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Category Archives: Freedom

Freedom is on the line in this lockdown – Spiked

Posted: March 31, 2020 at 6:56 am

Politicians are there to take difficult decisions, by weighing up all the expert advice and choosing a policy with the least worst outcome depending on the options available. But in the current crisis over coronavirus, the damaging impact of drastic interference in our civil liberties has apparently barely been considered at all.

Since the nationwide lockdown was announced we have had no right of association, and so political parties, trade unions, businesses and every other form of organisation outside the state has been severely disrupted, if not destroyed. This has occurred with barely a whimper of protest from the political class.

Worse, it has been cheered on by most of the national media, with their shrill calls for lockdowns and punishments for people going about perfectly lawful activities. Thankfully, there are now some voices raised about particularly stupid examples of police harassment of dog owners, and the constables ignoring actual crimes while investing in drones to harass moorland walkers.

How is this a reasonable policy for a UK government to pursue? Whenever you ask this question the response is usually to crush the questioner with accusations of playing Russian Roulette with someones granny. The basic assumption here, so far largely unquestioned, is that we all agree that we will support doing whatever it takes to save lives from this new disease.

Let us step back for a moment. Most human beings and societies, going back into prehistory, have lived with the threat of disease as part of their everyday lives. It is only in the richest societies after the development of antibiotics that this harsh reality has been hidden from view, for most people, most of the time.

The one good aspect of this current virus is that most humans will catch it and recover. This isnt like the world my mum grew up in, where there were plenty of diseases that were common and likely to be a death sentence. If the virus were different in aspect, and was going to kill many more of the people who caught it, then the restrictions now placed on our civil liberties would be a reasonable and proportionate response.

But I argue that, in these circumstances, the restrictions are not only wrong in principle, but also by collapsing the economy will produce a much worse long-term outcome for society as a whole. It is the lives of young people that are being most ruined by the policy of lockdown, and as this begins to bite they will start to ask whether it was reasonable that their lives were ruined en masse so that the politicians could say we were doing whatever it takes.

There is a great deal of confusion and smoke and mirrors over the basis for the policy response. Plenty of people will die with the virus, but not from it. The poor souls with serious underlying conditions should be rightly isolated as much as possible, and that is where I believe the money should be spent. It would cost a fraction of the current projected cost of the current policy.

This crisis has also revealed the risible state of contingency planning and in-built resilience of the NHS. It seems we are ruining the future of the younger generation for the want of a warehouse full of ventilators, and some extra spare hospital capacity. So hats off to those senior civil servants sitting on the contingency-planning committees in Whitehall. Your incompetence has just been exposed. This crisis was an obvious one to plan for, and was predicted by, among other high-profile people, Bill Gates. Let us all hope you give back your knighthoods and have your gold-plated pensions halved.

I believe the politicians have now abandoned their primacy in this crisis and we are now in the hands of the bureaucrats and health academics. I listen with despair to the blinkered approach of these now all-powerful people. Academics are not at all well-suited to take political decisions, which require a dose of common sense and the balancing of different interests. How can an academic expert in viral diseases be expected to balance the competing rights of the vulnerable old person and the vulnerable wife now shut inside with her increasingly violent husband as the lockdown rolls on?

As for the term key worker, I would just mildly suggest we are all key workers in our own lives. It is of course amusing that for once a hospital cleaner is getting a benefit (school provision for children) denied to the stockbroker or estate agent, but that shouldnt blind us to the realities and difficulties that will arise from this lockdown policy.

After two or three weeks, young people will start to organise parties, and with pubs closed illegal shebeens will fill the gap. Their irritated neighbours will phone the police and expect the lockdown to be enforced. We all know where this story ends, with serious confrontations likely to lead to major disturbances in urban areas.

Let us assume that most people, unlike me, are initially persuaded of the necessity of the lockdown policy. I understand that my view is at present seen by many as eccentric. But at what point will people get fed up and start to say, We will just have to live with this disease in the population, just like we do with other diseases? Or will the technocrats then argue that we need to keep most of the controls in place, and get more organised about how we control people, just in case of the next disease?

Our most dearly held liberties have been trashed and not with a great battle, but with barely a whimper. Freedom is on the line right now, and if people value it they will need to fight for it.

David Wild is a co-founder and chairman of Lodestone, advising on strategic communications, with over 30 years experience in business and politics.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spikeds content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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Freedom Town Column: Town offices closed to the public – Conway Daily Sun

Posted: at 6:56 am

The following is from the Freedom Town Office: Effective Saturday, March 21, the Freedom Town Offices will be closed to the public until further notice. Town Office staff will still be working during normal business hours to serve the needs of the public and will be accepting appointments to transact business that cannot be done online, through email, or over the phone. Please refer to specific department below for further information: police and fire, all emergencies, call 9-1-1.

As of Friday, March 20, there is no public access to the Freedom Fire-Rescue Department Station on Village Road. The station will be staffed as usual Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The department will continue to respond to all calls. Call (603) 539-4261 during the day for non-emergency calls or any other business.

Fire permits can be obtained online for category 1 and 2 campfires as well as brush fire permits.

Selectmen's offices are closed to the public but staff is available by phone at (603) 539-6323 Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by email office@townoffreedom.net or townadmin@townoffreedom.net.

Selectmen: The weekly selectmen's meeting will be restricted to essential business only. There will be no public comment. Any public issues or concerns can be directed to the town office at the number or email listed above.

Assessing: All assessing and property tax information can be found on the homepage at townoffreedom.net. All other inquiries can be directed by email to office@townoffreedom.net. Most forms such as exemption and credit applications, intents to cut, etc. can be found online at revenue.nh.gov/mun-prop/property/index.htm. Forms can be sent by mail to Town of Freedom, P.O. Box 227, Freedom, NH 03836 or dropped off in the hallway at the town office.

The tax collector's office will be closed until further notice. Direct any inquiries by email to freedomtaxcollect@gmail.com. Property tax information can be found on the homepage at townoffreedom.net.

