Monday 25th of January 2021

times are a-changing...

changing times

Patti Mulhearn Lydon, 68, doesn’t have rose-colored memories of attending Woodstock in August 1969. The rock festival, which took place over four days in Bethel, NY, mostly reminds her of being covered in mud and daydreaming about a hot shower.

She was a 17-year-old high-school student from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, when she made the trek to Max Yasgur’s farm with her boyfriend Rod. For three nights, she shared an outdoor bedroom with 300,000 other rock fans from around the country, most of whom were probably not washing their hands for the length of “Happy Birthday” — or at all.

“There was no food or water, but one of our guys cut an apple into twenty-seven slices and we all shared it,” she said. At some point, a garden hose from one of the farm’s neighbors was passed around and strangers used it as a communal source for bathing and drinking, she said.

And all of this happened during a global pandemic in which over one million people died.

H3N2 (or the “Hong Kong flu,” as it was more popularly known) was an influenza strain that the New York Times described as “one of the worst in the nation’s history.” The first case of H3N2, which evolved from the H2N2 influenza strain that caused the 1957 pandemic, was reported in mid-July 1968 in Hong Kong. By September, it had infected Marines returning to the States from the Vietnam War. By mid-December, the Hong Kong flu had arrived in all fifty states.

But schools were not shut down nationwide, other than a few dozen because of too many sick teachers. Face masks weren’t required or even common. Though Woodstock was not held during the peak months of the H3N2 pandemic (the first wave ended by early March 1969, and it didn’t flare up again until November of that year), the festival went ahead when the virus was still active and had no known cure.

“I wish they had social distancing at Woodstock,” jokes Lydon, who now lives in Delray Beach, Florida, and works as a purchasing manager for MDVIP, a network of primary care doctors. “You had to climb over people to get anywhere.”

“Life continued as normal,” said Jeffrey Tucker, the editorial director for the American Institute for Economic Research. “But as with now, no one knew for certain how deadly [the pandemic] would turn out to be. Regardless, people went on with their lives.”

Which, he said, isn’t all that surprising. “That generation approached viruses with calm, rationality and intelligence,” he said. “We left disease mitigation to medical professionals, individuals and families, rather than politics, politicians and government.”

While it’s way too soon to compare the numbers, H3N2 has so far proved deadlier than COVID-19. Between 1968 and 1970, the Hong Kong flu killed between an estimated one and four million, according to the CDC and Encyclopaedia Britannica, with US deaths exceeding 100,000. As of this writing, COVID-19 has killed more than 295,000 globally and around 83,000 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. But by all projections, the coronavirus will surpass H3N2’s body count even with a global shutdown.



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who did the firing?...

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has fired the State Department’s inspector general, an Obama administration appointee whose office was critical of alleged political bias in the agency’s management. The ouster is the latest in a series of moves against independent executive branch watchdogs who have found fault with the Trump administration.


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The US state department's inspector general, Steve Linick, has become the latest senior official to be fired by US President Donald Trump. 

Mr Trump said Mr Linick no longer had his full confidence and that he would be removed in 30 days. 

Mr Linick had begun investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for suspected abuse of office, reports say. 

Democrats say Mr Trump is retaliating against public servants who want to hold his administration to account.


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So, was it Trump or Pompeo who did the firing?



Please remember that Joe Biden asked Ukrainian President Poroshenko to fire their Inspector  — or else — as he was inspecting the company in which Joe's son was a director... 

spotlight on old vulnerabilities...

"Structural vulnerabilities" sound dry, so let's put a face on them: These are families in their cars waiting in a food bank line that stretches for miles. This is the unemployed mother whose military widow's pension is too meager to feed three children. This is the stretcher-bearer denied adequate protective gear because there was not enough to go around.

These faces are visible now, as the coronavirus crisis thrusts them into the spotlight. But their situation is not new. Countless authors have called attention to structural problems such as glaring inequality, winner-takes-all capitalism and money-choked politics. Numerous politicians — including the most recent Democratic candidates for president — have outlined solutions. I will focus here on just one issue: the precarious situation of the middle class, which has resulted from a program of tax reductions, deregulation and welfare cutbacks that redistribute neither the gains that accrue at the top of the social pyramid nor the risks faced by those lower down.

The documentary was entitled Challenge to America. It concluded that the US could learn from the German commitment to sustaining social stability. By the time the film aired, the challenge appeared moot: Germany had slipped into a deep, post-reunification recession. It was not until the financial crisis of 2008 that "Kurzarbeit" once again drew trans-Atlantic attention as a means of cushioning the social impact of economic volatility.

The disparity between American and German capitalism is not the product of inevitable cultural differences but of political choices. The US has historical narratives — from the Puritans' "city on a hill" [refers to a community that others will look up to — the ed.] to Franklin D. Roosevelt's "economic bill of rights" — that could serve as the foundation for a uniquely American social market economy. These narratives, however, have been distorted and instrumentalized in the service of a neoliberal agenda that benefits powerful interests.

Read the latest coverage on the worldwide coronavirus pandemic

Germany as a role model?

What needs to be done is no secret — not least because other nations are doing it. As a young journalist in 1993, I spent months researching Germany's "social market economy" model for a US public television documentary by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Hedrick Smith. I will never forget the American production team doing a double take as Berthold Leibinger, the legendary CEO of German work tools maker Trumpf, explained why a model that might look socialistic to many Americans made good business sense: both societal and corporate resilience were enhanced, he said, by universal health care and by systems such as "Mitbestimmung," which  gives workers a say in management decisions; "Kurzarbeit," which ensures workers remain on a firm's payroll even in a downturn; and the "Duale Ausbildung" program of vocational training and apprenticeships.


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revisiting old times...



Cartoon by Warren c. 1990 (hell! how time flies, this was 30 years ago !).... In the original text, the worry was "PATERNITY LEAVE", as the Labor government instituted this progressive agenda which the rightwingers hated as it was "costing money" to the flogging masters.


Warren works for the Daily Telegraph which is the voice of rightwing politics in Australia (owned by Uncle Rupe — that is the Daily Telegraph AND the rightwing in Australia), designed to tear away the unwashed from "unionised" labour and make them think that the CONservatives have the best policies for their welfare, while the complete opposite is true.


Wicked Uncle Rupe... but we don't mind Warren being a rightwing cartoonist... See:


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the art of yoofing about...


Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Henry Ford