Monday 24th of June 2024

free america now...


Tesla CEO Elon Musk has launched into an extraordinary tirade against lockdown orders in the United States, describing the rules as “fascist”.

Mr Musk’s latest comments followed criticism for remarks he made late Tuesday night (local time) on Twitter, in which the billionaire CEO echoed President Donald Trump by writing in all caps, “Free America now”.

In an expletive-laced rant during a Tesla’s Q1 2020 earnings call, Mr Musk doubled down after criticism of earlier tweets, in which he characterised the lockdowns as “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes … against all their constitutional rights”.

“People should be outraged.”

“If somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s great,” Mr Musk said, according to a recording of the call reviewed by CBS News.

“They can stay in their house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.”

“So the expansion of the shelter-in-place or – as frankly I would call it –  forcibly imprisoning people in their homes, against all their constitutional rights, but that’s my opinion, and breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong, and not why people came to America or built this country. What the f—. Excuse me.

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humility and self-awareness might emerge...

Has the time come to bury the conceit of American exceptionalism? In an article for the American edition of The Spectator, Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich concludes just that:

The coronavirus pandemic is a curse. It should also serve as an opportunity, Americans at long last realizing that they are not God’s agents. Out of suffering and loss, humility and self-awareness might emerge. We can only hope.

The heart of the American exceptionalism in question is American hubris. It is based on the assumption that we are better than the rest of the world, and that this superiority both entitles and obligates us to take on an outsized role in the world.

In our current foreign policy debates, the phrase “American exceptionalism” has served as a shorthand for justifying and celebrating U.S. dominance, and when necessary it has served as a blanket excuse for U.S. wrongdoing. Seongjong Song defined it in an 2015 article for The Korean Journal of International Studies this way: “American exceptionalism is the belief that the US is “qualitatively different” from all other nations.” In practice, that has meant that the U.S. does not consider itself to be bound by the same rules that apply to other states, and it reserves the right to interfere whenever and wherever it wishes.

American exceptionalism has been used in our political debates as an ideological purity test to determine whether certain political leaders are sufficiently supportive of an activist and interventionist foreign policy. The main purpose of invoking American exceptionalism in foreign policy debate has been to denigrate less hawkish policy views as unpatriotic and beyond the pale. The phrase was often used as a partisan cudgel in the previous decade as the Obama administration’s critics tried to cast doubt on the former president’s acceptance of this idea, but in the years since then it has become a rallying point for devotees of U.S. primacy regardless of party. There was an explosion in the use of the phrase in just the first few years of the 2010s compared with the previous decades. Song cited a study that showed this massive increase:

Exceptionalist discourse is on the rise in American politics. Terrence McCoy (2012) found that the term “American exceptionalism” appeared in US publications 457 times between 1980 and 2000, climbing to 2,558 times in the 2000s and 4,172 times in 2010-12.

The more that U.S. policies have proved “American exceptionalism” to be a pernicious myth at odds with reality, the more we have heard the phrase used to defend those policies. Republican hawks began the decade by accusing Obama of not believing in this “exceptionalism,” and some Democratic hawks closed it out by “reclaiming” the idea on behalf of their own discredited foreign policy vision. There may be differences in emphasis between the two camps, but there is a consensus that the U.S. has special rights and privileges that other nations cannot have. That has translated into waging unnecessary wars, assuming excessive overseas burdens, and trampling on the rights of other states, and all the while congratulating ourselves on how virtuous we are for doing all of it.

The contemporary version of American exceptionalism is tied up inextricably with the belief that the U.S. is the “indispensable nation.” According to this view, without U.S. “leadership” other countries will be unable or unwilling to respond to major international problems and threats. We have seen just how divorced from reality that belief is in just the last few months. There has been no meaningful U.S. leadership in response to the pandemic, but for the most part our allies have managed on their own fairly well. In the absence of U.S. “leadership,” many other countries have demonstrated that they haven’t really needed the U.S. Our “indispensability” is a story that we like to tell ourselves, but it isn’t true. Not only are we no longer indispensable, but as Micah Zenko pointed out many years ago, we never were.


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Quite amazing that Andrew Bacevich managed to write and publish something sensible in The Spectator, a rag of ultra right-wing stupidity (er... I meant to write sensibility)...


Would humility and self-awareness emerge... In Trump's world? Bombastic silliness and incoherence make the world slightly more dangerous than benevolent exclusivity...

an upstart fights the dumb panic...

A few months ago, everything seemed to be going Elon Musk’s way, as he presided over an upstart electric car company that was worth more than General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler combined.

