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Archive for February 11th, 2021

The next insurrection will be more practiced and effective

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People’s Rights founder Ammon Bundy (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Judd Legum and Tesnim Zekeria write in Popular Information:

The January 6 siege of the United States Capitol was not an isolated incident. It is the latest in a series of attacks by violent extremists seeking to undermine federal and state governments. Now, a new organization called “People’s Rights” seeks to bring more sophistication and efficiency to these anti-government efforts. And it is already having considerable success. 

The leader of People’s Rights, which was founded last March, is Ammon Bundy. He was the infamous “leader of the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon — a deadly 41-day standoff between federal agents and militants who rejected the federal government’s authority over public lands across the West. ” Bundy and his heavily-armed associates seized the refuge to protest the conviction of two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were “sentenced to prison for setting fires on federal lands.” Bundy demanded “that the government relinquish ownership” of the refuge and “free the Hammonds.”

The standoff ended when Bundy was arrested at a traffic stop outside the refuge. Bundy was tried in October 2016 on federal weapons and conspiracy charges but, astoundingly, was acquitted by a jury. 

In 2018, Trump gave Bundy what he wanted, pardoning the Hammonds and releasing them from federal prison. “The Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West,” the White House said.

Bundy’s new organization is even more ambitious. People’s Rights wants to enable people to “call a militia like they’d call an Uber and stage a protest within minutes.” Bundy claims People’s Rights has 50,000 members in 35 states. The goal, according to Bundy, is to be able to “dispatch 10 protesters to a scene in 10 minutes, 100 in 100 minutes and 1,000 in 1,000 minutes.”

Bundy did not travel to DC on January 6, but urged his followers to go. In a video posted at the end of December, Bundy said he wanted to “express his support for what is happening in Washington on January 6.” Bundy called it an “opportunity to stand for a Constitutional republic.” He also viewed it as a recruiting opportunity for People’s Rights. He told members traveling to DC to “spread the word” and download banners from the People’s Rights website to take with them. “Don’t wear a mask. Stand for freedom,” Bundy concluded. 

Jennifer Rokala, who runs the Center for Western Priorities, called Bundy’s 2016 occupation of the refuge a “dress rehearsal” for the January 6 siege. “The extremist ideologies and tactics that led to the violent occupation of public lands in Oregon are the same ideologies that President Trump has stoked among his supporters,” she said in a statement Thursday.” 

Bundy and People’s Rights have also engaged in . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2021 at 3:38 pm

The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired.

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The decision to fire the doctor — and moreover to charge him with a crime — strikes me as quite clearly racist. Dan Barry reports in the NY Times:

The Texas doctor had six hours. Now that a vial of Covid-19 vaccine had been opened on this late December night, he had to find 10 eligible people for its remaining doses before the precious medicine expired. In six hours.

Scrambling, the doctor made house calls and directed people to his home outside Houston. Some were acquaintances; others, strangers. A bed-bound nonagenarian. A woman in her 80s with dementia. A mother with a child who uses a ventilator.

After midnight, and with just minutes before the vaccine became unusable, the doctor, Hasan Gokal, gave the last dose to his wife, who has a pulmonary disease that leaves her short of breath.

For his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then charged with stealing 10 vaccine doses worth a total of $135 — a shun-worthy misdemeanor that sent his name and mug shot rocketing around the globe.

“It was my world coming down,” Dr. Gokal said in a telephone interview on Friday. “To have everything collapse on you. God, it was the lowest moment in my life.”

The matter of Dr. Gokal is playing out as pandemic-weary Americans scour websites and cross state lines chasing rumors, all in anxious pursuit of a medicine in short supply. The case opens wide to interpretation, becoming a study in the learn-as-you-go bioethics of the country’s stumbling vaccine rollout.

Late last month, a judge dismissed the charge as groundless, after which the local district attorney vowed to present the matter to a grand jury. And while prosecutors portray the doctor as a cold opportunist, his lawyer says he acted responsibly — even heroically.

