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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
July 31, 2020

Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App

The discussions come as TikTok’s ownership by a Chinese company is under scrutiny by the White House and lawmakers.


SAN FRANCISCO — TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app that has been under scrutiny from the Trump administration, is in talks to sell itself to Microsoft and other companies as President Trump weighs harsh actions against the business, including forcing TikTok to divorce itself from its parent company, ByteDance, said people with knowledge of the discussions.

The powerful Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, has been examining ByteDance’s 2017 purchase of Musical.ly, an app that eventually morphed to become TikTok. The committee has decided to order ByteDance to divest TikTok, and the government is engaged in negotiations over the terms of the separation, according to a person familiar with the administration’s plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. White House officials have said TikTok may pose a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership.

On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who leads the committee, briefed the president on the divestment plan. But it remains unclear what the president will do, including whether the U.S. would apply a divestment order to all of TikTok’s American operations and whether its actions would affect the app’s global business as well. Mr. Trump is weighing several other courses of action, including an executive order that could use the vast powers of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to bar certain foreign apps from American app stores. The Trump administration has also considered whether to add TikTok’s parent to a so-called “entity list,” which would prevent it from purchasing American products and services without a special license, said people with knowledge of the matter. Discussions are expected to continue into this weekend.

In his comments on Friday, Mr. Trump told reporters that there were “a couple of options” with TikTok, including “banning” it. He added, “But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.” It’s unclear how advanced TikTok’s talks to sell itself to Microsoft and other companies are, but changing ownership is crucial for the app. The United States is one of TikTok’s major markets, so continued operations in the country are a priority. TikTok has discussed other scenarios to alleviate concerns by U.S. officials. In one scenario, non-Chinese investors like Sequoia Capital, SoftBank and General Atlantic could purchase a majority stake in the app from ByteDance, people familiar with the discussions have said. Any deal would likely be expensive. ByteDance’s valuation recently stood at around $100 billion, according to the research firm PitchBook.

July 31, 2020

These Scientists Are Testing an Experimental COVID Vaccine on Themselves



An impressive scoop by the MIT Technology Review: Using simple lab tools, a ragtag group of scientists cobbled together their own grey-market COVID-19 vaccine — and instead of jumping through the usual hoops for a clinical trial, they’re testing it on themselves. The group calls itself the Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative (Radvac.) Led by celebrity Harvard geneticist George Church, the team set out to find “a simple formula that you could make with readily available materials,” as Preston Estep, Church’s former graduate student at Harvard and leader of the project, told MIT Tech.

The group came up with a vaccine, which consists of bits of protein that match the coronavirus, but aren’t able to cause disease. They even posted a white paper detailing how to cook it up yourself. Similar approaches have been used to make other vaccines, as MIT Tech points out, including for hepatitis B and HPV. The group quickly found several volunteers who were willing to squirt the makeshift vaccine up their noses using a pump, which they believe could create a local immunity in the tissues of the airway.

Despite not making any claims about the effectiveness of their vaccine, Radvac has now given materials to dozens of friends and colleagues. In fact, Estep told MIT Tech that he’s lost track of how many people have taken it so far. In sum, it’s an extremely deviant approach compared to the staid world of conventional pharmaceutical research. Unsurprisingly, that’s alramed some skeptics.

“It’s not the best idea — especially in this case, you could make things worse,” George Siber, the former head of vaccines at Wyeth, a Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company, told MIT Tech. “You really need to know what you are doing here.” The project could run into trouble with the Food and Drug Administration, according to MIT Tech. Money may not be changing hands and each user has to sign extensive disclaimers, but regulators could still crack down on the group.

July 30, 2020

James Lawson is one of the greatest orators of our times, when his voice raises up, it rings down

a righteous anger and clarion call for justice. Magnificent speaker and human.

(John Lewis service, btw)

July 30, 2020

The US Is Now A Failed State

Donald Trump's leadership has been so catastrophic that even a win in November might not be enough to turn the country around.


The view from outside of the United States is clear: America is no longer a functioning democracy and is deteriorating rapidly into a failed state. Under Donald Trump, the systems of checks and balances has broadly failed to curtail his autocratic instincts. He sailed through impeachment for obvious crimes against his own country, ignored damning intelligence reports from America’s agencies with no consequence, destroyed America’s professional civil service, and turned the White House into a piranha infested swamp of cronyism. Trump staffers think nothing of ignoring court issued subpoenas, cut press conferences short when Trump can’t answer questions, and propagate lies from the Oval Office on a daily basis. And this was all before the worst pandemic in 100 years hit the United States and exposed far more lethal layers of Trump’s corruption and incompetence — all of which has gone almost completely unchecked.

