Apr 142020

John M. Fox Garcia Grande newsstand, New York 1946


Getting A Coronavirus Test In Wuhan: Fast, Cheap And Easy (R.)
South Korea Confirms 111 Cases Of Coronavirus Reinfection (KT)
How Coronavirus Almost Brought Down The Global Financial System (Tooze)
US Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 23,000 (R.)
New York, California, Other States Plan For Reopening As Crisis Eases (R.)
30 Union Members Die, Rest Risk Their Lives So Americans Can Eat Meat (HuffPo)
North America Meat Plant Workers Fall Ill, Walk Off Jobs (R.)
Smithfield Shuts US Pork Plant Indefinitely, Warns Of Meat Shortages (R.)
White House Seeks To Lower Farmworker Pay To Help Agriculture Industry (NPR)
In Mea Culpa, Macron Extends France’s Lockdown Until May 11 (R.)
A French Disaster (Guy Millière)
Older People Being ‘Airbrushed’ Out Of British Virus Figures (BBC)
Québec To Ramp Up Care Home Inspections After 31 Die In Montréal Facility (R.)
Brazil Likely Has 12 Times More Coronavirus Cases Than Official Count (R.)
China Tightens Russian Border Checks, Approves Experimental Vaccine Trials (R.)
China Big Tech Moves Into Healthcare (R.)



It’s been a few days, but leafing through today’s news, it seems obvious that incompetence once again rules the day. Macron is the first to say he’s sorry for that. Sort of. Still, we should not lose sight of the fact that, as I wrote recently in Little Managers, we don’t elect our ‘Leaders’ to solve pandemics. The best I can do for you is we elect them to make us feel rich, which is why they focused for far too long, as the pandemic already raged, on their economies.

• Over the past 24 hours, the U.S. reported 27,243 new cases of coronavirus and 1,555 new deaths, raising total to 587,752 cases and 23,765 dead.



Cases 1,862,584 (+ 72,011 from yesterday’s 1,790,573)

Deaths 114,982 (+ 5,328 from yesterday’s 109,654)




From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-



From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% !-



From SCMP:



From COVID19Info.live:





I would certainly pay $37 for a test if it were available. And reliable.

Getting A Coronavirus Test In Wuhan: Fast, Cheap And Easy (R.)

Coronavirus tests can be difficult to come by in many countries including in hard-hit parts of the United States and Britain, but in Wuhan, the Chinese epicentre of the pandemic, they are fast, cheap and easy to get. My colleagues and I had just arrived in the central city where the novel coronavirus emerged in humans late last year, and as a foreigner I was told that I was required to take a nucleic test to prove that I was free of the potentially deadly flu-like virus. A government official escorted me to the test site, a table outside the entrance of a shuttered hotel. A single medical worker sat there, dressed in a zipped-up hazmat suit and goggles.

She asked for my personal details and told me to sit. She then stuck a swab down my throat, nearly triggering a gag, and then it was over. “You’ll get your results in about one and a half days,” the official said. The test, while not pleasant, took less than three seconds. Wuhan is testing liberally as it tries to get back up and running after lifting a 76-day lockdown last week. The term “nucleic acid test” has become a familiar one in the city of 11 million people, where many companies are asking workers to present test results before they can return to work, although it is not mandatory. At one Wuhan hospital, people only need to spit into a test tube. That test costs 260 yuan ($37) and results are available by mobile app. Since Feb. 21, 930,315 tests have been carried out in Wuhan, according to government data.

“Testing is a good thing,” said Zhao Yan, a emergency medicine doctor and vice president of Wuhan’s Zhongnan Hospital told reporters on a government-organised trip last week. “If you’re an enterprise with 500 employees and you want to start working again, you test everybody.” Across China, officials are simplifying and speeding up the process to obtain a nucleic acid test, even though questions persist about its accuracy. Some Chinese doctors have pushed to raise requirements for discharging hospitalised patients from two negative nucleic acid tests to three. Cities including Beijing have required some arriving travelers to present test results when entering. China has not yet indicated it will require testing for large swathes of the population.

Read more …

There go the dreams of reopening your economy.

South Korea Confirms 111 Cases Of Coronavirus Reinfection (KT)

South Korea has confirmed 111 cases of coronavirus reinfection (as of Sunday noon) with most cases reported in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, two epicenters of the domestic outbreak. Jung Eun-kyeong, director of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), said on Sunday the organization was exploring possible causes of reinfection. “For now it is uncertain what led to reinfection  revived virus that survived treatment or fresh exposure to the virus after recovery,” Jung said. The director said an extensive research was under way and the KCDC would share the result with WHO and other nations battling coronavirus.

Earlier health authorities here have said the virus was highly likely to have been reactivated, instead of the people being reinfected, as they tested positive again in a relatively short time after being released from quarantine. They also said the COVID-19 virus may remain latent in certain cells in the body and attack the respiratory organs again once reactivated. A COVID-19 patient is deemed fully recovered after showing negative results for two tests in a row within a 24-hour interval. The country’s COVID-19 infections reported 32 additional virus cases, bringing total infections to 10,512.

Read more …

Oh no. No sirree. The system is bringing itself down, not the virus. This is like you take a house so decrepit that it should long have been condemned, and then you blame a storm when it finally collapses.

How Coronavirus Almost Brought Down The Global Financial System (Tooze)

In the third week of March, while most of our minds were fixed on surging coronavirus death rates and the apocalyptic scenes in hospital wards, global financial markets came as close to a collapse as they have since September 2008. The price of shares in the world’s major corporations plunged. The value of the dollar surged against every currency in the world, squeezing debtors everywhere from Indonesia to Mexico. Trillion-dollar markets for government debt, the basic foundation of the financial system, lurched up and down in terror-stricken cycles. On the terminal screens, interest rates danced. Traders hunched over improvised home workstations – known in the new slang of March 2020 as “Rona rigs” – screaming with frustration as sluggish home wifi systems dragged behind the movement of the markets.

At the low point on 23 March, $26tn had been wiped off the value of global equity markets, inflicting huge losses both on the fortunate few who own shares, and on the collective pools of savings held by pension and insurance funds. What the markets were reacting to was an unthinkable turn of events. After a fatal period of hesitation, governments around the world were ordering comprehensive lockdowns to contain a lethal pandemic. Built for growth, the global economic machine was being brought to a screeching halt. In 2020, for the first time since the second world war, production around the world will contract. It is not only Europe and the US that have been shut down, but once-booming emerging market economies in Asia. Commodity exporters from Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa face collapsing markets.

[..] What Europe and the US have succeeded in doing is to flatten the curve of financial panic. They have maintained the all-important flow of credit. Without that, large parts of their economies would not be on life support – they would be stone dead. And our governments would be struggling with a financial crunch to boot. Maintaining the flow of credit has been the precondition for sustaining the lockdown. It is the precondition for a concerted public health response to the pandemic. During major crises, we are reminded of the fact that at the heart of the profit-driven, private financial economy is a public institution, the central bank. When financial markets are functioning normally, it remains in the background.

But when they threaten to break down, it has the option of stepping forward to act as a lender of last resort. It can make loans, or it can buy assets from banks, funds or other businesses that are desperate for cash. Because it is the ultimate backer of the currency, its budget is unlimited. That means it can decide who sinks and who swims. We learned this in 2008. But 2020 has driven home the point as never before.

Read more …

Where are Dr. Fauci’s 200,000 deaths?

US Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 23,000 (R.)

U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus topped 23,000 on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as officials said the worst may be over and the outbreak could reach its peak this week. The United States, with the world’s third-largest population, has recorded more fatalities from COVID-19 than any other country. There were a total of nearly 570,000 U.S. cases as of Monday with over 1.8 million reported cases globally. Deaths reported on Sunday numbered 1,513, the smallest increase since 1,309 died on April 6. The largest number of fatalities, over 10,000, was in New York state with the concentration in and around New York City, the most populous U.S. city with about 8.4 million people.

Wyoming reported its first coronavirus death on Monday, the final U.S. state to report a fatality in the outbreak. Sweeping stay-at-home restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, in place for weeks in many areas of the United States, have taken a painful toll on the economy. With businesses closed and curbs on travel, officials and lawmakers are debating when it might be safe to begin reopening some sectors. The Trump administration has indicated May 1 as a potential date for easing the restrictions while urging caution.

