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German cathedral dusts off relics of St Corona, patron of epidemics


AACHEN, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s Aachen Cathedral has dug out the relics of little-known Saint Corona, patron saint of resisting epidemics, from its treasure chamber and is polishing up her elaborate shrine to go on show once the coronavirus pandemic has passed. The pandemic, confirmed to have infected nearly half a million people worldwide, including more than 30,000 in Germany, has boosted public interest in the Christian martyr, believed to have been killed by the Romans around 1,800 years ago.

The cathedral had planned even before the coronavirus outbreak to display St Corona’s shrine this summer as part of an exhibition on gold craftsmanship. It is not clear when people will now be able to view the shrine due to tough restrictions on gatherings imposed to help combat the spread of the virus. But experts are painstakingly cleaning the gold, bronze and ivory shrine, which has been hidden from public view for the last 25 years, in preparation for when it can go on display.

“We have brought the shrine out a bit earlier than planned and now we expect more interest due to the virus,” said Aachen Cathedral spokeswoman Daniela Loevenich. Corona is believed to have been only about 16 years old when the Romans killed her, probably in Syria, for professing the Christian faith.

The girl suffered a particularly excruciating death, according to legend. She was tied to two bent palm trees and then torn apart as the trunks were released. “That is a very gruesome story and led to her becoming the patron of lumberjacks,” said Brigitte Falk, head of Aachen Cathedral Treasure Chamber, adding that it was pure chance that she also became a patron saint for resisting epidemics.


2017 snapshot of an Austrian church confirming St. Corona was linked to pandemics.


Pete Buttigieg's Next Move: A PAC Called Win the Era

Donors have been told that the group will support candidates, specifically in down-ballot races, it hopes will become future leaders.


Pete Buttigieg, who rose from obscurity to narrowly win the Iowa caucuses before dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary last month, has taken some of the first steps toward outlining his post-campaign future. Mr. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., is forming both a political action committee, called Win the Era, and an affiliated nonprofit group, according to people briefed on the plans.

Donors have been told that the PAC will support and endorse candidates who represent generational change, specifically in down-ballot races, in hopes of helping to create a “pipeline” for the party. The groups will also promote issues such as climate change and cybersecurity. A skeletal version of a website that refashions Mr. Buttigieg’s 2020 logo, replacing the word “Pete” with “Win the Era,” is already online, though it has not been advertised. “There is simply too much at stake to retreat to the sidelines now,” the site reads. “Together we can build the era that must come next.”

Mr. Buttigieg, whose second term as mayor ended Jan. 1, is just 38 and seen as one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party. But he also finds himself out of office and with no clear path back to electoral politics in Republican-dominated Indiana. He emerged as one of the surprise fund-raising standouts of the 2020 campaign, raising more than $100 million in a little more than a year. He won over traditional fund-raisers, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, who had bundled huge sums for President Barack Obama, as well as small online contributors. He raised more than $43 million from donors who gave less than $200.

His primary campaign committee ended up with at least $2.8 million in general election funds, according to calculations by the Campaign Finance Institute. Because Mr. Buttigieg did not become the nominee, that money must now be refunded. But Mr. Buttigieg’s campaign is now asking donors to instead redirect the money to seed the PAC, which can accept contributions of up to $5,000 each. “The work of electing a forward-thinking generation of Democratic candidates never ends,” said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Mr. Buttigieg and a senior adviser to his campaign, when asked about his plans. “Pete will do his part by building and leading the Win the Era PAC as we get closer to the November election.”


Moody's: up to 30% of US mortgages could go into default



Cool, all good.

Coronavirus Shows the Need for D.C. and Puerto Rico Statehood


The coronavirus pandemic has revealed many flaws in America—from a lack of medical equipment in the federal government’s national emergency stockpile to the fact that there’s no universal requirement for employers to offer paid sick leave. It has also reinforced the need to address certain geographic inequities. Case in point: D.C. and Puerto Rico are less equipped to fight the virus than most of the rest of the nation simply because they are not states.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law a $2 trillion stimulus to rescue the economy from the shock of coronavirus, which will provide millions of Americans with direct cash infusions and will allocate billions of dollars in funding to states and municipalities to fight COVID-19. But some parts of the country are getting a lot less help than others. As the Washington Post reported, D.C was intentionally classified as a territory instead of a state, cutting the number of federal dollars the District will receive by more than half. Whereas each state will get $1.25 billion, the bill appropriated $3 billion for D.C. and the five U.S. territories—Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa—to be divided by population. D.C. will ultimately get $500 million in relief, less than half of what it would if it were a state.

“I was enraged by the fact that the District of Columbia was going to be shortchanged,” Senator Chris Van Hollen told the Post, which reported that Democrats tried to classify D.C. as a state in the legislation but that Republicans shut it down as a deal-breaker. This reveals yet another reason why it’s necessary for Democrats to start pushing strenuously for D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood. It’s not just for their own political advantage; as Ben Paviour explained in a 2018 Monthly piece, the party stands to gain a lot by adding four more Democratic senators and several House members. It’s a moral imperative. Without this representation, these areas are grossly neglected, particularly in times of crisis.

