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Millions Of Electric Car Batteries Retiring By 2030, Are We Ready To Deal With What Could Be Ticking Time Bombs?

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Millions Of Electric Car Batteries Retiring By 2030, Are We Ready To Deal With What Could Be Ticking Time Bombs?

Authored by Autumn Spreademann via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The evolving landscape of lithium batteries is creating both contradictions and infrastructure hurdles that, according to some, need to be addressed sooner rather than later. A critical component of this is waste management.

Charging sign for electric vehicles (EVs). (paulbr75/pixabay)

More than 6 million electric vehicle (EV) battery packs will end up as scrap between now and 2030, and the recycling and reuse industries are racing to keep up. Some researchers project that recycling alone will be an over $12 billion industry by 2025.

U.S. President Joe Biden wants to make America a key player in the EV battery industry with a $3.1 billion spending package for automobile production to transition away from fossil fuels.

Much of this dream is pinned on a dusty stretch of soil in the Nevada high desert called Thacker Pass. It serves as the lynchpin in Biden’s push for increased domestic lithium production and more EV batteries. That’s because Thacker Pass is the largest hard rock lithium reserve in the United States.

Currently, China dominates the world’s EV battery production, with more than 80 percent of all units developed there.

Yet while Biden’s administration has its sights on the top spot for EV battery production, insiders are pointing out industry trapdoors.

Thacker Pass, Nev., has the largest hard rock lithium reserve in the United States. (Lithium Americas)

Due to the potentially dangerous chemistry of lithium-ion EV units, concrete solutions are needed before an avalanche of dead battery packs ends up sitting around and waiting for recycling like ticking time bombs.

Those working on the sales end of the EV revolution tend to squirm or offer vague generalities when queried about what will happen to all of the old batteries.

The notion is quickly lumped into the very broad category of recycling or second life applications without offering any planning details.

Second life applications are an option for EV batteries no longer fit to power cars, but are suitable for alternative uses like energy storage.

And while that’s a start, the ultimate question lingers: How can America effectively deal with millions of completely spent, defective, or recalled EV units?

For people who specialize in hazardous waste, handling lithium batteries is a serious subject.

“For me, the biggest challenge I see, especially with second life, is on the safety side,” Scott Thibodeau at Veolia North America told The Epoch Times.

Thibodeau is the general manager of environmental services and solutions at Veolia North America, the second largest hazmat removal service in the United States.

He explained the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries is problematic since they can’t be dumped or recycled as easily as some other materials. This requires particular adaptations within the evolving EV industry to responsibly strip, package, and dispose of old units.

A ‘Thermal Runaway’

“The packing and logistics isn’t easy or cheap,” Thibodeau said.

Moreover, the batteries pose a significant fire hazard.

Tucked within the sprawling Chicago suburbs is the town of Morris, Illinois. Around midday on Jun. 29, 2021, the fire department received a call that a warehouse fire had broken out in a structure that many residents assumed was just an abandoned building. The call came from someone who claimed to be an employee for a company that was storing 200,000 pounds of batteries in the building, most of which were lithium.

Fire Chief Tracey Steffes told reporters that it was the first time his department had ever fought a lithium fire.

Mitigating traditional fires is done by using water or chemicals to cut off the supply of oxygen. However, lithium is unique in that it doesn’t require oxygen to burn. Once ignited, it creates what Thibodeau called a “thermal runaway,” which is incredibly challenging to control.

Once the battery goes into that state, stopping it is next to impossible,” Steffes said to reporters after the June 2021 fire.

Confused Morris residents were quickly evacuated from neighborhoods close to the blaze and spent hours in hotel rooms, watching smoke fill the sky, and fearing for the safety of their homes.

At that moment, residential Americans got an up close and personal look at lithium’s dark side.

It wasn’t the first incident where lithium battery storage turned catastrophic, and it likely won’t be the last.

