Apr 252020

Jack Delano “Untitled” near Durham, North Carolina 1940


Wuhan Was The Fentanyl Capital Of The World. Then Coronavirus Hit (LAT)
‘Wuhan Plague’ Plaques Are Popping Up Around Atlanta (Vice)
Trump Owed Tens Of Millions To Bank Of China (Pol.)
Trump Doesn’t Owe Bank of China Money (Christopher Balding)
Small Business Owners Asked To Sign PPP Loans Without Forgiveness Pledge (IC)
Small Business Rescue Earned Banks $10 Billion In Fees (NPR)
People In Their 30s And 40s, Barely Sick With COVID19, Die From Strokes (WP)
South Dakota County Offers Drive-Through Covid-19 Testing Friday (Strong)
Nearly 60 New Coronavirus Cases Confirmed On Cruise Ship In Japan (R.)
China Pressured EU To Drop COVID19 Disinformation Criticism (R.)
US Weighs Taking Equity Stakes In US Energy Companies – Mnuchin (R.)
Economics Professor: Australia Would Be ‘Better Off’ Without Lockdown (DM)
Brazil Justice Minister Resigns Over Bolsonaro’s Investigations Meddling (IC)
Denver Health Execss Get Bonuses 1 Week After Workers Asked To Take Cuts (CBS)
Amazon To Be Fined €100K For Every ‘Non-Essential’ Delivery in France (RT)



Daily US coronavirus death toll down sharply in past 24 hours to 1,258, the lowest daily toll in the country in nearly three weeks: Johns Hopkins

4/24/20 – Top 12 State Cases
New York: 271,590
New Jersey: 102,196
Mass : 46,023
Illinois: 39,658
California: 39,254
Pennsylvania: 38,652
Michigan: 36,641
Florida: 30,174
Louisiana: 26,140
Connecticut: 23,921
Texas: 22,806
Georgia: 22,147

• “At least 30 New Yorkers ingested household cleaners in the 18 hours since the president suggested using it to fight #coronavirus”

• “The timing on the bleach stuff is interesting, since the DOJ started cracking down on MMS, the diluted form of bleach being sold as a miracle cure for any disease under the sun on social media… six days ago.”



Cases 2,845,858 (+ 100,389 from yesterday’s 2,745,469)

Deaths 191,791 (+ 6,055 from yesterday’s 185,156 )




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



From Worldometer – NOTE: among Active Cases, Serious or Critical fell to 3%. Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 20%



From SCMP:



From COVID19Info.live: Note: Turkey, Russia, UK are the biggest risers







Keep it locked down.

Wuhan Was The Fentanyl Capital Of The World. Then Coronavirus Hit (LAT)

For drug traffickers interested in getting in on the fentanyl business, all roads once led to Wuhan. The sprawling industrial city built along the Yangtze River in east-central China is known for its production of chemicals, including the ingredients needed to cook fentanyl and other powerful synthetic opioids. Vendors there shipped huge quantities around the world. The biggest customers were Mexican drug cartels, which have embraced fentanyl in recent years because it is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin. But the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan late last year before spreading across the planet has upended the fentanyl supply chain, causing a ripple effect that has cut into the profits of Mexican traffickers and driven up street drug prices across the United States.

Few industries — illicit or not — have been unscathed by the pandemic that has upended the global economy and killed more than 190,000 people worldwide. The narcotics trade, which relies on the constant movement of goods and people, has been stymied by lockdowns, travel bans and other efforts to contain the virus, according to government officials, academic researchers and drug traffickers. Mexican production of fentanyl and methamphetamine appears especially hard hit. Both drugs are made with precursor chemicals that are typically sent on planes or cargo ships from China, where despite U.S. pressure to ban them, they continue to be sold legally. That supply chain was shut down in January when authorities in Wuhan enacted a lockdown that forced residents to stay inside for more than two months.

In February, after a major manufacturer of the chemicals closed, vendors began posting apologies on the online sites where chemicals are typically sold, said Louise Shelley, a professor at George Mason University who tracks global fentanyl production. “They were saying: ‘We’re not producing or selling or shipping,’” she said.

Read more …

The headline says: “racist”. I like everything Winnie.

‘Wuhan Plague’ Plaques Are Popping Up Around Atlanta (Vice)

Racist plaques depicting Winnie the Pooh holding a bat with chopsticks have begun to pop up around Atlanta, and police have no leads as to who is responsible. The round, bronze and teal plaques bearing the words “Wuhan Plague,” referencing the Chinese city where the coronavirus originated, first appeared April 13 on an electrical box in Inman Park, according to Atlanta police. Another appeared three days later at a coffee shop in the neighborhood of Reynoldstown. The most recent incident occurred on April 18 at Atlanta’s Candler Park Market. Winnie the Pooh’s association with Chinese culture originated in 2013 when parody comparisons between the cuddly bear and Prime Minister Xi Jinping went viral on social media — and China then banned Pooh images.

The plaques appeared to be glued to the sites where they were posted. Hodgepodge Coffeehouse owner Kristle Rodriguez said her employees alerted her to the plaque at her site. Rodriguez said she immediately called the cops and the building’s landlord, who quickly removed the plaque. “The adhesive was still wet, meaning this happened late morning or early afternoon,” she wrote in a Facebook post Friday. “This isn’t amusing, funny, politically incorrect, edgy, or punk rock. This is super fucking gross and racist. There’s enough xenophobia and ignorance being spouted from this administration, we certainly don’t need street art reinforcing this shit.”