Read more …

Stop planning. Make sure you get it right first.

New York, California, Other States Plan For Reopening As Crisis Eases (R.)

Ten U.S. governors on the east and west coasts banded together on Monday in two regional pacts to coordinate gradual economic reopenings as the coronavirus crisis finally appeared to be ebbing. Announcements from the New York-led group of Northeastern governors, and a similar compact formed by California, Oregon and Washington state, came as President Donald Trump declared any decision on restarting the U.S. economy was up to him. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was teaming up with five counterparts in adjacent New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to devise the best strategies for easing stay-at-home orders imposed last month to curb coronavirus transmissions. Massachusetts later said it was joining the East Coast coalition.

“Nobody has been here before, nobody has all the answers,” said Cuomo, whose state has become the U.S. epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, during an open conference call with five other governors. “Addressing public health and the economy: Which one is first? They’re both first.” The three Pacific Coast states announced they, too, planned to follow a shared approach for lifting social-distancing measures, but said they “need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening” can take place. The 10 governors, all Democrats except for Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, gave no timeline for ending social lockdowns that have idled the vast majority of more than 100 million residents in their states. But they stressed that decisions about when and how to reopen non-essential businesses, along with schools and universities, would put the health of residents first and rely on science rather than politics.

Read more …

How on earth do you get this so wrong?

30 Union Members Die, Rest Risk Their Lives So Americans Can Eat Meat (HuffPo)

Never has so much been asked of America’s grocery store and meatpacking workers. They are working through a pandemic, getting sick and in some cases even dying so that others can put food on the table. Most of them are doing it for lower wages than other essential workers who continue to do their jobs as coronavirus cases balloon. Many who risk their health each day have been relaying their fears and frustrations to the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 1.3 million workers in the U.S. and Canada and is one of the largest private-sector unions in the country.

Marc Perrone, the UFCW’s president, told HuffPost that the union is working hard to keep up with its members’ concerns, as well as those of nonunion workers now highly interested in organizing. For many in the latter category, the pressure of recent weeks has stripped away any sense that they are paid fairly and protected adequately on the job. “We have more leads than we’ve ever had as a union,” Perrone said. “The question is … are we at the tipping point yet? This pandemic ripped gaping holes in the system. Is it going to change the way workers can unify together to make a move?”

The UFCW has emerged as one of the most important labor unions in the coronavirus crisis because of where it represents workers: in grocery stores, meatpacking and processing plants and pharmacies. Few private-sector unions outside of health care would have so many members continuing to clock in because their work is so crucial to the lives of others. The work seems to have come at a steep cost already. The union is still gathering data on infections and deaths among its membership, but Perrone said that around 30 people appear to have died since the pandemic began. In some cases, he cautioned, a COVID-19 diagnosis has not been confirmed yet.

Read more …

Better get some other protein supply in.

North America Meat Plant Workers Fall Ill, Walk Off Jobs (R.)

At a Wayne Farms chicken processing plant in Alabama, workers recently had to pay the company 10 cents a day to buy masks to protect themselves from the new coronavirus, according to a meat inspector. In Colorado, nearly a third of the workers at a JBS USA beef plant stayed home amid safety concerns for the last two weeks as a 30-year employee of the facility died following complications from the virus. And since an Olymel pork plant in Quebec shut on March 29, the number of workers who tested positive for the coronavirus quintupled to more than 50, according to their union. The facility and at least 10 others in North America have temporarily closed or reduced production in about the last two weeks because of the pandemic, disrupting food supply chains that have struggled to keep pace with surging demand at grocery stores.

According to more than a dozen interviews with U.S and Canadian plant workers, union leaders and industry analysts, a lack of protective equipment and the nature of “elbow to elbow” work required to debone chickens, chop beef and slice hams are highlighting risks for employees and limiting output as some forego the low-paying work. Companies that added protections, such as enhanced cleaning or spacing out workers, say the moves are further slowing meat production. Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, on Sunday said it is indefinitely shutting a pork plant that accounts for about 4% to 5% of U.S. production. It warned that plant shutdowns are pushing the United States “perilously close to the edge” in meat supplies for grocers.

Read more …

The size of this “industry” is bearable only because we keep it hidden.

Smithfield Shuts US Pork Plant Indefinitely, Warns Of Meat Shortages (R.)

Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said on Sunday it will shut a U.S. plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving “perilously close to the edge” in supplies for grocers. Slaughterhouse shutdowns are disrupting the U.S. food supply chain, crimping availability of meat at retail stores and leaving farmers without outlets for their livestock. Smithfield extended the closure of its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, plant after initially saying it would idle temporarily for cleaning. The facility is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said on Saturday that 238 Smithfield employees had active cases of the new coronavirus, accounting for 55% of the state’s total. Noem and the mayor of Sioux Falls had recommended the company shut the plant, which has about 3,700 workers, for at least two weeks. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” Smithfield Chief Executive Ken Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday. “These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers.” Smithfield said it will resume operations in Sioux Falls after further direction from local, state and federal officials. The company will pay employees for the next two weeks, according to the statement.

Read more …

Stupid is as stupid does. Come autumn, you’re going to need food. Underpaying essential workers will not help. Raise their wages, and you may even attract a few Americans.

White House Seeks To Lower Farmworker Pay To Help Agriculture Industry (NPR)

New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans. Opponents of the plan argue it will hurt vulnerable workers and depress domestic wages. The measure is the latest effort being pushed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help U.S farmers who say they are struggling amid disruptions in the agricultural supply chain compounded by the outbreak; the industry was already hurting because of President Trump’s tariff war with China.

“The administration is considering all policy options during this unprecedented crisis to ensure our great farmers are protected, and President Trump has done and will do everything he can to support their vital mission,” a White House official told NPR. The nation’s roughly 2.5 million agricultural laborers have been officially declared “essential workers” as the administration seeks to ensure that Americans have food to eat and that U.S. grocery stores remain stocked. Workers on the H-2A seasonal guest-worker program are about 10% of all farmworkers. The effort to provide “wage relief” to U.S. farmers follows an announcement Friday by the USDA to develop a program that will include direct payments to farmers and ranchers hurt by the coronavirus. Trump said Friday that he has directed Perdue to provide at least $16 billion in relief.

Read more …

Well, at least he did it. Where are the others?

In Mea Culpa, Macron Extends France’s Lockdown Until May 11 (R.)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced he was extending a virtual lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak until May 11, adding that progress had been made but the battle not yet won. Following Italy in extending the lockdown but announcing no immediate easing of restrictive measures as in Spain, Macron said the tense situation in hospitals in Paris and eastern France meant there could be no let-up in the country. Since March 17, France’s 67 million people have been ordered to stay at home except to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise on their own. The lockdown was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday.

“I fully understand the effort I’m asking from you,” Macron told the nation in a televised address at the end of the lockdown’s fourth week, adding the current rules were working. “When will we be able to return to a normal life? I would love to be able to answer you. But to be frank, I have to humbly tell you we don’t have definitive answers,” he said. Schools and shops would progressively reopen on May 11, Macron said. But restaurants, hotels, cafes and cinemas would have to remain shut longer, he added. International arrivals from non-European countries will remain prohibited until further notice. Macron, whose government has faced criticism over a shortage of face masks and testing kits, said that by May 11, France would be able to test anyone presenting COVID-19 symptoms and give nonprofessional face masks to the public.

Macron also said he had asked his government to present this week new financial aid for families and students in need. Acknowledging his country had not been sufficiently prepared early on to face the challenges posed by the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Macron appeared to seek a humble tone in contrast to the war-like rhetoric of his previous speeches. “Were we prepared for this crisis? On the face of it, not enough. But we coped,” he said. “This moment, let’s be honest, has revealed cracks, shortages. Like every country in the world, we have lacked gloves, hand gel, we haven’t been able to give out as many masks as we wanted to our health professionals.”

The French, long accustomed to being told their high taxes paid for the “best healthcare in the world,” have been dismayed by the rationing of critical drugs, face masks and equipment and have watched with envy the situation in neighbouring Germany. Macron’s acknowledgment of the shortcomings was broadly well-received. “It’s not every day you hear a president offer a mea culpa and dare say ‘we have no definitive answers.’ Reassuring and necessary sincerity,” analyst Maxime Sbaihi of the think tank GenerationLibre said.