The building inspector and zoning office can be contacted at (603) 539-6323. Applications are available at townoffreedom.net or can be emailed or faxed upon request. Call to schedule an appointment or inspection.

The town clerk's office will be closed to the public until further notice. The town clerk will be available by appointment only during normal business hours: Monday 6:30 to 8 p.m.; Tuesday noon to 8 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6:30 to 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to noon. Call (603) 539-8269 or email freedomtownclerk@yahoo.com.

Call during business hours to schedule an appointment for vehicle registrations and renewals, dog licensing and any other inquiries such as marriage licenses or vital records. Continue to check the website for any further updates.

The Freedom Historical Society has been working to catalog the museum collection. Often, they are confronted by the question: What is it? During this time of physical distancing and home stay, members thought that you might find figuring out the answers to be entertaining and so they are hoping for Freedom residents to do some online sleuthing.

The way it will work is the historical society will email you images of one item and you will do the online research to identify what the object is, how it was used and its time frame.

With Google, websites and images you will find just what they need and then provide the historical society a return email with information. They will likely be able to identify for you a general area like used in dairy, butter and/or egg production. There might be also some photo hints from old ID cards or manufacturer information.

They will start with equipment used in dairy production and food processing, and will eventually work through farming and trade areas. This is a really important task. Until members can identify what an object is and does, they cant catalog or show the object in their online catalog, which will hopefully be featured by summer. Have fun.

The historical society needs to set up some small tables in the Works Barn Museum so they can work on preparing objects for the upcoming Freedom Veterans and Freedom History exhibits. If you have a table you can share for four to eight weeks call John Shipman at (603) 733-9307 or Nadine Chapman at (603) 539-6594. They will arrange a pick-up. Be sure it has a tag with your address and phone number.

Here's the most current information available for shopping times for seniors and at-risk individuals. Hannaford: Customers who are 60 or over and individuals identified as being identified by the CDC as high risk may shop 6 to 7 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week. North Conway Shaw's: Seniors only shopping hours Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 a.m. Dollar General in Parsonfield, Maine, and Center Ossipee: 8 to 9 a.m. every day for seniors only. Also closing one hour early at 9 p.m.

To ensure the safety of everyone involved, the White Mountain Curiosity Shop is temporarily closed to the public however they have many items that may come in handy and have stocked an online store. Shop and pay online and stop by the store to pick up your order. It will be packaged and brought to your car. Check the store for movies, games, snacks, comic books and more. Rumor has it there might even be some toilet paper added in the near future. White Mountain Curiosity Shop is located at the Freedom Peddler building on Route 25 (169 Porter Road) in Freedom. Email whitemountaincuriosityshop@aol.com for more information and visit the online store at wmcsonline.square.site.

Used prescription eyeglasses can be dropped off at the collection box in the vestibule of the library (door facing the road) or at the Walmart Eye Center. Lions Club members will distribute as needed.

Lisa Wheeler can be contacted at wheelersinfreedom@roadrunner.com.

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Tulsa World editorial: Tom Coburn an unabashed advocate for freedom and duty was loved in Oklahoma and will be missed in the United States – Tulsa…

Posted: at 6:56 am

Tom Coburn, Oklahomas independent voice for conservative principles and fiscal responsibility, died Friday. He was 72.

Coburn rose from obscurity to national prominence on the strength of his intellectual abilities and his dedication to a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution.

That often made him out of fashion in Washington, but he was made to order for the people of Oklahoma, who were fed up with a national government that seemed unrestrained by economics or common sense.

A Republican in the 2nd Congressional District, which had been historically dominated by Democrats, Coburn was swept into the U.S. House in 1994. It was his first bid for public office.

Abiding by a promise to limit himself to three terms in the House, Coburn retired in 2000, but returned more popular than ever to the Senate in the 2004 election. He would serve 10 years there before retiring from elected office.

In Congress, Coburn was steadfastly dedicated to serving the nations long-term interests as he saw them, not necessarily his constituents short-term desires. He wouldnt work for pet projects and successfully led the Senate effort to ban legislative funding earmarks, one of his most lasting accomplishments.

His unique brand of leadership only added to his stature in his home state. When he retired from the Senate in 2014, he was clearly the most popular politician in the state.

Coburn cast a long shadow in Oklahoma and the nation. He campaigned for a national constitutional convention to force a balanced budget amendment. His opposition to Medicaid expansion helped solidify Republican opposition to the idea in the Mary Fallin administration.

Coburn was an unabashed advocate for freedom and duty. He was dedicated to the proposition that one leader could make a difference if he remained true to his course.

In his valedictory speech from the Senate floor, Coburn said the most important number in that chamber wasnt 60, the number needed to proceed with business, or 51, the number needed to pass bills.

The most important number in the Senate is one, Coburn said. One Senator. Thats how it was set up.

Our nation will miss his dedication to the causes of liberty and good government.

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Freedom of Religion Applies to All Americans, Including Our Students – Townhall

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Posted: Mar 31, 2020 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Students in Lewis County, West Virginia, returned from Christmas break this year to a disappointing surprise. The students, part of Youth Alive, a Christian Club at their high school, took advantage of a resource available to all student clubs: a bulletin board on which student clubs may talk to other students about their clubs activities.

The students pegged Post-It Notes3x3 inches squareto the bulletin board with messages like, Finding Help in the Bible. The notes even contained inspirational passages of Scripture meant to encourage their classmates who could take them from the board on their way to class.

But, yielding to a complaint as to the religious viewpoint expressed in what is the Constitutionally protected speech of these students, Lewis County Schools removed all of the religious content from Youth Alives bulletin board.

Nearby, other bulletin boards expressing secular viewpointsby the Young Democrats, the Health Ambassadors, etc.were left undisturbed. Lewis County School only targeted the religious viewpoints expressed by the students of Youth Alive.