“Everybody was looking at this guy and saying, ‘I got my mother waiting for a vaccine, my grandfather waiting for a vaccine,’” the lawyer, Paul Doyle, said. “They were thinking, ‘This guy is a villain.’”

Dr. Gokal, 48, immigrated from Pakistan as a boy and earned a medical degree at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. After working at hospitals in Central New York, he moved to Texas in 2009 to oversee the emergency department at a suburban Houston hospital. His volunteer work has included rebuilding homes and providing medical care after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

. . . On Dec. 22, Dr. Gokal joined a conference call in which state health officials explained the protocols for administering the recently approved Moderna vaccine. The 10 or 11 doses in a vial are viable for six hours after the seal is punctured.

Dr. Gokal said the advice was to vaccinate people eligible under the 1(a) category (health care workers and residents in long-term-care facilities), then those under the 1(b) category (people over 65 or with a health condition that increases risk of severe Covid-related illness).

After that, he said, the message was: “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”

On Dec. 29, a mild Tuesday, Dr. Gokal arrived before dawn at a park in the Houston suburb of Humble to supervise a vaccination event intended mostly for emergency workers. In part because of minimal publicity, the pace was slow, with no more than 250 doses administered. But this was the county’s first public event, he said. “We knew there would be hiccups.”

Around 6:45 at night, as the event wound down, an eligible person arrived for a shot. A nurse punctured a new vial to administer the vaccine, which activated the six-hour time limit for the 10 remaining doses.

The chances of 10 eligible people suddenly showing up were slim; by now, workers were offsetting the darkness with car headlights. But Dr. Gokal said he was determined not to waste a single dose.

He said he first asked the event’s 20 or so workers, who either refused or had already been vaccinated. The paramedics on site had left, and of the two police officers, one had been vaccinated and the other declined the doctor’s offer.

Dr. Gokal said he called a Harris County public health official in charge of operations to report his plans to find 10 people to receive the remaining doses. He said he was told, simply: OK.

He said he then called another high-ranking colleague whose parents and in-laws were eligible for the vaccine. They weren’t available.

The hours were counting down.

The doctor figured that if he returned the open vial to his department’s almost certainly empty office at this late hour, it would go to waste. So as he started the drive to his home in a neighboring county, he said, he called people in his cellphone’s contact list to ask whether they had older relatives or neighbors needing to be immunized.

“No one I was really intimately familiar with,” Dr. Gokal said. “I wasn’t that close to anyone.”

When he reached his home in Sugar Land, waiting outside were a woman in her mid-60s with cardiac issues, and a woman in her early 70s with assorted health problems. He inoculated both.

Eight doses to go.

The doctor got back in his car — his wife insisted on going with him — and drove to a Sugar Land house with four eligible people: a man in his late 60s with health issues; the man’s bed-bound mother, in her 90s; his mother-in-law, in her mid-80s and with severe dementia; and his wife, her mother’s caregiver.

He then drove to the home of a housebound woman in her late 70s and administered the vaccine. “I didn’t know her at all,” he said.

Three doses remained, but three people had agreed to meet the doctor at his home. Two were already waiting: a distant acquaintance in her mid-50s who works at a health clinic’s front desk, and a 40-ish woman he had never met whose child relies on a ventilator.

As midnight approached, Dr. Gokal said, the third would-be recipient called to say that he wouldn’t be coming: too late.

Tired and frustrated, Dr. Gokal said that he turned to his wife, whose pulmonary sarcoidosis made her eligible for the vaccine. “I didn’t intend to give this to you, but in a half-hour I’m going to have to dump this down the toilet,” he recalled telling her. “It’s as simple as that.”

He said his hesitant wife asked whether it was the right thing to do. “It makes perfect sense,” he said he answered. “We don’t want any doses wasted, period.”

With 15 minutes to spare, Dr. Gokal gave his wife the last Moderna dose.

The next morning, he said, he submitted the paperwork for the 10 people he had vaccinated the previous night, including his wife. He said he also informed his supervisor and colleagues of what he had done, and why.