Read more …

You have to read this to believe it. Mind you, I read a note earlier that said 200 flights came into to Heathrow yesterday from all over the globe, including China, Italy, Spain, whose passengers were barely checked if at all.

A French Disaster (Guy Millière)

On April 9, in France, one of the three European countries most affected by COVID-19 — the others being Spain and Italy, 1,341 people died from the Chinese Communist Party virus. For Italy, the main European country affected so far, the figure on April 9 was 610 deaths; for Spain 446, and for Germany 266. While the pandemic has been stabilizing in Italy and Spain — and in Germany seems contained — in France it seems still expanding. Extremely bad decisions taken by the authorities created a situation of contagion more destructive than it should have been. The first bad decision was that, in contrast to European Union fantasies, borders apparently do matter. France never closed them; instead it allowed large numbers of potential virus-carriers to enter the country.

Even when it became clear that in Italy the pandemic was taking on catastrophic proportions, France’s border with Italy remained open. The Italian government, by contrast, on March 10, prohibited French people coming to its territory or Italians going to France, but to date, France has put no controls on its side of the border. The situation is the same on France’s border with Spain, despite the terrifying situation there. Since March 17, it has been virtually impossible to go from France to Spain, but coming to France from Spain is easy: you just show a police officer your ID. The same goes for France’s border with Germany. On March 16, Germany closed its border with France, but France declined to do the same for its border with Germany.

When, on February 26, a soccer match between a French team and an Italian team took place in Lyon, the third-largest city in France, 3,000 Italian supporters attended, even though patients were already flocking to Italy’s hospitals. France never closed its airports; they are still open to “nationals of EEA Member States, Switzerland, passengers with a British passport, and those with residence permits issued by France” and healthcare professionals. Earlier, until the last days of March, people arriving from China were not even subject to health checks. French people in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated, were repatriated by a military plane, and, upon their arrival in France, were placed in quarantine. While Air France interrupted its flights to China on January 30, Chinese and other airlines departing from Shanghai and Beijing continue to land in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron summarized France’s official position on the practice: “Viruses do not have passports,” he said. Members of the French government repeated the same dogma. A few commentators reminded them that viruses travel with infected people, who can be stopped at borders, and that borders are essential to stop or slow the spread of a disease, but the effort was useless. Macron ended up saying that the borders of the Schengen area (26 European states that have officially abolished all passport and border control with one another) could not be shut down and raged at other European leaders for reintroducing border checks between the Schengen area member countries. “What is at stake,” he said, seemingly more concerned with the “European project” than with the lives of millions of people, “is the survival of the European project.”

[..] by the end of March, most doctors and caregivers still had no masks. Several doctors fell ill. As of April 10, eight have died from COVID-19 and several others are in critical condition. On March 20, the government’s spokeswoman, Sibeth N’Diaye, incorrectly said that “masks are essentially useless”. At the end of February, France had almost no tests available, and no means of manufacturing them. The government decided to buy tests from China, but by March 19, the number of tests was still insufficient. While Germany performed 500,000 screening tests per week, France was only able to only perform 50,000. Rather than admit that tests were unavailable, or that the government had mismanaged situation, the France’s minister of health, Olivier Veran, announced that large-scale screening was useless, and that France had chosen to “proceed differently”.

Read more …

“..92 homes in the UK reported outbreaks in one day. [..] 2,099 care homes in England have so far had cases of the virus.”

Older People Being ‘Airbrushed’ Out Of British Virus Figures (BBC)

Many older people are being “airbrushed” out of coronavirus figures in the UK, charities have warned. The official death toll has been criticised for only covering people who die in hospital – but not those in care homes or in their own houses. It comes after the government confirmed there had been virus outbreaks at more than 2,000 care homes in England. Meanwhile, scientific advisers for the government will meet later to review the UK’s coronavirus lockdown measures. The evaluation will be passed to the government – but ministers have said it was unlikely restrictions would change.

On Monday, the UK’s chief medical adviser said he would like “much more extensive testing” in care homes due to the “large numbers of vulnerable people” there. Prof Chris Whitty told the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing on that 92 homes in the UK reported outbreaks in one day. The Department of Health and Social Care later confirmed 2,099 care homes in England have so far had cases of the virus. The figures prompted the charity Age UK to claim coronavirus is “running wild” in care homes for elderly people. “The current figures are airbrushing older people out like they don’t matter,” Caroline Abrahams, the charity’s director, said.

Ms Abrahams said the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing is leading to the spread of coronavirus across the care home sector. “We were underprepared for this, we are playing catch-up on getting enough PPE and testing, I’m wondering if the needs of care homes were taken seriously early on,” she said. She joined industry leaders from Marie Curie, Care England, Independent Age and the Alzheimer’s Society in writing a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding a care package to support social care through the pandemic. They have also called for a daily update on deaths in the care system.

Read more …

“The home charges up to C$10,000 a month for each resident,..”

Care homes, nursing homes are a major issue. Stories abound from the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Canada about elderly people being left alone and untested, and their subsequent COVID19 deaths not counted.

Québec To Ramp Up Care Home Inspections After 31 Die In Montréal Facility (R.)

The Quebec government on Monday said it was putting the safety and general conditions of the province’s 2,600 long-term care and nursing home facilities under the microscope following the deaths of 31 people in a single home for the elderly since March 13. Police and the coroner’s office are investigating the deaths at the Residence Herron, a 139-unit home in Montreal, which has been put under provincial control. Quebec Premier François Legault said health officials had only been informed that the nursing home had a shortage of staff, but not that dozens of residents had died. “[Health officials] didn’t know before Friday night that there were 31 deaths,” Legault told reporters on Monday. “We knew that there were a few deaths, but surely not 31.”

Only five deaths are confirmed to have been caused by COVID-19, with the rest under investigation. Legault blamed the situation on “major negligence” over the weekend and said the facility’s management had not cooperated when authorities first tried to probe reports of problems. “I think that what happened in the month of March was that suddenly many of their residents got the COVID-19, many of the employees decided to leave,” he said. The residence is located on Montreal’s West Island and is owned and operated by Katasa Group, which owns six other retirement homes. The home charges up to C$10,000 a month for each resident, according to the Montreal Gazette. The private nursing home touts itself as having “an enviable reputation in the field of residences for retirees in need of special care,” according to its website.

Read more …

Until further- convincing- notice, make that Brazil and every other country.

Brazil Likely Has 12 Times More Coronavirus Cases Than Official Count (R.)

Brazil likely has 12 times more cases of the new coronavirus than are being officially reported by the government, with too little testing and long waits to confirm the results, according to a study released on Monday. Researchers at a consortium of Brazilian universities and institutes examined the ratio of cases resulting in deaths through April 10 and compared it with data on the expected death rate from the World Health Organization. The much higher-than-expected death rate in Brazil indicates there are many more cases of the virus than are being counted, with the study estimating only 8% of cases are being officially reported.

The government has focused on testing serious cases rather than all suspected cases, according to the consortium, known as the Center for Health Operations and Intelligence. The center and medical professionals have also complained of long wait times to get test results. Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta has said that it is difficult to distribute tests in Brazil because of the size of the country but acknowledges that testing needs to improve. Officially, Brazil’s coronavirus death toll rose to 1,328 on Monday, while the number of confirmed cases hit 23,430, according to health ministry data. As of last Thursday, Brazil had had around 127,000 suspected cases and carried out just short of 63,000 tests, ministry figures indicate. A health ministry official on Monday said more than 93,000 tests are still being processed for results.

Read more …

Russia is not doing well.

China Tightens Russian Border Checks, Approves Experimental Vaccine Trials (R.)

China has approved early-stage human tests for two experimental vaccines to combat the new coronavirus as it battles to contain imported cases, especially from neighbouring Russia, the new “front line” in the war on COVID-19. Russia has become China’s largest source of imported cases, with a total of 409 infections originating in the country, and Chinese citizens should stay put and not return home, the state-owned Global Times said in an editorial. “Russia is the latest example of a failure to control imported cases and can serve as a warning to others,” said the paper, which is run by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily. “The Chinese people have watched Russia become a severely affected country… This should sound the alarm: China must strictly prevent the inflow of cases and avoid a second outbreak.”