Read more …

Curious article, because it’s not true.

Trump Owed Tens Of Millions To Bank Of China (Pol.)

But Trump himself has taken on debt from China. In 2012, his real estate partner refinanced one of Trump’s most prized New York buildings for almost $1 billion. The debt included $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China — its first loan of this kind in the U.S. — which matures in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term. Steps from Trump Tower in Manhattan, the 43-story 1290 Avenue of the Americas skyscraper spans an entire city block. Trump owns a 30 percent stake in the property valued at more than $1 billion, making it one of the priciest addresses in his portfolio, according to his financial disclosures. Trump’s ownership of the building received a smattering of attention before and after his 2016 campaign.

But the arrangement with the Bank of China in 2012 has gone largely unnoticed. The questions surrounding Trump’s ties to the Bank of China come as his campaign is claiming that Biden would be a gift to the Communist country and America’s chief economic rival. After the first version of this article was published, the Bank of China issued a statement Friday evening stating that it sold its debt on the building weeks after the 2012 loan on the property. Vornado Realty Trust owns 70 percent of the building. “On November 7, 2012 several financial institutions including the Bank of China participated in a commercial mortgage loan of $950 million to Vornado Realty Trust,” said Peter Reisman, managing director and chief communications officer of Bank of China U.S.A.

“Within 22 days, the loan was securitized and sold into the [commercial mortgage-backed securities] market, as is a common practice in the industry. Bank of China has not had any ownership interest in that loan since late November 2012.”

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Balding explains.

Trump Doesn’t Owe Bank of China Money (Christopher Balding)

Let me explain the deal structure and why Trump doesn’t owe Bank of China money. First, Trump is a minority passive owner of a real estate trust. 30% so not nothing and he is the president but it isn’t even his company. He doesn’t manage it even before he became president 1/n

Second, the nitty gritty of the financing goes like this (and this is very common in general especially in real estate) assume Citibank agrees to lend the building $1 billion to refinance their loan in 2012. Rather than lend the entire $1 billion themselves, Citibank will 2/n

get on the phone to other banks to take a piece of the $1b they need to raise. Let’s assume in this case it was five banks of $400m, $200m, $200m, $100m, and $100m. In this case Bank of China is one of the $200m slots. They lend that company the $1b to refinance their other 3/n

loan. However, the banks aren’t done. They don’t want to make a 10 year loan on real estate when they make more money from fee and churn of debt securities. So right after they made they $1b loan, Citibank lawyers (I don’t know if it was Citibank just an example) are 4/n

Drafting offering documents to sell off different pieces of the entire $1b loan to investors. The $1b loan is not actually 5 different loans but 5 different injections into a special purpose vehicle that is capitalized with the loan capital from those banks. The SPV 5/n

Which will receive the annual payments then sells off pieces of the loan in say $10m or $25m increments to investors. The banks then receive all of their original loan back as the entire $1b is sold off piece by piece. Typically, banks will have capital out on these projects 6/n

Read more …

In the US, small is ugly.

Small Business Owners Asked To Sign PPP Loans Without Forgiveness Pledge (IC)

Randy George had never laid anyone off in his 20 years running his bakery and café in Middlesex, Vermont. But after Vermont Gov. Phil Scott shut down restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus, half of his sales disappeared virtually overnight. He’s had to put 28 of the staff of Red Hen Baking Co. on furlough. George decided to sign up for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, created by Congress’s CARES Act relief bill to help small business owners stay afloat. At first, the program was funded with $350 billion, an amount that ran out about two weeks after it began; Congress is now working on a deal to add another $320 billion.

The key feature of these loans, which are being run by the Small Business Administration, is that they are supposed to be entirely forgiven if an owner spends most of the money on payroll and doesn’t lay anyone off. The details of how that forgiveness will work, however, are far from clear, making some small business owners wary to use it at all. In bank loan contracts reviewed by The Intercept, owners have been asked to sign onto terms that said that “forgiveness may apply” or “all or part of the Loan may be forgiven” — releasing the banks from liability but giving business owners no contractual guarantee of loan forgiveness, or even guidance on how to comply with the rules or how to pursue it. One didn’t mention forgiveness at all. The application materials, which are produced on SBA letterhead, have even fewer details.

“Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities,” most applications read. No other information is offered about what “covered” means. The CARES Act contains some details about how these are defined, but it’s buried in an almost 900-page bill. And no concrete information has been given to small business owners about how they should go about getting their loans forgiven. Some owners were told that to gain forgiveness, they’d have to submit a request to their banks. Others were told that they have to go straight to the SBA. That’s left many people questioning whether the loans will indeed be converted to grants at all. “The keystone, the cornerstone of this program is not assured,” George said.

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Won’t surprise a single soul.

Small Business Rescue Earned Banks $10 Billion In Fees (NPR)

Banks handling the government’s $349 billion loan program for small businesses made more than $10 billion in fees — even as tens of thousands of small businesses were shut out of the program, according to an analysis of financial records by NPR. The banks took in the fees while processing loans that required less vetting than regular bank loans and had little risk for the banks, the records show. Taxpayers provided the money for the loans, which were guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. According to a Department of Treasury fact sheet, all federally insured banks and credit unions could process the loans, which ranged in amount from tens of thousands to $10 million. The banks acted essentially as middlemen, sending clients’ loan applications to the SBA, which approved them.