Far too many religious students find themselves in similar situations across the country. Administrators and teachers, perhaps acting out of fear, often default to the censorship of religious speech within schools without understanding the message their actions send.

Brooks Hamby, the salutatorian of his southern Californian high school a few years ago, submitted his speech to the principal in advance of graduation. The principal saw that Brooks highlighted the important role religion played in his success as a student and twice sent the draft speech back to Brooks with instructions to remove the religious content. When, on the third draft of the speech, the religious content remained, the principal grabbed a black marker and drew black censor bars through any religious viewpoint he wished to express.

When Mackenzie Fraisers teacher assigned her class the assignment of creating a PowerPoint presentation introducing themselves to the class, she told the 12-year-old students that they could not quote from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. Mackenzie wanted to quote her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, but the pastors daughter feared doing so would be illegal since her teacher banned the expression of religious viewpoints.

Giovanni Rubeo just wanted to read the Bible his church gave him while other kids read their books of their choice during free reading time in his fifth grade classroom in Ft. Lauderdale. The teacher told him he could not read that religious book in her classroom.

Its no wonder, then, that the West Virginia Legislature considered and passed the WV Student Religious Liberties Act this session. If signed by Governor Jim Justice, the new law will make it clear that school officials may not discriminate against students . . . on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression.

That is something that should perhaps be obvious in a country in which, as the U.S. Supreme Court declared in the 1969 decision of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District: It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.

That, Justice Abe Fortas wrote, has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.

Yet, as the experience of the Youth Alive students in Lewis County makes clear, that unmistakable holding is as often forgotten as it is ignored by school officials who choose instead to censor religious viewpoints expressed by students.

In my career litigating religious liberty cases across the country, it has been clear that school officials most often censor student religious speech because they lack a policy protecting it. Or, if they have a policy, they do not follow it.

The WV Student Religious Liberties Act sets the standard. Local school officials should then adopt a written policy that sets out how school officials will respect the religious viewpoints of their students in their local context.

And, thanks to updated guidance on student religious liberty issued recently by President Trump and the U.S. Department of Education, school officials must also certify that they are compliant with laws protecting student religious liberty in order to receive federal funding. This combination yields what the framers of our First Amendment intended: freedom of religion for all Americansincluding our students.

We can never be too vigilant in the defense of freedomespecially religious freedom. Students from Matewan to Morgantown, Weston to Wheeling, and throughout the country deserve the precise freedom the West Virginia Legislature intends to provide.

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Mims brothers had opponents seeing double and Freedom basketball seeing gold – lehighvalleylive.com

Posted: at 6:56 am

Caleb and Malek Mims have had their eyes on the prize for years.

The twin brothers laid out a set of objectives in middle school and chief among them was bringing a long-awaited trophy into Freedom High Schools case.

I've known them since they were in seventh grade. They were very loyal to the program. When they were in sixth or seventh grade, our program wasn't where it needed to be, Patriots coach Joe Stellato said. They stayed with it. They wanted to bring a championship to Freedom High School. That was their goal. That's what they told me in seventh grade and they followed through on it.

The senior guards capped their stellar and record-setting careers at Freedom by ending a 44-year District 11 championship drought, and for that, Caleb and Malek Mims are the lehighvalleylive Boys Basketball Co-Players of the Year.

They are the fourth and fifth Patriots to win the award, formerly The Express-Times Player of the Year. The last winner from Freedom was Nyreef Jackson in 2013.

The brothers are the second set of twins to share a POTY honor, after Voorhees Anthony and Zack Raposo earned the top boys lacrosse distinction in 2012.

The Mims tandem entered their final high school season spurred by the disappointment of their junior campaign, where Freedom saw its promise go up in smoke during opening-game exits in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 Class 6A tournaments.

Junior year didn't end the way we wanted it to end, Caleb Mims said. So, we just focused on making sure we were ending it right. Everyone came in focused, and Malek and I took leadership roles. Everybody was locked in, everybody played their role and everybody had one goal in mind, which was to win the championship.

The Patriots seemed ready for a title run throughout most of the winter. Freedom was 15-4 late in January before things started to unravel.

The team lost four straight games, including its EPC quarterfinal contest with rival Liberty.

The key for us, honestly, was how close we were as a team. Every time we lost, we talked about what we should do better to improve, Malek Mims said. When we lost that EPC game, I think it was a blessing in disguise. It gave us a lot of time to rest our bodies and get our minds right for districts.

We stayed poised and didn't let things get too out of control, Caleb said. It was basically about staying level-headed and keeping the right state of mind.

A refusal to panic and some extra rest paid major dividends in the district bracket. Freedom defeated East Stroudsburg South, which served as payback for a 2019 upset in the same tournament, before knocking off Allen, the top seed and conference champion, in the semifinals.

Their success against the Canaries put the Patriots head-to-head with Northampton, another program trying to end a run of district disappointments dating back to the 1970s.

The Patriots defeated the Konkrete Kids and captured their first D-11 crown since 1976. The Mims brothers combined for 17 points in that contest, illustrating an important factor, according to Stellato: a willingness to let their teammates shine down the stretch.

When it became playoff time, they really relied on their teammates. They loved their teammates; they shared the ball like crazy and that's ultimately what won us the championship, Stellato said.

Freedom coach Joe Stellato hugs Caleb Mims as Freedom celebrates winning the District 11 6A title.Tim Wynkoop | lehighvalleylive.com contributor

Explosive and skilled

Stellato, who just completed his 20th season in charge at Freedom, knew that the twins were going to make a big impact when he saw them in middle school. The brothers played on the freshman team during their eighth-grade year and got varsity action very early after they arrived at the high school.

The initial emphasis was to get the guards, who are speedy slashers to the basket, to finish consistently at the rim and improve their outside shooting enough to keep defenses honest.

The workers that they are, they did it themselves, Stellato said of their improvement. I'd like to take credit for it, but honestly, those two boys worked out harder and more than any kid I've ever coached in my life. That means a lot, because I've had some kids who really put some time in.