China’s northeastern border province of Heilongjiang saw 79 new cases of imported coronavirus cases on Monday. All the new cases were Chinese citizens travelling back into the country from Russia, state media said on Tuesday. They formed the bulk of new cases on the Chinese mainland, which stood at 89. Heilongjiang’s provincial authority said on Tuesday that it had established a hotline to reward citizens for reporting illegal immigrants crossing into the province. According to a notice, people supplying verified information about illegal cross-border crimes will be granted 3,000 yuan. Those who apprehend the illegal immigrants themselves and hand them over to the authorities will be given 5,000 yuan. As of Tuesday, China had reported 82,249 coronavirus cases and 3,341 deaths. There were no deaths in the past 24 hours.

Read more …

The robots, like the doctors, are on Big Pharma’s payroll.

China Big Tech Moves Into Healthcare (R.)

China’s biggest corporate showdown has kicked off. Alibaba, Tencent and Ping An Insurance dominate e-commerce, video games and insurance respectively. Now the trio, worth a combined $1 trillion-plus in market capitalisation, is converging on healthcare. Before Covid-19 hit, China’s medical system suffered from chronic under-investment. Healthcare expenditure, of which the government accounts for over half, was just 5.2% of GDP in 2017, data from the World Health Organization show, far lagging 17% in the United States. A big problem is a shortage of general practitioners, resulting in threadbare primary care. It’s geographically unbalanced too; medical resources are concentrated in wealthier urban areas.

Top-tier hospitals, representing just 8% of the country’s total, received nearly half of all patients in 2016, according to research cited by China Renaissance. Alibaba and Ping An, as well as the Tencent-backed WeDoctor, see potential for profit in filling the gaps left by overstretched, overcrowded hospitals. All three offer cheap online consultations, which have spiked in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. They are racing to develop all-encompassing apps offering diagnosis, prescriptions, referrals, appointment bookings, 1-hour drug delivery and even insurance.

Ping An’s Good Doctor is ahead for now. The app, run by a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary, has 67 million monthly active users as of the end of last year, thanks to a sizable team of in-house doctors and a network of partner hospitals and pharmacies. But Alibaba is beefing up its healthcare arm, also listed in Hong Kong, by reshuffling its pharmaceutical business and appointing a new chief executive. Tencent’s ubiquitous messaging app, WeChat, too has rolled out features like Covid-19 heat maps and hospital appointment bookings. It owns an undisclosed stake in WeDoctor, which is now looking to raise up to $1 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering this year …

Read more …

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Home Forums Debt Rattle April 14 2020

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    John M. Fox Garcia Grande newsstand, New York 1946   • Getting A Coronavirus Test In Wuhan: Fast, Cheap And Easy (R.) • South Korea Confirms 111
    [See the full post at: Debt Rattle April 14 2020]


    “Stupid is as stupid does. Come autumn, you’re going to need food. Underpaying essential workers will not help. Raise their wages, and you may even attract a few Americans.”

    I did migrant labor agricultural work in the early 80s in Yakima, WA. Picked fruit. Paid by the bin (maybe 4′ x 4′ x 3′). Very hard labor, and I was in uncommonly good shape and used to hard labor.

    The last of the Steinbeck generation of Caucasian fruit pickers was almost gone in 1980. a few diehard hippies, a few lingering 3rd generation Okies and Arkies. Hispanics ruled the orchards. They could outpick me 2 to 1. Plus, husband and wife often worked together while their kids hung around the fields, played, and helped mom and dad. A major asset to the economy, those people.

    Paying people real wages to do this work is likely to raise the price of produce considerably. Paying them via piecework will teach anyone reduced to this extremely physical, dusty, and presumably pesticide-drenched labor a new meaning of both work and value and will turn their image of reality upside-down and inside-out — and still raise the cost of produce substantially.

    As for slaughterhouses: I never worked in one but had friends who did. It was also back-breaking labor, not without danger, to say the least.

    And then there’s the psychological toll of taking an entire populace’s life-for-death karma and placing it on… survey says… 500K USA workers. While we buy a large chunk of our meat from abroad, I assume most of it is still rendered over here.

    I’ll add 500K foreign meat workers here just for easy rounding’s sake, and call it 1 million USA and foreign souls experiencing daily the horrific muders of living animals or the merely desensitizing rendering of their meat, for 330 million Americans. That’s a 330 to 1 karmic ratio before we begin counting animal souls, at which point the karmic debt resembles the Fed in a Rumplestilskin costume.

    The price of animal protein is bound to rise several hundred % in the next few years, along with the cost of dairy, which has been artificially low, practically functioning on life support, for a long time.

    It’s time for beans, beans, beans… in ten years, America will have the world’s first form of viral pneumonia spread mostly by public farting. I can hardly find beans at the store right now. The shift is already underway.

    And that’s before we consider the inevitable petrodollar collapse/reset.

    Oh well. Life’s a Funny Thing


    It will be interesting to see if, when big meat suppliers run out, people rush to the small guys. A challenge for small abatoires is that many of them too have closed due to economic pressures. Then what?
    I had the opportunity to tour a small local abatoire run by a proud second generation owner -saw the whole place starting from where the animals are kept waiting for “their turn”. Gut wrenching and it would be good for all of us meat-eaters to see this. Of course dairy relies on endless supply of babies, so it is tied into this process too. We don’t seem to have a way in many cultures to acknowledge the life that has been sacrificed in order for us to eat these foods.
    On the fruit front, over several years we have tried pretty much every angle to get people to come help on our organic (real organic as in no nasty chemicals) small mixed fruit farm. We decided not to host WWoofers anymore because on an environmental front it seemed to make no sense to hire people jetting around the world to work on farms that are trying to be environmentally conscious. However, without them, no one up to now was willing to work in exchange for fruit and we are too small to pay straight wages. I am guessing this might change a bit this year…

    Dr. D

    I’ve got to back up, you can’t be the Devil’s Advocate with tunnel vision.

    Here’s something I was looking for:

    “In the movie “The Big Short,” one of the characters predicted that for every 1% increase in unemployment, some 40,000 people would die an early death. It could be suicide, drugs, alcohol, spousal abuse, heart attacks, but being out of work and poor kills a lot of people. So if we go to 32% unemployment as the Federal Reserve predicts, how many people must die?”

    Now that’s obviously a slippery number. How early a death? Is it overcome by being illegally placed under endless house arrest? Etc. But roughly, these are the scale of numbers to compare: 20,000 deaths, probably at peak, vs 40,000 x say +10(%) or 400,000 deaths.

    So do you want more or fewer people killed? Your choice.

    “You can’t ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained,’ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said ” https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-do-you-choose-between-economic-deaths-of-despair-and-coronavirus-victims-economists-lawmakers-grapple-with-a-moral-conundrum-2020-03-26?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts

    Yes, you you can, Andy. I’m sorry but that is exactly the situation life has presented you. That is exactly what you’re doing, and that we all do every day, when we drive that extra car, and eat that extra cream puff.


    ” …. Raise their wages, and you may even attract a few Americans.”

    The farmer cannot afford to install a bench in the shade for people to watch the workers doing the picking.

    I tried picking blueberries, at 50 cent /lbs. Eventually, I acquired the skills to keep up with the older regular pickers. Beans might supply enough energy for me to survive, but a days picking did not produce enough income to pay for an oil change for my car.

    I would not want to try to make a living as a care worker for seniors.

    Coughing, and spitting kills more people than lead.


    Well said Dr. D. – policy makers and politicians make these kinds of decisions all the time. Policy makers cutting health budgets, food policies that permit the use of toxic chemicals, policy makers who allow substandard wage levels and on it goes. Unfortunately the human toll of these decisions is invisible to many people.
    On another front, in Quebec Canada there is a significant move back to intentional relocalisation of various necessary items -a good offshoot to the virus.



    If the virus can re-infect people, and if the spread of the virus is not affected by hotter temperatures, then it seems it will become endemic.

    While the lockdowns may slow the infection rate to allow health authorities to keep up, lockdowns can not last forever.

    The price of the lockdowns is very high, particularly in the US with 10% of their workforce are suddenly unemployed [17 million], massive numbers of businesses are threatened with bankruptcy, huge numbers of people are unable to receive normal healthcare [leading to thousands of deaths], and now threats to the food chain where supermarket shelves become empty and are not refilled.

    There will be carnage! There is a quote to the effect that civilsation dissolves into anarchy when there is no food in the supermarkets for three days.

    I feel we need to move to the Swedish idea where those at risk should self-isolate, but everyone else can carry on as normal.