For every transaction made, banks took in 1% to 5% in fees, depending on the amount of the loan, according to government figures. Loans worth less than $350,000 brought in 5% in fees while loans worth anywhere from $2 million to $10 million brought in 1% in fees. For example, on April 7, RCSH Operations LLC, the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, received a loan of $10 million. JPMorgan Chase & Co., acting as the lender, took a $100,000 fee on the one-time transaction for which it assumed no risk and could pass through with fewer requirements than for a regular loan. In total, those transaction fees amounted to more than $10 billion for banks, according to transaction data provided by the SBA and the Treasury Department.

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As he used a needlelike device to pull out the clot, he saw new clots forming in real time around it.

People In Their 30s And 40s, Barely Sick With COVID19, Die From Strokes (WP)

Thomas Oxley wasn’t even on call the day he received the page to come into Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. There weren’t enough doctors to treat all the emergency stroke patients, and he was needed in the operating room. The patient’s chart appeared unremarkable at first glance. He was male, no medications, no history of chronic conditions. He had been feeling fine, hanging out at home during the lockdown like the rest of America, when suddenly, he had trouble talking and moving the right side of his body. Imaging showed a large blockage on the left side of his head. Oxley gasped when he got to the patient’s age and covid-19 status: 44, positive.

The man was among several recent stroke patients in their 30s to 40s who were all infected with the virus. The median age for that type of severe stroke is 74. As Oxley, an interventional neurologist, began the procedure to remove the clot, he observed something he had never seen before. On the monitors, the brain typically shows up as a tangle of black squiggles – “like a can of spaghetti,” he said – that provide a map of blood vessels. A clot shows up as a blank spot. As he used a needlelike device to pull out the clot, he saw new clots forming in real time around it. “This is crazy,” he remembers telling his boss.

Reports of strokes in the young and middle-aged – not just at Mount Sinai but in many other hospitals in hard-hit communities – are the latest twist in our evolving understanding of the mysteries of covid-19. Even as the virus has infected nearly 2.8 million people worldwide and killed 195,000 as of Friday, its origins, biological mechanisms and weaknesses continue to elude top scientific minds. Once thought to be a pathogen that primarily attacks the lungs, it has turned out to be a much more formidable foe – affecting nearly every major organ system in the body.

Read more …

Small is beautiful. A lot of the solutions will have to come from communities.

South Dakota County Offers Drive-Through Covid-19 Testing Friday (Strong)

A health center in Stanley offered one of the first COVID-19 test drive through services in the state that did not require symptoms or pre-screening. As southern Mountrail County continues to be a hotspot for COVID-19, one medical center stepped up to offer free drive through testing without an appointment. At least 160 cars came through the testing site in Stanley from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with some holding as many as nine people who wanted to be tested. “We’re preparing probably to do between three and 400 tests,” said Dr. Rich Laksonen. Stanley is not in the southern part of the county, but Laksonen said the center wanted to help the state learn more about where the virus is spiking in the county.

“Being that we are the facility that services the count, we saw that need to determine where in Mountrail County these hotspots are located,” said Laksonen. Laksonen said they were compelled to drop restrictions on the site making it “no appointment, or symptoms necessary.” It’s one of the only in the state. “We also wanted our residents in northern Mountrial County to come in and get a test whether we have symptoms or not,” he said. Laksonen said the community was appreciative of the effort. Medical staff say it is too soon to tell how many will test positive. It will take 24 to 48 hours for the dozens of people that came out Friday to know their results.

Read more …

It’s fitting this should be in Japan again.

Nearly 60 New Coronavirus Cases Confirmed On Cruise Ship In Japan (R.)

Nearly 60 new cases of coronavirus infections were confirmed among crew members of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan, domestic media reported on Saturday. With testing of all crew members now complete, the new number, reported by public broadcaster NHK, brings the total infections onboard the Costa Atlantica to around 150, roughly one quarter of the vessel’s 623 crew members. TV Asahi said 57 crew members tested positive. The infection cluster onboard the vessel docked in Nagasaki comes as hospitals are running out of beds in some parts of Japan, where the national tally of virus cases has risen above 12,800. Some 345 people have died.

Of those infected onboard the Costa Atlantica, only one crew member has been admitted to hospital, NHK said, while others remain on board, having shown slight or no symptoms. The vessel has been docked in Japan since February for repairs and maintenance after the pandemic prevented scheduled repairs in China. Nagasaki authorities had quarantined the vessel on arrival, and ordered its crew not to venture beyond the quay except for hospital visits. But prefecture officials said earlier this week that some of the crew had departed without their knowledge, and sought detailed information on their movements.

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And China refuses an international investigation.

China Pressured EU To Drop COVID19 Disinformation Criticism (R.)

China sought to block a European Union report alleging that Beijing was spreading disinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, according to four sources and diplomatic correspondence reviewed by Reuters. The report was eventually released, albeit just before the start of the weekend Europe time and with some criticism of the Chinese government rearranged or removed, a sign of the balancing act Brussels is trying to pull off as the coronavirus outbreak scrambles international relations. The Chinese Mission to the EU was not immediately available for comment and China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to faxed questions about the exchange. An EU spokeswoman said “we never comment on content or alleged content of internal diplomatic contacts and communication with our partners from another countries.”

