A wannabe dictator never cries: Except maybe for himself

For Trump, there’s only one victim: himself. He fears political defeat more than the deaths of millions

Lucian K. Truscott IV | Salon

A photograph purporting to show Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in tears, having lost all hope over the coronavirus toll in his country, made its way around cyberspace earlier this week. It turned out the photo wasn’t of Conte, but of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and he wasn’t crying about losses due to coronavirus in his own country, but remembering a knife attack he suffered in 2018 during a speech he gave last year.

The photo of a national leader crying spread so widely because it was believable that the Italian prime minister might have broken down as he spoke of the huge number of deaths in his country. But we all know we’ll never see a photo of Donald Trump crying. Even if one is faked, it would be unthinkable, because no one can imagine that Trump would shed a tear over anyone but himself.

Trump won’t mourn for those suffering and dying from the virus, but he’ll accept the sympathies of the fawning suck-asses he surrounds himself with at the daily thank-a-thon that substitutes for the rallies he can no longer hold.

“Thanks to your leadership, Mr. President,” Vice President Mike Pence will typically begin, as he rolls out a list of dubious statistics for masks delivered or ventilators suddenly discovered hidden away in some warehouse. “Thank you, Mr. President … we all thank you … the nation thanks you,” another toady will parrot, likely some “acting” department head or secretary-of-something-or-another Trump’s thinking about going through the motions of nominating so he can keep another former lobbyist at the top of another important government agency.

Trump stands there, eyes unfocused, looking like he’d rather be on the 13th tee at Bedminster as he soaks in the praise. All of that praise is due him, he told said at the Wednesday thank-a-thon, because “we’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here, and if I didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people died — who would have died that are now living and happy.” The Wednesday thank-a-thon was filled with self-congratulation and chest-pounding, but it was no different from Tuesday’s, or Thursday’s for that matter.

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Which Superstitions Are Based on Facts?

by Daniel Kolitz | Gizmodo

Illustration: Elena Scotti (Photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock

Superstitions—passed down through generations, or developed spontaneously on certain online forums—gobble up thousands of productive hours yearly. But it would be wrong to say that all that time spent avoiding ladders or cracks in the sidewalk is wasted. For one thing, we’d probably just be spending that time on some equally useless activity, like working. For another, superstitions are essential binding agents between people, generations, and some vague notion of the Past, from which most of these superstitions sprang, and where, presumably, they made somewhat more sense. To learn more about which superstitions have some basis in fact, for this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of experts in the field.

Read the rest at Gizmodo

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The “Modern Apostles” Who Want to Steer American into the End Times

The Seven Mountain Mandate is a manifesto for conquering all aspects of American life.

By Elle Hardy @ theoutline.com

At first blush, it could be the premise of a terrible airport novel: A group of self-proclaimed “apostles” have a plan rooted in biblical prophecy to “invade” every sphere of life as we know it — and they have the ear of the most powerful man in the world. Unfortunately, the Seven Mountain Mandate is not a work of bad fiction, but a manifesto for evangelical Christians to “conquer” what proponents see as the seven key facets of life: education, religion, family, business, government, entertainment, and media. And while the Democrats are slugging it out to see who becomes the party’s nominee for the 2020 election, 7M, as often called, is coursing through the decrepit veins of the Republican party, offering a vision for total domination at a time when its core constituency is in demographic decline.

image from Berean Research

The center of evangelical gravity may have shifted from firebrand Southern Baptists to slick Californian megachurches infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is clear that 7M is being used to bring together a new and determined Moral Majority for the 21st century. And while the late televangelist Jerry Falwell and his cohorts might have wanted to save your soul or stop your abortion, this new breed of Prophets, Apostles, and Seven Mountaineers want nothing short of transforming society.

The Seven Mountain Mandate came into being in 1975, when God allegedly delivered a concurrent message to missionary movement leader Loren Cunningham, Campus Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, and televangelist Francis Schaeffer to invade the “seven spheres.” The largely dormant idea was resurrected in 2000, when Cunningham met with “strategist, futurist and compelling communicator” Lance Wallnau, and told him about the vision of 25 years earlier. The “prophetic” Wallnau, a 63-year-old business consultant based in Dallas, with a “Doctorate in Ministry with a specialization in Marketplace” from Phoenix University of Theology immediately saw the idea’s potential and began promoting seminars and training courses on the theory as a “template for warfare” for the new century. Its real surge in popularity began in 2013, when Wallnau co-authored the movement’s call to arms, Invading Babylon: The 7 Mountain Mandate, with Pastor Bill Johnson from the prominent California megachurch Bethel Church.