    The alternative could be anarchy!


    “So do you want more or fewer people killed? Your choice.”

    False dichotomy with this crowd. The economy was going to crash anyhow. If you don’t believe that, fine. Most everyone here does. Need to change the algorithm. Wrong vector angle.

    ” ‘You can’t ask the people of this state or this country to choose between lives lost and dollars gained,’ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
    ”Yes, you you can, Andy. I’m sorry but that is exactly the situation life has presented you. That is exactly what you’re doing, and that we all do every day, when we drive that extra car, and eat that extra cream puff.”

    How you mangled that logic is almost delightful to watch. Somehow the consumers get blamed for the producers/owners/renters deciding to make money selling toxic wasteful environmentally disastrous buillshit that also needlessly endangers said consumers. The producers/owners/renters do this using their closer connexion to cheap loans and other corp welfare subsidies to continue an economic paradigm that is destroying its fundamental constituents.

    But then, someone here recently said: “Nah, you could just go out. Life is dangerous. You might die someday. All you get to choose is whether you die like a rat or a man.”

    There’s a thing called living too. It generally precedes dying. It takes up the vast majority of the lives of most people, except those (like me) who have weird wasting diseases that periodically put them into something very much like death until the blood requickens enough to resume the process of living day by gradual day rather than dying day by gradual day. Po po pitiful me. There. I feel better now. 🙂

    This living thing involves a bit more than action movie hero decisions. It involves a thousand countless acts of kindness or at least courtesy.

    And always remember and never forget: when it comes to the Big Picture, you can’t win. Doc D told us so. The Masters rule; we drool. They control EVERYTHING. But when it comes to the little pictures like, say, my life or that of my wife, then it’s our fault for being weak, ignorant, stupid, and morally inferior. Because Yahweh said so. Or someone. Or maybe Mao. Or Ayn Rand. Howdy Doody Squarepants. I dunno. I just shut up and eat my gruel and act grateful, cuz Doc D said so.

    Blame the fat cats for oppressing the little people.
    Blame the little people for being oppressed.

    Rhymes with Russiarussiarussia if you squint your ears just right.

    It’s everybody’s fault… except Doc. D.’s. Cuz he’s been telling us since the Darpanet was born, and it ain’t his fault that we didn’t listen, so he is therefore exonerated.

    Why Can’t We Be Friends?


    The Virus seems to be putting us at a philosophical crossroad.
    I was listening to some governor on C-Span this morning, who mentioned the use of plasma injections to bestow antibodies from a recovered person into someone who hasn’t been exposed.
    Question: Should the State have the right (power) to milk plasma from someone for this purpose?

    Of course- at first- many people would be happy to participate in this noble endeavor. But upon realizing they would need to be sequestered to prevent other infections from other sources, they may soon tire of being so noble.
    There are a lot of people to inoculate. There probably aren’t very many who make good donors.

    The rights of one vs the needs of many. The needs of one vs the rights of many.

    FWIW, it isn’t The Economy at stake- at least not the one symbolized by The Markets. It’s the economy- the interactions of humans in trading, sharing, working, thriving.
    And it isn’t The Health of of the pieces of meat we all call home at stake as much as it is the health of the minds that drive those bodies.

    Lockdown: A hideous and apt word. Social distancing for unspecified lengths of time: It’s bad for the soul.

    Grim cartoon: man tries to dislodge debris pinning his neighbor in his collapsed house after a tornado has torn through their area. The 2X4 remnant he uses, luckily, is six feet long.


    Lockdown of non essential people and activities.
    Rather scary to be in the non essential group..


    So Dr. D’s “a priori” assumption to his logic is a line from a movie?! He then extrapolates that baseless assumption to make an argument that multiples of that (assumption) would lead to early deaths for 400k people (what ever some vague meaning of “early death” might mean from the movie itself). He asserts the equivalent of it would lead to fewer deaths to just let the virus wash over us like the Cheeto has suggested. Never mind that the health care system will crash because even those insured would overwhelm it. Industry would collapse because no one is going to go to work without some modicum of an expectation that they can do it without dying. If we all had a supply of N95 masks to wear and protective clothing we might have some ability to expand beyond where we are but we don’t have near enough even for the medical community itself. The VA system reportedly is said to have enough if they stick to the guidelines of changing them out once a week. The death rate is as low as it is because of the restrictions that have been put in place to limit the spread. Talk about anti-logos BS.

    The historical facts are counter intuitively just the opposite from Dr D’s assertion. Except for a 2% overall increase in suicides the mortality rate actually goes down during economic downturns with high unemployment. Great Depression and Great Recession being notable examples of studies done. An example….


    “Analysis of various indicators of population health shows that population health did not decline and indeed improved during the Great Depression of 1930–1933. During this period, mortality decreased for almost all ages, and gains of several years in life expectancy were observed for males, females, whites and nonwhites—with the latter group being the group that most benefited. For most age groups, mortality tended to peak—over and above its long-term trend—during years of strong economic expansion (such as 1923, 1926, 1929, and 1936–1937). In contrast, the deep recessions of 1921, 1930–1933, and 1938 coincided with generalized declines in mortality rates and peaks in life expectancy. The only exception to this general pattern was suicide mortality, which increased during the Great Depression, but suicides account for less than 2% of all deaths. Overall, our results show that years of strong economic growth are associated with either worsening health or with a slowing of secular improvements in health.”

    Dr. D

    “The Big Short” was an extensive book before a movie. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short By Michael Lewis , a high-profile longtime financial journalist, including editor, Vanity Fair, schooled at Princeton and London School of Economics and a career at Solomon.

    But here, National Institute of Health:
    “Losing Life and Livelihood: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Unemployment and All-Cause Mortality” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070776/

    Roughly: “According to one meta-analysis of 42 studies involving 20 million people, the risk of death increases 63% when you lose your job.” That sounds bad.

    But if bad economies increase health and life expediency, we’ve being doing it wrong: we need to crash the economy right away and keep it down for good. So the bad economies of Argentina and Mexico lead to what? The sudden bad economy of Russia in 1994, and their change in mortality rates after they began to recover? The mortality of East and West Germany? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5486873/

    But as Bosco says, that was always going to happen. Sure, it was, and now they can divert the blame. But beyond that, they are preventing any economy, that is, us, you, from making actions that help ourselves, while they help themselves to quite a lot of free cash, tests, unchecked power, and medical care.

    Good point about Sweden: it’s not that they’re doing nothing, but they’re doing what people have done about disease for centuries: the vulnerable quarantine themselves, and every man voluntarily takes the risk they are personally willing to. So a small number are quarantined, with a large number working, instead of a large number quarantined with a small number working. It may be we’ve always done that because, as we see, food supplies quickly fail if no one’s working, and lack of food is not good. Masks aren’t made. Roofs cave in. Burglary rises 75% in NYC. http://thejewishvoice.com/2020/04/store-burglaries-up-75-in-nyc-as-possible-civil-unrest-has-many-concerned/ Maybe this way was a good idea. Certainly I’m cooperating with it because “we” seem to have chosen it. However, I can tell you it’s not cost free. It has consequences that are expensive and irrevocable. Like most decisions.

    The rates we see again today with meat packing and NYC teachers, both are 0.02% death rate. That number comes up regularly, although without tests, everything is too anecdotal. What is our cost-benefit? Who pays the costs, and who gets the benefits? Right now the young are paying the costs, and generally the old are getting the benefit. The poor are paying the costs and the rich are getting the benefit. The powerless are paying the costs, and the powerful are getting the benefits. Is this what we wanted? How do we improve?


    Earlier health authorities here have said the virus was highly likely to have been reactivated, instead of the people being reinfected, as they tested positive again in a relatively short time after being released from quarantine. They also said the COVID-19 virus may remain latent in certain cells in the body and attack the respiratory organs again once reactivated.

    Does this mean we’re basically dealing with an airborne HIV? Once we get it, it’s for life?


    ” ….. They also said the COVID-19 virus may remain latent in certain cells in the body and attack the respiratory organs again once reactivated.”

    Question: Is this something that has happen?

    Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox.


