‘Is that like Soylent Green?’ Trump adviser calls American workers ‘human capital stock’ & triggers cannibalism-themed meme storm

A White House adviser has triggered a wave of memes and mockery online after referring to US labor force as “human capital stock,” drawing countless comparisons to the dystopian sci-fi flick Soylent Green (spoiler: it’s people).

In calling to reopen the US economy amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in an interview with CNN on Monday, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett noted that the country’s “capital stock” was still intact, adding that “our human capital stock is ready to get back to work.” Though the comment was meant to express a simple idea, Hassett’s jargonistic wording conjured up much darker imagery for many netizens, who immediately saw parallels to Soylent Green – the 1973 thriller in which human beings are ground up into food to nourish an overpopulated planet.

“Wtf is ‘human capital stock?’” one netizen asked. “Is it akin to Soylent Green?”

Another commenter quipped that “human capital stock” would “make up for meat shortages” by the summer, possibly referring to the fact that a series of large food processing plants remain closed due to outbreaks and coronavirus containment policies, which remain in force across a number of states.

Some critics took up more serious responses to Hasset’s remark, arguing that his choice of words was demeaning to workers.

“Who refers to working Americans as ‘human capital stock?’” he asked. “Workers are not livestock, they shouldn’t be treated like the ingredients for soylent green. All workers should be treated as essential and not disposable. Provide them with testing, PPE and respect.”

A few skeptics also emerged, however, pointing out that the phrase might be more common than the detractors realize and questioning their outrage – joking that the “Soylent Green mills” won’t come online until 2022 anyway (the year the movie is set).

Cannibalism jokes aside, with some 40 million Americans out of work amid statewide shutdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus, food shortages are becoming a reality. A recent study at the Brookings Institution found that childhood food insecurity in the US had skyrocketed to unprecedented levels in April, as greater numbers of families stuck under lockdowns struggle to put adequate food on the table. While a man-made meal replacement is unlikely to debut anytime soon, the real-life scarcities appear set to grind on barring an end to the containment policies.

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‘These are American policies’: US ambassador to Germany clashes with MP who said envoy ‘issued threats like a hostile power’

The outgoing US ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, has lashed out at a lawmaker who called out his “hostile” stance towards Germany. The envoy said he merely followed Washington’s policies and defended American interests.

As the controversial envoy was about to leave his post, Andres Nick, a German lawmaker and the head of the nation’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took to Twitter to question Grenell’s legacy.

For decades, every previous US envoy left his post as “a highly respected figure and trusted friend of Germany,” the MP wrote in a scathing post, adding that Grenell was the only one to step down while “issuing threats as if he were representing a hostile power.”

The ambassador, who never hesitated to lecture his hosts on how they should behave, immediately struck back, arguing that Berlin merely wanted him to “stop asking you publicly to pay your NATO obligations and calling for an end to Nord Stream 2” – a Russian pipeline bringing natural gas to Europe and Germany in particular.

These are US policies. And I work for the American people.

A Trump appointee, Grenell has had quite a thorny relationship with Germany from the beginning of his tenure. The ambassador has repeatedly volunteered unsolicited ‘advice’ to Berlin on a range of policy issues, be it Germany’s trade with Iran, relations with Russia or insufficient contribution to the NATO budget. That’s not to mention numerous other controversies and blunders he’s embroiled himself in, such as openly calling to “empower Europe’s conservatives.”

READ MORE: Oh, really? US envoy to Germany says Nord Stream 2 sanctions ‘EXTREMELY PRO-EUROPEAN’ despite Berlin & EU criticism

It seems that the ambassador, who recently confirmed his decision to resign, decided to stick to his guns until the very end and to go out with a bang. Last week, when Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty (OST) sparked concern in Berlin, Grenell – true to form – once again scolded German officials for “complaining about the US,” advising they put pressure on Russia instead.

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Verification purge? Multiple accounts lose blue checks after interviewing ‘wrongthinkers’

Twitter has purged the blue “verification” checks from the accounts of journalists and podcasters who posted interviews with subjects considered controversial in the ever-narrowing centrist-liberal mainstream.

Mediaite journalist August Takala was stripped of his coveted blue check just an hour after tweeting an interview with former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, he tweeted on Friday to his 4,000-plus followers. The following day, Wrong Opinion podcaster Josh Lekach tweeted that he, too, had had his blue check revoked after interviewing conservative provocateur (and now congressional candidate) Laura Loomer, who is herself banned from Twitter and several other platforms. Lekach has over 18,700 followers.