Thibodeau says that while there’s no easy way to put out a lithium battery fire, having people properly trained on how to reduce the fire risks, combined with proper handling and storage, is a huge step in the right direction.

Recycling EV batteries poses another significant hurdle. That’s due to a trifecta of complications including expense, existing capacity to handle demand, and the simple fact these batteries aren’t easy to recycle.

“Currently, less than five percent of lithium batteries that reach the end of their lifespan are recycled,” a spokesperson for the carbon accounting group Greenly told The Epoch Times.

The representative for Greenly went on to explain that though the potential for ramped up recycling exists, it’s not possible with lithium-ion batteries until they reach the end of their lifespan.

“The industry hasn’t obtained the knowledge or experience necessary to learn how to recycle these batteries or maximize their usage beforehand,” they added.

This is where second life applications come in, which can buy a non-defective EV battery an extra 10 years of life. It also essentially buys the burgeoning recycling companies time to catch up.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 09/09/2022 - 18:20
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671 days ago
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Investors Have Now Spent $5 Billion Pursuing The "Holy Grail Of Energy"

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Investors Have Now Spent $5 Billion Pursuing The "Holy Grail Of Energy"

By Alex Kimani of Oilprice.com

What do The Dark Knight Rises, Back to the Future, Oblivion, and Interstellar all have in common? They are sci-fi blockbusters that showcase a technology that scientists consider to be the Holy Grail of Energy: Nuclear fusion. Theoretically, two lone nuclear reactors running on small pellets could power the entire planet, safely and cleanly. That’s the promise of nuclear fusion. So, why are we still relying on fossil fuels? What’s stopping us from building these reactors everywhere?

After all, scientists have been working on nuclear fusion technology since the 1950s and have always been optimistic that the final breakthrough is not far away. Yet, milestones have fallen time and again and now the running joke is that a practical nuclear fusion power plant could still be decades away.

Well, the past few years have witnessed a resurgence in the field with a handful of startups setting up shop to make nuclear fusion an everyday reality. Interestingly, the vast majority of the sector’s funding has come from the private sector rather than public investments.

According to the second global fusion industry report published by the Fusion Industry Association (FIA), private investment in fusion technology hit $4.7 billion in total, dwarfing the $117 million of public investment. Also, the current year is proving to be a watershed moment for fusion technology, with the amount of funding in 2022 more than doubling the industry's entire historic investment to the tune of $2.83 billion.

Fusion Startups

To date, Commonwealth Fusion Systems has bagged the largest amount of funding for a fusion startup. Back in December, the Massachusetts-based fusion startup snagged more than $1.8 billion in the largest private investment for nuclear fusion yet from a plethora of big-name investors including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, George Soros via his Soros Fund Management LLC, and venture capitalist John Doerr.

Commonwealth Fusion System is in good company.

On Nov. 5, Helion Energy announced that it had raised $500 million in its latest fundraising round, making it the second-largest-ever single fundraising round for a private fusion firm. Helion has a chance to surpass Commonwealth Fusion System since its latest round of funding includes an additional $1.7 billion tied to certain performance milestones. Meanwhile, Canada’s General Fusion has closed a $130 million fundraising round that was oversubscribed. General Fusion plans to launch an even bigger fundraising effort soon.

Google and Chevron participated in a $250-million funding raise for TAE Technologies, a nuclear fusion startup with an unconventional strategy, back in June. Since then, TAE has raised a total of $1.2 billion.

It’s a sign of the industry growing up," General Fusion Chief Executive Christofer Mowry has told the Wall Street Journal. 

Various fusion companies are pursuing different designs for fusion reactors, though the majority rely on fusion that takes place in plasma. Commonwealth Fusion has successfully tested the most powerful fusion magnet of its kind on Earth that would hold and compress the plasma.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems is collaborating with MIT to build their fusion reactor. The team has planned a fusion experiment they have dubbed Sparc which is about 1/65th the volume of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The experimental reactor will generate about 100MW of heat energy in pulses of about 10 seconds - bursts big enough to power a small city. The team anticipates that the output will be more than twice the power used to heat the plasma thus overcoming the biggest technical hurdle in the field: positive net energy from fusion. The Sparc team has set an ambitious target to have the reactor running in about 15 years.