Another EU official said that the disinformation report had been published as usual and denied any of it had been watered down. Four diplomatic sources told Reuters that the report had initially been slated for release on April 21 but was delayed after Chinese officials picked up on a Politico news report hat previewed its findings. A senior Chinese official contacted European officials in Beijing the same day to tell them that, “if the report is as described and it is released today it will be very bad for cooperation,” according to EU diplomatic correspondence reviewed by Reuters. The correspondence quoted senior Chinese foreign ministry official Yang Xiaoguang as saying that publishing the report would make Beijing “very angry” and accused European officials of trying to please “someone else” – something the EU diplomats understood to be a reference to Washington.

The four sources said the report had been delayed as a result, and a comparison of the internal version of the report obtained by Reuters and the final version published late Friday showed several differences. For example, on the first page of the internal report shared with EU governments on April 20, the EU’s foreign policy arm said: “China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic and improve its international image. Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.”

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Yeah, let’s buy us some shale.

US Weighs Taking Equity Stakes In US Energy Companies – Mnuchin (R.)

The U.S. government is considering taking equity stakes in U.S. energy companies as it seeks to help the nation’s oil and gas sector amid the coronavirus outbreak, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday. President Donald Trump, speaking at a White House event with Mnuchin, said he wants to help industry and suggested the federal government could buy fuel for the country in advance as well as purchase airline tickets in advance. “We’re looking at a whole bunch of alternatives,” Mnuchin said. “You can assume that’s one of the alternatives, but there’s many of them,” Mnuchin said, referring to possible equity stakes.

The oil sector has been hit hard by a dramatic drop in demand as the coronavirus has effectively shut down economies around the globe. “The energy business is very important to me, and we’re going to build it up. This really hurt the energy business as much as any other business because it totally knocked out – the supply kept coming,” Trump said. Trump helped negotiate a reduction in output from OPEC and other countries including Russia, but the move has not removed the market’s oversupply. The president encouraged Mnuchin to look at buying oil for later use. “The United States is the largest user of oil. We could buy oil at a great price into the future. That gives them the infusion they need, and we have oil at a great price into the future,” Trump said.

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Well, if you wait long enough… Meanwhile, there are no buyers for your products anyway, so why bother?

Economics Professor: Australia Would Be ‘Better Off’ Without Lockdown (DM)

An economics professor has been slammed as ‘cold’ and ‘heartless’ for suggesting Australia prioritised health over the economy by going into coronavirus lockdown. University of New South Wales Professor Gigi Foster sparked outrage from fellow panellists and other economic professors while answering questions about the impacts of shutdown measures on Q&A on Monday. Professor Foster suggested Australia hadn’t properly weighed up the economic consequences of tough restrictions introduced to reduce the death toll, and argued the ‘economy is about lives’ too. ‘What frustrates me is when people talk about the economic costs of the lockdown they often don’t think in detail in terms of counting lives,’ Professor Foster said.

‘Has anyone thought about how would you get a measure of the traded lives when we lock an economy down? What are we sacrificing in terms of lives? ‘Economists have tried to do that and we try to do that in currencies like the value of a statistical life. ‘If you do that kind of calculus you realise very quickly that even with a very, very extreme epidemic, in Australia, we are still potentially better off not having an economic lockdown in the first place because of the incredible effects that you see. ‘Not just in a short-run way but in many years to come.’ Her views prompted a shocked response from fellow panellists on the ABC program.

‘How can you say that?’ ACTU secretary Sally McManus fired back. ‘We’re avoiding what’s happened in the UK, what’s happening in the US, the idea of having our ICUs overrun, our healthcare workers dying as well is just the most horrible thought.’ ‘It’s horrible either way,’ Professor Foster replied. ‘The coronavirus has made the world awful. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. ‘In order to have a proper discussion about trade-offs, you need to think in terms of lives you’re giving up. ‘I know it’s invisible lives and difficult to imagine when we aggregate, for example, all of the health effects and the mental health effects and the effects of people right now who have illnesses other than COVID-19.’

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Moro is no Mother Teresa himself.

Brazil Justice Minister Resigns Over Bolsonaro’s Investigations Meddling (IC)

As the country slept Friday morning, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired the Federal Police Director Maurício Valeixo, bringing to a head a long-simmering battle with Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Moro, in turn, promptly resigned — in a new, major episode of deepening chaos in Brazilian politics. The official notice firing the Federal Police head bears Moro’s digital signature, but in a press conference Friday morning, the outgoing justice minister claimed that he was not informed of the move and did not sign the document. This and other revelations made by Moro could serve as grounds for impeachment, if the Brazilian body politic can muster the political will to support such a drastic measure. Members of Congress are already gathering signatures for a congressional inquiry into Moro’s allegations.

In his press conference, Moro suggested that Bolsonaro removed Valeixo because the president opposed investigations being conducted by the Federal Police. “He was concerned about investigations underway in the Federal Supreme Court and that a change would also be opportune at the Federal Police,” Moro said of Bolsonaro’s thinking. Moro said Bolsonaro’s concerns were not a reasonable justification for firing Valeixo, but added that he nonetheless searched for “an alternative solution, to avoid a political crisis during a pandemic.” In the end, Moro said, “I understood that I could not set aside my commitment to the rule of law.”

Notably, the Federal Police are conducting several investigations that could impact Bolsonaro, his politician sons, and several members of their inner circle. Moro loomed large over Brazilian politics during the past several years, even before he accepted Bolsonaro’s offer to serve as justice minister. He was the judge at the center of the influential Operation Car Wash anti-corruption investigation that put former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in prison, removing the popular politician from the 2018 presidential election and clearing the way for Bolsonaro’s victory. When he entered government, Moro was among the most popular political figures in the country and was seen as an important ally for Bolsonaro, but also as a potential rival in the 2022 elections.

