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Category: Politics

Coronavirus is your friend, in a way

Here in Massachusetts, yesterday the number of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases grew 30 percent overnight and will probably top 400 today. Most non-critical facilities are now locked down. And so, with a lot of new-found time on their hands more people than ever in my suburban neighborhood are out and about, enjoying the spring weather — biking or walking alone, as couples, with dogs or kids, and actually stopping to talk. Amid all this tsuris, it’s exhilarating to see such stirrings of a community makeover.

The good news doesn’t stop there, so let’s get on with my facile attempt to divert you from your apocalyptic musings. Instead of enduring a pitch for my work this punishing month, find here a public service announcement of sorts.

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Yes, Virginia, there are conspiracies—I think

You know those little green-and-white USDA Organic labels you find on organic produce? What if someone told you that their adhesive transmits a powerful drug into the edible that over time can render humans sterile? It’s true, they say; they’ve seen the lab reports, and go on to assert that this is a plot by USDA and agribusiness interests to decimate nutritionally savvy people as a way boost sales of poison-laden GM food products.

Insidious beyond belief, you think. You’re pretty sure it’s a crock, but your doubt gene says “What if…?” and you decide to check it out. You email people to ask if they’ve heard it and some of them do the same. Someone finds a truther blog with a long discussion thread about it and lets you know. Alleging scientific credentials, certain discussants proceed to hypothesize about the chemistry and physiology of the attack vector and argue about that. Others point to connections between certain USDA political appointees and Big Food. The rumor has become a thing, and even if you post refutations that get shot down, you’re now part of it.

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Guest Post: What Russia Understands about Trump

Trump doesn’t qualify as an accomplice to Putin because he’s too unreliable. But he’s clearly under the strongman’s spell, not quite a dupe but close to one. If you want to understand Trump’s relations with Russia, you need to know how the Russian establishment views him, which is pretty much as a useful idiot, according to Michael Weiss‘s recent New York Review of Books article reblogged here.

Trump’s Russia connections go back to the dawn of klepto-capitalism in the Motherland, and he’s been carefully cultivated and curated by Russian intelligence ever since. What Weiss discloses doesn’t rise to a level that might enable Robert Mueller to indict Trump for treason, but it surely demonstrates that for all his blustering, Trump’s strings can be easily pulled by any tempter or temptress savvy enough to stroke his fragile ego.

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