Caleb and Malek always exhibited athleticism, but that doesnt mean they were projects who simply relied on their physical tools.

I've seen a lot of very good athletes who can play basketball, but these kids had the skills early on, Stellato said. I knew they were special, because they not only had the work ethic, they had the skill to go along with it.

Part of that is because the brothers come from a basketball household. Caleb and Malek both credited their family particularly their father Derrick, mother Laura, older sister Nia and older brother Elijah for their development.

Their dad, who coached the East Hills Middle School team to an undefeated season this winter, is a longtime AAU instructor and one of the more recognizable fans in the area because of his front-row intensity. The two seniors were happy that he was there and had their backs, providing more than a few tips throughout games.

When I was younger, I thought it was annoying, Malek said. Now, I cherish it.

Most of the time, I hear him very clearly and I already know what he's going to say, Caleb said.

Setting new standards

Caleb averaged 18.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game this winter. He holds the program record with 138 career 3-pointers.

He can really shoot off the dribble from anywhere comfortably, Malek said about his brother.

Malek registered 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 4.1 steals per contest in 2019-20. He set school single-season (112) and career (270) steals records.

We used to be defensive backs. I always just knew how to anticipate when the ball was going to come, said Malek, who thanked trainer Imad Azar for the help he provided the team. Now, I can see when an offensive player is going to cross over and things like that I can just see some things before they happen.

When Freedoms season concluded against Reading in the PIAA second round, Caleb and Malek were No. 2 and 3 on Freedoms all-time scoring list with 1,201 and 1,119 points, respectively.

Caleb was 24 points shy of Luis Ortizs all-time mark, but the district gold was more important than personal milestones for the seniors, according to Stellato.

They were as happy as could be, he said. They couldn't care less about how many points they scored.

Freedom's Malek Mims drives past Reading's Denim Adams during the PIAA 6A second round.Kyle Craig | For lehighvalleylive.com

A duo of role models

Caleb and Malek, who plan to attend a prep school next year, set personal goals. That doesnt mean, however, that they were self-absorbed.

The pair made a connection with Stellatos son, Brody, and often spent time with his fifth-grade Bethlehem Township Bulldogs team.

They formed a really neat relationship with the fifth-grade team. They'd give words of wisdom, coach and celebrate with the kids when they did well, Stellato said. You don't find that too often, where you'll have players like that who take time out of their own schedule on Sundays to root on fifth-graders ... The team looked up to them so much.

When I was growing up, I always liked to have a role model, Caleb said. When you're growing up, you're aiming to be something or be somewhere. It's important to have people to follow.

Stellato hopes the Mims twins will serve as models for all of his players in the pipeline.

They are such great young men and they really changed the atmosphere around my entire program, the coach said. My freshman team got the opportunity to see them play ... I hope they (passed) on to my freshmen the way that they worked and that work ethic.

The two brothers dont have identical personalities. And theyd prefer if people knew which was which, even when theyre not wearing jersey numbers. Thats why Caleb sports a longer hair style It doesnt help much.

That's why I grew my hair out. Then, people still kept calling me Malek. So, I stopped caring, Caleb said. If I have my hair like this and Malek has his hair like that, and people still don't know, there's no point caring now.

In the end, when people see the Mims twins, theyre looking at record-setters, 1,000-point scorers and champions regardless of whether or not they match the names correctly.

MORE: Final rankings for 2019-20

RELATED: The 2020 All-Area Boys Basketball Team

MORE: Southern Lehighs Tannous is Coach of the Year

Kyle Craig may be reached at kcraig@lehighvalleylive.com. If theres anything about this story that needs attention, please email him. Follow him on Twitter @KyleCraigSports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.

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Coronavirus: Loss of freedom . . . quite a shock at the beginning – The Irish Times

Posted: at 6:56 am

Brendan Butler (77) and Breda (72) were surviving day three of the Cocoon on Monday despite a feeling of being hemmed in in their north Co Dublin home.

The cocooning had only really hit, said Brendan. It was a bit of a novelty on Sunday. Then we were hoping to go for a walk, but were not allowed, he said.

The the loss of freedom was felt keenly, he said. Regularly, they walked a mile and a half around Malahide. It was a major feature most days, with an espresso on the way home.

A retired secondary school teacher, he felt lucky to be a good reader and had just begun a course in painting, with a lot of canvasses to do.

Breda too, a retired physiotherapist, is a reader and had just finished Sined Gleesons Constellations.

But the stay-at-home directive had come as quite a shock at the beginning. It had made her realise how much time she spent out of the house. But there was lots to do, no hurry, loads of time, so its not getting done.

However she wouldt be doing any gardening, apart from holding the ladder while Brendan trims the hedge.

A son of theirs had brought over a consignment of food, as most of their five children live in Dublin and a daughter in Guatemala.

The biggest loss was their grandchildren, aged 2 to 13. She and Brendan were babysitters three days a week up to recently, when that too was stopped. It was a big loss, she said, and wondered whether the two year old would recognise her when all this was over. But there was social media and she was used to getting to see them on Zoom.

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The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom – CounterPunch

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Americans are facing A Spring Unlike Any Before. So warned a front-page headline in the March 13thNew York Times.

That headline, however hyperbolic, was all too apt. The coming of spring has always promised relief from the discomforts of winter. Yet, far too often, it also brings its own calamities and afflictions.

According to the poet T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month. Yet while April has certainly delivered its share of cataclysms, March and Mayhavent lagged far behind. In fact, cruelty has seldom been a respecter of seasons. The infamous influenza epidemic of 1918, frequently cited as apossible analogueto our current crisis, began in the spring of that year, but lasted well into 1919.