What do the two commentators have in common? Both interviewed unapologetic thorns in the Democratic establishment’s side. Attkisson, a veteran investigative reporter who now helms Full Measure on Sinclair Media, has long claimed she was surveilled extensively and illegally by the Obama administration – and she told Takala that “many, many others” were also likely spied upon.

“It was only thanks to help from intelligence contacts that I even learned that government agents were spying on me,” Attkisson told Takala. “Otherwise, I never suspected it or would have known.” She believed she drew the attention of the president’s snoops with her reporting on the botched Justice Department gun-running scheme “Fast and Furious,” as well as her investigation into the Benghazi embassy attack in Libya.

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Perhaps most importantly – especially amid what President Donald Trump and his supporters have come to call “Obamagate,” the unfolding scandal surrounding Obama’s intelligence agencies spying on Trump campaign officials in the runup to the 2016 election – Attkisson has filed to reopen a lawsuit against several Obama administration intelligence officials, including former US Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein. Having been tipped off by an anonymous whistleblower, Attkisson charges that while serving as US Attorney for Maryland, Rosenstein ordered the “unlawful surveillance and hacking” of Attkisson’s computer and other devices.

Lekach, meanwhile, committed the unpardonable sin of inviting Loomer – who claims to have been banned from not only Twitter and Facebook (which labeled her a “dangerous individual” last year, meaning any mention of her was forbidden), but numerous other platforms including Paypal, Uber, Venmo, and even Chase Bank’s online app – onto his podcast Wrong Opinion to discuss her congressional run. Loomer is taking on several other Republican candidates in the August primary for Florida’s 21st District, with the aim of knocking out Democratic incumbent Lois Frankel.

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Loomer became something of a household name for her political stunts, which resemble performance art more than typical activism: running onstage in the middle of a New York performance of Julius Caesar in which Shakespeare’s eponymous character was made to resemble Donald Trump; handcuffing herself to the doors of Twitter’s headquarters to protest her deplatforming; rushing the New York Women’s March to scream that the protest “hates Jews.” She’s also suing Facebook, Google, Apple, and Twitter for allegedly conspiring to silence conservative views, a lawsuit that managed to survive an initial dismissal and ended up before a DC Appeals Court last month.

The conservative provocateur told Lekach on the offending podcast that Twitter had changed its rules on political candidates as soon as she filed to run for the Florida congressional seat. It had previously allowed all political candidates to use its platform; after Loomer’s filing, those candidates had to win their primary before they would be guaranteed usage.

Twitter has not responded to complaints from Takala or Lekach – or journalist Cassandra Fairbanks, who wrote up their plight for the Gateway Pundit on Monday and sought a comment from the platform’s press office. The social media giant recently updated its Terms of Service, but nothing in the updated version references verified accounts.

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Virgin Orbit’s rocket TERMINATED moments after release from carrier aircraft on maiden test mission

Virgin Orbit has attempted the first test flight of its orbital payload launch system, consisting of a modified Boeing 747 and an air-launched rocket. The mission, however, failed moments after the rocket was released.

The carrier aircraft and its rocket – dubbed ‘Cosmic Girl’ and ‘Launcher One’, respectively – took off from an airfield outside Los Angeles on Monday in the California-based company’s debut test flight, heading for a drop point over the Pacific.

According to Virgin Orbit, both the plane and rocket were in “healthy” shape throughout the mission and everything appeared to be going according to plan – but at the last minute the test fell apart. 

We’ve confirmed a clean release from the aircraft. However, the mission terminated shortly into the flight.

While it did not elaborate on what exactly went wrong, presumably the rocket crashed into the sea soon after separation. Luckily, the launch failure did not affect the aircraft and it was able to safely return to the airfield with its crew intact. The company said its team would now sift through the data collected, noting that work on a second rocket was already underway.

Fellow private space maverick Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, offered consolation to the Virgin Orbit team, explaining his own company needed four tries to put its Falcon 1 rocket successfully into orbit.

While the company said it hoped to do more with its first test, it added that “key objectives” were nonetheless accomplished with the launch.

“As we said before the flight, our goals today were to work through the process of conducting a launch, learn as much as we could, and achieve ignition,” Orbit said. “We hoped we could have done more, but we accomplished those key objectives today.”

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Flying roofs & torn-off balconies: At least 3 dead as MASSIVE hurricane rips through capital city of Russia’s Urals (VIDEOS)

Powerful winds and heavy rain have hit Ekaterinburg in Russia’s Urals, on Monday afternoon, felling numerous trees, damaging cars and obliterating weak structures. At least three people have been killed by the hurricane.

