out.

As said above, airports are bottlenecks and so are train stations, making detection and monitoring a lot easier.  Starting in March, Mongolia began disinfecting trains every two hours and test passengers.  With more than 8000 passengers per day of domestic travel, it’s a reasonable measure.  They have also been disinfecting public spaces with sprays.  Thus far, they report only one local transmission, from a French national to another person.

Two of the main reasons Mongolia’s government took immediate action are its inadequate medical system and population centres.  A quarter of the population live in the capital, Ulan Bataar, which is also where most of the rail and air traffic pass through.  Many live in Soviet-era apartment buildings, poverty and cardiovascular conditions are common, so COVID-19 could spread like wildfire if it got into the population.

Fortunately the Soviet era paid dividend with a high literacy rate (approx. 95%) and with most having cellphones (many have smartphones), the dissemination of accurate public health information was as effective as it was here in Taiwan.  The Lancet has a good writeup on Mongolia’s success.

Technology Review: How Mongolia has kept the coronavirus at bay

Davaadorj Rendoo, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Public Health in Ulaanbaatar, explains Mongolia’s national strategy.

Mongolia shares the world’s longest land border with China, but its early and highly centralized pandemic response has been so effective that not a single person in the landlocked country has died from covid-19. A former army colonel turned public health official recounts how Mongolia enacted its extensive quarantine and testing regime under a state of emergency.

We first heard about a new virus spreading in China around New Year’s Eve. On January 10, we issued our first public advisory, telling everyone in Mongolia to wear a mask.

Here’s the thing: we don’t actually have a great public health system. That’s why our administrators were so afraid of covid-19. We don’t have many respirators, for example. We were really afraid that if we got community transmission even once, it would become a disaster for us. What was in everyone’s head was to be prepared before the spread. Another reason we were so keen to protect the community is because we have the world’s longest land border with China—2,880 miles [4,600 kilometers]—as well as continuous human flow for education and business from China to Mongolia.

Mongolia is a big country with a sparse population, about 3.2 million people. Because our country has a very harsh, dry, and cold climate, every year from November to February we have an awful flu season, and the Ministry of Health always encourages people to practice good hygiene and wash hands, especially young children. So many of our suggestions were not new.

[. . .]

We also opened a dedicated, 24-hour covid hotline. People were getting all kinds of wrong information from social media. One big hoax was that because Mongolians eat very healthily and live in traditional nomadic lifestyles, we would not get the virus and had a “natural immunity.” Another big one was that because it is cold and dry, the virus does not survive here, and it only survives in warm and wet climates. Today, even the majority of herders and nomadic people have satellite TV with solar energy, so they can still access information.

[. . .]

We don’t know how long the state of emergency will last. Some of our highest officials have said we will close our borders indefinitely. We cannot take anything for granted. In Japan, they lifted restrictions and the virus came back. Until the end of this summer, we are not easing quarantine at all. But schools will have to start in September. What we still recommend every day to the public is to stay ready, because community transmission might be just around the corner.

Dr. Rendoo may not be very confident in his country’s ability to cope with the disease, but credit to them for not wasting time and doing everything right.  Cheap prevention wasn’t hard.

The UN, in typical fashion, is more concerned about “the economy” and “debt”.  If their concern were Mongolia’s (and other countries’) long term well being, they would be calling on creditor nations and the World Bank to forego servicing of debt.  Instead, like most others, their focus seems to be on “reopening”.  This is likely because, like Bolivia in South America, Mongolia has large quantities of mineral resources that other countries want.  Mongolia has a flawed democracy, mostly free but heavily weighted toward one party, making corruption a problem, both internal and external.  They had national elections in June 2020.

Did You Notice? : There’s more than just the headline

I’m sure by now others have heard the story: Cheetolini talked to Bob Woodward in March about COVID-19, at a time when there were less than 20,000 cases and about 500 dead.

He knew how dangerous it was.  He “played it down”.  He knew people would die.

Trump Admits Playing Down Coronavirus’ Severity, According To New Woodward Book

President Trump acknowledged the deadliness of the coronavirus in early February and admitted in March to playing down its severity, according to interviews with the president that are included in a new book by legendary reporter Bob Woodward.