That said, something about the coronavirus pandemic does seem to set this particular spring apart. At one level, that something is the collective panic now sweeping virtually the entire country. President Trumps grotesque ineptitude andtone-deafnesshave only fed that panic. And in their eagerness to hold Trump himself responsible for the pandemic, as if he were thebat that first transmitted the disease to a human being, his critics magnify further a growing sense of events spinning out of control.

Yet to heap the blame for this crisis on Trump alone (though he certainly deserves plenty of blame) is to miss its deeper significance. Deferred for far too long, Judgment Day may at long last have arrived for the national security state.

Origins of a Colossus

That state within a states origins date from the early days of the Cold War. Its ostensible purpose has been to keep Americans safe and so, by extension, to guarantee our freedoms. From the 1950s through the 1980s, keeping us safe provided a seemingly adequate justification for maintaining a sprawling military establishment along with a panoply of intelligence agencies the CIA, the DIA, the NRO, the NSA all engaged in secret activities hidden from public view. From time to time, the scope, prerogatives, and actions of that conglomeration of agencies attracted brief critical attention the Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, the Vietnam War of the 1960s and early 1970s, and the Iran-Contra affair during the presidency of Ronald Reagan being prime examples. Yet at no time did such failures come anywhere close to jeopardizing its existence.

Indeed, even when the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War removed the original justification for its creation, the entire apparatus persisted. With the Soviet Empire gone, Russia in a state of disarray, and communism having lost its appeal as an alternative to democratic capitalism, the managers of the national security state wasted no time in identifying new threats and new missions.

The new threats included autocrats like Panamas Manuel Noriega and Iraqs Saddam Hussein, once deemed valuable American assets, but now, their usefulness gone, classified as dangers to be eliminated. Prominent among the new missions was a sudden urge to repair broken places like the Balkans, Haiti, and Somalia, with American power deployed under the aegis of humanitarian intervention and pursuant to a responsibility to protect. In this way, in the first decade of the post-Cold War era, the national security state kept itself busy. While the results achieved, to put it politely, were mixed at best, the costs incurred appeared tolerable. In sum, the entire apparatus remained impervious to serious scrutiny.

During that decade, however, both the organs of national security and the American public began taking increased notice of what was called anti-American terrorism and not without reason. In 1993, Islamic fundamentalists detonated a bomb in a parking garage of New YorksWorld Trade Center. In 1996, terrorists obliteratedan apartment building used to house U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia. Two years later, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania wereblown upand, in 2000, suicide bombers nearlysankthe USSCole, a Navy destroyer making a port call in Aden at the tip of the Arabian peninsula. To each of these increasingly brazen attacks, all occurring during the administration of President Bill Clinton, the national security state respondedineffectually.

Then, of course, came September 11, 2001. Orchestrated by Osama bin Laden and carried out by 19 suicidal al-Qaeda operatives, this act of mass murder inflicted incalculable harm on the United States. In its wake, it became common to say that 9/11 changed everything.

In fact, however, remarkably little changed. Despite its 17 intelligence agencies, the national security state failed utterly to anticipate and thwart that devastating attack on the nations political and financial capitals. Yet apart from minor adjustments primarily expanding surveillance efforts at home and abroad those outfits mostly kept doing what they had been doing, even as their leaders evaded accountability. After Pearl Harbor, at least, one admiral and one general werefired. After 9/11, no one lost his or her job. At the upper echelons of the national security state, the wagons were circled and a consensus quickly formed: no one had screwed up.

Once President George W. Bush identified an Axis of Evil (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea), three nations that had had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, as the primary target for his administrations Global War on Terrorism, it became clear that no wholesale reevaluation of national security policy was going to occur. The Pentagon and the Intelligence Community, along with their sprawling support network of profit-minded contractors, could breathe easy. All of them would get ever more money. That went without saying. Meanwhile, the underlying premise of U.S. policy since the immediate aftermath of World War II that projecting hard power globally would keep Americans safe remained sacrosanct.

Viewed from this perspective, the sequence of events that followed was probably overdetermined. In late 2001, U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban regime, and set out to install a political order more agreeable to Washington. In early 2003, with the mission in Afghanistan still anything but complete, U.S. forces set out to do the same in Iraq. Both of those undertakings have dragged on, in one fashion or another, without coming remotely close to success. Today, the military undertaking launched in 2001 continues, even if it no longer has a name or an agreed-upon purpose.

Nonetheless, at the upper echelons of the national security state, the consensus forged after 9/11 remains firmly in place: no one screws up. In Washington, the conviction that projecting hard power keeps Americans safe likewise remains sacrosanct.

In the nearly two decades since 9/11, willingness to challenge this paradigm has rarely extended beyond non-conforming publications likeTomDispatch. Until Donald Trump came along, rare was the ambitious politician of either political party who dared say aloud what Trump himself has repeatedly said that, as he calls them, the ridiculous endless wars launched in response to 9/11 represent the height of folly.

Astonishingly enough, within the political establishment that point has still not sunk in. So, in 2020, as in 2016, the likely Democratic nominee for president will be someonewho vigorously supportedthe 2003 invasion of Iraq. Imagine, if you will, Democrats in 1880nominatingnot a former union general (as they did) but a former confederate who, 20 years before, had advocated secession. Back then, some sins were unforgivable. Today, politicians of both parties practice self-absolution and get away with it.

The Real Threat

Note, however, the parallel narrative that has unfolded alongside those post-9/11 wars. Taken seriously, that narrative exposes the utter irrelevance of the national security state as currently constituted.The coronavirus pandemic will doubtless prove to be a significant learning experience. Here is one lesson that Americans cannot afford to overlook.

Presidents now routinely request and Congress routinely appropriatesmore than a trillion dollarsannually to satisfy the national security states supposed needs. Even so, Americans today do not feel safe and, to a degree without precedent, they are being denied the exercise of basic everyday freedoms. Judged by this standard, the apparatus created to keep them safe and free has failed. In the face of a pandemic, natures version of an act of true terror, that failure, the consequences of which Americans will suffer through for months to come, should be seen as definitive.