The ex-judge’s standing, however, was seriously weakened after The Intercept began publishing an explosive series, in English and Portuguese, on malfeasance and potential illegal actions by Moro and Car Wash prosecutors. As a result of the series, Lula was eventually released from prison.

Read more …

Is there anything more American?

Denver Health Execss Get Bonuses 1 Week After Workers Asked To Take Cuts (CBS)

Top executives at Denver Health Medical Center received significant bonuses this month for their performance in 2019, ranging from $50,000 up to $230,000, one week after frontline hospital workers were asked to voluntarily take leave without pay or reduce their hours as the hospital dealt with the financial downturn resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. On April 3, Denver Health CEO Robin Wittenstein emailed hospital workers noting “the current situation will stress us financially.” She announced a hiring freeze and asked employees to voluntarily take leave without pay, use personal time off or reduce their normal work week.

“The goal is to reduce our total salary expense without the need to lay off employees or implement mandatory PTO/furloughs,” wrote Wittenstein. She said the hospital was also considering mandating workers to use their paid time off, mandatory leave without pay and other steps. “The goal is to avoid these extreme measures if at all possible,” she wrote. One week later, on April 10, Wittenstein and her executive staff saw their 2019 Management Incentive Plan bonuses deposited into their bank accounts.

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Macron pleasing the unions AND his small businesses.

Amazon To Be Fined €100K For Every ‘Non-Essential’ Delivery in France (RT)

Amazon will face a fine each time it delivers non-essential goods in France until it improves the safety conditions of its workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The company earlier closed its warehouses in protest. On Friday, an appeals court in Versailles, outside Paris, upheld last week’s ruling, which restricted Amazon’s French warehouses to only shipping IT products, health items, groceries and pet food until it ensures the safety of its workers. Jeff Bezos’ e-commerce giant was given 48 hours to comply with the ruling, and will be fined €100,000 ($108,020) for every delivery that doesn’t meet the court’s requirements.

On April 14, a court ruled that Amazon had failed to guarantee the safety of its workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and said that the company must submit an updated professional risk assessment before it can resume full operations. Amazon argued that it had already updated its work safety protocols and introduced disease-control measures to prevent its workers from being infected with the coronavirus. Following the ruling on April 14, the company completely shut down its French warehouses until Saturday.

Read more …


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Home Forums Debt Rattle April 25 2020

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 47 total)
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  • #57878

    Jack Delano “Untitled” near Durham, North Carolina 1940   • Wuhan Was The Fentanyl Capital Of The World. Then Coronavirus Hit (LAT) • ‘Wuhan Plag
    [See the full post at: Debt Rattle April 25 2020]

    V. Arnold

    Jack Delano “Untitled” near Durham, North Carolina 1940

    I like that picture. Everybody happy to pose for Jack.
    Do they know, or even suspect, what’s coming…

    Celina Lin:
    What a great way to explain futures contracts…
    …and negative oil prices… 😉




    cut and paste


    I remember when I believed that the “reporters” job was to investigate and find news to report to the poor ignorant rif-raf


    There is certainly a diversity of viewpoints here, but also some glue that holds us together. And our shared perspective is certainly at odds with the establishment narrative, which is nonstop mind- and soul-destroying propaganda. The more we can do to expedite the natural demise of this corrupt system, the better. This is our duty. Can we agree on a blueprint of 95 theses to nail to the door?

    Ex-PFC Chuck

    Just a nit, but Mountrail County is in northwestern North Dakota, not South Dakota. It’s 300 or so miles from the SD hotspot in Sioux Falls, SD.

    John Day

    T​here has never been a successful vaccine for any coronavirus in all of human history, and now that scientists have discovered approximately 30 different strains of the virus that will just make the task of trying to develop a vaccine even more complicated.
    ​ ​Sadly, the reality of the matter is that this virus is going to be with us for a very long time to come. Eventually herd immunity will hopefully be achieved, but until then a lot of people are going to get sick and a lot of people are going to die.
    ​ ​And fear of this virus is going to be with us for a long time to come as well, and that is going to paralyze our economy whether there are lockdowns or not.
    ​ ​The bottom line is that this virus is not going to be stopped, and the economic collapse that has now begun is not going to be stopped either.

    The Facts That Prove That Almost Everyone Is Wrong About This Coronavirus Pandemic

    ​ Clif sends this article, which looks at the propaganda-narrative war between the US and China about the origin of this viral plague, and where the blame might be assigned. This is a battleground for global hearts and minds between an aging empire, and a much older, but rising empire. (Are there any other options I can have?)​
    ​ ​The political and media class in the United States is doing all it can to inculcate the public with the idea that China is to blame for Covid-19. With over forty thousand Americans dead from the virus, this narrative has tremendous propaganda power. But the more information is revealed about the details surrounding the origins of the virus, the more vulnerable Washington’s narrative becomes.