    From my observation of the photos shown at the top of TAE daily blog posts, those pictures of people wandering across the country homeless and with only the clothes on their backs – I would assume do not represent the ones whose health improved?
    If you are going to say that crashing the economy is going to make everyone healthier, I guess we can stop worrying about when the big crash is coming…. Sorry but I don’t buy it. Riddle me this:why do poverty and poor health so often go together? It may be that circumstances have changed since the 1930’s when a greater chunk of people lived a subsistence existence. (My dad, whose family lived a subsistence life, has spoken of looking at the poverty line income levels in his youth and whistfully thinking how great it would be if only they had that much money. ). Unfortunately our current economic policies make everyone into wage slaves, and that translates into much greater vulnerability in an economic downturn because we don’t have capacity or access to resources to look after our needs without money.


    Per the study mentioned by Dr. D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070776/

    “The study is a random-effects meta-analysis and meta-regression designed to assess the association between unemployment and all-cause mortality among working-age persons.”

    “Despite its extensiveness, only one systematic review of the unemployment literature has been conducted (see Jin, Shah, & Svoboda, 1995). This review, however, was qualitative in nature and examined multiple health outcomes. A systematic, quantitative review of the association between unemployment and mortality, arguably the most important outcome, has not yet been conducted.”

    A mean hazard ratio of 1.63 for studies done over 40 years (which is the figure you’re quoting) does not translate into massive deaths of the nature and scale you want people to subscribe to. If your theory were correct we would have seen a massive number of deaths after the Great Recession. Will we see a .63 rise in the mean hazard ratio over the next 40 years? Perhaps! Meanwhile people are dying in very significant numbers right now.


    “Every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?”

    “There are roughly 162 million workers in the US, therefore a 1% increase in unemployment corresponds to 1.62 million workers losing their jobs. According to this CDC data, for every 100,000 people aged 25-64 roughly 400 of them will die in a given year. That number comes from averaging the mortality rates for the age groups I assume make up most of the labor force. Therefore, for a given sample of 1.62 million working age people, we expect 6400 of them to die in a given year. This meta-analysis indicates that your risk of death increases by 63% when you lose your job. This means that 10,000 people will die instead of 6400, an increase of 4000 Americans per year. In order for this claim to be true, the increased death rate would have to be 630% instead of 63%.”

    “Many researchers continue to argue that the unemployment-mortality association is spurious. These scholars argue that health selection into unemployment operates through health behavior variables rather than in a direct manner (i.e. the “latent sickness hypothesis”) (Jusot et al., 2008).”

    “In more plain English, people with unhealthy behaviors may be more likely to lose their jobs; Alcoholism can get you fired and lead to an early grave, but getting fired wasn’t what killed you.”

    Dr. D’s cure is a recipe for disaster.


    I’m with Dr D on this.
    Ilargi has become emotively attached to his position from all the posting on the subject.
    In NZ a new group of well-informed leaders has emerged promoting “Plan B” over the current sledgehammer quarantine approach.
    Unlike 99% of the rhetoric on this topic, in a rational world management of Covid response is not a choice between across-the-board lockdown or lasseiz-faire fatalism.
    Here in NZ we have nationwide lockdown for a month, with inside rumour this period will be extended. Across the Tasman in Australia they have a more nuanced set of restrictions. The broad outcomes of both countries are very similar. So to what benefit is taking a nationwide extremist approach, as opposed to a nuanced approach targeted at high population density areas and/or at-risk parts of the population? Absolutely none at all.
    This comparison reminds me of the economic reforms of the 80’s. NZ adopted the IMF’s recommended sledgehammer approach to restructuring the NZ economy. Australia took a more careful and nuanced approach. Roll forward three decades and the Australian economy is significantly stronger the NZ’s. (yes there are many causes for this) But even the IMF in subsequent studies admits their advice was extremely flawed and NZ suffered unnecessarily for decades afterwards (nb: as with now it’s “all care, no responsibility” for the advice providers. The IMF have no liability for promoting their idealogical idiocy of the 80’s, and the current medical modellers and politicians will have zero liability for the costs of their idealogical lockdown.
    My personal metaphor is road speed limits, where risk vs benefit mandates we have different limits in different places. We are fully capable of constructing similar graduated risk mechanisms for managing the Covid risk. I would advocate based on population density (atr a crude level rural vs urban risk) and underlying personal risk (a personal risk score based on medical records held by a person’s GP and correlated with underlying morbidities at risk from Covid).
    Our management systems just don’t have to be the crude blunt instruments we are currently applying.


    And for data, here’s a study comparing the NZ and Australian responses:

    Comparing the New Zealand and Australian states’ responses to COVID-19


    On one hand, we can point out that people with obesity and other bad-lifestyle health vulnerabilities, along with people kept alive past their sell-by, and other “weaksters” like children and those with wasting conditions (like me) are most likely to catch this or any other bug and get seriosuly sick, even die, from same.

    We can use this perspective to blame the death on pre-existing conditions and somehow excuse the virus that actually finished them off.

    This also lets us blame the existing culture in which we live for creating such people. (We create each other in a society. We are each others’ keepers: this is the essence of mutually protective society, like those with armies and physically defined borders. It takes a village to raise people. (Y!M!C!A! 🙂 )

    We can also blame the people whose lifestyles, however culturally inculcated, are nonetheless their personal responsibility in the end.

    We can blame poverty for reducing peoples’ access to the healthier things in life. Poverty, being an abstract concept, has no feelings nor responsibilities nor volitional powers, so it’s an especially easy target.

    We can then blame the socioeconomics that create this poverty. We can also say: “Sure, it (economy) was (very nigh collapse), and now they can divert the blame. But beyond that, they are preventing any economy, that is, us, you, from making actions that help ourselves, while they help themselves to quite a lot of free cash, tests, unchecked power, and medical care.”

    We can say that although doing so indulges a crass falsehood: “they are preventing any economy, that is, us, you, from making actions that help ourselves”

    Apparently, a bit of quarantine prevents us from doing things. Doing things, you see, is how we uh, do things, including survival. Just because we take certain precautions, for a short or even very very long while, to prevent something like we saw in Wuhan (who are not reporting nearly as many deaths as are really happening!, I’ve heard dogmaticvally and absolutely said around here) doesn’t render us helpless. Such periods in fact foment independence and inquiry and new awareness and dialog between neighbors precisely because they’re all sharing this weird new thing, the Time of Corvid. (It’s from an old Tolkien clone fantasy book. 😉 ) Such periods also, at least as claimed in centuries old uncontested epidemiologic theory/history, help save many lives and proviude a better restart to a temporarily subdued economy.

    But, since we are no longer diligently obeying cultural orders* to work 9-5 we are of course incapable of creating anything like personal livelihoods. All we can do is continue obeying Mammon even as the merry Mammonites “help themselves to quite a lot of free cash, tests, unchecked power, and medical care” at our expense unless they’ve finally genetically engineered geese who lay golden eggs and elephants who pee gasoline. We can die like a rat or a man but we certainly lack any initiative or pluck under fire. We are all just fluff in Donald’s hairflow wind, all we are is fluff in the wind…

    *(except you suckers with crazy schedules or worse, gig economy jobs! you losers work whenever we tell you or you’re lucky enough to get a gig!)

    We can blame people for being enslaved fools of Mammon.

    We can blame people for not going to work for Mammon even as Mammon told everyone to ignore this virus and keep going to work until the bodies piled up, whereupon we (return to top of page and blame pre-existing conditions, and then repeat the list).

    I’ve surely missed some of the steps in this dance called the Blame Game, but there are enough for us to figure the rest out. After all, it’s got a bad beat that’s easy to blame to.

    Had Enough?



    “Our management systems just don’t have to be the crude blunt instruments we are currently applying.”

    This is plausibly true, but it doesn’t relate to what’s happening in what VN Vet calls the Western Empire. Here in the WE, blunt instruments of various stripe are being applied too little or too late while too many people argue if it’s an NWO meisterplan or just the consequences of collective human action. In other words, chew-toying another false dichotomy for sake of armchair quarterbacking.

    Here in the WE, blunt instruments, along with those of nuance and subtle finesse, are being chronically MISapplied.

    Poor Ilargi, so helplessly, emotively attached to his perspective… to being an incredibly patient decent chap while people throw ad hominem jello at his windshield and then call him a victim of personal bias, which of copurse is so not a drive-by sliming, an injury to which insult is possibly added by the frightfully high chance that the slimer doesn’t realize that he is sliming. It happens.

