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Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

“Those who organized the disaster will take advantage of the inevitable…



Wake-Up Call

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

“Those who organized the disaster will take advantage of the inevitable discontent arising from efforts to overcome it, for if there is one thing that they are skilled in, it is demagoguery.”

- Theodore Dalrymple

Can you feel it? The tension rising to the red-line? It runs clear through all of Western Civ. We are ruled by governments of fiends. But now, the sun rides higher in the sky. The sap is rising in the northern forests. The earth heaves. The buds swell and blush. Something is in the air. The animals are waking from their long winter sleep. The natives are restless.

The two traditional political divisions, liberal and conservative died with Covid. Now there are simply the sane versus the insane. The sane have had enough of being pushed around by the insane. The insane don’t register much of what reality tries to tell them. They have a body of insane ideas to comfort and protect them from the reality’s rigors. To call that body of ideas an “ideology” is way too polite.That the insane call themselves “progressive,” is a signature of their insanity.

Progress toward what better state of things? Toward a supremacy of fiends, sadists, degenerates, and morons seizing riches and power by every dishonest means possible outside the rule of law and common decency? It’s not even suitable to call them “communists.” They lack the necessary idealism for that.

They don’t expect to put their shoulders to the wheel with their fellow man. They just want to grab your stuff and then kill you so they don’t have to hear any complaints.

The insane do not believe any of the theoretical bullshit they want to force you to swallow. They don’t care about climate change. It’s just a cudgel they use to beat everyone over the head so they can steal your stuff. They don’t care about “democracy.” It’s just a line of bullshit to cover up their election-stealing. Do you suppose that sane people would keep using electronic vote-tabulating machines that were demonstrably connected to the Internet, and thus hackable, if they cared about election integrity? Of course not. They would arrange p.d.q. to junk them and use paper ballots, and only in person at polling places, with “absentee” exceptions only for people out of the country.

The insane do not care about public health. Everything that is known about the Covid-19 vaccinations tells you that they are unsafe and don’t prevent infection or transmission of a flu-like illness that might not even be what it was officially labeled as. Our public health officials in the FDA, the CDC, and in other corners of the Department of health and Human Services, lie about everything they’re responsible for. This week, the CDC (under Director Mandy Cohen) released a 148-page study on myocarditis reactions to mRNA shots. Every word on every page of the document was redacted. The CDC printed countless copies of the report with 148 utterly blank pages, and then proffered them to the news media. How is that not insane?

The insane do not care about the rule of law. The conduct of “Lawfare” is the subversion of the law by dishonest means. It is a species of racketeering. And that is why Lawfare rogues such Marc Elias, Norm Eisen, Andrew Weissmann, Mary McCord, Lisa Monaco, Matthew Graves, and Merrick Garland, should be charged under the federal RICO statutes for conspiring to deprive sane citizens of their rights and property in the many cases related to the 1/6/21 riot at the US Capitol.

It is, so far, an abiding mystery of contemporary history as to how New York Attorney General Letitia James managed to get away with prosecuting a real estate case against Donald Trump that was no more than victimless business-as-usual between a borrower and his lenders. Ms. James ran for that elected office promising to “get” Mr. Trump on something, anything. That is not how the rule of law works. Under the rule of law, first you determine that there is a crime and then look for who did the crime.

Letitia James must be insane and/or pretty stupid. The short-term gain of stealing Mr. Trump’s property under a false color-of-law and creating impediments to his election campaign, will, sooner or later, blow back at her as a matter of malicious prosecution and, plausibly, racketeering as well. (With whom did she conspire to bring this case? We shall find out.) She will eventually be disgraced publicly as her teammate Fani Willis has already been disgraced in Fulton County, Georgia. I’ll tell you something that all sane people now know but won’t talk about for fear of being crushed by the levers of Lawfare: this looks like a concerted effort by people-of-color to railroad people of non-color. If you think that is a good thing for race relations in our country, then you are insane.