But wait, some will object: Dont we find ourselves in uncharted waters? Is this really the moment to rush to judgment? In fact, judgment is long overdue.

While the menace posed by the coronavirus may differ in scope, it does not differ substantively from the myriad other perils that Americans have endured since the national security state wandered off on its quixotic quest to pacify Afghanistan and Iraq and purge the planet of terrorists. Since 9/11, apartial rosterof those perils would include: Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Sandy (2012), Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (2017), and massive wildfires that have devastated vast stretches of the West Coast on virtually an annual basis. The cumulative cost of such events exceeds a half-trillion dollars. Together, they have taken the lives of several thousand more people than were lost in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Earlier generations might have written all of these off as acts of God. Today, we know better. As with blaming Trump, blaming God wont do. Human activities, ranging from thehubristic reengineeringof rivers like the Mississippi to the effects of climate change stemming from the use of fossil fuels, have substantially exacerbated such natural catastrophes.

And unlike faraway autocrats or terrorist organizations, such phenomena, from extreme-weather events to pandemics, directly and immediately threaten the safety and wellbeing of the American people. Dont tell the Central Intelligence Agency or the Joint Chiefs of Staff but the principal threats to our collective wellbeing are right here where we live.

Apart from modestbelated effortsat mitigation, the existing national security state is about as pertinent to addressing such threats as President Trumpscheery expectationsthat the coronavirus will simply evaporate once warmer weather appears. Terror has indeed arrived on our shores and it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda or ISIS or Iranian-backed militias. Americans are terrorized because it has now become apparent that our government, whether out of negligence or stupidity, has left them exposed to dangers that truly put life and liberty at risk. As it happens, all these years in which the national security state has been preoccupied with projecting hard power abroad have left us naked and vulnerable right here at home.

Protecting Americanswhere they liveought to be the national security priority of our time. The existing national security state is incapable of fulfilling that imperative, while its leaders, fixated on waging distant wars, have yet to even accept that they have a responsibility to do so.

Worst of all, even in this election year, no one on the national political scene appears to recognize the danger now fully at hand.

This article first appeared on TomDispatch.

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The Coronavirus and the Real Threats to American Safety and Freedom - CounterPunch

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Bloomington cruise ship passengers glad to have ‘freedom back’ – The Pantagraph

Posted: at 6:56 am

An Illinois infant with COVID-19 has died, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday.

The child, whose exact age and medical history was not released, is believed to be the youngest person in Illinois whose death has been linked to the coronavirus.

I know how difficult this news can be, especially about this very young child, the governor said at his daily news conference Saturday. Upon hearing it, I admit that I was immediately shaken. Its appropriate for any of us to grieve today. Its especially sorrowful for the family of this very small child for the years stolen from this infant. We should grieve. We should grieve for a sense of normalcy we left behind just a few short weeks ago.

More than 85% of corona-related deaths in Illinois occur in people 60 or older, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, people of all ages are susceptible to the virus, officials said.

The IDPH would not release any additional details about the infant, including whether the child had any underlying medical conditions.

There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.

A state employee also was among 13 new deaths reported Saturday, as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged people to do all they can to prevent the spread of the virus.

If you havent been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call, Ezike said.

Chicago Tribune

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Bloomington cruise ship passengers glad to have 'freedom back' - The Pantagraph

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Is Belarus The Last Oasis Of Freedom In Europe? – Tsarizm

Posted: at 6:56 am

COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Belarus, Red = Confirmed Cases ReportedImage by HueMan1

Belarus is one of the few countries in Europe that did not take any draconian measures in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The last European dictatorship which is the term coined by some Western mainstream media and politicians did not impose a state of emergency, does not practice social distancing, did not impose a curfew and did not forcibly quarantine its entire population.

Critics argue that President Alexander Lukashenko does not care about his people and that Belarusian authorities are dangerously downplaying the risks. The Belarusian leader on the other hand, refuses to follow the pattern. In this way he is showing that Belarus, unlike most European countries, is a relatively sovereign state. Almost the same trend can be seen all over the continent the economy being shut down, people sitting at home practicing quarantine that reminds one of a house arrest, governments implementing restrictive measures, the so call medical experts making contradicting statements on a daily bases, and media spreading panic and mass hysteria. In Belarus life goes on almost as if there is no pandemic. The country did not close its borders, sport events are regularly taking place, public transportation works, and the authorities refused to shut down schools and universities.

Despite some criticism on my part, I call this coronavirus nothing other than a psychosis, and I will never deny that, because Ive gone through many situations of psychosis together with you, and we know what the results were, the Belarusian state news agency BelTA quoted Lukashenko as saying after receiving a report on the epidemiological situation in the country.

He also recently said that its better to die standing on your feet than to live on your knee. In other words, he refuses to implement draconian measures that locked down the rest of the continent, at least to this point. Reportedly, Lukashenko recently met with the Chinese ambassador in Minsk and they discussed the coronavirus pandemic. Given the fact that countries around the world are gradually introducing a total lockdown, which was originally implemented in Chinas Hubei province, it is not improbable that at some point, Belarus will have to go with the flow. Still, so far Lukashenko has been sticking to the line that a general lockdown is not the solution.

Even though Belarus has good relations with China, Minsk is not showing a will to completely follow the Chinese model when it comes to fight against the COVID-19. Instead, Lukashenko recently praised the US President Donald Trump for his efforts to preserve the economy.

I really like his recent statements. He said that unemployment can claim more lives than coronavirus itself unless they reopen businesses and get Americans back to work. Now you have understood why I did not authorize closures of businesses. Although there were many people urging me to close borders, enterprises and begin a nationwide quarantine. Back then I made a principled decision: we will implement a quarantine only when it is really needed, the Belarusian leader said.