But why have scientists so far failed at replicating a natural process that powers the stars in our universe?

Extreme Challenge

Turns out that the conditions necessary for nuclear fusion to take place present an extreme challenge for us earthlings. 

Fusion works on the basic concept of forging lighter elements into heavier ones. When two hydrogen atoms are smashed together hard enough, they fuse to form helium. The new atom is less massive than the sum of its parts, with the balance converted to energy in the E=MC2 mass-energy equivalence.

Ok, that’s a bit simplistic since hydrogen atoms do not fuse together directly but rather in a multi-step reaction. Anyway, the long and short of it is that nuclear fusion produces net energy only at extreme temperatures - in the order of hundreds of millions of degrees celsius. That’s hotter than the sun’s core and far too hot for any known material on earth to withstand.

To get around this quagmire, scientists use powerful magnetic fields to contain the hot plasma and prevent it from coming into contact with the walls of the nuclear reactor. That consumes insane amounts of energy. 

Stars have it easy in this regard thanks to their immense masses and powerful gravitational fields that hold everything together. For instance, the sun is 333,000 times the mass of the Earth with a gravity ~27.9 times that of Earth.

Unfortunately, every fusion experiment so far has been energy negative, taking in more energy than it generates thus making it useless as a form of electricity generation. 

Getting the initial fusion reaction is not a problem - keeping it going is, not to mention that building nuclear reactors takes some extremely sophisticated feats of engineering.

International Megaproject

But now scientists are confident that they are close to building a nuclear reactor that will produce more energy than it consumes. 

The Saint-Paul-les-Durance, France-based upcoming International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the world’s largest fusion reaction facility that aims to develop commercially viable fusion reactors.

Funded by six nations including the US, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and India, ITER plans to build the world’s largest tokamak fusion device, a donut-shaped cage that will produce 500 ME of thermal fusion energy. 

The device will cost ~$24 billion with a delivery date set at 2035. The giant machine - the biggest fusion machine ever built - will weigh in at an impressive 23,000 tonnes and will be housed in a building 60 meters high.

So, what’s different this time around?

Scientists have successfully developed a new superconducting material - essentially a steel tape coated with yttrium-barium-copper oxide, or YBCO, which allows them to build smaller and more powerful magnets. This lowers the energy required to get the fusion reaction off the ground.

According to Fusion for Energy - the EU’s joint undertaking for ITER - 18 niobium-tin superconducting magnets aka toroidal field coils will be used to contain the 150 million degrees celsius plasma. The powerful magnets will generate a powerful magnetic field equal to 11.8 tesla, or a million times stronger than the earth's magnetic field. Europe will manufacture 10 of the toroidal field coils with Japan manufacturing nine.

However, it will be another decade before a full-scale demonstration power plant will be built using lessons learned from ITER. The industrial fusion power plants will thereafter be connected to the grid.

The ITER site construction is nearly 80% complete.

With all that said… it seems nuclear fusion remains (but hopefully not forever) over a decade away.

Tyler Durden Sat, 08/20/2022 - 17:30
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Interesting article re. Nuclear fusion research So!
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Tesla Reportedly Setting Up Energy Trading Desk, Has Applied To Market Electricity In Texas

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Tesla Reportedly Setting Up Energy Trading Desk, Has Applied To Market Electricity In Texas

In a move that is totally, 100% not a glaring reminder of Enron, Tesla is reportedly looking to staff an energy trading team in California and has also recently applied to begin marketing electricity in Texas. 

The team is being set up to "support [Tesla's] battery and renewable power projects," Reuters reported Wednesday. Tesla's "expanded operations" include home solar and large battery storage, the report notes.