Here are a bunch of other things that are insane: Re-litigating the first amendment is insane. It means what it says, and states it plainly. The open border is insane. No credible sovereign polity would allow it. It would be opposed with force, if necessary. Turning children into transsexuals on a wholesale basis is insane, and fiendishly so. Everybody knows that it is not good for the children or for our society as a whole. But fiends got to fiend, and if you try to deprive them of being fiends then you are guilty of “hate.”

The war in Ukraine is insane. We certainly didn’t ignite it in the service of “democracy.” Our pawn there, Mr. Zelensky, canceled the national elections last year. The war was arguably an effort by our CIA to deprive Russia of its market for natgas in Europe, and thus deprive Russia of a great deal of money, that is, of prosperity. The project failed. Russia overcame NATO’s proxy army and found other markets for its gas. Blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines only served to impoverish and weaken our NATO allies, who no longer have affordable gas to run their industries. The leaders of those allies were too insane to recognize that the Nord Stream op was an act-of-war against them. They were also busy destroying themselves, like the USA, with open borders. They will end up in a new medievalism, ruled by savages. You’d have to be insane to arrange that for yourself.

What’s most obviously insane in our country is that the insane party is pretending to nominate the mentally unfit White House place-keeper, “Joe Biden,” for reelection. You would think that if this party wanted to retain power, they would run a candidate who, though insane, was not also visibly senile. But the rank and file of this party are too insane to see that this dodge is not working. They are pretending with all their might that this is okay, that the growing faction of the sane don’t notice.

Sensing the growing impatience with insanity among the voters, the insane party has reached its point of terminal desperation. What will they try next? Murder? Why not? Nothing else seemed to work. They are too far gone in their insanity to understand that winter is over. We’ve entered the season of rebirth and renewal, starting with a renewed appreciation for being sane and for that indispensable ingredient that makes liberty in a free society possible: good faith. Really, the only question left is: how rough do they intend to play to prevent the return of sanity and good faith?

*  *  *

Support his blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page or Substack

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/22/2024 - 16:25

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Failed deal leaves another airline facing bankruptcy, liquidation

A planned sale of the airline brand has fallen through, and that leaves its future very much in doubt.



The business model for airlines has always been tricky and multiple major airlines around the world have needed government bailouts in order to survive. Traditionally, because airlines are essential services, that money has been there both in the United States and around the world.  

In the U.S., about $54 billion was given to airlines to help them survive the covid pandemic. Had that not happened, it's very possible a major carrier would have gone bankrupt. More importantly, every carrier would have had to go into survival mode.

Related: Bad meat forces popular grocery brand into Chapter 11 bankruptcy

That would have mean laying off pilots, and other key personnel that could not be replaced quickly. Had the U.S. not ponied up and rescued its airline industry, it's likely that prices for airfare would be highly elevated and overall capacity would be greatly decreased.  

It's a situation that was not unique to the U.S. The former Air Italia actually closed in 2021 but later began flying again as ITA Airways after a government bailout. In addition, Germany's Lufthansa and Sweden's SAS have received bailout packages (although those are being challenged in court).

Now, with Spirit Airlines  (SAVE)  facing an uncertain future and bankruptcy rumors in the U.S., another big airline has seen a major deal collapse, which puts its future in doubt.

The U.S. government blocked a merger between Spirit and Jetblue.

Image source: Shutterstock/TheStreet

South African Airways faces survival risk

While many Americans may not be overly familiar with South African Airlines (SAA). it's part of the global "Star Alliance," which means it's connected to many of the world's biggest airlines.

"The Star Alliance network was formed in 1997 by Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai, and United Airlines. For the first time, these carriers began working together to offer our customers a worldwide reach and an improved travel experience," SAA shared on its website.

The Alliance has gotten much bigger since its early days.

"Since then, the Alliance has grown to 26 member airlines, including South African Airways which joined the Alliance in 2006. The Star Alliance carriers are among the most respected in the world. To become a member, an airline must offer and comply with the highest industry standards of customer service, security and technical infrastructure. The 26 member airlines operate together more than 18,500 flights a day, reaching 1,330 airports in 192 countries," SAA added.

Now, after a failed deal to sell a majority interest in SAA, the airline faces a threat to its survival.