That company, Tesla, had reported profits two quarters in a row, proving that it could earn money even as it grew. Its stock was surging. Mr. Musk opened a factory in China and was planning another in Germany. And his other business, SpaceX, was poised to become the first to ferry NASA astronauts to orbit from American soil since 2011, a trip scheduled for the end of this month.

Mr. Musk also claimed vindication by defeating a defamation lawsuit filed by a British diver he had called a “pedo guy.” He was staying out of trouble on Twitter, where he has long antagonized critics and regulators, who fined him $20 million in 2018 for statements he made there. His girlfriend was pregnant, too, with a son born this month.

But the coronavirus set Mr. Musk off. Society’s response to the pandemic was “dumb” and a “panic,” he said, arguing that the threat is overstated. And government stay-at-home orders were, in his view, unnecessarily stalling his plans to revolutionize the auto industry and help solve climate change. He attacked local officials in the San Francisco Bay Area for not letting him reopen Tesla’s factory, which he did this week anyway, in defiance of their instructions.

Mr. Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal, has always been volatile. His latest attacks and statements have raised questions about Tesla’s financial health and his own judgment, but they also reflect a recognition of the influence he wields as one of the technology industry’s best-known iconoclasts.



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elon, the bad boy of corona...

OVER THE WEEKEND, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to voice his frustrations about the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Alameda County, California. The billionaire entrepreneur threatened that he would take his auto factory to another state if it was not allowed to reopen immediately. On Monday, he announced that he would be resuming production at the facility in contravention of the lockdown. By Wednesday morning, the county had caved to Musk, announcing that his factory would be allowed to resume production under government supervision.

After Musk’s initial tweet threatening to leave the state, California Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez took to Twitter herself, saying succinctly, “F*ck Elon Musk.” She added: “So much of the clash our state is experiencing with the tech/Silicon Valley companies is of our own making. We let gig companies violate labor laws for over a decade. We subsidized Tesla as they operated with severe safety issues & actively union busted. They got used to it… It’s time that all companies, no matter how cool, abide by the same laws.”

On this week’s podcast, Gonzalez discusses the situation with Musk and Tesla. Then, tech and labor reporter Jack Crosbie joins Mehdi Hasan to give the backstory on the cultish billionaire.

Mehdi Hasan: If Elon Musk is listening to this, what message do you have for him personally apart from “F you”?

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez: I just would say: there are countless people that are working for him who are putting their families at risk so that he can become richer. And those people matter, too.

[Musical interlude.]

MH: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan.

As he re-opens his car factory against the advice of local officials in California, is Elon Musk — the man behind Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company — is he a tech genius, the real-life Tony Stark, a bold savior of humanity, or is he a bit of a fraud, a grifter, a danger to public health?

LG: Here’s this billionaire who’s saying: ‘I don’t like the rules, I’m not gonna play by them, or I’m gonna leave,’ and it’s just supremely irritating to see somebody show such privilege.

MH: I’ll speak to the California assemblywoman who went after Musk on Twitter, and a reporter who says the Tesla boss turned him into a socialist. 

So, on today’s show, what is the deal with multi-billionaire Elon Musk?

I’ve never been a fan of Elon Musk. Never bought the schtick.

Newscaster: Elon Musk is a genius. A crazy genius, no doubt. 

Newscaster: Is Elon Musk a genius?

Newscaster: Elon Musk is a genius.

Newscaster: President Trump calling Elon Musk a genius!

Newscaster: CEO Elon Musk is a true visionary. 

Newscaster: Is he a true visionary? 

Newscaster: He is an absolute visionary. 

Newscaster: The Atlantic asking whether Musk is the greatest living inventor. 

Lisa Simpson: Elon Musk is possibly the greatest living inventor!

Stephen Colbert: Are you sincerely trying to save the world?

Elon Musk: Well, I’m trying to do good things. Yeah.

SC: But you’re trying to do good things, and you’re a billionaire. [Audience laughs.]

EM: Yeah. 

SC: I mean, that seems a little bit like either superhero, or super villain. [Audience laughs.] You have to choose one.

MH: I’m team supervillain. I am!

Yeah, the cars are great, I’m not questioning his technology or products — though it’s worth pointing out that Musk only gets to call himself a co-founder of Tesla, even though he joined the year after the company was actually named and founded, because he settled out of court with one of the actual two co-founders of the company back in 2009 in order to claim that right.

But that’s by the by, and this is not a show about Tesla or its cars. I’m not here to question them but to question him: Musk, the man, the brand, the cult. 

