Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.
1. “Jab or jail”
In the US, judges have started making getting vaccinated a condition of bail.
Brandon Rutherford, a 21-year-old from Cincinnatti, was given a suspended sentence for possession of fentanyl, but the sentence came with a rider – he must get “vaccinated” against Covid19 in the next 60 days, or he will be sent to prison for eighteen months.
This is not the first time this has happened.
Last month another judge in Ohio made a similar ruling, offering a convicted defendant a choice between five years probation, or one year and a vaccine. Whilst in Louisiana, judges are offering to cut community service sentences in exchange for people getting the vaccines.
A reminder that inducing the use of an experimental medical procedure, through either intimidation or coercion, is a breach of the Nuremberg Code on Medical Experimentation.
2. The Return of the Taliban
This is today’s big breaking story – Afghanistan is falling to the Taliban. Kabul will likely be theirs by the end of the day. The US and UK are closing their embassies down. It’s a disaster!
Biden’s desertion of Afghanistan will be his Vietnam – a self-inflicted wound of disastrous proportions. Incredible, and utterly shameful, that the most ‘woke’ US President in history has left millions of women to the merciless murderous clutches of the world’s worst misogynists.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 15, 2021
In the UK, Boris Johnson is being accused of “abandoning Afghanistan to its fate”
The old lines about “mistakes” and “miscalculation” are being trotted out all over the place. Ignoring the reality – that Afghanistan was not a mistake:
The only people who think Afghanistan was a failure are people who don’t own stocks in Halliburton, Raytheon and Boeing.
Afghanistan was a blistering success for them.
— Richard Medhurst 🇸🇾🇵🇸 (@richimedhurst) August 15, 2021
No one is talking about the US’s “Over the Horizon” plan to launch drone strikes on Afghanistan from bases in UAE et al. No one is talking about the thousands and thousands of “private security contractors” likely to remain in Afghanistan after the US army “officially departs”.
And, of course, no one is talking about the fact the Taliban’s advance is being done with American weapons and vehicles which were “abandoned” at Bagram airbase, and “accidentally” fell into the hands of the “enemy” when they “accidentally” liberated 5000 Taliban “prisoners”.
3. “Screw your freedom”
The Governator is back. Arnie was never noted for his subtlety, and his interview this week was no exception, railing against people who don’t wear masks as “schmucks” and adding:
There is a virus here — it kills people, and the only way we prevent it is get vaccinated, get masks, do social distancing, washing your hands all the time, and not just to think about ‘Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.’ No, screw your freedom.”
Clearly, “screw your freedom” has been the prevailing attitude of almost every government in the world for most of the last twenty months, but they’ve generally been reticent to be quite so direct.
Indeed, one questions the wisdom of putting “Screw you freedom” in a headline in America, where you’re likely to alienate a LOT of people by talking that way. Austrian politicians arguing against personal freedom usually doesn’t end well.
BONUS: Bizarre take of the week
A man died “from Covid”, despite being fully vaccinated, but “it could have been worse” if he had been unvaccinated. At least, according to The Hill.
So this guy COULD HAVE been WORSE (than dead) if he hadn’t been vaccinated… What is worse than dead? How does that work? pic.twitter.com/mjoY0byLT2
— Irrelevant old bloke! (@MartinKoss) August 14, 2021
It really is cult-like at this point. Where the vaccine has become some religious rite. Dying while vaccinated is better than dying unvaccinated, like dying having confessed and been absolved of your sins, or being buried on consecrated ground. Total insanity.
It’s not all bad…
This weeks analgesic dose of good news comes from Europe.
From France, where anti Covid pass protest swept the nation for the fifth straight weekend:
— Laurent pour AB7 Média (@laurentbigfr) August 14, 2021
And from Spain, where the Andalusian High Court has ruled “Covid passes” illegal, finding that:
the measure requiring patrons to show proof of being free from the virus affected the right to privacy and the principle of non-discrimination
Legal challenges to the insane rules, coupled with mass non-compliance. That’s the way forward.