Reportedly, some measures have already been put in place including thermal cameras to check the temperature of fans as they enter stadiums which are disinfected twice a day. At this point, however, comparing to other European countries, Belarus looks like an oasis of freedom. Some critics claim that it looks like an island of inaction in the middle of a nervous European continent. In any case, Belarusian (in)actions are demonstrating the importance of sovereignty. Whether Belarusian policy regarding the COVID-19 pandemic is successful or not, it is clearly a sovereign one. It remains to be seen for how long the former Soviet republic will manage to stay resolutely open for business and if Lukashenko will face a serious pressure from global actors to lockdown the country and shut down its economy.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Belarusian president recently promised that after the coronavirus is tackled and the psychosis is over, he would reveal many interesting things about it. One of them, according to BelTA, is the origins of the virus did the virus emerge spontaneously or was it man-made, who could benefit from it, who tried to take advantage of this situation in order to further their interests.

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Your Freedom Is More Fragile Than You Think – theTrumpet.com

Posted: at 6:56 am

Im writing to you today from what is almost a fascist state.

No, Im not visiting Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea. Instead Im writing from the United Kingdomwhich has all but embraced fascism.

The government dominates the economy, having placed huge numbers of workers on the government payroll. Public gatherings are banned. Weve been told that were not allowed out of our houses except on specific conditions. The entire country is under house arrest.

Even in Putins Russia and socialist Cuba people can visit the park if they want. But not in the UK.

The only thing missing is ultranationalism and the UK would be a textbook example of fascism.

Even supporters of this state of affairs acknowledge how extreme it is. Member of Parliament Steve Baker said in the House of Commons yesterday, We are implementing at least a dystopian society.

The events of the last few days have taught me a huge lesson about how fragile our fundamental rights are and how vulnerable we are to tyranny.

I never thought Britain would respond this way. Yes, European countries have imposed draconian lockdowns. But this is Britain; were different. Europes parliaments have a history measured in decades; ours can be measured in centuries. Frances towering historical political figures are Napoleon Bonaparte and Maximilien Robespierre. Ours are John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith.

The idea that we have sacred ancient liberties is tightly bound to our national identity. We fought wars and executed kings to defend these principles. We sing about how we will never, never, never give up these freedoms. We are a nation that values liberty more than life itself. At least, thats what we told ourselvesuntil this week.

We are now a nation under house arrestsaved from being a police state only by a shortage of police.

Our common law is meant to make this impossible. Were the nation of the Magna Carta, habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights.

Sir Edward Coke (15521634) is considered one of the foremost warriors to uphold these freedomsfighting against the Stewart kings as they tried to override these ancient liberties. The ancient and excellent laws of England are the birthright and the most ancient and best inheritance that the subjects of this realm have, he said. As part of this birthright, Englishmen inherited common lawwhich include common rights, explained Coke. He believed that no king, Parliament or government could take these rights away.

The common law will control acts of Parliament, and sometimes adjudge them utterly void; for when an act of Parliament is against common right and reason, or repugnant, or impossible to be performed, the common law will control it and adjudge such act to be void, he said, in a legal ruling that has been echoed down through the centuries and even played a role in the American Revolution.

Coke went on to push for the Petition of Right, a constitutional document detailing four of an Englishmans basic rights, which were violated by King Charles i. Winston Churchill spoke highly of this petition. We reach here, wrote Churchill, amid much confusion, the main foundation of English freedom. The right of the executive government to imprison a man, high or low, for reasons of state was denied; and that denial, made good in painful struggles, constitutes the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land.

Yet now the government seeks to imprison the entire nation in their homes for reasons of state. On Monday, March 23, the government decided that it has unlimited power, that an Englishmans common right is now null and void.

From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home, declared Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 23. Must? There is nothing in common law or precedent that says a British subject needs his governments permission to leave his own house. There are public footpaths in England older than Parliament. There is no basis in the English constitution for the government claiming this kind of power. I thought I lived in a country where a governments power was restricted by law.

And it gets worse. The government is pushing an Enabling Act, a new law that gives the government vast new powers.

Spiked Online wrote that this new bill gives the government and the authorities unprecedented new powers, unheard of in a democracy during peacetime. Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, said that it leaves us with the greatest loss of liberty that we have probably ever had in this country on the back of one piece of legislation in peacetime.

Authorities have massive powers of arbitrary arrest, an abuse of power weve been fighting since before the Magna Carta. Any potentially infectious person can be detained. Not a sick person. Not an actually infectious person. I think there is some justification for giving the state the power to enforce a quarantine and to stop sick people going out. But a potentially infectious person is such a loose term it could include anyone.

There is no explanation as to how the authorities will determine whether someone is potentially infected, wrote Carlo. For all intents and purposes, it allows for arbitrary and indefinite detention. Any member of the public, including children, could be forcibly detained, isolated, quarantined in an as yet unidentified location.

Laws on the books already exist that allow the authorities to declare an emergency and use emergency powers. The Civil Contingencies Act, for example, was written for exactly this kind of emergency. It allows the government to ban mass gatherings. It doesnt need a new law to do that. The Civil Contingencies Act has more restrictions to prevent abuse: Protests and political gatherings, for example, are exempt from its provisions, so that no government can use its powers as an excuse to clamp down on free speech and political protests. The new Enabling Act contains no such protections.

It also weakens safeguards on government surveillance. UK law allows for a shocking amount of surveillance on British citizens. The new law means theres little, if any, safeguards on how that is used.

The potential for abuse is extreme, wrote Carlo. In countries like China, Iran, Israel and Russia, authorities are already tracking individuals phones to make sure that they comply with quarantines. The extraordinary thing about this is, in the UK, we wouldnt even know about it if the government was doing this because our surveillance powers are so extremethey are completely covert and completely secret. If someone working at a telco like O2 or another network were to disclose that they were tracking us, that person could go to prison for a year.

One of the saddest parts of Britains current situation is how little people care about it. Seventy-six percent strongly support the new measures, with 17 percent somewhat supporting them. Only 4 percent stand with British liberty and oppose them.