SAA has 12-18 months left

For three years, the government of South Africa has been negotiating to sell a majority interest in SAA to Takatso Consortium. That's a controversial decision that the South African government intends to investigate.

"The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises has reached a decision to refer the matter of the Takatso Consortium’s purchase of a 51% stake in South African Airways (SAA) to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for further investigation," according to a media statement from the South African Parliament.

The failed sale puts the future of SAA in a very precarious place.

"The government estimates SAA can sustain itself financially for the next 12 to 18 months. The government has also come to the conclusion that the flag carrier will no longer receive any bailout money. SAA will have to survive on its own or find a new merger partner," World Airline News reported.

SAA's problems actually predate the covid pandemic as it was close to being liquidated in 2019 before filing for bankruptcy which allowed it to keep operating.

The pandemic, however, did hasten its breakdown and greatly contributed to its current dire situation. 

Takatso Consortium pulled out because it did not believe the price being asked was a good value.

"At the end of the day it wasn't about the political pressure, the noise that you are hearing. It came down to, businesswise, as an investor, does this make sense for your stakeholders? Can you continue to drag this process along?" consortium spokesperson Thulasizwe Simelane told



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Spread & Containment

GSK to part ways with ‘most’ Bellus Health employees a year after $2B buy

Many of the employees behind GSK’s late-stage investigational drug for chronic cough will be let go at the end of March.
Roberto Bellini
“After having…



Many of the employees behind GSK’s late-stage investigational drug for chronic cough will be let go at the end of March.

Roberto Bellini

“After having completed the transition activities linked to the GSK acquisition, most Bellus Health employees will be wrapping up their involvement with the company on March 31,” Roberto Bellini, the longtime CEO of Bellus, wrote Thursday on LinkedIn.

A year ago, GSK bought the Canadian biotech for $2 billion for Bellus’ Phase 3 chronic cough candidate, which was expected to compete with Merck’s P2X3 antagonist. That drug was rejected by the FDA for a second time in December.

In his LinkedIn post, Bellini said it was the “end of an era.” He’s now a managing partner at life sciences investor BSquared Capital.

“We’re excited to see GSK complete the last legs of the journey and fulfill our mission of getting this important product to the chronic cough patient community,” Bellini wrote.

GSK, which completed the deal in June, did not disclose the number of roles impacted. In his LinkedIn post, Bellini tagged about 40 people whose profiles list them as Bellus employees.

“During the GSK-Bellus acquisition, we retained employees to a predetermined date to ensure the successful integration of the business,” a GSK spokesperson told Endpoints News. “As often is the case during this process, redundancies may occur.”

GSK is currently running two Phase 3 trials for its lead drug from Bellus, a P2X3 antagonist known as camlipixant or BLU-5937. Data are expected next year, the drugmaker has said.

“We look forward to continuing to drive the CALM Phase 3 clinical development program forward to address the unmet needs of patients living with refractory chronic cough,” the spokesperson wrote.

GSK has described camlipixant as one of its top clinical prospects, and chief commercial officer Luke Miels has said the company projects peak sales in the “single billion dollar” range.

Chronic cough can interrupt daily activities, impair people’s ability to work and disrupt social experiences as some say the condition has been stigmatized due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pharma has estimated about 10 million people in the US and EU experience refractory chronic cough for more than a year.

Merck has said it’s going through feedback from the FDA’s latest no-go for gefapixant, its chronic cough candidate. The treatment is approved in the EU, Switzerland and Japan.

Other companies in the category include startup Nocion Therapeutics, which this month reeled in $62 million for a Phase 2b this year testing whether its alternative approach to treatment can work. Aldeyra Therapeutics, meanwhile, “deprioritized” its mid-stage treatment candidate in January.

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TikTok’s duet, green screen and stitch turn political point-scoring into an art form

TikTok’s features for combining different users’ videos have sparked a wave of creativity. They’ve also formed an arena for political arguments and…




TikTok's features for combining users' videos lend themselves to political disputes. Quick et al, CC BY-NC-SA

Since its astronomical rise in popularity during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, TikTok has played an increasing role in all aspects of American life, including politics, from the White House briefing key TikTok creators on the war in Ukraine to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign launching a TikTok account.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on March 13, 2024, seeking to force TikTok’s China-based parent company to sell the app or face a ban in the U.S. Even if this legislation passes the Senate and Biden signs it into law, it’s unlikely TikTok will go away before the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Any law banning TikTok is likely to be challenged in court, and the app won’t simply disappear from people’s phones overnight.