Several days later, the doctor said, that supervisor and the human resources director summoned him to ask whether he had administered 10 doses outside of the scheduled event on Dec. 29. He said he had, in keeping with guidelines not to waste the vaccine — and was promptly fired.

The officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away, the doctor recalled. He also said that one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.

“Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” Dr. Gokal said he asked.

Exactly, he said he was told. . . .

It seems clear that if the names had been “white” names, there would not have been a problem, especially since the guidelines and protocols had been followed.

But it gets worse:

On Jan. 21, about two weeks after the doctor’s termination, a friend called to say that a local reporter had just tweeted about him. At that very moment, one of his three children answered the door to bright lights and a thrust microphone. Shaken, the 16-year-old boy closed the door and said, “Dad, there are people out there with cameras.”

This was how Dr. Gokal learned that he had been charged with stealing vaccine doses.

Harris County’s district attorney, Kim Ogg, had just issued a news release that afternoon with the headline: “Fired Harris County Health Doctor Charged With Stealing Vial Of Covid-19 Vaccine.”

It alleged that Dr. Gokal “stole the vial” and disregarded county protocols to ensure that vaccines are not wasted and are administered to eligible people on a waiting list. “He abused his position to place his friends and family in line in front of people who had gone through the lawful process to be there,” Ms. Ogg said.

But Dr. Gokal said that no one from the district attorney’s office had ever contacted him to hear his version of events. And when his lawyer requested copies of the written protocols and waiting list referred to in the complaint, a prosecutor told him by email that there were no written protocols from late December; nor had a written wait list yet been found.

Harris County had received the vaccine faster than anticipated, the email said, and public health officials “immediately jumped from testing to vaccinating.”

As news of his alleged crime spread, Dr. Gokal heard from relatives and friends in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. “Many were calling me for support, telling me, ‘We know you better than that,’” he said. “But there were a lot of people who didn’t call.”

Days later, a criminal court judge, Franklin Bynum, dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

“In the number of words usually taken to describe an allegation of retail shoplifting, the State attempts, for the first time, to criminalize a doctor’s documented administration of vaccine doses during a public health emergency,” he wrote. “The Court emphatically rejects this attempted imposition of the criminal law on the professional decisions of a physician.”

Both the Texas Medical Association and the Harris County Medical Society recently issued a statement of support for physicians like Dr. Gokal who find themselves scrambling “to avoid wasting the vaccine in a punctured vial.”

“It is difficult to understand any justification for charging any well-intentioned physician in this situation with a criminal offense,” the statement said.

Dane Schiller, the district attorney’s director of communications, declined to answer questions about the case . .

Read the whole thing. The US is still a racist nation. No wonder Donald Trump appeals to so many.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2021 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics

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3-D printed meat and (vegan v. whole-food plant-only)

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A vegan is not the same as a person who (like me) follows a whole-food plant-only diet. For one thing a vegan generally puts a high priority on animal welfare and will (for example) not use products derived from animals (no leather shoes, belts, wallets, or handbags, for example, and no wool sweaters or shirts or socks). The WFPO person is focused on food, not attire, and their primary concern is health.

One effect of this difference is that vegans will eat many foods that a WFPO person will avoid — namely, foods manufactured from refined ingredients using industrial processes. In fact, in a typical supermarket there’s often a whole section of such highly processed foods specifically marketed to vegans — imitation meat (“field roast,” for example), imitation cheese, and the like. These are about as far from whole foods as you can get (and, oddly, they are sold at Whole Foods despite the market’s name).

So now we have manufactured meats that do not involve killing animals but instead are made by cultivating animal muscle and fat cells and printing them to make a steak. A vegan (preumably) could happily eat such a steak — no animal suffering involved — whereas a WFPO person will avoid them because, despite the absence of animal slaughter, the food still is high in (for example) saturated fats and in its effects on IGF-1. 

It will be interesting to see how this new food plays out in practice, but it certainly strikes me as vegan-acceptable.