But look at what we get excited about. Thousands will shut down London to protest climate change. But ending our freedom? They wont protest thatthey applaud it.

The authoritarianism is being rationalized the same way authoritarianism is always rationalized: The ends justify the means. Yes, were taking away your freedom, but were doing it to save lives!

Never mind that coronavirus has killed substantially fewer people than an ordinary flu. The latest forecast from the doom-mongering Imperial College is that coronavirus is unlikely to kill more than 20,000 in the UK and it could be substantially lower than that. The common flu kills 17,000 a year. We gave up our freedom for something no worse than the flu.

And even if it were to kill much more, what about our ancestors who believed freedom was worth life itself. We clearly dont believe that today.

Initially, the government advised people to stay home. But grabbing the power to enforce that is very different and very dangerous.

If we are honest with ourselves, these powers are going to be here to stay. Crisis follows crisis, wrote Carlo. The slippery slope might be an overused term, but it is very, very difficult to reverse the handing over of such extraordinary powers.

My fear isnt that well be under house arrest for the rest of our lives. I dont think the freedoms taken during this crisis will ever fully be restored, but some of them will. But it will be far easier for the government to take our freedom in the future.

Weve already shown that we dont really care. That we wont fight to defend our freedom. Instead, many journalists are openly calling for more authoritarianism, begging the government to be more draconian.

A taboo has been broken, and politicians everywhere will learn the lesson that freedom is easy to take.

Look at how so many in authority have relished using these powers. You see the same thing in United States governors, glorying in their new role with absolute power within their state.

So many in the media and in politics want to get rid of all these legal and constitutional restraints on power. So when coronavirus gave them an opportunity to throw off the restraints, they seized it eagerly.

Already some are calling for the government to grab similar powers in other areas (e.g. to fight climate change).

Before Monday, British freedom was sacred. After Monday, it wasnt. No matter how much of our freedom the government restores, that will not change.

Before Monday, the police protected liberty. After Monday, they threaten it.

Before Monday, freedom was an Englishmans birthright. After Monday, it is something the government gives him and could take away.

I didnt think we would ever willingly hand over our liberty like this. I thought the hundreds of years of tradition had force and weight. That any government would respect law and precedent enough that they would never do something like this. I was wrong, and I realize Im guilty of making a mistake we warn about in our own literature.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has repeatedly warned that America is getting away from the rule of law and its Constitution. Too many leaders want to cast aside the foundational law of the land, he writes in America Under Attack. Theyre telling us, Look, that is just getting in the way. We dont need that old law. We know what justice is. You can trust us!

This is exactly what we saw in Britain on March 23. Mr. Flurry continues, That reasoning paves the way for tyrants!

Mr. Flurry warns that too many respond to warnings of tyranny by saying, Oh, please! You know that could never happen!

But government tyranny is routine in human history, he writes. Lets not be naive and think something like that could never happen here. Our forefathers werent stupid. They wanted to guarantee Americans freedom.

Ive read that. Ive agreed with it. But now I realize that I still took freedom for granted. The idea that tyranny could actually happen in Britain wasnt real to me.

We have been protected in America for a couple hundred years because we are recipients of the blessings God promised, writes Mr. Flurry. We have not experienced the turmoil that many other nations have. As a result, our people have kind of settled into an unreality about what is really happening around us. They dont understand how deadly dangerous it is!

I now realize I had settled into that same kind of unreality: that tyranny couldnt come to Britain because it hasnt come here for a long time. But theres nothing inherent in an Englishmans blood that keeps tyranny away. Its been absent because of blessings from God. Sometimes God has given those blessings through men who stood up against tyranny. But it all comes from Him.

And those blessings are now being removed.

This is not Gods world, writes Mr. Flurry. Theres a lot of evil in this world. It is full of tigers waiting to tear somebody apart. It has always been that way. As Winston Churchill said, the history of man is the history of war. Yet somehow we cant come to grips with that today.

Are you willing to face reality? Most people are not. A haze of deception enshrouds our world. Its absolutely stunning how easily the people in this land today are duped.

I have to admit that I wasnt facing reality. Again, I agreed with all of this intellectually. But there was still part of me that thought, It couldnt happen here. Now my most basic freedoms have been stripped away. The same thing is happening in many U.S. states. Tyranny is a very real threat.

Liberals in academia, the media and in government dont believe governing officials should be restricted by the limitations imposed by the Constitution, wrote Mr. Flurry in his article Saving America From the Radical LeftTemporarily. Americas founders imposed those restrictions to prevent tyranny! The protections afforded by the Constitution have allowed God to bless this nation tremendously. They prevent a dictator from seizing control of the nations unmatched resources.

Britains government threw off all restrictions against tyranny this week. Several states in America are going the same way. In Europe, leaders are setting themselves up as strongmen and putting the armies on the streets. In Hungary, the government is pushing through an emergency law that gives the government dictatorial powers for an unlimited amount of time. Left-wing academic Gaspar Miklos Tamas accused the government of using the epidemic as a pretext to introduce an open, structural dictatorship.

Freedom is fragile. And it is under attack.

Perhaps, like me, the idea of freedom being taken away wasnt real to you. But this is a real threat, and one you need to understand.

Our free booklet America Under Attack exposes the fight for your freedom. It was written while Barack Obama was Americas president, and it focuses on America. But the reality it talks about is still true today, and its true in Britain and just about anywhere else.

There is a war against freedom, and its one you must understand. There is not much time left. That freedom can be taken more quickly than you realize.

Understanding this war wont just help you understand whats going on in the world, it will also give you a true source of hope.

Its easy to get distressed, frustrated and angry about this attack on freedom. Ive certainly experienced my share of all those emotions this week. But understanding the reality behind this attack also contains a sure hopeindividually and for our nations. So if you want to remain sane while the world around you goes crazy, please read America Under Attack. Its the only thing stopping me from going mad.

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Your Freedom Is More Fragile Than You Think - theTrumpet.com

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