It's not real: Australia burning image goes viral

I had my suspicions the first time I saw this:

As wildfires continue to burn millions of acres of land in Australia, some social media users are misusing a digital visualization to draw attention to the disaster. One image published on Facebook on Jan. 5 claims to show a satellite view of Australia provided by a NASA satellite.

"Pray for us please," the user wrote alongside the image, which shows bright orange spots where fires are purportedly burning across the continent.

No doubt the fires in Australia are devastating, and may even push some species into extinction. But the proliferation of inaccurate images and news stories may be even more dangerous, if it pushes us to the point we can't believe anything that is reported. Definitely related:

Monday News: Tom's turn

STEYER VISITS MCDOUGALD TERRACE, SAYS CONDITIONS ARE "CRUEL": Conditions at McDougald Terrace in Durham are an example of systematic “cruelty” that has to be addressed by the U.S. government and its leaders, Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer said. Steyer, a billionaire turned champion of Democratic causes, visited the Triangle this weekend including the public housing complex where residents have evacuated after carbon monoxide concerns, and where at least two children have died from causes that haven’t so far been publicly identified. “I went to McDougald Terrace to actually see what was going on,” he said Sunday. “To talk to some of the people who are there, some of the people who lived there and some of the people are leading the movement to repair those projects.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article239168763.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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DISHONEST LEADERSHIP LEAVES OUR GOVERNMENT MISMANAGED: Don’t be distracted. This is not about good or bad; conservative or liberal policies. This is not about Democrats or Republicans. This is about sound management, doing the job, the security of the nation. This is about Donald Trump’s character. It is about his inability, not simply failure, to tell the truth and accept its reality. Without the truth it is impossible to earn the trust to be a leader. Leaders who lack trust cannot manage. The current white-hot crisis with Iran and Iraq is the latest example. An impulsive action – the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s security and intelligence forces – and the national security crisis that has ensued. Trump’s threats, including tweets about targeting Iranian cultural sites, result in advisers forced to follow deflection and justification. In this case, the Pentagon didn’t even try. In a starkly unequivocal pronouncement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the “laws of armed conflict” prohibit attacking cultural sites and the armed forces had no plans to do so – despite the president’s declaration.
https://www.wral.com/editorial/18875376/

Marx and the Social Conflict conundrum

We are not nearly as evolved as we think we are:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

It is plainly evident that Marx was extremely accurate in his assessment of the natural social order that will emerge if left to its own development. We have numerous examples of this in the 21st Century, nearly all of them the result of failed states. Neo-feudalism is actually the best they can hope for, and that is something everybody needs to keep in mind when discussing "revolution" and the redesign of American society. Marx was right, but as scientists will tell you identifying a problem is worlds away from solving said problem. Conflict of this sort is ancient; it was (is) not the result of a particular form of government, or economic system, or ideological bent. It is primal, and cannot be eradicated through violence:

Saturday News: Not so fast, Mark

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JOHNSON'S "EMERGENCY" ISTATION CONTRACT MAY BE BLOCKED: The state school superintendent’s $928,570 “emergency purchase” of a controversial school reading curriculum earlier this week could be canceled because it lacked the approval of North Carolina’s chief information officer. In a memo Friday, Patti Bowers, chief procurement officer for the state, said North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction “has not provided adequate justification for an emergency purchase.” The memo said Johnson has until 10 a.m. Tuesday to provide the state Department of Information Technology with “sufficient amended justification” for the emergency purchase. The memo also said Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette could decide to cancel or suspend the purchase. In a heated exchange with Johnson on Wednesday, board members questioned the amount of the contract and said they had been unable to get a copy from DPI staff.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article239179718.html

Soleimani's assassination was a tactical mistake as well as a moral one

But Trump doesn't have the mental capacity to understand that:

Iran’s government faced widespread protests in November over rising prices, with many apparently also outraged by Iran’s foreign spending on interventions in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and other countries while its own economy falters.

More than 300 people were killed in the anti-government protests, according to rights organization Amnesty International. During the violence and in the days that followed, Iranian authorities blocked access to the internet. Soleimani’s killing, however, helped rally the public around the leadership again.

That wasn't the first time Iranian citizens had engaged in widespread protests over economic issues in the last 15-20 years, but it was by far the deadliest. And it may have been the first time foreign interventions by (that's right) Soleimani's Quds Forces have been at the top of their list of complaints. While the government cracked down harshly on these protests, it is somewhere between possible and likely they would have curbed some of those foreign activities to avoid future domestic unrest. Something similar happened with their dockworkers' strike a few years ago. But setting that aside for the moment, it also appears Soleimani was engaged in diplomatic activities on this particular trip, in an effort to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia:

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