The hurricane brought down numerous trees across the city, Russia’s fourth-largest, multiple videos show, blocking some roads and also destroying power lines, disrupting electricity supply.

Many unlucky motorists have found their vehicles obliterated by fallen trees and damaged by other debris.

One man was literally blown into the air as he tried to hold down a large sheet of plastic that came loose from a roofed parking lot and was battering cars. According to media reports, the man walked away from the encounter with minor injuries, while the rogue plastic was eventually tackled into submission.

The winds have damaged several buildings across the city, sending pieces of metal roofing and other, less solid items flying.

One video shows a strong gust of wind tearing down a mobile telecoms mast, which crashed to the ground.

Another shows a balcony blown off a residential building; luckily, no one was on the ground beneath it when the pieces of glass and metal landed.

In the town of Aramil, some 25 km southeast of Ekaterinburg, the roof of a two-story structure was torn off completely, a troubling images show. The roof crashed into a parking lot behind the building, killing one man on the spot.

Several construction sites have been affected by the winds as well, with assorted loose materials becoming airborne. A crane was downed at one of them, badly injuring the worker operating the machinery. The man was rushed to a hospital, though medics there were unable to save him.

Another man was killed in the city by an airborne gate, local officials have confirmed. As the impact of the hurricane is still being assessed, the death toll may well grow further.

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‘Something like 10 principles’: After ‘solving’ Israel/Palestine conflict & coronavirus, Kushner ‘turned loose’ on GOP platform

White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly wants to shrink the 56-page Republican Party platform to a one-page “mission statement.” After Middle East peace and Covid-19, this should be a cinch.

Kushner has been leading the charge to downsize the sprawling document over the past six months, Axios reported on Sunday. The silver-spoon scion has been ruffling feathers within the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign alike in his quest to whittle the platform down to “something like the 10 principles we believe in,” two sources confirmed to the outlet.

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The secret committee has reportedly come up with multiple one-page options, though sources with knowledge of the talks stressed that it was “far from a final product” and has yet to be confirmed by the platform committee of 112 delegates. That will take place at the Republican National Convention, which is still scheduled for August, despite the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kushner’s supposed aim in slimming it down to a “mission statement” is eliminating “alienating language” so as to lure more voters into the GOP fold. He didn’t want anything about “gay conversion therapy,” sources said – even though the 2016 platform included only the vaguest statement that could possibly be interpreted as a reference to the controversial practice. Kushner also objected to the use of the word “freedom,” which supposedly polls badly with black voters, according to several sources.

Another insider countered that it was only the term “Education Freedom Scholarships” that was to be excised (a somewhat convoluted program providing a hefty federal tax credit in exchange for donations to state-level scholarship programs that allow students to attend alternatives to public schools). Kushner, the insider said, thought “freedom’s a great word” that should be “smartly utilized” in the incredible shrinking GOP platform.

The conversation around overhauling the party platform has reportedly been kept quiet from the GOP rank and file and the state party leaders, even as President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, if Governor Roy Cooper doesn’t guarantee the event will be allowed to proceed with full attendance. Cooper, a Democrat, has been gradually easing Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings, but has apparently been unwilling to completely commit to holding the late-August convention as originally planned.

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The high level of secrecy surrounding Kushner’s platform negotiations parallels the similarly secretive atmosphere that shrouded the “Deal of the Century” – the doomed Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace plan’ that was widely reviled on its long-delayed unveiling earlier this year for handing Tel Aviv nearly everything it wanted while leaving the Palestinians with crumbs. Fresh off that failure, Kushner was then reportedly detailed to solve another thorny problem: the burgeoning Covid-19 pandemic. Allegedly, he and his “shadow task force” urged Trump to downplay the severity of the situation to avoid spooking the markets – with disastrous results.

Perhaps attempting to soothe concern over Kushner’s track record – in addition to botching Middle East peace and the pandemic, the real-estate heir was a lifelong Democrat before his father-in-law went into politics – the Trump campaign’s director of communications told Axios the “more concise platform” was “not a new idea,” adding that “a more focused platform” has been considered since at least 2016 and is expected to “be the most conservative in history.

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Make it PERMANENT! UK mosques broadcast Ramadan calls to prayer through LOUDSPEAKERS during Covid-19 and want to keep it that way

Dozens of mosques across the UK were permitted to call worshipers to prayer through loudspeakers during Ramadan to encourage Muslims to stay at home amid the coronavirus quarantine. Now they want the practice to become routine.