“This is deadly stuff,” the president told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation, according to the book, which is called Rage. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

But at the time, Trump was publicly saying that the virus was less of a concern.

And yet, this isn’t the part that bothers me the most.  CNN is also covering the story, and they included recordings between Woodward and Cheetolini.  Listen to Cheetolini talk.  He doesn’t sound like an incompetent buffoon.   He sounds perfectly in control.

‘Play it down’: Trump admits to concealing the true threat of coronavirus in new Woodward book

President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book “Rage.”

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. “Pretty amazing,” Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times “more deadly” than the flu.

Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and “all work out fine.”

This is the second recorded excerpt found on the CNN page.  He does not sound like someone who could barely pass a cognitive test:

Woodward: And so, what was President Xi saying yesterday?
Cheetolini: Oh, we were talking mostly about the uh, the virus. And I think he’s going to have it in good shape, but you know, it’s a very tricky situation. It’s –
Woodward: Indeed it is.

Cheetolini: It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.

And so, that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than your – you know, your, even your strenuous flus. You know, people don’t realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?

Woodward: I know. It’s much forgotten.
Cheetolini: Pretty amazing. And then I say, well, is that the same thing-
Woodward: What are you able to do for –

Cheetolini: This is more deadly. This is five per- you know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know? So, this is deadly stuff.

I want to know why Woodward sad on this for six months instead of making this public and saving lives.  Careerism and selling a book?  Agreed to sit on it?

Justice Denied: Again and again and again

The US military occupies many countries; I mean, it has bases and installations in many countries around the world.  Any in many of those countries, the behaviour and actions of their members is ranges from appalling to criminal.  The incidents in Japan alone are shocking and repetitive with no end in sight except when bases are removed.

I lived in South Korea from 2001 until 2005, and was there in 2002 when the “Yangju highway incident” happened: two of the US military ran over and killed two 14 year old girls.  Some say intentionally.  Instead of being arrested and tried in a civilian court, the US whisked them out of the country, protecting them from prosecution.  At a farcicial court martial whitewash back home, they were deemed “not guilty” of manslaughter.  They were never returned to South Korea for trial, and the families never received justice, compensation or even the decency of an apology.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

There are a handful of US naval bases in the Philippines, one of them at Subic Bay, roughly 100km northwest of Manila.  In 2014, a marine named Joseph Scott Pemberton committed a gruesome murder of a Filipina named Jennifer Laude.  He met her for sex and went to a hotel in Olangapo City, outside Subic Bay.  After realizing she was Transgender, he strangled her along with brutalizing her in other ways.

Although Pemberton was arrested and tried for the crime, the US military pressured the Philippine government into undercharging him with manslaughter.  (Under Obama, rembember; Benigno Aquino III was Philippine president at the time.)  Pemberton was sentenced to only ten years.  Even more appalling, on September 1 2020 it was announced he is “released for good behaviour” after only five years and eight months.  He will be allowed to leave for the US instead of being transferred to a civilian prison as was planned.  And since he has no criminal record within the US, his conviction in the Philippines won’t follow him.  He got away with a hate crime.

Court orders Pemberton’s early release on ‘good conduct’

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 2) — A local court ordered the release of Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine Lance Corporal convicted of killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

According to the September 1 decision of the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 74, Pemberton should walk free for good behavior.

Pemberton has served a total of 2,142 days or over five years and eight months in prison, but the court credited to him a good conduct time allowance of 1,548 days or more than four years. This yields an accumulated jail time of 10 years, one month, and 10 days, the court said.

“Thus he is now entitled to be released for he had already served the ten (10) year maximum of his penalty,” the order, signed by Presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde read. The Court of Appeals initially sentenced Pemberton up to 12 years of imprisonment, but this was later reduced to a maximum of ten years.

This is not justice.  This is one cowardly thug president kowtowing and capitulating to another.  The message is clear: US military members can continue to rape and murder with impunity, just like cops back home.  Small wonder US cops recruit from the military.

It also sends a clear message that Philippine courts can be bought, that they view Transgender people as being worth less than cisgender people.