To understand how the Seven Mountain Mandate has taken hold, it is important to place it in the context of its origins in Charismatic Pentecostalism, the fastest growing religion not only in America, but around the world. It is estimated that of the world’s two billion Christians, one quarter are now Pentecostal — a figure that has grown from 6 percent in 1980.

read the rest here @ theoutline.com

See also:

Dominionist Theology: A Guide to Theocracy for Secularists @ pathos.com

What is the Seven Mountain Mandate? @ gotquestions.org

Seven Mountains Mandate Conspiracy to Seize the USA @ news.com.au

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Possible New ‘Mini-Moon’ Detected in Orbit Around Earth

The possible new mini-moon, as observed during the night of February 15, 2020.
Image: Catalina Sky Survey

Astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey say they have detected a rare mini-moon around Earth. Sadly, we shouldn’t get too attached to our new natural satellite, as the rock—if that’s indeed what it is—will only hang around for a few months.

The mini-moon, dubbed 2020 CD3 and also known as C26FED2, was seen by astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona on February 15, 2020, reports EarthSky. Senior research specialist Kacper Wierzchos and research specialist Theodore Pruyne waited a few days to announce their discovery, as further observations were required to confirm the object as a mini-moon, or a Temporary Captured Orbiter (TCO).

The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center (MPC) formally announced the discovery, adding the TCO to its electronic circular on February 25, 2020. Observations made at other observatories “indicate that this object is temporarily bound to the Earth” and “no link to a known artificial object has been found,” according to the MPC, adding that “further observations and dynamical studies are strongly encouraged.”

Though rare, our planet occasionally hosts a temporary mini-moon—a tiny asteroid that loops around Earth for a short while until it breaks free and ventures back into deep space, where is resumes its solo journey around the Sun.

Read the rest here

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What happens when the internet vanishes?

Governments and enemies alike know the power of the “off switch” for silencing opposition and fomenting unrest. How vulnerable are we, individually and collectively? – cPaul

By Joe Tidy & Becky Dale | 25 February 2020 | BBC News

A silhouetted man types on his phone in low light conditions

As the founder of technology innovation hub IceAddis, his co-working space is usually abuzz with wide-eyed entrepreneurs fuelled on strong coffee and big dreams.

But when the internet shuts down, everything is stopped in its tracks.

Data shared with the BBC by digital rights group Access Now, shows that last year services were deliberately shut down more than 200 times in 33 separate countries.

This includes, on one occasion, in the UK.

In April 2019 the British Transport Police shut down the wi-fi on London’s Tube network during a protest by climate change activists Extinction Rebellion.

Read the rest here

See also Government Shut Down the Internet Hundreds of times in 2019 @ futurism.com

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Escaping the Rabbit Hole: How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect

Amazon Review

Here is a conclusive, well-researched, practical reference on why people fall down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole and how you can help them escape. Mick West shares the knowledge and experience he’s accumulated debunking false conspiracy theories, and offers a practical guide to helping friends and loved ones recognize these theories for what they really are.

The Earth is flat, the World Trade Center collapse was a controlled demolition, planes are spraying poison to control the weather, and actors faked the Sandy Hook massacre…. 
All these claims are bunk: falsehoods, mistakes, and in some cases, outright lies. But many people passionately believe one or more of these conspiracy theories. They consume countless books and videos, join like-minded online communities, try to convert those around them, and even, on occasion, alienate their own friends and family. Why is this, and how can you help people, especially those closest to you, break free from the downward spiral of conspiracy thinking?