A LinkedIn postby Julian Lamy, who described himself as a senior optimization software engineer for Tesla read: "I'm building a new team at Tesla focused on Energy Trading and Market Operations."

John McClellan, a managing director at recruitment firm Aurex Group, told Reuters: "Tesla Energy is on their way to becoming a distributed energy provider at the residential level as well as utility scale."

Reuters wrote:

The company plans to use an in-house automated trading platform, called Autobidder, for "bidding batteries into multiple wholesale energy markets," according to the job description on Tesla's website.

The job requires expertise in wholesale electricity markets, and the candidate will "lead trading and real-time operations for battery, solar, and wind projects participating in wholesale energy markets," using Autobidder, according to the job posting.

No word on whether or not Jeff Skilling, who has recently ventured back into the energy industry, is being teed up for an executive role at Tesla's newly proposed operation. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/09/2021 - 13:05
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Why All The Fuss About Ivermectin?

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Why All The Fuss About Ivermectin?

Authored by Brian C. Joondeph via AmericanThinker.com,

First hydroxychloroquine, now ivermectin, is the hated deadly drug de jour, castigated by the medical establishment and regulatory authorities. Both drugs have been around for a long time as FDA-approved prescription medications. Yet now we are told they are as deadly as arsenic.

As a physician, I am certainly aware of ivermectin but don’t recall ever writing a prescription for it in my 30+ years’ medical career. Ivermectin is an anthelmintic, meaning it cures parasitic infections. In my world of ophthalmology, it is used on occasion for rare parasitic or worm infections in the eye.

Ivermectin was FDA approved in 1998 under the brand name Stromectol, produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck, approved for several parasitic infections. The product label described it as having a “unique mode of action,” which “leads to an increase in the permeability of the cell membrane to chloride ions.” This suggests that ivermectin acts as an ionophore, making cell membranes permeable to ions that enter the cell for therapeutic effect.

Ivermectin is one of several ionophores, others including hydroxychloroquine, quercetin, and resveratrol, the latter two available over the counter. These ionophores simply open a cellular door, allowing zinc to enter the cell, where it then interferes with viral replication, providing potential therapeutic benefit in viral and other infections.

This scientific paper reviews and references other studies demonstrating antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties of ivermectin.

This explains the interest in this drug as having potential use in treating COVID.

Does ivermectin work in COVID?

I am not attempting to answer that question, instead looking at readily available information because this drug has been the focus of much recent media attention. For the benefit of any reader eager to report this article and author to the medical licensing boards for pushing misleading information, I am not offering medical advice or prescribing anything.  Rather, I am only offering commentary on this newsworthy and controversial drug.

What’s newsworthy about ivermectin? A simple Google search of most medications describes uses and side effects. A similar search of ivermectin provides headlines of why it shouldn’t be taken and how dangerous it is.

YouTube screen grab

The Guardian describes ivermectin as horse medicine reminding readers considering taking the drug, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow”, saying it’s a medicine meant for farm animals. The FDA echoed that sentiment in a recent tweet, adding “Seriously, y’all. Stop it,” their word choice making it obvious who the tweet was directed to.

Perhaps the FDA didn’t realize that Barack and Michelle Obama often used the term “y’all” and that some might construe the FDA tweet as racist.

The FDA says ivermectin “can be dangerous and even lethal,” yet they approved it in 1998 and have not pulled it from the market despite it being “dangerous and lethal.” Any medication can be “dangerous and lethal” if misused. People have even overdosed on water.

It is true that ivermectin is also used in animals, as are many drugs approved for human use.

This is a list of veterinary drugs with many familiar names of antibiotics, antihypertensives, and anesthetics commonly used by humans. Since these drugs are used in farm animals, should humans stop taking them? That seems a rather unscientific argument against ivermectin, especially coming from the FDA.

