Grab bag of conspiracies behind German coup plot, China’s Covid climb down, and methane cloud over Iran

I’ve delved into the world of aristocratic conspiracy theories fueled by suspects arrested by police in Germany this week for plotting a freak coup. They are part of the right-wing Reichsburger movement, which is, in the words of disinformation expert Mike Rothschild, a “grabbing bag of conspiracy beliefs.” He explained to me how the movement is linked to QAnon, but also has monarchist goals of restoring a Kaiser and returning to the German confederation of 1871. “It is very uniquely German. I think a lot of Americans don’t have much of a frame of reference for that,” he said. The Reischburger movement, he explained, has ideas about “sovereign citizenship.” Supporters argue that because they don’t recognize the constitution of the state, they will not follow any of their laws.The movement really entered his account during the pandemic, when QAnon and anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown campaigns merged with the Reichsburger sovereign citizen movement to protest the government’s lockdown measures.

China’s about-face on Covid restrictions is the gratifying direct result of the protests, with thousands of Chinese citizens telling the Communist Party that enough is enough. In just a few days, we saw the famous CCP spokesperson and Global Times editor Hu Xijin show a complete mood change in his attitude against Covid. He calmly announced on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that he expects to “get Covid in a month.” On Twitter itself, he he wrote: “Most Chinese are no longer afraid of getting infected. China may emerge from the shadow of COVID-19 sooner than expected.” On Dr. Li Wenliang’s “Wailing Wall,” the comment section below the famous Covid whistleblower and martyr’s last post since February 2020, people scrubbed the page to pay tribute to the ophthalmologist , according to China Digital Times. Li has become a guiding light and a hero to those suffering under China’s brutal zero-Covid regime. “Dr. Li, it seems that pandemic prevention measures are really coming to an end. We’ve all posted a lot of comments here over the past few years, and every time, it’s to vent or complain. This time, we can finally relax a little,” one person wrote.

The ultimate recycling program? More people are considering “human composting” as an alternative to burial when making their end-of-life plans. Five US states have legalized the transformation of residues into arable land, and several more states have similar plans on the horizon. Those concerned about environmental impact can rest a little easier knowing that choosing this option would contribute less to carbon pollution than traditional burials or cremation. The death industry has its own carbon footprint: cremation, for example, can use the same amount of energy as a living person would use in an entire month. I have visited natural burial grounds in the UK and they really are the most beautiful places. People are buried in shallow graves (there are more enzymes in the soil) in wicker or cardboard coffins, so their bodies return to the earth more quickly. It’s all part of the circle of life, and many find peace in it. But it’s not for everyone: Queen Elizabeth II, for example, was buried like all royals in a lead-lined coffin to better preserve her remains. And embalming is a burial practice that dates back to the ancient Egyptians.

NASA satellites have tracked evidence of “super emitters” of greenhouse gases, but Iran isn’t happy about it. A satellite mapped a huge plume of methane at least 3 miles long flying into the air south of Iran’s capital, Tehran. The gas came from a major landfill: As the trash decomposes, it leaks methane into the atmosphere. It’s not a problem unique to Iran: landfills are one of the world’s biggest methane polluters, and other “super-emitting” sites were identified in Turkmenistan and New Mexico. Currently, only a small fraction of landfills in the US capture methane and convert it into other energy sources. But Iran’s politicians refused to accept the NASA images and denied the legitimacy of the research. Mehdi Chamran, head of Tehran’s city council, said: “The photo posted from southern Tehran is not true and seems to be from another country.” Meanwhile, Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani said that “everything NASA has said is a lie, and this is also a lie.” Last week, NASA announced it was canceling plans for a satellite that would intensively monitor greenhouse gas emissions in the Americas, citing costs and complications.


  • Another brilliant ProPublica investigation came out this week, into the “Wild West” that is the unregulated prenatal screening industry in the US. Families who go for prenatal testing to check for genetic abnormalities receive results without any oversight or regulation, sometimes devastating. results Pregnant people have had abortions based on false-positive results for genetic abnormalities, while others have carried children to term while life-threatening disorders were missed in the test. It’s a shattering read.
  • Iraqis are forced to rely on fake drugs as endemic corruption in the medical supply chain means armed groups are seizing drug shipments, jacking up prices and selling expired medicines to desperate people. A Chatham House report describes “the toxicity of post-2003 Iraq’s patchwork public and private healthcare system” in which drugs are sold for personal profit rather than distributed to patients.

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