    ​Referenced in that article is this article, Last Man Standing, from a month ago, which makes the case that the current global pandemic, first apparent to us in Wuhan, in January, was seeded there by American military participants in the global military game in Wuhan. Some of the Americans got really sick with something, had to be hospitalized and couldn’t compete in their events. Could have been coronavirus, as we look back.
    The soldiers stayed in a hotel near the wet-market, and trained near Ft Detrick, Maryland.
    Enticing circumstantial evidence. There’s more.​

    David Stockman: (​He’s ​73 years old​, and I’m not taking-his-side, but presenting it.​)
    ​ ​I think for once, Donald Trump was right when he worried out loud the other day that the cure may be far worse than the disease.
    ​ ​Governors – mostly Democratic governors and mayors of major areas of the country – have imposed Lockdown Nation. It’s a complete economic disaster.
    ​ ​It’s a wrong policy from a public health point of view and an economic point of view.
    ​ ​It is hitting, like a ton of bricks, a highly fragile and vulnerable economy that was living hand to mouth anyway because of the kind of highly counterproductive monetary and fiscal policies and debt build-up we’ve had over the last 30 years.
    ​ ​If you look at the data for New York—which is the epicenter of the whole COVID-19 pandemic—it is abundantly clear that COVID is not some kind of latter-day Black Death plague that takes down the young, the old, the healthy, the sick, and everyone in between.
    ​ ​It is a kind of super winter flu that strikes fatally, almost entirely, the elderly population that is already afflicted with many life-threatening medical conditions—or what the technicians call comorbidities.
    ​ ​The shutdown, which I call the “plenary lockdown policy,” is wrong. Closing all the businesses except a tiny, arbitrary set of essential operations is courting disaster for no good reason.​..
    ​ For those under 50 years of age in the state of New York, the death rate is slightly under 5 per 100,000.
    That isn’t a disaster. That isn’t a plague or a calamity.

    ​ ​Just think of when, in the debates with Bernie Sanders during the spring, you had Biden, and Klobuchar keep saying, ‘What we’re paying for Medicare-for-All will be $1 trillion over 10 years.’
    Well here the Fed can create $1.5 trillion in one week just to buy stocks.
    ​ ​Why is it okay for the Fed to create $1.5 trillion to buy stocks to prevent rich people from losing on their stocks, when it’s not okay to print only $1 trillion to pay for free Medicare for the entire population? This is crazy!
    ​ ​The idea that only the rich should be allowed to print money for themselves, but the government should not be allowed to print money for any public purpose, any social purpose — not for medicine, not for schools, not for personal budgets, not for full employment — but only to give to the 1 percent. People hesitate to think that.
    ​ ​They think, ‘It can’t possibly be this bad.’ But those of us who have worked on Wall Street, for 50, 60 years in my case, that’s what the numbers show.
    ​ ​And that’s why you don’t have the media talking about actual numbers. They talk about, you know, just words, and they use euphemisms, and it’s the kind of Orwellian vocabulary, describing an inside-out world that they’re talking about.

    Transcript – US coronavirus ‘bailout’ scam is $6 trillion giveaway to Wall St – Economist Michael Hudson explains


    “In the US, the number of deaths passed 50k on Friday while the case total passed 900k early Saturday, leaving the country well on the way to the 1 million case mark. The US would be the first country to report 1 million confirmed cases. “

    Don’t listen to Trump.

    The country with the lowest numbers is number one.


    vicod19 attacking all the care homes in the world by the workers

    Show me the data, study, to prove that the care homes were infected by the workers working in multiple care homes.
    In the USA Patient zero was a senior, in a care home on the west coast. Make the link to all the care homes across Canada and USA.
    I don’t think that was even possible, probable or feasible for vicod-19 to have infected the weak people, in all the care homes in the world, in any pattern you could draw.


    And we’re over 200,000 deaths globally


    Its hard to do edits.


    “Randy George had never laid anyone off in his 20 years running his bakery and café in Middlesex, Vermont…He’s had to put 28 of the staff of Red Hen Baking Co. on furlough.”
    That’s our favorite bread about 10 miles from here, and there is not as much of it available as pre-pandemic.

    D Benton Smith

    For the sake of you all letting me get through this comment to it’s conclusion before dismissing me out of hand as a pontificating ivory tower philosopher, let’s just stipulate upfront that we ARE now in a situation that poses a significant threat to our lives and/or well being in one way or another.

    In any disaster that’s serious enough to significantly threaten your life there are just TWO immediate objectives:

    #1. Do whatever it takes to remain alive. If there is mortal danger, then don’t fall victim. Don’t get dead. If it’s a false alarm then make your call on whether it is or not and proceed accordingly. In either case, you HAVE TO BE ALIVE in order to move on to the next vitally important step.

    #2. Do whatever it takes to prevent this sort of shit from ever happening to you again.

    Now there is one additional major point to make, which is also painfully simple (although not at all obvious) and that is the plain fact that . . .

    . . . those places (or systems) that come through the crisis with the least amount of damage are going to have a distinct advantage (at least temporarily) over those people that get the stuffings kicked out of them. ( example: New York and Washington had a much nicer 1946 than Berlin and Hiroshima.)

    If you need or want to know what is going to happen next in this house of mirrors then look to those places (and systems) that are traversing and emerging from the crisis in relatively undamaged condition. These places are simply the ‘who/what/where’ that they are, and probably NOT AT ALL WHO YOU EXPECTED.

    Senegal, Africa, for example. https://youtu.be/tqKBNQzEROc

    And why are these TYPES of enclaves of reason the right places to look for role models and crystal ball into the future? Because they are the ones best applying objectives #1 and #2 (above.)