The Trump Virus

The Coronavirus pandemic (aptly called the ‘Trump Virus’ by Nancy Pelosi) has laid bare the extent of the Trump administration’s inability to run a government. If one were to write a book on how not to handle a pandemic, the United States’ response to the Coronavirus would provide a text book case. From denying it was ever a threat to dismissing scientists and refusing to wear a mask, Trump and his team of political hacks and grifters have done almost everything wrong. When the pandemic hit America in March of this year, the Trump administration fell apart at the seams. As George Packer in the Atlantic noted:

With no national plan—no coherent instructions at all—families, schools, and offices were left to decide on their own whether to shut down and take shelter. When test kits, masks, gowns, and ventilators were found to be in desperately short supply, governors pleaded for them from the White House, which stalled, then called on private enterprise, which couldn’t deliver. States and cities were forced into bidding wars that left them prey to price gouging and corporate profiteering. Civilians took out their sewing machines to try to keep ill-equipped hospital workers healthy and their patients alive. Russia, Taiwan, and the United Nations sent humanitarian aid to the world’s richest power—a beggar nation in utter chaos.

From there, things got progressively worse. Trump’s astonishing campaign of disinformation created a culture war out of wearing masks and listening to medical advice from experts. This completely unnecessary war has essentially destroyed America’s ability to handle a national pandemic, splitting the country into responsible States heeding the latest scientific advice from medical professionals, and irresponsible States heeding the advice of a president who believes ingesting bleach could cure the Coronavirus. The pro-Trump media insisted the Coronavirus was essentially a blue state problem as the virus ravaged the coasts and left much of the middle and south of the country untouched. Medical professionals pleaded with Republican governors the Trump administration to look at the science and prepare for the worst, but they ignored social distancing and mask wearing mandates, engaged in ludicrous conspiracy theories, and urged their citizens to put themselves in danger for the sake of the economy. Predictably, this has led to an unmitigated disaster. The Coronavirus is ripping through completely unprepared red states at a ferocious pace, and the total death toll now stands at over 150,000. America is now unable to combat this deadly plague that is, as the New York Times reports, “splintering into deadly pieces”. There isn’t one outbreak — there are multiple, and each requires a completely different solution that the federal government under Trump has no ability to provide: As infections mount across the country, it is dawning on Americans that the epidemic is now unstoppable, and that no corner of the nation will be left untouched. As of Tuesday, the pathogen had infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Many experts fear the virus could kill 200,000 or even 300,000 by year’s end…. Each state, each city has its own crisis driven by its own risk factors: vacation crowds in one, bars reopened too soon in another, a revolt against masks in a third. “We are in a worse place than we were in March,” when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. “Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots.” Trump and the right wing media are completely to blame for this. Wrote Greg Sargent in the Washington Post:

Studies suggest misinformation from Fox and other right-wing media outlets might be making audiences more prone to believing coronavirus conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, even as too-rapid reopenings are a big reason the coronavirus is surging again, his Fox propagandists continue to push the idea that hesitation to reopen schools is pure politics.

The only silver lining here is that Trump’s malfeasance and the right wing media’s complicity is destroying his chances of re-election. But that might not matter, because America is no longer a functioning democracy and there are no guarantees the election result is going to be respected — or even counted properly.

Trump is going to undermine and try to steal the election

For months, Trump has been priming his base to believe that Joe Biden and the Democrats are planning to steal the election from him. Trump does not need to provide any evidence for this because he understands his base and political allies will either believe it or dutifully repeat his talking points. While doing this, Trump and the GOP are making concrete plans to steal the election themselves. Reported the Washington Post:

In truth, the real fraud occurring around the 2020 election is being committed by Trump and his allies, not through individual acts of malfeasance but on a nationwide scale. This type of election fraud is not about adding fake voters. Rather, it’s about subtracting real voters by using false claims of voter fraud to bar millions of eligible voters from the polls. And unlike the types of election misconduct the president likes to tweet about, the type of election misconduct he and members of his party engage in really do affect the vote tallies in — and at times, the outcomes of — our elections. How exactly do they do this? They create draconian policies to combat non-existent voter fraud and systematically purge voters: In the 21st century, Republican politicians have vastly expanded the scope of their “fraud-fighting” measures. No longer content with trying to make it harder to register, McConnell and his allies are eagerly invalidating the ballots of eligible, registered voters as well. One of the most effective tools for affecting election outcomes in the name of fighting fraud has been the voter purge. A purge is essentially a voter-registration drive in reverse: where the former adds people to the voter rolls, the latter removes them. Proponents of purges argue that they’re removing the names of dead or relocated voters, thus making voter impersonation more difficult. In fact, while there’s no evidence of elections being swung by untidy lists, there is clear evidence that eligible voters are being deregistered at alarming rates, with evidence-free worry over voter fraud being used as a pretext.

In Trump’s America, Republicans don’t have to bother hiding their corruption. The parallel reality Trump means Republicans can rig the election by pretending Democrats are the ones doing it. This disgusting ruse is made possible by Trump’s iron grip over the party and the complete breakdown of the nation’s system of checks and balances.

Republicans have wrecked America...............

July 29, 2020

BREAKING Tempe train fire: Bridge collapses after huge inferno engulfs carriages

Footage shows the sky turning black with smoke over Tempe Town Lake, Arizona. The bridge has collapsed and firefighters are at the scene desperately trying to put out the blaze


July 29, 2020

Cognitive Dissonance. We found the IQ test Trump took that proves he is a genius. Take it and see if

you pass!


Recently, Donald Trump took a cognitive test and apparently came out with flying colors. While we know virtually nothing about the content of the test, how much time the President was given to take it, who might have helped him cheat, or the President’s final score, we do know that Donald J. Trump has a huge brain. It is that same huge brain that can easily navigate its way through events and circumstances that would daunt most Nobel Prize laureates. In this world, intelligence goes far beyond what you know. Intelligence includes what you know you don’t need to know, what you can fake knowing, what you can deny knowing, and what—whether true or false—you can convince others to believe. In those terms, Donald Trump’s intelligence is the bigliest in human history, and by a lot. Fortunately, a friend of ours hacked the less than perfectly secure White House server, found the test and has agreed to share it. We think you’ll concur it was the hardest exam ever given, that only one person on earth or the other planets could have passed it, and in no way whatsoever was it doctored to avoid the President’s cognitive deficiencies.

1. If you are a 45-year-old developer and flat broke, your next step is to:

a) Sell your soul to Russian oligarchs.

b) Borrow laundered money from Deutsche Bank.

c) Slap your name on a crappy cologne.

d) All of the above.

2. How many members of a condo board do you have to bribe?

a) Half the total plus one.

b) The black ones.

c) The ones with kids.

d) Michael Cohen used to handle that.

3. What is the one thing in life you just can’t have?

a) Divorces

b) Foreclosures

c) Bankruptcies

d) Witnesses

4. If you have a chance to assault two equally hot women, you should:

a) Go for the younger one.

b) Go for the poorer one.

c) Go for the unarmed one.

d) Make your move and deny, deny, deny.

5. How many sides in a triangle?

a) One

b) Two

c) Three

d) Four

6. If you are $100 million in the red on a construction project, you should:

a) Stiff the subcontractors, declare bankruptcy, and reopen under a new corporate entity.

b) Renegotiate mortgages with multiple banks.

c) Take out a mob loan against future services rendered.

d) Run for President.

7. How do you count the attendance at a presidential inauguration?

a) Take an aerial photo and estimate using artificial intelligence.

b) With your finger.

c) Take CNN count and multiply by two.

d) Take Obama total and multiply by three.

8. A valid reason for pardoning someone is:

a) They are talking to DOJ Southern District of New York.

b) They know where the bodies are buried.

c) They have the golden shower photos.

d) Mr. Putin told me to do it.

e) All of the above.

9. If you are caught red handed extorting Ukraine, you should:

a) Deny, deny, deny

b) Blackball Alexander Vindman

c) Blackball Marie Yovanovitch

d) Call Rudy

e) All of the above

10. When we say someone is “going to go through some things,” we are saying:

a) She’s going to lose her job.

b) She’s going to receive numerous death threats from QAnon followers.

c) She’s going to lose her security clearance.

d) We’re going to spread rumors she’s communist, transgender, and a spy and see what sticks.

e) All of the above.

11. How many commandments in the Ten Commandments?.................................

July 28, 2020

The fascist, totalitarian Republicans trying to paint the Democrats as the thugs is gaslighting at

an Olympian level.