Yes, cult. Because there are a certain type of people — often young, male, anti-establishment, a bit libertarian — who hang on his every word. Especially online, where they defend their guru, their prophet, their hero — on social media, on YouTube — with all the intensity, and even viciousness, that you’d expect from cult members.

And, by the way, on the subject of cults and fanboys, even Donald Trump has heaped praise on Elon Musk.

President Donald J. Trump: He’s one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius. You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people who came up with, originally, the lightbulb, the wheel, and all of these things, and he is one of our very smart people, and we want to, we want to cherish those people. That’s very important. But he’s done a very good job. 

MH: He’s a genius. He’s a contrarian. He goes against the conventional wisdom, takes risks, takes on power and authority. He’s the real life Iron Man.

The thing is: I’m old enough to remember when Musk, back in 2009, had to borrow nearly half a billion dollars from the Department of Energy just to keep Tesla afloat in the wake of the financial crash. He and his supporters like to brag about the fact that Tesla paid back that loan nearly 10 years early. 

But the point is not that he paid it back, or even paid it back quick; the point is that he had to go to the government — the evil, dreaded, federal government — in the first place for a bailout, for help from Washington. In fact, an investigation by The LA Times in 2015 found that Musk’s various companies between them have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support and subsidies over the years.

And yet, this is a man who extols the virtues of capitalism and the free market, who has become one of the world’s richest men before the age of 50. A gazillionaire, who likes to call himself “somewhat libertarian,” but also likes to grab taxpayer money. Funny that!

Then again, he’s also, rather ridiculously, called himself a socialist. Which he’s not, of course. There’s nothing socialist about him. But like so many super-rich, self-styled intellectuals, he’s not very well read. Musk once claimed Marx was a capitalist because he said, and I kid you not, Marx wrote a book on capital. Yeah, “Das Kapital,” the book in which socialist Karl Marx outlines how capitalism will destroy itself.

Oh, Elon.

But, look, Musk is a true BS merchant, and the ultimate attention seeker, whether on Twitter or in real life. Remember the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand in the summer of 2018, about to drown?

Newscaster: The youth soccer team remains trapped in a Thai cave with no clear way out. 

Newscaster: The danger grows for those Thai children trapped in a cave. Why a rescue might have to be attempted soon, ready or not.

MH: Musk saw that news and immediately turned up in Thailand with a miniature, “kid-sized” submarine that he said would help rescue them. The Thai authorities disagreed and said it wasn’t practical. So did the British diver Vernon Unsworth, who ended up actually saving the kids from the cave and, quite reasonably, called Musk’s proposal a PR stunt. 

So what did Musk do? He called Unsworth a “pedo” and a “child rapist.” Unsworth, not surprisingly, sued the Tesla boss for defamation. But Musk won that case in court, because, of course, if there’s one thing the U.S. justice system is really good at, it’s looking after the interests of rich, white men.

Talking of race, by the way, Tesla under Musk has faced multiple lawsuits alleging the company is a toxic hotbed of racism and discrimination. Three employees claimed that the environment there was so bad as to be “straight from the Jim Crow era.” And when one former employee complained that the Tesla boss class were ignoring black workers’ complaints of rampant racism, Musk sent out an email telling his workers only to be more, and I quote, “thick skinned.” Thick skinned!

On a side note, Musk grew his own thick skin back in apartheid South Africa, where he had a lavish childhood because his dad owned an emerald mine. 

But it’s not just allegations of racism; there’s the actual working conditions at Tesla. Forbes magazine last year found that that between 2014 and 2018, Tesla was the subject of 24 health and safety investigations, resulting in almost a quarter of a million dollars of fines for 54 violations — a much higher level of fines and violations than for other U.S. carmakers. In 2018, an investigation by Reveal News into injuries at the Tesla car plant in Northern California revealed how a safety professional at the company went to her boss to complain about the lack of yellow hazard lines and pedestrian markings on the factory floor, and she was told: “Elon does not like the color yellow.”

I mean, this guy is beyond parody. 

But look, there’s a specific and very urgent reason we’re doing this show on Elon Musk, today, this week. And it’s to do with — what else? — the coronavirus. 

Because Musk has been an absolute disaster, an embarrassment, even by his own standards, on the coronavirus. And a danger, too. A danger to public health.

First, there’s his downplaying of the risks. From the very beginning Musk has used his Twitter platform, where he has 34 million followers, to join with the right-wing, pro-Trump folks in minimizing the threat from the coronavirus. And he’s been utterly wrong.

At the end of January, he compared it to the flu. By the start of March, when it was clear that it was much deadlier than the flu, he said, “Coronavirus panic is dumb.” In mid-March, he claimed the “danger of panic still far exceeds danger of corona.” In fact, he also tweeted in March, and I quote, “Based on current trends, probably close to zero new cases in U.S. too by end of April.”