    Poor Ilargi, so helplessly, emotively attached to his perspective… while some of us are downright Vulcan in our clear cool Spockian logic detached from all personal emotional bias.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t such a disservice to a fine forum with an especially fine pedigree going way back to one Jay Hanson aka The Claw to a few old Brainfooders.




    Careful with your use of the written word. Your skills will leave the blue collar worker behind.
    Don’t get your shoes shine with spit and polish.
    Millions of workers in the US won’t be getting stimulus checks
    Catherine Shoichet-Profile-Image
    By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

    Updated 3:17 PM ET, Fri March 27, 2020
    Ingrid Vaca says this is her third week without work, and there’s no end in sight.
    “It’s extremely difficult right now. I don’t know what I’m going to do. … I know I’m not going to have enough to pay my rent,” the 57-year-old Virginia housekeeper says.
    “The government is making us invisible. The fact that I’m a person without documents in this country does not mean that I’m not a human being, that I’m not hungry,” she says. “The government uses us when it needs us. … We keep their houses clean, we take care of their children and their elders. And we do it with a lot of love.”
    “This is a crisis moment for hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers and families that don’t have any sort of a basic work protections, like sick leave, like unemployment insurance,” says Sarmiento of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
    Lopez says he has enough money for two or three more days. After that, he’s not sure what the future holds. But he knows he won’t be getting any money from the government to help. Instead, he’ll be turning to his friends and adapting however he can.
    “That’s what we do. … We have to stick together,” he says. “We have to turn to each other.”


    zerosum: it takes all kinds of voices to make this world run aground.

    One never knows, do one?

    Blues Collar

    Doc Robinson

    Speaking of Sweden’s approach…

    Sweden: 22 Scientists Say Coronavirus Strategy Has Failed As Deaths Top 1,000
    (Forbes, April 14, 2020)

    In an opinion piece published today in Dagens Nyheter, the group of researchers from a range of top Swedish universities and research institutes make harsh criticism of the Swedish Public Health Agency and their present coronavirus strategy. They say that elected politicians must now intervene with “swift and radical measures.”

    The researchers say the agency has claimed on four different occasions that the spread of infection has levelled out, despite evidence to the contrary. They point out the slowdown in infections and deaths in Finland, which has implemented much more restrictive measures.



    Jeez boscohorowitz, you sure can spin a helluva lotta words around a paucity of material..

    For the record, I have tremendous respect for Ilargi, and there was no drive-by sliming intended or delivered. What I’ve observed over the past few weeks has been that on this topic Ilargi has adopted a strong and vocal position that has varied negligibly despite the variety of new information arising each day. That’s often a strong indicator of an idealogical attachment to a fixed perspective. On THIS topic.

    Doc Robinson


    As of today, Sweden’s death toll from Covid-19 (deaths per million of total population) is 30% higher than in the USA.

    Source: Worldometer


    “… idealogical attachment to a fixed perspective. On THIS topic.”
    What you say is irrelevant to the decision makers.
    They are not listening. Nobody is listening to us.


    “For the record, I have tremendous respect for Ilargi, and there was no drive-by sliming intended or delivered. What I’ve observed over the past few weeks has been that on this topic Ilargi has adopted a strong and vocal position that has varied negligibly despite the variety of new information arising each day. That’s often a strong indicator of an idealogical attachment to a fixed perspective. On THIS topic.”

    I like words. I like Ilargi. Maybe you should ask him what he thinks rather than tell him. Like I said, sometimes people don’t realize what they’re doing.


    Wow. Bosco is on FIRE! Well done! Wish I had your contemplation and writing skills.


    To make it clear: “Ilargi has become emotively attached to his position from all the posting on the subject.” is an absolute declarative sentence. You didn’t even render the courtesy of saying that *you* think Ilargi etc…


    We are being told to deny what is an essential part of being human: THINGS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO MENTAL HEALTH- hugging, laughing, kissing, talking face to face, gathering, romping, socializing… for the sake of those who may want to forego these things to stay healthy- or they may not. We are being denied our humanity to protect a group whose parameters are ill-defined at best. Vulnerable? Decide for yourself and stay home. Or take your chances. WE USED TO HAVE A CHOICE. Not enough hospital space? That’s a different problem, isn’t it? There are still thousands and thousands of empty hospital beds waiting for patients. Gas is cheap.
    If you cannot see that when a guy in charge tells us we should never ever ever ever shake hands again- is that okay? That world is okay with you? Aren’t the facts bit muddy for that future?
    How are you doing not seeing your grandchildren? How are you doing not seeing your friends? Your lovers? Your associates? Just fine? Oh, you noble person! More power to you as the food chain shuts down; when there is a real shortage of the things you truly need.
    Consider the recent tornadoes: they didn’t set up the usual relief tent. What scares me isn’t that the urge to do so no longer exists-it does- it’s that the authorities said “no” and the good-hearted people said, okay.
    Somethin’s happenin’ here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.

    And the button says: SUBMIT

    V. Arnold

    my parents said know

    Poignant post.
    We have been targeted to received a blizzard of fear by intention. We’re not supposed to think rationally but reactively.
    It’s an organized campaign of control through fear of life and limb.
    We here at The Hermitage are used to a somewhat solitary existence, but not total isolation.
    Last week a seamstress (and friend) we know made us some masks; her mother is 700k north of here in the hospital and Nit cannot visit because of the quarentine; she cried, and my wife and I both gave her a hug; verbotten, I know.
    Some times humanity prevails…
    Don’t let the bastards get you…


    The situation is, sumac.c, fucked. There are many perspectives on what’s most f’d up about this passage.

    Some fear loss of civil liberties. I should, perhaps.

    Some fear economic crash. I should, p’haps.

    Some fear sickness even unto death. I should, p.

    Some fear the loss of contact between our fellows which makes us human. I don’t, because I see people reaching out to others in new ways. Isee my children being forced to confront realities they wouldn’t otherwise, and doing so without me around, which is the reality they’ll have most of their lives. Perhaps I should fear this distance, but I don’t.

    Later on, I may well see people reaching out kindly to each other. Later, I may see them reach out to each other hostilely. Some fear this. I should, p.

    There are many other fears one could add to this package, all of them valid.

    My personal fear is being trapped in one perspective, particularly involving fear, that becomes so central to my sense of understanding that it obscures my awareness of other critical aspects.

    I keeps me options open that way. I rather hate doing what I “should”. I prefer to let the options inform me as they avail rather than tell them when and how to become apparent or apprehensible.

    You should do what you think is right, even if others don’t share your perspective on what’s most important, most right, most wrong. Maybe you should even do what I tell you to do, but I highly doubt that.

    Meanwhile, I Feel So Good

    Why not? I’ve literally nothing better to do than be happy. I’ve tried the other options. Happy’s the one.

    D Benton Smith

    Hullo gang,
    I’m not actually back (having never actually gone away) , but have been lurking faithfully Lo these many years. Thought it might be a good time to start talking again, however, as there seems to be a nontrivial chance that what we humorously call a civilization is on a defective Chinese ventilator. Hopefully we can have keep ourselves occupied talking about what the hell is going on while there’s still something going on to talk about.


    Today was the day of risk, breaking quarantine, by going out for food and meds.

    Toronto grocery shelves are slowly being restocked while many shelves remain completely bare. Milk is still in short supply as dairy farmers continue to dump milk.

    In Ontario, common meds like blood pressure, cholesterol, etc are now only being issued in 30 day amounts rather than the usual 90 day amounts. Clearly there are now shortages of common meds.

    That means for my wife and I, more frequent calls to renew prescriptions and much more frequent outings just to obtain meds. About 8 times a year before now 24 times a year now. That entails more exposure to virus risks mandated by government!

    Noticed about 2/3rds of people shopping are now wearing masks and gloves. Most grocery store employees are not wearing masks. Outside line ups are getting longer too. Cashier lines ups are few, long, and slow too. Shopping takes 2 to 3 times longer, again increasing exposure risks again mandated by government.

    So yes, I can see some people’s argument that governments create more problems than they solve. Governments are setting the stage for their power grab to collapse of its own weight. Just like in the end communism always collapses.

    At some point people will say “enough is enough”! That time period however can be many generations! For Russia, it took about 3 to 4 generations.


    On the subject of writing.

    When it comes to my ability to write, the only encouragement I ever received, was from my Father!

    “Don’t worry, you will make a good engineer!”