    I can tell you with extremely high probability (i.e. 100%) that having just been through a more or less existential threat to existence EVERYBODY is going to do their damnedest to make sure nothing like this ever happens to them again. If the Covid 19 debacle was any kind of serious then you can bet the farm that the people who emerge from are going to be even MORE serious. No more bullshit.

    They are going to at least TRY do whatever it takes to never have a replay of this pandemic, or any similar threat to their physical and financial health. Those two objectives SHALL be the narrow focus of everybody’s actions going forward, and until further notice.

    I strongly recommend RE-examining the information and projections and solutions in terms of the above facts. Is the WHO a dead monster walking (thus safely now ignored) or does it require a proactive coups de grace? Is electro-finance (as per usual) going to recover or is the smart money moving into local agriculture and cottage industry?

    The answers to both questions is already out there, in usually overlooked places. Heads up.


    D Benton Smith

    Now there is one additional major point to make ….
    the smart money moving ….

    I would think that “we” at TAE have the smart but our actions are limited by the amount of money that we have to set up our “safe zone”.
    (oppps! Also limited by our age, and health)

    Dr. D

    This will get down into the rocks of why we are ruled by a minority.

    Okay, we print $1T, $10T for health care. What then? One, it goes passthrough to the exact same billionaires who hijacked and killed our former semi-capitalist system from the 80s. That’s why they wrote ACA, why prices rose 10%pa for 10 years before and after, and why their stocks spiked when it passed. So you wouldn’t be providing health care, you be providing free profits. Which is the same as now, but without a fake pizzeria out front for the organized crime money laundering all the policemen know about. Considering what health care has been doing since 1990, that may even be more efficient. I’ve never seen anyone waste resources like they do.

    But more important, if they did print money, bail out, ACTUAL health care, or ACTUAL people, those small individual people would immediately trade for resources. That is, time, bandages, medicines, lawn mowers, roof shingles, and as those people get paid, everything else: steak dinners, nice dresses, Mexican vacations, heavy shoes… What does that mean? $10T in INFLATION. So?

    So if you hand $10T, or most of it, to a few insiders like Zuck and Bezos and Gates, they DO NOT BUY anything. They hoard it and use the added leverage to tell people what to do. Like kill themselves by the thousands in Gates and Bezos’ case. NO inflation. = System goes on and does not die. = No one is mad, or at least not as mad as if you HAD destroyed the system like Argentina.

    This is why you can only bail out the few and not the many. Because if you bailed out the many with the many, you’d have pulled yourself up by your own ankles. Bailouts, governments, billionaires, can ONLY ever TAKE money from the majority and give it to their own minority selves. With a slick con job over top. How could everyone take from everyone and everyone get rich? If we did that it would be free trade and a voluntary market, that is, capitalism. Least-bad, least-expensive, most efficient, and what they can’t stand, not controlled, chaotic and unorganized as the people it’s made of.

    So of course the point is well-taken: it’s about priorities. We buy real military goods and suffer the real inflation and loss that creates. That’s literally what Eisenhower’s speech was about, and about the danger of this EXACT minority, a secret one according to Kennedy, that would do this, extract from the majority for their own power and to our own destruction, perhaps total. All I’m adding is the technical reason of why it can only happen in one direction, which is why you can never set up a system of government redistribution since it MUST and can ONLY be used this way. And that recommends therefore smaller governments that do NOT print money for health care because not only won’t they, they mathematically can’t. 2nd law of thermodynamics. No free lunch. Europe you say? Which only pays high services with very high taxes, and only because they use our multi-billion military force for free.

    So as they print $10T (already) it will again double over every time period, so $20T by June, $40T by December and so on until that money finally reaches the people, which is the only place this black hole of compounding debt could actually ‘repair’ the economy. When it does, we will have all that backlog of inflation, and the system will stop because they broke the only rule: money can only be redistributed FROM the poor. Bailouts can only be for the few, the rich. But it needed to end and I’m not sorry to see it go. This lesson that everyone cannot live at everybody else’s expense and that we live and eat through work, are only the best possible reasons to turn.

    Maybe then we can all work, all get the fruits of our labors, and all understand that no one prospers by theft. Til we do it all over again.

    D Benton Smith


    There is certainly a lot of smart in the TAE cohort , but I suspect a lot of years as well. I, for one, am definitely a geezer (72).

    Advanced age changes both perspective and skin in the game, both of which then necessarily change the strategy. My strategy is unavoidably different than the strategy of a young couple with toddlers (and on top of that my own life has been so extremely unconventional that it’s utterly unusable as a model for anyone .) Some of the specific skills acquired, however, are very much applicable by anyone at any time.

    Foremost among the implements in this modest tool bag is the certain knowledge that the present moment (and all of its conditions) are the absolutely inevitable consequence of previous actions by someone or other. In other words, you can’t change the past. But being totally honest about what the past really was can help direct the little bit of power we have to shape the present ( and the future consequence of the things we do in shaping the present with some goal in mind.)

    If there is a present lack of resources like time, money, possessions or mobility to achieve an immediately desired objective then that is just a fact. And that fact is the consequence of earlier actions by self and others. It’s worth noting, too, that no matter where someone is on the scale of ‘have and have not’ there will still be the feeling of lacking resources needed to get some particular wanted thing’

    All you can do then (in fact all any of us can do, at any time ) is to recalculate the problem into terms of “what must I achieve that is within the capacity of the resources which I either have now or can get my hands on in time to help.”