Laura Relley reports in the Washington Post:

An Israeli company unveiled the first 3-D-printed rib-eye steak on Tuesday, using a culture of live animal tissue, in what could be a leap forward for lab-grown meat once it receives regulatory approval.

During the coronavirus pandemic, alternative protein products have soared in popularity, prompting nearly every multinational food corporation to hasten to bring its own versions to market. Frequently plant-based products have been patties or processed nuggets — “everyday” foods easier for companies to produce — that aim to ease the climate effects of the worst offender: Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bioprinting technology — which uses living animal cells as opposed to plant-based alternatives — allows for premium whole-muscle cuts to come to market, broadening the scope of alt-meat in what is expected to be a rich area of expansion for food companies.

Several other companies are sprinting to capture what is expected to be a robust appetite for what is often called “cultivated meat.” San Diego-based BlueNalu has announced its intent to bring cell-based seafood products to market in the second half of this year; Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat aim to have cultivated meat products in the market by 2022, each with proprietary methods of growing meat tissues from punch biopsies from live or slaughtered animals.

But the lack of a regulatory framework could stymie the companies’ race to market. In December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the world’s first head of state to eat cultivated meat, and that same month Singapore became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for the sale of cultivated meat. It remains unclear when other countries will follow suit. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not set a date for when it will rule on the matter.

The new meat-making process, developed with research partners at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, prints living cells that are incubated on a plant-based matrix to grow, differentiate and interact to achieve the texture and qualities of a real steak. It has a system similar to an animal’s vascular system, which allows cells to mature and nutrients to move across thicker tissue, resulting in a steak with a similar shape and structure to traditional cow tissue before and during cooking.

“It’s not just proteins. It’s a complex, emotional product,” says Aleph chief executive Didier Toubia. He says the product mirrors the sensory quality, texture, flavor and fatty marbling of a traditionally produced rib-eye.

Toubia’s claim will be quickly tested. Unlike plant-based burger patties or meat strips used in a more complex dish, Aleph’s rib-eye will often be served unadorned and at the center of a plate — with no bun, sauce or other ingredients to disguise it. Toubia said the company will even be able to adapt the steak to a specific country or palate, for instance, making it more or less tender, according to a consumer’s taste.

“With cows, the breed has a role, but the quality comes from the feed. With our cultivated meat it is similar,” Toubia said. “We control the cultivation process, and we can design meat specifically for a market, adjusting the amount of collagen and connective tissues and fat, to tailor meat to specific requirements. The idea is not to replace traditional agriculture but to build a second category of meat.” . . .

Continue reading.  There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2021 at 11:00 am

Mystic Water’s Wild Lavender and the RazoRock Adjust razor

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Mystic Water’s Wild Lavender is a bit more lavender-y and a bit more present to the nose than Jeff’s Lavender, and the lather this morning was particularly good — better than yesterday’s from that Mystic water soap. The difference was using less water in the mix. I did soak the Vie-Long boar (or horsehair — until I can get a DNA test done it, I can’t be sure), and then when I rewet it after rubbing the shave stick against the grain over my stubble, I shook it well — well enough that after brushing up the soap, I had relatively little lather.

That called for just a driblet of water added to the brush, and this brought forth the lather handsomely: rich, thick, and fragrant. I enjoyed brushing the lather into the stubble and did that for a while, just enjoying feel and fragrance.

The RazoRock Adjust is a very nice adjustable, particularly at US$15. The adjustment ring at the top is turned with the doors full closed. A printed indication shows that turning to the left is “-” and turning to the right is “+”, and I tried both extremes as well as the middle. All seemed equally comfortable and (with a Swedish Gillette blade) equally efficient. The razor has surprisingly good heft and a fairly long handle. It feels substantial and well made, and those who like adjustable razors should consider it. (My own preference is for three-piece razors.)

Three passes left my face smooth and ready for a splash of Wild Coast Perfumery’s Lavender Water. I don’t have many lavender aftershaves, more’s the pity.

It’s cold here this morning, with a scattering of snow on the ground: an indoors day.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2021 at 10:04 am

Posted in Shaving

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