What's Going on Right Now


What's Going on Right Now
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Here's a look at what's going on:

The NC Senate Judiciary Committee has approved and advanced a ban on masks. It's one of the most dystopian things we've seen this year. Fortunately, politicians and rights groups, including the NC Chapter of the ACLU, are fighting the ban. The bill's sponsors are trying to assure critics that law enforcement will use their judgment when enforcing it. And yet, the literal wording of the law allows them to arrest anyone they want at any time for wearing a mask. Yahoo News actually ran a great piece here.

You've probably seen comments that this bill bans masks for health reasons but allows them for organizations like the KKK. Well, it's true. The actual text of the bill allows exemptions for "members or members elect of a society, order or organization, engaged in any parade, ritual, initiation, ceremony, [or] celebration...wearing or using any manner of costume, paraphernalia, disguise, facial makeup, hood, whether the identity of such persons or persons is concealed or not." That exemption is practically gift-wrapped for the KKK and other white supremacist, fascist militia groups.

It's in plain black ink. You can't wear a mask to protect your health if you're just someone running errands. You can wear a disguise if you're a member of a society participating in a ritual or a parade.

So I guess if you want to wear a mask in North Carolina, you'll have to establish a society and call your N95 mask a disguise worn during the ritual of not catching dangerous airborne diseases.

Update: This bill has officially passed the NC state senate, and it's now on the way to the house.

A record-shattering marine heat wave in the North Atlantic foreshadows a dangerous hurricane season. According to Scientific American, "Experts still aren’t sure why the oceans are suddenly warming so fast. But some scientists are worried it could be a symptom of a serious shift in the global climate." That's hedgespeak for: It's a major shift in global climate.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump have agreed to their first presidential debate in late June, which is way early. Debates normally start in the fall. They seem eager to take control of the chaos unfolding right now. Biden is probably looking for a distraction from ongoing genocide, a number of blunders on inflation and free speech, and another bungled public health response, not to mention yet another summer of record-breaking heatwaves and disasters. It's probably a mistake to debate Trump right now, but the decision has been made.

There's still stuff worth reading in The New York Times. For example, a piece by J. Edward Moreno talks about the skyrocketing price of chocolate. Crop failures in West Africa started rattling the market. Then "the financial speculators began to pile in--betting prices would rise further." We're in the beginning stages of a chocolate shortage with production trailing demand by nearly 400,000 tons this year. To put things into perspective, last year's shortfall was only 74,000 tons. So, that's roughly a 400 percent increase. This is something the public doesn't understand. They get angry about inflation and blame politicians. In truth, politicians have nothing to do with it. Everything is getting more expensive, because climate change is driving droughts in some parts of the world and record rain in other parts. Instead of doing anything to help, the Wall Street types are trying to profit off it, making things even worse. On a related note, heavy rains devastated farmers in Britain this year. The country is looking at an 8 percent drop in food self-sufficiency.

In other news...

The internet could actually be good for you. A recent piece in Nature describes a study that time online can boost your overall mental and emotional health, contrary to popular opinion. The authors of this 16-year study looked at populations across 168 countries, age 15 and above. They found time online, including social media, to be more like "taking a walk in nature." Of course, that depends on how you use social media. The study aligns with others we've seen. There's nothing inherently wrong with the internet, with television, or with social media. If anything, someone spending a lot of time online is a symptom of other problems in our society. If people prefer the internet over "real" social interaction, then maybe it means our social interactions need some work.

A recent piece in STAT News explores the dark world of raw milk. It's easy to get, and completely unregulated. Raw milk influencers and executives are making an absolute killing off it. Studies have found that when you feed raw cow's milk to rats, "the rats get stupid." It has a direct impact on their memory and learning skills. Many of these milk sellers insist H5N1 isn't even real. Meanwhile, the FDA lets all of this happen right under their nose. They don't have the resources to stop it, and they're worried about the bad press it'll give them to go after raw milk sellers, aka "the little guy."

Meme stocks are back. GameStop stock has surged this week. Crypto prices have been rebounding for a while now. Even Dogecoin is ticking up. As experts have told Business Insider and other financial pubs, it all looks highly suspicious, reminiscent of how bankers and hedge fund managers pump and dump by manipulating market sentiment.

That's all for now.

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