And healthcare professionals are not recommending or prescribing animal versions of ivermectin as there is an FDA-approved human formulation.

Does ivermectin work against COVID? That is the bigger question and worthy of investigation, rather than reminding people that they are not cows.

A study published several months ago in the American Journal of Therapeutics concluded,

Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.

To my knowledge, these 18 studies have not been retracted, unlike previous studies critical of hydroxychloroquine which were ignominiously retracted by prestigious medical journals like The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yet the medical establishment refuses to even entertain the possibility of some benefit from ivermectin, castigating physicians who want to try it in their patients. 18 studies found benefit. Are they all wrong?

Podcaster Joe Rogan recently contracted COVID and recovered within days of taking a drug cocktail including ivermectin. Was it his drug cocktail, his fitness, or just good luck? Impossible to know but his experience will keep ivermectin in the news.

Highly unvaccinated India had a surge in COVID cases earlier this year which abruptly ended following the widespread use of ivermectin, over the objections and criticism of the WHO. In the one state, Tamil Nadu, that did not use ivermectin, cases tripled instead of dropping by 97 percent as in the rest of the country.

This is anecdotal and could have other explanations but the discovery of penicillin was also anecdotal and observational. Good science should investigate rather than ignore such observations.

The Japanese Medical Association recently endorsed ivermectin for COVID. The US CDC cautioned against it.

There is legal pushback as an Ohio judge ordered a hospital to treat a ventilated COVID patient with ivermectin. After a month on the ventilator, this patient is likely COVID free and ivermectin now will have no benefit, allowing the medical establishment to say “see I told you so” that it wouldn’t help.

By this point, active COVID infection is not the issue; instead, it is weaning off and recovery from long-term life support. The early hydroxychloroquine studies had the same flaw, treating patients too late in the disease course to provide or demonstrate benefit.

These drugs have been proposed for early outpatient treatment, not when patients are seriously ill and near death. Looking for treatment benefits in the wrong patient population will yield expected negative results.

Given how devastating COVID can be and how, despite high levels of vaccination in countries like the US, UK, and Israel, we are seeing surging cases and hospitalizations among the vaccinated, we should be pulling out all the stops in treating this virus.

Medical treatment involves balancing risks and benefits. When FDA-approved medications are used in appropriate doses for appropriate patients, prescribed by competent physicians, the risks tend to be low, and any benefit should be celebrated. Instead, the medical establishment, media, and regulatory authorities are taking the opposite approach. One has to wonder why.

Tyler Durden Sat, 09/04/2021 - 15:30
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Texas Ended Lockdowns & Mask Mandates; Now Locked-Down States Are Where COVID Is Growing Most

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Texas Ended Lockdowns & Mask Mandates; Now Locked-Down States Are Where COVID Is Growing Most

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Early last month, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced he would end the state’s mask mandate and allow most businesses to function at 100 percent capacity.

The response from the corporate media and the Left was predictable. California governor Gavin Newsom declared the move “absolutely reckless.” Beto O’Rourke called the GOP a “cult of death.” Joe Biden called the move “Neanderthal thinking.” Keith Olbermann insisted, “Texas has decided to join the side of the virus” and suggested Texans shouldn’t be allowed to take the covid vaccine. Vanity Fair ran an article with the title “Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary with Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans.”

Other states have followed in Texas’s wake, and Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are now all states where covid restrictions range from weak to nonexistent.

Georgia and Florida, of course, are both notable for ending lockdowns and restriction much earlier than many other states. And in those cases as well, the state governments were criticized for their policies, which were said to be reckless and sure to lead to unprecedented death. Georgia’s policy was denounced as an experiment in “human sacrifice.”

Yet in recent weeks, these predictions about Texas’s fate have proven to be spectacularly wrong. Moreover, many of the states with the worst growth in covid cases—and the worst track records in overall death counts—have been states that have had some of the harshest lockdowns. The failure of the lockdown narrative in this case has been so overwhelming that last week, when asked about the Texas situation, Anthony Fauci could only suggest a few unconvincing lines about how maybe Texans are voluntarily wearing masks and locking down more strenuously than people in other states. In Fauci's weak-sauce explanation we see a narrative that simply fails to explain the actual facts of the matter. 