Well, we’re now in May and the number of confirmed U.S. cases stands at more than 1.4 million, and the death toll in the U.S. from Covid-19 is fast approaching 90,000. 

Good job, Elon. 

Second, having first tried to minimize the coronavirus threat, there was his attempt to try and make himself an American hero in the midst of this crisis. He was gonna save the day with ventilators for the state of California. Governor Gavin Newsom was ecstatic:

Governor Gavin Musk: Elon Musk, how about this, I told you a few days ago, that he was likely to have 1,000 ventilators. This week, they arrived, they arrived in Los Angeles, and Elon Musk is already working with the hospital association and others to get those ventilators out in real time. It’s a heroic effort.

MH: Turns out, though, that they weren’t ventilators, they were CPAB and BPAP machines that are used to treat sleep apnea. According to the Financial Times, a real ventilator can cost up to $50,000, while the machines Musk supplied cost 800 bucks.

As I said earlier, he’s a BS merchant and a desperate attention-seeker. Always.

Third, and this is most crucial of all, Musk has been at the forefront of those public figures pushing for a so-called reopening of the U.S. economy and an end to lockdowns, regardless of the public health impact, completely oblivious to the impact on the rising U.S. death toll. And he’s been pushing for a reopening, not just of the economy, but of his own Tesla car plant in Fremont, California, using the same bogus arguments about ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ that the hardcore Trumpists make. 

On April 29, for example, Musk tweeted in Trumpian all caps “FREE AMERICA.” Later that day, on a Tesla earnings call with reporters, he went off on a mad rant about the Bay Area’s stay at home orders:

Elon Musk: The extension of the shelter-in-place, or, frankly, what I would call it, forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights, that’s my opinion — and breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country. What the fuck. Excuse me….If somebody wants to stay in their house, that’s great. They should be allowed to stay in their house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is a, this is a, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.

MH: It’s fascist and un-American, apparently, to want to try and fight a pandemic using the best advice from public health professions and top epidemiologists. 



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Please... "the best advice from public health professions and top epidemiologists" is misleading. There is a full controversy in regard to this statement. Some major health professions and top epidemiologists dispute the necessity of isolation of population over a long period of time and encourage the isolation of cases... Isolation can lead to more distress as well...


See also: covert19... <R> is a fictitious number... in the plots against democracy...

so far so good...

A rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk's SpaceX company has lifted off carrying two American astronauts on a history-making flight to the International Space Station.


Key points: 
  • The NASA astronauts are expected to reach the International Space Station later on Sunday
  • It was the second attempt to launch with forecasters putting the odds of success at 50:50
  • NASA hopes to rely in part on commercial partners like NASA and Boeing in the future


NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken lifted off at 3:22pm local time from the same launch pad used to send the Apollo astronauts to the moon a half-century ago.

"Let's light this candle," Commander Doug Hurley said just before lift-off.

Minutes later, they safely entered orbit.

Despite more storms in the forecast, the company pressed ahead in its historic attempt to launch astronauts for NASA, a first by a private company.


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bezos' amazon becomes an arbiter of censorship...


‘This Is Insane’: Elon Musk Calls For Dissolution of Jeff Bezos’s Amazon

Musk’s remarks were brought by the retail giant's move to block former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson’s book about the COVID-19 pandemic titled “Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1: Introduction and Death Counts and Estimates”.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday called for Jeff Bezos’s retail giant Amazon to be broken up, after the latter refused to sell on its platform a book about the coronavirus pandemic written by Alex Berenson, a former New York Times journalist.

“This is insane @JeffBezos,” Musk tweeted, tagging the CEO of the technology company. “Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!” the billionaire added in a followup tweet.

Musk’s tweet came in response to a tweet by Berenson, in which he complained that Amazon had blocked his book for allegedly violating its publishing policies.

“Your book does not comply with our guidelines. As a result we are not offering your book for sale,” the company told the author in an e-mail. “Due to the rapidly changing nature of information around the COVID-19 virus, we are referring customers to official sources for health information about the virus”.


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of conspiracy theorists... in If a door isn’t bolted, is it properly shut? ...


too many old people have died here... in interpreting inevitability...


hydroxychloroquine trials will resume... in back in 2017...


See also:

the view from professor robert endres... in interpreting inevitability...



One has to know that Jeff Bezos "owns" The Washington Post and doesn't like information contrary to that in his baby...


why would vanity fair invite ghislaine?...

