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. VISA TO be held liable for payments it processes?
A California judge has ruled that VISA is potentially liable as a co-defendent in a lawsuit brought against PornHub for hosting child pornography.
The credit processor filed a motion claiming they were “improper defendants” arguing they cannot be held accountable for all of the billions of payments they process, but the judge dismissed the motion.
Why is this relevant to you?
Well, payment providers being liable for the transactions they process is a very slippery slope, and really just a way to encourage monopolies to increase surveillance and ban people from their platforms.
It’s the exact same methodology behind holding social media companies liable as “publishers”, it incentivizes crackdowns and censorship in the name of safeguarding profits.
And just as with social media, they are using a highly emotive issue as a stalking horse.
Obviously, child pornography is sick and wrong, and nobody should be making money off it, but that doesn’t mean you can hold processors responsible for the payments they process, or that they should be empowered to “monitor” activity or refuse to let people use their service, which is absolutely where this is headed.
If payment services are suddenly liable for any and all transactions they process, it won’t be long before “misinformation” sites are banned from making payments, or you cannot buy certain books or videos by certain authors/directors.
We’ve already seen both VISA and Mastercard refuse to process payments for PornHub moving forward, and that could easily spread to other areas of life. The most obvious next port of call will be guns and ammunition and on and on from there.
We saw what happened in Canada with the bank accounts of protesters being frozen. This is coming at the issue from the other side, but ends up in very much the same place.
As I said, it’s a slippery slope.
2. Yet another drone strike, yet another dead “al Qaeda” leader
It’s been a while since al Qaeda made any front page news, the original scary face of “terrorism” were supplanted by ISIS years ago.
The two groups were identical in their supposed aims, their actual aims, their funding sources and propaganda purpose, but ISIS had black flags and an easier-to-pronounce name so they made for better copy.
Apparently, he was a “key architect of the 9/11 attack”.
Sure he was.
Anyway, the US did a drone strike in Afghanistan and killed him. Of course, it won’t actually change anything and in a few months we’ll have some other middle-aged man in a turban on the front pages being labelled the “brains behind ISIS” or “Osama’s heir” or something equally asinine.
Hell, maybe they’ll just bring this guy back from the dead. They’ve done it before.
The point of stories like this is not the specifics, the uniformity of the details is deliberate, designed to have the stories bleed into one other. The point is the steady rhythm of normalization.
Zawahiri (if he ever really existed, didn’t die years ago, or wasn’t just a retired CIA asset) was a civilian, not a military figure and certainly not an enemy combatant under the rules of engagement, and yet he is killed without trial or charge in an attack on a sovereign country.
It’s a crime. But they do it so often that people just get used to it. And that’s exactly what they want.
You wonder how long it is before those feared domestic terrorists get on the pointy end of the first domestic drone strike. Because you’d better believe that’s coming.
3. The New York Times takes aim at Berkey water filters
For some reason the NYT published a review of a water filter that has been on the market for literal years this past week, and they don’t like it.
Their biggest issue is that it’s not officially certified to government standards. That’s really it.
What makes the piece a fun read is a clear contrast between what they wanted to say, and what some inconvenient facts are forcing them to say.
It’s clear they wanted to take the “non-mainstream water filter”, put it through some lab tests and prove it doesn’t work. But they couldn’t, because it did work. So you get this paragraph:
Wirecutter’s, Young’s, and Los Angeles County’s test protocols are mutually inconsistent. And because none of them conform to the NSF/ANSI standards, we don’t have a standard basis for comparing [filtration test] results. Therefore, we are not heavily leaning on our test results in our general take on the Big Berkey system.
The Big Berkey has enough ease-of-use and cost issues that we would recommend a mainstream gravity-fed filter pitcher over it to most readers, even if the Berkey does everything New Millennium claims it can do as a filter.
“Tests schmests, it’s too expensive even if it does work!”. Brilliant.
You also get the comically repeated refrain that your water is probably fine and you don’t really need to filter it anyway…
Keep in mind that most municipal water supplies are safe to begin with, so unless you know that you have a problem locally, you probably don’t need filtering for health reasons.
people who rely on well water, which may contain contaminants that would otherwise be removed by a municipal water plant.
we should emphasize that most US municipal water is pretty clean to begin with. No filter can remove pollutants that aren’t there in the first place,
Everybody got that?
4. DC schools expelling unvaccinated children?
The District of Columbia Department of Public Schools has announced they will be requiring all children aged 12 or over to be “vaccinated” against Covid19 in order to attend school, starting in September.
The somewhat creepy announcement says:
DC Public Schools works closely with DC Health to ensure the health and safety of our students, staff, and community. District law and regulations require all schools to ensure students are fully immunized to attend school, and we know that childhood immunizations are critical to keeping our community safe. Now is the time for families to schedule an annual wellness visit with your child’s doctor or attend a neighborhood or school-based vaccine clinic. New for the 2022-2023 School Year, all students ages 12 and older are required to have the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school.
…”wellness visit”? That’s just weird.
children can get written notes of religious or medical exemption, but can’t simply opt out. All students also have to submit their immunization paperwork to the school itself.
There’s no direct threat of expulsion or exclusion if you don’t get vaccinated, but it’s not hard to see it between the lines.
All very unpleasant stuff.
It’s not all bad…
After two years of preachy tyranny, it looks like New Zealand might be done with Jacinda Ardern, as #ResignJacinda was trending on twitter today. Now, that could be just another narrative but at this point I’ll be happy to just to never see her on TV again.
Take Justin with you, if you can.
However, the big laugh of this week is a long journey to take, but worth it.
In September 2021 Jill Biden was giving a speech to mark the new school year, and Sleepy Joe being Sleepy Joe, he just sort of wandered off while she was talking and then wandered back:
It was one of those senior moments we’re all very used to by now.
Fast-forward to last week, and the clip got more attention when people started reposting it with a fun little edit…
But the punchline, is that Reuters fact-checked this!
It’s too beautiful.
All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention the criminal case in Spain where a suspect chose euthanasia to avoid trial or yet another non-vaccine reason your heart might explode.