EU says Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation campaign


Click to enlargeWhat other nations are nutso enough to hoard TP?

Russian media have deployed a “significant disinformation campaign” against the West to worsen the impact of the coronavirus, generate panic and sow distrust, according to a European Union document seen by Reuters…

“A significant disinformation campaign by Russian state media and pro-Kremlin outlets regarding COVID-19 is ongoing,” said the nine-page internal document, dated March 16…”

An EU database has recorded almost 80 cases of disinformation about coronavirus since Jan. 22, it said, noting Russian efforts to amplify Iranian accusations online, cited without evidence, that coronavirus was a U.S. biological weapon.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed to what he said was the lack in the EU document of a specific example or link to a specific media outlet.

“We’re talking again about some unfounded allegations which in the current situation are probably the result of an anti-Russian obsession,” said Peskov.

The EU document cited examples from Lithuania to Ukraine, including false claims that a U.S. soldier deployed to Lithuania was infected and hospitalized. It said that on social media, Russian state-funded, Spanish-language RT Spanish was the 12th most popular news source on coronavirus between January and mid-March, based on the amount of news shared on social media.

The quantity of government-sponsored lies streaming in both directions since early days of the Cold War has never ceased. Nor have “responsible” news organizations like Reuters cared a whole boatload about sorting the questions raised by fake news. At this point in time, I give little or no credence to what might be Russia-based fake news…and hope to find sufficient independent sources in the West to keep clear of comparable crap from self-assigned Western Heroes of Democracy and Freedom.

First movie studio owned by Native Americans opens in New Mexico

Last year, the Tesuque Pueblo tribe of New Mexico opened a new casino, moving out of a 75,000-square foot facility that they quickly realized could be repurposed as a studio facility.

That idea was solidified in the fall, when the Universal Pictures feature “News of the World,” starring Tom Hanks, filmed at the facility. And thus launched Camel Rock Studios, which lays claim as the first movie studio owned by a Native American tribe in the history of Hollywood.

“Casinos, inherently, if you take out all the games, are big empty spaces,” said Timothy Brown, president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation. “So we had an events center that we did concerts in and large parties that was a big vacant space. Once we removed all the casino equipment and furniture from the casino area, that became another large vacant space, and then with any business we had an entire administrative area with cubicles and offices that became perfect for their offices to move in.”

Brown said the corporation is aiming to take advantage of a filming boom in New Mexico, spurred in part by the state’s economic incentives. Perhaps best known recently for productions such as “Breaking Bad,” New Mexico has seen filming rise to the point that Netflix has even made Albuquerque its U.S. production hub.

The Land of Enchantment continues our history as the Land of Enchanting Movies.

How folks in 34 countries feel about democracy…

People around the world are widely dissatisfied with democracy in their country and believe that elected officials don’t care what people like them think, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Global opinion is more divided on the question of whether the state is run for the benefit of all, while people generally agree that voting gives them a say about how the government runs things in their country.

Here’s a link to eight charts that show how people around the world see the state of democracy in their country, based on the new report…

Here’s one of them:

The Winnah!…this week

Thanks, gocomics.org

Though I must point out to Steve Benson – if he ever notices I’m posting one of his cartoons – I’m older than either of these guys. My personal politics are a tad to the Left of both. Have been since the first time I got together with a bunch of folks from SNCC to join the sit-ins at lunch counters I’d never recommend to anyone, anyway.

And I still understand that getting that lowlife scumbag out of the White House remains the highest priority.

Study of Coronavirus patients finds 2.3% death rate

Researchers from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention…describe the clinical findings on more than 72,000 COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China, which reveal a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 2.3% and suggest most cases are mild, but the disease hits the elderly the hardest.

The study, published in JAMA, is the largest patient-based study on the novel coronavirus, which was first connected to seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December, and has since traversed the globe…

Of the confirmed cases, 1,023 patients—all in critical condition—died from the virus, which results in a CFR of 2.3%. The CFR jumped considerably among older patients, to 14.8% in patients 80 and older, and 8.0% in patients ages 70 to 79. Among the critically ill, the CFR was 49.0%.

A smaller study…based on 52 critically ill patients at a Wuhan hospital confirms this finding…

In comparison to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronaviruses, which were both identified in the past 20 years, COVID-19 is likely more highly transmissible but not as deadly, the researchers noted. (SARS had a CFR of 9.6%; MERS has a CFR of 34.4%.) And unlike SARS and MERS, hospital-based outbreaks do not seem to be hallmark of COVID-19 at this time.

So, the statistics give me some confidence. On the negative side, I’ve had pneumonia once – surviving readily. But, once is sufficient to enable greater susceptibility. On the plus side, even though I’m a reasonably ancient radical, I’m more than average fit, haven’t smoked in 60 years (though I was a heavy smoker before), knocked off 75 lbs a few years back and only fluctuate 2-3 lb since and never miss a day with dedicated exercise walking and a lean nutritious diet.

We are a self-quarantined family, anyway. A nice way to describe proto-hermits, quite happy to stay in touch with society via the Web, entertainment the same, news the same. I’ve been online since before the WWW existed, 1981-ish. We live out of town in a beautiful New Mexico setting among a somewhat-scattered community. We wave to folks driving by.

Weekly grocery shopping is a Walmart – pickup order until this blows over. And Trader Joe’s same as usual just because it’s truly fun shopping. We know everyone working there since they opened in Santa Fe about 16 years ago.

Katherine Johnson, mathematician, dies at 101


NASA space scientist, mathematician, Katherine Johnson, circa 1966

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped pave the way for the first American astronaut to successfully orbit the Earth, died Monday morning at the age of 101, according to NASA.

The pivotal roles of Johnson and other African-American women at NASA were highlighted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures.”…

When John Glenn was preparing for his mission on which he’d become the first American to orbit the Earth, he requested that Johnson personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers.

According to Johnson, Glenn said, “If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go.”

Remember when. Always remember.

Remembering Kirk Douglas


Click to enlarge

1950. “Actor Kirk Douglas, half-length portrait, seated in chair, on set during the filming of “Ace in the Hole”, New Mexico.” 35mm color transparency by Charles and Ray Eames.

He was Spartacus, of course. But the great thing about Kirk Douglas living for more than a century – with most of those years spent as a Hollywood icon and cinematic family patriarch – is we got to see him do so much more than just wield sharp weaponry in an epic adventure. (And, man, he had that down.)

Douglas, who died Wednesday at 103, was a tried-and true icon who began his epic run in the mid-1940s with films including “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” and “Mourning Becomes Electra” and who owned the ’50s and ’60s, formed a great partnership with Burt Lancaster and earning three best-actor Oscar nominations (but never won). Douglas worked well into his twilight years, including a starring role opposite son Michael, ex-wife Diana and grandson Cameron in “It Runs in the Family” in 2003.

RTFA. It lists Brian Truitt’s idea of the five essential Kirk Douglas movies. There will more of the same, of course. My own late favorite is “Lonely are the brave”. One of the first hikes I sought out after moving to New Mexico was the Movie Trail in the Sandias. Scene of one of the most critical passages in this quiet, immensely important, film.