Texas vs. Michigan

The Texas situation is just one piece of a state-by-state picture that is devastating for the lockdowns-save-lives narrative.

For example, let’s look at covid case numbers as of April 20.

Case numbers are a favorite metric for advocates of stay-at-home orders, business closures, mask mandates, and repressive measures in the name of disease control.

In Texas, the total new cases (seven-day moving average) on April 20 was 3,004. That comes out to approximately 103 per million.

Now, let’s look at Michigan, where a variety of strict mask mandates and partial lockdowns continue. Restaurant capacity remains at 50 percent, and the state continues to issue edicts about how many people one is allowed to have over for dinner.

In Michigan, the seven-day moving average for new infections as of April 20 was 790 per million - nearly eight times worse than Texas.

By the logic of lockdown advocates, states with harsh lockdowns should have far fewer cases and less growth in cases.

This, however, is most certainly not the case. In New Jersey, for example, where lockdowns have been long and harsh, case growth is nearly four times what it is in Texas. And then there are Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maine, and New York, all of which have new case growth rates of more than double what’s going on Texas.

Indeed, the only state with notably lax covid policies that’s in the top ten of case growth is Florida, which nonetheless is experiencing growth rates that are slower than in states run by lockdown fetishists like Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy.

Moreover, Florida’s covid-19 overall outbreak has been far less deadly than those in the states that embraced lockdowns long and hard. New Jersey, for example, has the worst covid death rate in the nation at 2,838 per million as of April 20. Right behind are New York and Massachusetts with total deaths per million at 2,672 and 2,537, respectively.

Florida, on the other hand, is twenty-eighth in the nation in terms of covid deaths, at 1,608. Texas has total deaths per million at 1,721.

In other words, Florida isn’t likely to catch up to New York or New Jersey any time soon, and it's certainly not going to soon catch up with Michigan, which is leaving other states in the dust in terms of case growth. For those who are scared to death of covid, they’d be better off in Florida or Texas or Georgia than in the states that have long embraced lockdowns and claim to be “following the science.”

So how can this be explained?

The lockdown advocates don’t seem to have an explanation at all.

Last week, Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) struggled to come up with an explanation as he testified to Congress.

In previous weeks, Fauci tended to rely on the old tried-and-true claim that if we only wait two to four more weeks, cases will explode wherever covid restrictions are lessened or eliminated. Lockdown advocates tried this for months after Georgia ended its stay-at-home order, although Georgia consistently performed better than many states that continued their lockdowns.

But now that we’re six weeks out from the end of Texas’s mask mandate and partial lockdowns, Fauci could offer no plausible explanation. Rather, when pressed on the matter by Representative Jim Jordan, Fauci insisted that what really matters is compliance rather than the existence of mask mandates and lockdown mandates:

There’s a difference between lockdown and the people obeying the lockdown…. You know you could have a situation where they say, "We’re going to lock down," and yet you have people doing exactly what they want—

Jordan asked if this explains the situation in Michigan and New Jersey (and other states with quickly growing covid case rates). Fauci then claimed he couldn’t hear the question, and Jordan was cut off by the committee chairman.

No one who is familiar with the situation in states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia, however, would find it plausible that the spread of covid has been lessened in those areas by more militant use of masks and social distancing. Fauci's testimony was clearly just a case of a government “expert” grasping about for an explanation.

But don’t expect Fauci and his supporters to give up on insisting that New York and Michigan are doing "the right thing" while Texas and Florida are embracing "human sacrifice" as a part of a "death cult." 

The actual numbers paint a very different picture, and even casual observers can now see that the old narrative was very, very wrong.

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/22/2021 - 21:05
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