“We want this practice to continue in the future,” Allama Sadiq Qureshi, an imam in one of East London’s mosques told the Daily Mail.

Pioneered by Kensington and Chelsea Council, in London, the initiative was aimed at helping Muslims “keep in touch” with their place of worship during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan while in quarantine.

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Until now, most mosques in Britain have been barred from using a loudspeaker for the call to prayers, known in Arabic as the adhan. But several councils decided to relax the rules when the nation embraced strict social distancing rules amid the pandemic.

As a result, dozens of mosques across the UK, like those in Chesham in Buckinghamshire and Preston in Lancashire, were given such permission. In London alone, 25 places of worship launched adhan broadcasts during Ramadan, which ended last week.

The biggest mosque in the borough of Waltham Forest, in northeast London, took up the invitation with great enthusiasm, and its broadcast was loud enough to be heard in a one-mile-radius. Other mosques merely limited themselves to mounting concert-style loudspeakers on their front doors. A Muslim cleric was even filmed calling for prayer in front of a mosque in one of London’s financial centers, Canary Wharf.

Such actions were previously considered sound pollution – and the reason the calls were banned in the first place. Yet, according to the councilors, at least in Kensington and Chelsea, the feedback on adhan during the lockdown has been “really positive” overall, eliciting only a few complaints.

Tweets from Muslims in the UK and elsewhere have mostly celebrated the move as a positive step. Many of them have posted videos of adhan broadcasts, and the negative comments have been relatively few.

A number of Muslim clerics would like to make prayer-call broadcasts a permanent fixture. In Islamic countries, the adhan is broadcast five times a day, including at dawn and late in the evening. Fortunately for the UK’s non-Muslim late sleepers, and those retiring to bed early, however, UK imams are not suggesting they will follow suit.

“Just one symbolic adhan per day, if Newham Council allow us. Just one adhan at the daytime, at dhuhr [afternoon prayer], then it will be really good,” Qureshi said. He added that the local mosque association had already considered filing such an application with the council.

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Raja Ilyas, the general secretary of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association, also said it was “his wish” to maintain the practice once a day, or at the very least, on Friday afternoons. But he made it clear that he had no wish to “force” this decision on either the council or the borough’s residents.

The idea was met with early resistance by some conservative evangelical Christian fringe groups. They voiced their opposition to such practices in March, when adhan allowances were first made. One of them, Christian Concern – an ultraconservative group lobbying against a broad range of issues, including abortion and gay rights – posted a lengthy piece on its website, arguing that the development is a sign of the increasing influence of Islam in the UK.

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Is that you, Joe? Biden’s mask-sunglasses combo covers entire face at first public appearance in over 2 months

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden sported a face-obscuring combination of black mask and black sunglasses during a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony, triggering an avalanche of memes and derision from the Trump camp.

The former vice president ventured outside his home for the first time in more than two months to lay a wreath at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware, on Monday. Along with his wife and a Secret Service detail, Biden wore a black face mask, the color presumably symbolizing mourning. Coupled with his trademark black aviator sunglasses, however, the get-up left little of his face visible.

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Trump supporters seized on the rare appearance by the candidate, who has only been seen by video link from his basement studio since March 15, amid what would normally be peak campaign season. The contrast between the president, who has infamously refused to wear a mask while conducting business largely as usual (minus the large public rallies he was holding before the coronavirus hit), and the mask-encased Biden was too much for some.

Many were quick to reference Biden’s latest “gaffe,” in which he let out that African-American voters who didn’t pick him in November “ain’t black”…

…or just referenced his history of jamming his foot in his mouth in general.

Indeed, the candidate said very little to reporters beyond “it feels good to be out of my house” and an admonition to Americans to “never forget the sacrifices these men and women made.”

Others joked about his wandering nose, also hidden beneath the mask. “Sources tell me They put some women’s shampoo by the nose so he won’t smell anyone,” one user snarked.

However, Biden fans were quick to celebrate the mask, comparing it favorably to Trump’s bare face.

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Are millennials embracing robot bankers because they love robots… or because they hate bankers?

Scandinavian millennials have embraced robot bankers over their human peers amid the Covid-19 crisis, according to regional banks Nordea and Danske. But is this a sign of robotic success or human failure?