Rethugs and MAGAt types in general use brute force in a myriad number of guises to terrorise millions of people, millions of times a year, from the most intimate one on one level (example: beat down wifey, bloody her up a bit, cuz you hate your shitty little life and she slipped a millimetre off her god-given leash) to nationwide power plays, at every level and utilising every evil, both as inspiration and then execution.

July 28, 2020

I Went On Vacation To Trump Country And It Was Worse Than I Thought

We figured it couldn’t be that bad. Yeah...


Last summer, my extended family and I (Deb and the kids, Claudia and Lila), took our first family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge and it was awesome. The kids had a great time. The adults had a great time. It was a lot of fun and low stress. Not every family vacations well together but we do and we were immediately excited for our next summer vacation. We were going to rent a cabin down in the Outer Banks one summer. We were going to go up to New York City and show the kids the sites another. We were going to go to Disney. Finally! We’ve all been dreaming of taking the kids to Disney for years but didn’t have the money and we would, at long last, be able to go. And then the coronavirus nuked the entire summer. We had actually made plans to go to NYC at the end of June, right after school ended and before it got too hot. We were going to go to the Statue of Liberty, the top of the Empire State Building, see a Broadway play, visit some family, eat a lot of NYC food, it was going to be a rather busy week. We might have needed a vacation from our vacation. But, no. We’ve been stuck mostly indoors for months. So when Claudia mentioned going to see the Natural Bridge here in Virginia, we said, “Pack your bags! We’re going!” We figured it couldn’t be that bad. Yeah...

Deep In The Heart Of Trump Humper Country

Claudia had warned me that we were heading deep into Trump country. Natural Bridge (it’s both a town and a landmark) is well into the Shenandoah Valley area, about a three and a half hour drive from where I live in Alexandria. If you have not had the chance to visit Shenandoah Valley, you should. It’s lovely; especially in the Fall when the trees turn into a parade of colors. A little less lovely was the number of Trump/Pence 2020 signs peppering the lawns of pretty much every other house as we drew near our destination. Curiously, I didn’t see a lot of bumper stickers but I also didn’t see a lot of cars, either. I also didn’t see a single MAGA hat the entire time we were there. This lends some support to my pet theory that MAGA hats are performative. People only wear them to get a reaction. If you’re in a town where 90% of your neighbors are also devoted Trumpers, why bother announcing it? It’s one thing to have a yard sign for traffic passing through the city, but walking around town? Meh. Not so much. Speaking of the town, Natural Bridge and the town next to it, Glasgow, are quite small. Between the two, the population is about 2600. By way of comparison, the three elementary schools within four blocks of my apartment have about 2000 students. If you add the middle school a few blocks further, we have a larger population of school kids under the age of 14 within a mile of us than the entire population of both towns together. So, not heavily populated. And yet, it’s towns just like this that are the most at risk. Sure, they don’t have the population density of a New York City or Houston or Los Anglees, but they also don’t have the resources to deal with an outbreak. Worse, the political attitude of the MAGAs all but guarantee the spread of Covid-19. And that’s exactly what we saw while we were there.

Natural Wonder And Manmade Stupidity

First, when all of this is over and the coronavirus is under control, definitely go see the Natural Bridge. It is goddamn amazing. Also walk the trail under it that leads to the waterfall. It’s a nice ¾ mile walk and a lot of beautiful scenery. I would post pictures but, frankly, they don’t do it justice. Fortunately, the Bridge and trail were not heavily trafficked so we were able to have our masks off most of the time. We only put them on when we talked to the people working the concession booth and when we got to the waterfall, which was a small cul-de-sac with a group of people. On the other hand, we took a tour of the nearby caverns and that didn’t go quite as well. When we arrived at the caverns, a sign said that tours would be half capacity due to Covid concerns and everyone had to wear masks. Only one of those things turned out to be true. If you have not had the opportunity to go on a cavern tour, put it on your bucket list. Especially if you have kids. They’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen and well worth the effort. Usually. The caverns at Natural Bridge were a bit...underwhelming. They weren’t boring per se, they just weren’t as good as the other caverns I had been to. To be fair, the Luray and Skyline Caverns are magnificent so what are you going to do? If you’re considering touring all the caverns in Virginia, Natural Bridge is one of the ones you start with and work your way up to Luray, which is the top of the line. But the caverns being kind of eh wasn’t the problem. They were kind of small. And that turned into an issue very quickly. When the group started down the path into the caverns, we had no way of knowing what a full size or half size group looked like.

