This Week in the New Normal #56

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.Mink farms for the chop?

For some reason the MSM have turned their collective fire on Mink farming this week. Apparently mink farms are dangerous because they could harbor bird flu, and enable it to mutate to be deadly to humans.

In his alarmist piece for the Guardian headlined “Be warned: the next deadly pandemic is not inevitable, but all the elements are in place”, George Monbiot writes:

Mink also possess, to a remarkable degree, what scientists call “zoonotic potential”: in other words, they can be infected by, and infect, many different species. During the first phases of Covid-19, they proved to be highly effective intermediaries, partly because the virus seemingly evolves faster in mink than in humans. They appear to have generated at least two new variants that spread to humans, one in Spain and one in Italy. Mink are the only known species that both received Covid-19 from humans and passed it back to them.

The NYT echoed these concerns in a piece headlined “Bird Flu Outbreak Puts Mink Farms Back in the Spotlight”, and warns…

it is a reminder of some of the risks posed by mink farms — places in which large numbers of susceptible animals are housed in facilities with porous borders to the outside world — and highlights the need for more proactive disease surveillance and other precautions

This follows articles about China’s barbaric fur farms two weeks ago, and Finnish fur farms the week before that.

Now, this is not a defence of fur farming, which like all industrialized farming can be brutally cruel. But you’d be a fool to think the owners of the NYT or Guardian care about that – they didn’t even care about locking down people.

So, why the sudden concern about bird flu and/or covid and/or cruelty on mink farms?

Well, one possible explanation is that fur farms are the acceptable face of farm reform. Many people will get behind banning farming mink, since it’s just fur. But then suddenly there’s a precedent on the books for banning certain farming methods or certain animals.

Fur this time. Next time, it will be food.

2. Brazil’s Vaccine Blackmail

Left-wing President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or “Lula”, announced a return of child benefits for poor families this week.

The scheme, known as Bolsa Familia, was scrapped by his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, but is being reintroduced following the left-winger’s controversial election victory late last year.

However, the scheme will have massive strings attached, according to a report in the Rio Times [emphasis added]:

“The Bolsa Família is coming back, and it is coming back with something important; it is coming back with conditions. The children have to be in school. If they are not in school, the mother loses the benefit.”

“The children have to be vaccinated. Suppose they don’t have a vaccination certificate. In that case, the mother will lose the benefit”,
said Lula during the inauguration of the ophthalmology and diagnostic units of the Super Carioca Health Center in Benfica, Rio de Janeiro.

This is exactly the sort of state-back coercion we have been warning about for a couple of years now, and is exactly why so many Western countries are pushing UBI.

3. Censorship incoming

The UK’s youngest TV news channel GB News is likely to be investigated by Ofcom, the state broadcasting regulator, for something about “spreading conspiracy theories” or “antisemitic tropes” or some other load of total bollocks.

The details really don’t matter, you know the kind of thing they’re saying. And you know why they’re saying it.

My favourite article about it is this one from Ian Dunt, where he argues that having guests from both sides of an issue isn’t really balanced, and letting reporters and pundits air any opinion they want without editorial oversight isn’t really free speech.

The logic is so tortured he probably had to write this column in international waters, or from a CIA black site in Libya.

Anyway, whether or not you trust GB News (I don’t) or like Neil Oliver (he seems decent), this is obviously a question bigger than both. It is about state censorship, about creating the atmosphere where the state can withdraw broadcasting licenses (a ridiculously controlling measure in the first place) on purely ideological grounds.

Potentially very bad news.

Or, maybe it’s all just a manufactured controversy to lend GB News some “anti-establishment” credentials.

BONUS:Movie-plot of the week

Apparently the US shot down a UFO yesterday. Sorry, make that two UFOs. The mysterious “cylindrical objects” have yet to be formally identified by either Canada or the US.

Then, just a couple of hours ago, China claimed to be monitoring a UFO of their own.

…they’re not really gonna play the “Aliens” card, are they?

It’s not all bad…

This week saw the official end of New York State’s vaccine mandate for public employees. The claim is that it doesn’t need to be mandatory anymore since 96% of workers are jabbed – but that’s only if you believe the official figures. Unions will be pushing for back pay.

Also in vaccine news, the US house of representatives voted to end the vaccine requirement for air travel this week. The US is one of the only countries to still enforce such a policy, and the bill to reverse is yet to get through the Senate.

Meanwhile, in France…

Yes, returning to the halcyon days of Gilets Jeunes (just one of the problems Covid solved for the establishment), French citizens are gathering in crowds of 100,000s to protest a planned increase to the retirement age.

And a nice one from Bob Moran:


All told a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention how AI is sexist or the UK MP who wants to bring back hanging.

There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.


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