D.C. and Puerto Rico don’t have the representatives to lobby for them when it matters. This dynamic was also on display when Congress made decisions about disaster relief for Puerto Rico following its devastating hurricanes and earthquakes. The House and Senate took months to come to a consensus about the amount of aid the territory would receive, leaving the disaster relief unresolved for a dangerous amount of time. Now, with the stimulus (the largest in American history), the District has also seen the financial consequences of being without statehood. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents D.C. as a non-voting member of the House, told the Monthly that this issue never would have occurred if the District had full representation in the House and Senate. “If we had had two senators, this issue would not have come up,” Norton said. “There would have been no notion that any states should have been shortchanged in this way. It’s another indication of why we need D.C. statehood.”


How Hungary's leader, Viktor Orban, gets away with it

He takes near-dictatorial powers, while the EU does nothing


LIKE A BOND villain, Viktor Orban cannot resist revealing his plans. The Hungarian prime minister has never hidden his desire to entrench himself in power. Before taking office in 2010, he remarked ominously: “We have only to win once, but then properly.” True to his word, when handed a big enough majority by Hungarian voters, Mr Orban hollowed out the Hungarian state, rewriting its constitution, purging the country’s courts and nobbling the media. In 2013 he told an interviewer: “In a crisis, you don’t need governance by institutions.” Again, he has followed through. A law enacted on March 30th means Mr Orban can rule by decree—bypassing parliament—until the coronavirus crisis is over. In films the villain is thwarted after revealing his hand. But Mr Orban is up against the European Union, not James Bond, so he succeeds.

No one can say there was no warning. Mr Orban’s career—which has encompassed everything from anti-Soviet liberalism to right-wing nationalism via Christian Democracy—has been dedicated to the accumulation and maintenance of power, rather than the pursuit of principle. Those who knew him well saw what was to come. In 2009 Jozsef Debreczeni, the author of a critical biography, warned: “Once he is in possession of a constitutional majority, he will turn this into an impregnable fortress of power.” A combination of careful strategy, political cunning and a dash of luck have made this prediction come true.

To the frustration of those who have spent the past decade trying to stop him via legal means, Mr Orban is more astute they think. His “reforms” tend to reach the edge of legal acceptability, but no further. If Mr Orban ever does hit a legal obstacle, he surrenders some gains, while keeping the bulk of them. (The Hungarian leader even has a name for this legal waltz: the peacock dance.) Opposition figures, civil-rights monitors and commentators around the globe have denounced the latest move as a big step towards dictatorship. Yet, so far, the European Commission has pledged only to examine it. This mealy-mouthed response stems from the fact that its lawyers see little glaringly wrong with the act as it is composed. On paper, Hungary’s parliament can end the state of emergency if the government oversteps the mark. In practice, this probably would not happen. Mr Orban’s Fidesz party—over which he has had near absolute control for nearly three decades—has two-thirds of the seats in parliament. It is in this gap between legal theory and political reality that Mr Orban thrives.

Luck plays its part in Mr Orban’s success. Hungary is a small country. For EU officials, the erosion of the rule of law in, say, Poland with its 40m citizens matters far more in practice if not principle. Mr Orban has consequently been free to attack the EU institutions that bankroll his country to the tune of 6% of GDP in some years without generating a fatal backlash from Brussels. Hungary slips down the order of business when leaders are busy with other things, such as a pandemic. Mr Orban has also been fortunate in his opponents. In 2006, while Mr Orban sat in opposition, the then Hungarian prime minister was recorded slating his own government. (“Obviously we have been lying our heads off for the past one-and-a-half, two years.”) A mammoth majority for Mr Orban followed. Hungary’s opposition parties have failed to coalesce. When they do manage to rub along, they succeed. Opposition parties won local elections in Budapest last year.


Boney M. - Gotta Go Home (Long Version, 1979)

Hansa International ‎– 600 081-213, Hansa ‎– 600 081
Vinyl, 12", 45 RPM, Maxi-Single, Transparent
Funk / Soul

Tory MPs cheering after denying Nurses a pay rise in 2017.

Don’t let them fool you


Wild goats take over Welsh town amid coronavirus lockdown


A coastal town in north Wales has found a whole new meaning to the phrase herd immunity, after goats were spotted roaming its quiet streets.

It comes just days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced tighter restrictions around social movement last week in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Residents spotted herds of goats strolling around Llandudno on Friday and over the weekend, after more than a dozen of the animals ventured down from the Great Orme headland and roamed the streets of the coastal town.

Videos and pictures shared online show the goats grazing on grass from church grounds, flower beds, and residential properties.
They are referred to as Great Orme Kashmiri goats, whose ancestors originated from northern India, according to the town's official website.
Town resident, Carl Triggs, was returning home after delivering personal protective equipment masks when he saw the goats.
"The goats live on the hill overlooking the town. They stay up there, very rarely venturing into the street," he told CNN.


The insane, drunken, wild history of Four Loko

Why did Four Loko get banned from multiple states? When was the caffeine taken out of the drink? How did one 23.5-ounce camo can cause so much madness in just a couple of years?

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