Given that TikTok is almost certain to play a role in the 2024 election, it’s important to examine how TikTok helps shape political expression and discussion. With communications scholar Mackenzie Quick, I recently published a journal article exploring how American TikTok users use the app’s stitch, duet and green screen features to stoke partisan conflict.

Getting together

TikTok says its mission is to “inspire creativity and bring joy.” In 2019, it introduced several features to help bolster that mission: duet, green screen and stitch. Duet allows you to post your video side by side with a video from another TikTok user. Green screen allows you to superimpose your video on a video from another TikTok user. Stitch allows you to append your video to the end of a short clip from a video from another TikTok user.

TikTok offers several ways to add your video commentary to other people’s tiktoks.

TikTok describes these features as giving users “the most creative tools available” and providing a way for users “to engage with the world of content that’s made … by the ever-creative TikTok community.” Given these descriptions, it appears that these tools were designed to increase creativity, interaction and connections.

They can be used in playful ways or used by subject matter experts to convey information. For example, some veterinarians use TikTok to convey pet health information.

However, a platform’s statements about how it intends its features to be used and how people actually use them can be quite different. While these features are often used in TikTok’s preferred ways, our research found that in political tiktoks, people often used the tools to double down on their political positions and attack those who don’t agree with them. In a time of volatile political divisiveness, these features can function as outlets for people to express their strongly held political views.

blurred photo of a woman's face superimposed ove a text list
A TikTok user makes a political statement using the app’s green screen feature. Quick et al, CC BY-NC-SA

Scoring points

Reinforcement and insults were recurring themes in our study. For instance, the green screen feature was often used to incorporate “evidence” in the background to support the creator’s claims. With this feature, “evidence” was often presented in the form of news articles or posts from other social media platforms.

One post from a conservative-leaning creator features a screenshot of the Apple iTunes music store charts to show the popularity of a song called “Let’s Go Brandon,” a conservative rallying cry and coded insult against Biden. This creator presents the song’s position at No. 1 in the music store as proof that the conservative viewpoint is popular. “Evidence” is a loose term and could be anything that supported the creator’s viewpoint.

We found the duet feature was often used to communicate nonverbally, often to poke fun at someone with opposing political views. Eye rolling, smirking and head shaking were common gestures. In one video, a conservative creator starts a chain – an extended succession of duets – of women who support former President Donald Trump. A liberal-leaning creator uses the duet feature to join the chain with video of themselves holding a clothes iron out to the side to make it appear as though the iron is burning the original creator’s hand.

Side-by-side photos of people with faces blurred
TikTok’s duet feature is often used to show support or opposition to a political statement. Quick et al, CC BY-NC-SA

Stitches functioned similarly to duets, but people tended to use the feature as a chance to verbally respond and refute the previous creator’s point. These uses show that on political TikTok, personal feelings and proving others wrong matter more than constructive debate.

The who and why of political TikTok

While regulation of the app is a political issue, understanding how political conversations occur across TikTok remains important for understanding an increasingly polarized American electorate. When considering political discussions on TikTok, however, it’s important to remember that the app’s features don’t force users to do anything. Users actively shape their experiences in digital spaces.

Also, as political communication scholars Daniel Kreiss and Shannon McGregor note, it’s important to proceed with caution when discussing the effects of technology on polarization because not all groups experience polarization the same way. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement may be seen as polarizing for disrupting existing power structures, but its goal is to fight for equality, and it’s important to consider that context when looking at the group’s use of technology.

The lesson is to consider who is engaging in polarizing content and why they are doing so. While some users expressing themselves via these TikTok features aim to simply prove others wrong, akin to petty arguments, others may be critiquing and challenging the powerful.

Jessica Maddox does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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