Nordea’s robotic banker named Nora brought in an impressive 40 percent more business in the last quarter than in the same period last year. The bot also outstripped its human competitors at the same bank, who were relegated to helping established clients scramble to manage their tanking portfolios amid the Covid-19 financial crisis.

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Nora did more than just protect the bank from the downturn – millennials flocked to her over human financial advisers. These mostly first-time investors even went on “opportunistic buying sprees,” Tanja Eronen, co-head of investment products at Nordea’s Helsinki wealth division, told Bloomberg on Sunday, calling the phenomenon “an interesting development.

It was only the 60+ age group who wanted a human adviser to “hold their hand through the panic,” helping them frantically sell off their holdings as their value cratered.

And it wasn’t only Nordea that saw a sudden spike in silicon favoritism. Danish bank Danske’s investment robot, named June, has helped the institution weather the coronavirus crisis with a shining 42 percent increase in new customers, according to Jacob Hvidberg Falkencrone, a senior wealth management analyst who also serves as the robot’s PR man.

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Tanja Eronen is emphatic that the age of the robots is upon us, thanks to the coronavirus “help[ing] us win over clients to digital services. Maybe they’ve been reluctant to use them before, and now that they have to, they learn how it’s done and it lowers the threshold for the future.” Eronen suggested she doesn’t want to give customers a chance to change their minds, adding: “We are constantly looking to automate functions where humans bring no added value.”

But what about where humans actually take away value?

Millennials may be investing with robots not because they especially trust the bots (no matter how adorable and friendly they look), or even because the Covid-19 crisis made bankers less accessible – Nordea mainstay Sweden, for one, didn’t undergo the lockdown seen in other countries – but because they come without the overheads and psychological baggage associated with human bankers.

Nora’s rollout came with access to low-cost investment funds, a fact that probably served as a more powerful draw for millennials than the novelty of investing with a robot banker. Robots don’t have to be paid a commission, and any fund that lets the investor keep more of their money is going to appeal to first-time market participants that don’t have an existing relationship with an advisor they trust.

Indeed, increasing antipathy toward human bankers – especially among millennials who entered the workplace during the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis and may now be seeing any gains they’ve made since then wiped out by the coronavirus crisis – could play a role in driving them into the arms of robots. It’s easier to see a computer program as incorruptible, even if the bots still work for a financial institution on the receiving end of government bailouts.

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Millennials presumably trust robots not to open millions of fake accounts in the names of actual customers, as human bankers working for US bank Wells Fargo did in a decade-long spree of institutional fraud that became public in 2016 and finally led to a $3 billion settlement earlier this year.

They also likely believe robots won’t engage in what’s ironically known as “robo-signing,” the illegal practice of authorizing home foreclosures without verifying the legitimacy of the underlying loans that reached its catastrophic peak during the 2008 crisis. They’ve been taught to trust robots (and their artificial intelligence cousins) to be fair and impartial, a step above the venal humans populating the financial industry.

Hopefully, they won’t have to wait until the next financial crisis to find out if their trust has been misplaced.

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UFC Las Vegas: UFC to introduce stricter COVID-19 testing ahead of Nevada return on May 30

The UFC will introduce a more stringent series of coronavirus tests for fighters and their coaches ahead of upcoming fight cards in their multi-million-dollar UFC Apex facility at the organization’s Las Vegas HQ.

The UFC has held three events since emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, all of which occurred in the same venue in Jacksonville, Florida.

One fighter, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, was found to have contracted the virus in testing conducted during fight week ahead of UFC 249, though the fighter was present for the weigh-ins on the eve of the event where he came in close physical proximity to several other athletes and UFC president Dana White.

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Despite insisting that their testing regime was sufficient at the time, a report from MMA Junkie has shown that the company will introduce an improved battery of tests ahead of the return to Las Vegas.

Each fighter to compete at cards in the Apex arena will face two mandatory COVID-19 antigen oropharyngeal swab tests before competing and when arriving at the fighter hotel, at which point each fighter and coach who undergoes the test will face a period of self-isolation until the results of their tests are available.

Fighters “should not leave the Athlete Hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result,” according to a memo issued to fighters.

If the test results are negative, fighters are invited to conduct their regular fight week activities. Upon a negative test, they are told to remain in their room until contacted by a UFC medical staff.

A second test takes place after the weigh-ins, after which fighters must self-isolate in their hotel rooms until it is time to be transported to the location of the fight. 

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During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the Athlete Hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” the memo states. “You also should not have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp.

The first event inside the UFC Apex facility takes place this weekend with a card headlined by former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who takes on surging Brazilian contender Gilbert Burns.