    I failed English and Spelling every year in grade school. Teachers always voted thumbs down on me to repeat! No doubt being hard of hearing played a role in all of this.

    My Father always twisted their thumbs to the upwards position! Hard to argue with a man whom you know is your intellectual superior! My Dad was quiet, but you knew as soon as you met him!

    I had many good English teachers who tried their level best to pound the English language into my skull! They would have all cringed mightly, if they had known my future!

    One I remember, in grade 10, was Mr. Black! A man who knew English inside and out! I was terrified of him!
    Well not of him personally but rather of his great knowledge of the English language! I used to sit in the last row slumped down low in the chair, in he hopes he wouldn’t ask me what the hell a certain word’s function in the English language was!

    Was it a noun, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb and all their related cousins?

    “Please don’t ask me Mr. Black because I don’t know and besides I am already having a really bad day, so please don’t make it worst by asking me a question for which I don’t have the answer to!”

    Somehow I managed to survive and escape the terrifying Mr. Black!

    Then in my last semester, I had a technical writer professor. He said if we didn’t know what a noun or verb was, he couldn’t help us, but if we wanted to know how to glue words into sentences and paragraphs, he could help. I am still not sure exactly what he did to me but he did do something terrible to me!

    Then I got a job as a service engineer with a Milwaukee mining equipment manufacturer. Being out in the field, the company demanded weekly job reports so they could keep track of what the hell we were doing!

    You got to remember this was in the good olde days of snail mail and teletype machines. In other words, in the days before instantaneous communications!

    God, I so hated writing these weekly reports! Because I didn’t want to embarrass myself, I spent hours and hours writing these reports which then got read by my many higher ups! Especially if there were problems. There were always problems!

    I wrote weekly job reports for eight long bloody years before they finally kicked me to the curb and put me out of my misery! That was the end of my world wide mining career!

    I returned to Toronto and started working for a plastics injection molding manufacturer.

    I was testing new injection molding machines on the shop floor. The operational sequence of the molding machines was displayed on red LED readouts. It was very tricky to relate the readout numbers to what step the molding machines was performing. So I made and drew up a simplified diagram on a single sheet of paper, to corealate the two functions. I gave copies to the other testers.

    One day a guy shows up with a copy of my diagram! He wanted to know if I made it! Next thing I know I am a technical writer, writing machine and robot manuals!

    You can see where this is heading! Not good!

    A guy who can’t write, writing complex technical manuals! The only thing I know about writing, is a picture is worth a 1,000 words! Imagine earning a living writing! Manuals translated into every major language in the world!

    I swear to God, that God has had it in for me!

    Because I can’t write, he has been punishing me ever since, by making me write on the chalk board, a million times, I will learn to write even if it kills me!

    Honestly, I know I still can’t write very well! I can only glue a string of words together.

    P.S. And another thing! I still can’t spell worth beans! Spell check usually can’t figure out what word I am trying spell. And dam Auto-correct! I don’t need your help to mess things up! I do very nicely all on my own, thank-you!


    People should stay home and demand a jubilee. If there is an unlimited supply of money for the banks (there always is) and the miltary (there always is), then there is enough money to give everyone a six month stay at home paid vacation. Of course some people will need to be working as the economy goes into deep freeze, but most of us should stay at home and refuse to go back. Nobody should go back to work until this corrupt system gets rebooted. The Fed needs to be gutted. The health care system needs to be rebuilt. The FIRE economy needs to be cut down to size. Government support should be redirected to individuals and main street. The military needs to be downsized. Edward Snowden needs to be pardoned. And someone needs to let Julian Assange out of jail.

    Yes, individual unemployment is bad for the soul and bad for health, but it is en entirely different situation when everyone is in the same boat. That’s when social bonds can become even stronger. Collective action becomes possible, and that is exactly what the elites fear.

    The hamsters are not on their treadmills. The horror! They are not paying rent. They are not paying their mortgages. If they were all isolated, they would be terrified of eviction. But not now. No, now they are enjoying life.


    Whoa, I was at work today planting and mulching trees and missed a whole lot of good arguments. I think I am falling with Huskeynut – We are fully capable of constructing similar graduated risk mechanisms for managing the Covid risk. I’ve been thinking to myself for weeks or months now – How can we spend all our energy money and time modelling only one thing – namely flattening that curve? We have no media attention of how those models interact with society. It’s like factory farming – we have a problem (pests or viruses) so we go nuclear with Monsanto or whatever and never look at the broader impacts and certainly do not model them. What are the effects on soil biology? plant health? long term human health? etc.

    And Bosco – I am a big fan of you and your take on things but blame gets allocated sometimes. Sure Dr D likes to neg out and is oft times quite the contrarian (but we kinda love him for it) but he offers a really needed Devils Advocate side to things.
    How can we move forward if we don’t ask – Why is the roof leaking? Well it’s leaking because one of the sheets of tin lifted in the wind. That is blame. I blame the tin. I blame the wind. Now I know I have to fix the roof and blaming only serves us so long ( that roof has to get fixed) but if I don’t try and work out why the roof is filling with water then I’m staying wet.

    Anyway, thought I would weigh in.
    Peace out homies


    I’ve literally nothing better to do than be happy. I’ve tried the other options. Happy’s the one.

    That’s why you are a lighthouse my friend.
    You know what they do.
    You know who they serve.
    Cos we are at sea and think we are lost. But we are like the little waves who think they are all alone and do not know we are the ocean


    “Sure Dr D likes to neg out and is oft times quite the contrarian (but we kinda love him for it) but he offers a really needed Devils Advocate side to things.
    How can we move forward if we don’t ask – Why is the roof leaking? ”

    I am all for finding and exposoing problems. In the process, one should try to not be a problem oneself… and one should especially try not to contradict oneself or repeat obvious falsehoods.

    That’s all.

    D Benton Smith

    I am particularly grateful to WES for his “slice of daily life” observations on what is going on in his immediate environment. He’s in Toronto. I’m a couple hours from St. Louis, and know something about the “normal” conditions and relationships twixt the two places. So, from his report I can (with ‘fuzzy logic’) quickly infer a Scientific Wild Assed Guess (SWAG) about how the machinery of civilization is running in our general ‘north central sector’ of the North American Branch of the Great Western Empire. Conclusion : VERY creaky but not yet dire (mostly). Rationed Meds are due to 80 % of our meds being manufactured In China. If war comes that rationing will tighten and then stop altogether. Advice: cut dosage (with your doctors permission and advice), stockpile the remainder & start practicing a better healthstyle. Grocery Store failure to restock certain items is a quite alarming. The initial “panic buying” phase is long over with . Indeed, foot traffic and sales are down, not up, so if supply chains were normal then those shelves would have been restocked weeks ago. Trucking hasn’t stopped, so what’s going on? My best guess is that staple foodstuffs like wheat, milk, eggs, processed meats and vegetable based proteins are becoming scarcer and scarcer. The U.S. has no Strategic Grain Reserves (as in none, zero, nada, all-gone-now). That would include various grain based animal feed. That’s not insurmountable. We are all too fat anyway, and besides harvest is just 5 or 6 months away, unless something seriously disrupts planting and harvest. Like a pandemic for example.
    My best nightmare is that China knows it must either move now, or put off its dreams of hegemonic world domination for at least another generation. How crazy is Xi ? Fairly rational, actually, too bad he’s not the one calling the shots. That would be our old friends who counterfeit all of our money, own practically everything and tell us what is and what ain’t in the effluvium called “The Media”. Here’s the CCP’s basic calculation : freak now or forever hold their peace. To go toe to toe with the U.S. China requires food, fuel and cannon fodder (of those, fuel is of course the weak link). To prevail in such a conflict the West ( the U.S., basically) needs food money and beachheads.
    Crash the economy and spoil the North American harvest and the Commies could actually pull it off.
    I don’t think they should try it, and I do think they will fail, but I didn’t predict they would preemptively strike with a world spanning bio warfare crime either. “Fool me once … blah blah blah”
    The unthinkable is only unthinkable to those who can’t think (or are in denial.)
    China’s formidable propaganda “machine” far far far exceeds mere weasel words in the fully suborned mainstream media. It penetrates every level of commerce, academia, politics and even Intelligence Services. And the entire focus and thrust of that giant machine has now ONE singular purpose : keep the world (and particularly the United States) in “Denial” for as long as possible.

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