UK socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested earlier this week for soliciting the abuse of minor girls by her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, who died in custody last year from an apparent suicide.

Tesla and Space X founder, Elon Musk, has pushed back against a picture that recently emerged on social media where he is seen at a Vanity Fair party in 2014 in the company of Ghislaine Maxwell, the ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The entrepreneur tweeted that he was not acquainted with Maxwell and was not aware she was in the shot. He raised the question of why she had been invited to the Vanity Fair event in the first place.


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a coup for coup...

While Musk's tweet elicited a largely negative response from netizens, some expressed hope that the SpaceX founder was merely being sarcastic.

It appears that tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has managed to stir up quite a storm online with a tweet that makes reference to the recent coup in Bolivia, with the South American country's ousted head of state Evo Morales himself reacting to it.

When one social media user argued that “the US government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there”, and that “wasn't in the best interest of people”, the SpaceX founder's response was prompt and frank.

"We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it", Musk wrote, adding that "we get our lithium from Australia."


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The Tesla Factory Near Berlin

Elon Musk Shows the Germans How to Move Quickly

Tesla is racing ahead with construction of its new factory just outside of Berlin. All that's left for German carmakers is to watch and learn.

A large property map hangs in the mayor's office, right next to a display cabinet full of memorabilia accumulated over a long term in office. The coat of arms of the town of Grünheide on the map has faded, as has the writing: "Net settlement area of 300 hectares," it reads, if you look hard enough.

Arne Christiani's predecessor hung up the poster 20 years ago, back when BMW wanted to build a car manufacturing plant on the site, but then chose the city of Leipzig instead. "When I was first elected mayor in 2003, I left the map up," says Christiani. The pine forest on the edge of the town has remained his field of dreams for almost 17 years.

During that time, Grünheide has grown steadily, but its population has also aged. It's a place that's beautiful for people who appreciate peace and quiet, but not one that’s particularly tempting for the younger generation. Each year, Christiani has apologized to locals on International Volunteer Day for the fact that it had once again not been possible to attract high-quality industrial jobs to the area.

For some time now, though, two new maps have been hanging above the old one, with the parcel of land colored red. Christiani's dream could finally be coming true, with Tesla hoping to build electric cars on the site.

Dreams Threatened, Dreams Come True

If you leave Town Hall and walk a good 800 meters through a pine forest to the edge of the village, you reach a lake called Peetzsee. Christiani had been in office for two years when Johannes Curth and his family came to fulfil their dream here, swapping a rental apartment in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood for a home of their own, surrounded by forests and lakes.

The Curths bought a plot of land just a few meters from the shore of the lake back when prices were still reasonable. They built a house with large windows and surrounded by a good-sized yard, in which stand two magnificent old trees in it.

But now that Mayor Christiani's dream is coming true, Curth sees his own dream threatened. "We moved here because of the peace and quiet and the nature," he says. "What will happen if Tesla starts building cars here?" He fears for the quality of the water and air. And he worries about the extra traffic and what will happen to this sleepy community of 8,755 people when Tesla moves in.

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind the carmaker, is an uncompromising man whose ideas jump back and forth between California, Mars and Grünheide. The head of the world's largest electric car manufacturer builds rockets that ferry people into space and dreams of building a hyperloop tunnel for passenger transport. He is adored by his followers because, as an entrepreneur, he refuses to accept any limits.

Breathtaking Speed

Almost as a byproduct, Musk is now also changing not only the provincial state of Brandenburg, where he’s setting up his factory, but also Germany. The project just outside of Berlin is becoming symbolic for industrial policy in times of climate change. Whereas German companies tend to moan and dig in their heels when the government sets overly ambitious climate targets, as they did last week when the new European Union climate goals were announced, Tesla brings both together: sustainable manufacturing and speed. Breathtaking speed.



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that's the way to stop him competing...

Construction of a Tesla gigafactory outside Berlin has ran into an unexpected problem, after a German court ordered land clearing works to stop over concerns they might disrupt the rest of snakes hibernating through winter.

The stop was ordered by an administrative court in Frankfurt an der Oder on Tuesday. According to a spokesman for the court, the Landesumweltamt (Germany’s environmental authority) and Tesla are now holding consultations.

The concerns over the forest felling and land clearing for the future factory were raised by a local environmentalist group, NABU. The activists alleged that the works would disturb the winter hibernation of the smooth snake, also known as Coronella austriaca. The serpents nap through the cold weather in trees and underground.

The authorities are also reviewing claims that the construction works may harm sand lizards, also known as Lacerta agilis, which are said to be dwelling at the site.



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