The Luray Caverns are quite large and a group our size (about 20 of us) would have enough room to spread out. That was not the case in Natural Caverns. There, even in the larger areas, we were mostly forced to be within a foot or so of each other. In the smaller rooms, we were shoulder to shoulder. It was a fucking nightmare. I haven’t been in a crowd of people in an enclosed space since before the pandemic started and thank god no Trump humping asshole decided to make a scene about his “freedumbs” and wearing a mask. Still, even with masks, being that close to so many people indoors was horrifying. There was absolutely no way the group was half sized because a group twice the size could not possibly have fit. Basically, the people who run the caverns chose profit over safety. Lovely. Things didn’t get any better when we got to the hotel. Despite a sign on the door asking all guests to wear masks, maybe one or two were. There was a wedding or some such event taking place and none of the 20-somethings in their dresses and suits were wearing a mask while they gathered close together. But that wasn’t the part that really made us want to run screaming from the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center. No, that was the fact that literally not one single member of the staff was wearing one, either. Welcome to Trump Humper country.

This had to be a combination of two things. One, wearing a mask opens you up to abuse by guests. Debbie went down to the dining room in the morning to pick up our breakfast because we surely were not going to eat down there. We assumed it would be packed with people, none of whom would be social distancing, and we were right. But while she was waiting for our take out, one of the Trump Humpers couldn’t stop himself from demanding to know why she was wearing a mask. He did this because, at the very core of their being Trumpers are bullies and he saw a woman standing by herself. Imagine what they would do to a hotel worker who, fearing for their job, would be forced to smile (behind a mask) and remain polite? The second thing is that, this far into Trump Humper country, people simply don’t believe in wearing masks because something something George Soros, Bill Gates, and Qanon. Between Fox News, OANN, and Sinclair spewing anti-science propaganda to support Trump’s talking points, social media allowing crap like Plandemic to spread to millions, and Republican governors openly fighting against masks, taking basic precautions has become political. As in, if you do it, you must hate Trump, manliness, and ‘Murika. What are you, some kind of Commie sissy boy? One wonders if any of the hotel workers have insurance. Virginia is not currently a hot spot but keep having weddings without masks or a care in the world and it won’t matter how rural or loyal to Trump that part of the state is, sooner or later, the Red Death comes like a thief in the night. There were a lot of other issues with the hotel (nice view from the balcony but, seriously, stay somewhere else) but that’s not relevant to this article. What is relevant is just how much being in Trump country impacted our trip.

It Really Shouldn’t Have Made A Difference. But It Did

I’ve been to deep red parts of the country before and it didn’t matter. Even after Trump was elected, I’ve been out to the Skyline Caverns in Shenandoah Valley and down to Williamsburg. I’ve been out in the middle of absolutely nowhere to visit my aunt in North Carolina. And when I say “nowhere,” I mean it. A mile from her house, my GPS stopped working. Not because I didn’t have a signal, but because the roads weren’t on the map. But over the last four years, it’s been harder and harder to ignore the growing violence and insanity of white Republican voters. A couple of them almost attacked my son here in deep blue Alexandria. I was not even slightly surprised that one verbally accosted my wife in deep red Rockbridge County. If I had had a Biden 2020 bumper sticker on my car, a flat tire in the morning would not have been much of a shock. As much as I tried to relax and enjoy spending time with my family, it was impossible to forget that I was, almost literally, in enemy territory; surrounded by people who actively wish me and mine harm. Did I expect them to drag us away in the middle of the night? No. But these are the same people cheering on Trump’s secret police illegally snatching people off the street in Portland. Would they personally put us on the cattle cars in a few years? Doubtful. But they would absolutely applaud as the trains passed through their town on the way to the gas chambers. Not every German wore a swastika, carried a gun, or personally murdered a Jew. But millions of them were more than happy to support the government carrying out atrocities in their name. Those were the people around us and it doesn’t matter how hard you want to believe otherwise. The signs in their yards tell you how eager they are to vote for the man who promises to bring white nationalist fascism to America. I think maybe I’ll steer clear of Trump country until Trump is a fading memory and the blood rage has burned itself out. There’s plenty of other parts of the country to visit where I won’t have to worry about an angry white Republican voter targeting my family because OANN told him we’re to blame for his shitty, hate-filled life.

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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
Home country: US/UK/Sweden
Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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