In Escaping the Rabbit Hole, author Mick West shares over a decade’s worth of knowledge and experience investigating and debunking false conspiracy theories through his forum, MetaBunk.org, and sets forth a practical guide to helping friends and loved ones recognize these theories for what they really are.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, the most successful approaches to helping individuals escape a rabbit hole aren’t comprised of simply explaining why they are wrong; rather, West’s tried-and-tested approach emphasizes clear communication based on mutual respect, honesty, openness, and patience.

West puts his debunking techniques and best practices to the test with four of the most popular false conspiracy theories today (Chemtrails, 9/11 Controlled Demolition, False Flags, and Flat Earth) — providing road maps to help you to understand your friend and help them escape the rabbit hole. These are accompanied by real-life case studies of individuals who, with help, were able to break free from conspiracism.

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Documentary About the Members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus Before It Existed

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What Makes Dogs So Special? Science Says Love

When I studied Animal Psychology at University a thousand years ago (ok… 40), the last expert word on animal empathy was that it did not exist, other than through our anthropomorphization of our animal friends. Those who have lived with dogs have always known differently, and are now vindicated by SCIENCE! Take that, American Psychology Association, and your various scholarly publications too!

Phys.org has a compelling article that suggests this is no longer the last scientific word on the subject. – cpaul

“The idea that animals can experience love was once anathema to the psychologists who studied them, seen as a case of putting sentimentality before scientific rigor.

But a new book argues that, when it comes to dogs, the word is necessary to understanding what has made the relationship between humans and our best friends one of the most significant interspecies partnerships in history.

Clive Wynne, founder the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, makes the case in “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.”

The animal psychologist, 59, began studying dogs in the early 2000s, and, like his peers, believed that to ascribe complex emotions to them was to commit the sin of anthropomorphism—until he was swayed by a body evidence that was growing too big to ignore.

“I think there comes a point when it’s worth being skeptical of your skepticism,” the Englishman said in an interview with AFP.

Canine science has enjoyed a resurgence in the past two decades, much of it extolling dogs’ smarts.

Titles like “The Genius of Dogs” by Brian Hare have advanced the idea that dogs have an innate and exceptional intelligence.

Wynne, however plays spoilsport, arguing that Fido is just not that brilliant.”

Read the rest here

Also see:


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How the United States re-branded as “America”

by Tom Dunn via BOINGBOING

NPR’s Throughline had a great recent episode about what’s essentially the branding of the American Empire. Host Rund Abdelfatah speaks with Daniel Immerwahr, a history professor at Northwestern University, who the changing ways that America has identified itself over the years.

I always found it kind of strange to say “America” (even though I do it), as it also refers to two entire continents. And I’ve similarly found it interesting when I hear Europeans refer to the country as “the States.” But Immerwahr took things a step further, and traced the history of self-reference through American presidential speeches. Prior to 1898 — the time of our rarely-mentioned war with Spain, which saw American expansionism grow beyond the continental borders and into the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Cuba and so on — it was rare to hear a President refer to the country as “America.” It could be the Republic, or the Union, or the United States, sometimes even Columbia or Freedonia (like “land of the free people,” yes that was apparently a real thing at one time).

Immerwahr smartly connects this to curiosity to the country’s intrinsic relationship (and subsequent, neverending identity crises) with imperialism. We were founded on conquered land, and though we aspired to be a union of independent nation-states with open borders and shared currency, that never actually happened. The “free” people of the United States distinguished themselves from the black slaves who tilled their fields, and the various Native American nations with whom they sometimes shared the land. Unlike, say, European nations — where people have a long-standing cultural and historical connection to a region, regardless of who owns the it, or what the country might be called — we immediately began expanding westward, and claiming more and more territory as if it inherently and rightfully belonged to us.

Then we ran out of land. Then the war with Spain and the Filipino-American war happened. Then something started to shift, and we began to accept that we were never really a union of states to begin with. We had territories, and colonies — just as we had all along.

I’ll let Immerwahr explain the rest, and better connect the dots. He articulates some truths about American exceptionalism that I hope even the most jingoistic patriots might appreciate.

– Tom Dunn

‘Throughline’: Becoming America [Rund Abdelfatah / NPR]


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Betelgeuse Ready to Explode?

Huge red star might explode soon and next few weeks are critical


Betelgeuse has been very volatile lately, and astronomers are watching to determine if it’s terminal or just going through a phase.


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