    The bitter irony is that this problem is the SAME problem faced by both Bill Gates, and the Ethiopian herdsman who is one goat away from death by starvation.

    Sure wish I could paint a kinder picture of the clockwork we live in, but to the absolute best of my knowledge the only bright spot is that we demonstrably do have awareness and free will. With them we not only will but shall do the best we can with what we’ve got.


    An example of something along the line of DBS’s two objectives and smart responses….

    Viet Nam



    “The soldiers stayed in a hotel near the wet-market, and trained near Ft Detrick, Maryland.”
    US to blame? What advantage does a military contingent offer in an intentional virus release, that an agent posing as obscure tourist can’t accomplish leaving little to trace/blame. And if carried there because of an accidental release by a US lab, I would have expected rest home wipe-out in the US far in advance of the January “discovery”.
    Rather, the games offered a rather unique distribution opportunity to infect the military personnel of the world. Who had the most to gain? Should we expect a surprise military action in the next few weeks? They would be the guilty party.

    John Day

    @ Dr.D
    I get what you are saying about only being able to redistribute from the poor to the rich, but it’s just not so.
    Marx explained that laborers must be included in the market as the market, by getting a significant amount of the excess production of their labor, not-merely-the-minimum-to-survive.
    Michael Hudson really does know what the world looks like from the control-panel of the panopticon.
    He repeats himself constantly, but it’s still ok to listen to what he says, even just once.
    Caitlin Johnstone has a really good presentation today, about being born into humanity.

    Birth From The Second Womb

    “We talk a lot about politics and revolution in this space, but in reality what we’re really waiting for is humanity’s birth from its second womb. For the human species to drastically shift from its second-womb relationship with mental narrative, wherein it can always be propagandized toward self-destructive behavior, into a relationship where thought is no longer a story to be compulsively believed but a tool to be used freely to create beautiful things.”

    D Benton Smith

    Karl Marx was doing just fine until he got to the part about proposing solutions. His solutions are hog wash just on the face of it, and truly insane if you care to drill down.
    So, I guess you could say with some fairness that he was HALF right. He was only thinking about HALF of the paradigm, so it’s no surprise that he only came up with HALF the answer.

    He was, in other words, not too much better or worse than the rest of us : a halfwit

    Doc Robinson

    Regarding Dr D’s warnings about inflation resulting if something like “Medicare for All” was set up in the USA, I’d like to point out…

    “Today, the United States spends more than $3.2 trillion a year on health care… At $10,000 per person, the United States spends far more on health care per capita and as a percentage of GDP than any other country on earth in both the public and private sectors while still leaving 28 million Americans uninsured and millions more under-insured.” [according to Bernie Sanders]

    So if these large amounts of money are already being spent, how can making the system more efficient (cutting out the insurance company middleman profits and negotiating drug prices down) be necessarily inflationary?


    This is a Whitney Webb article from over at The Last American Vagabond. I consider her so good that I wonder why she’s still alive.
    The Subsidy Effect: If widgets cost 10 and you have to have one and the government subsidizes them at 10, then widgets soon cost 20. Hyper-wealthy people benevolently petition the government to raise the subsidy to 20- hell, 30, 40, 100. Instant inflation.
    A real economy is labor producing output- food, widgets, services, infrastructure, art, tech, science, entertainment, etc. Labor ought to be THE asset in a real economy. Labor makes something and sells it to someone who uses that capital (NOT necessary, but highly convenient- barter works, too) to buy something someone else made, etc.
    I read that data is the new oil. Check out the government report Webb highlights. Be very afraid.

    Get rid of the [every expletive I can think of] “smart”phone.


    “why she’s still alive”
    An rotten choice of words on my part- may the gods of journalism keep her safe.


    “…. to raise the subsidy to 20- hell, 30, 40, 100. Instant inflation.”
    If the wages are not raise to be greater than inflation, then too many people/customers cannot afford the product.
    FORD had the right idea but the rich business men were afraid to do the same. Therefore, that possible social/economic structure died at birth.

    D Benton Smith

    My Parents Said Know

    That’s okay because we knew what you meant. Like my Dad used to say, “Take me by what I mean, not by what I misspell”.

    Whitney is a world class world treasure investigator, and obviously ain’t skeered.

    V. Arnold

    The more we can do to expedite the natural demise of this corrupt system, the better. This is our duty. Can we agree on a blueprint of 95 theses to nail to the door?

    I’ve been in for 17 years; go for it… 😉

    Come to think of it: they’ve been doing a splendid job of self destruction all by themselves…
    I’d be at a loss on how to do it any better… or faster. 😉


    A Lesson on the value of Time and Money.

    Working in Africa, I once naively asked an native African why he didn’t work harder?

    In broken English, he replied, “Little money, little work”!

    It hit me like a bolt of lightning, but I grasped instantly what he meant!

    If he worked harder, he then needed to consume more food! The amount of money he received didn’t allow him to buy more food.

    I soon realized from further experiences, nothing happened quickly in Africa.

    If you wanted to make something happen quickly, you had to pay!

    Thus time is money.

    I had the money. They had the time!

    I had a choice!

    I could trade money for time or not!

    I have never forgotten this lesson!


    Today, for the first time up here in Toronto this spring, I broke quarantine and spent several hours raking dead leaves in my backyard, trapped last fall by the arrival of winter snow.

    It was a nice sunny balmy 13 degrees Celsius or 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside!

    Sad to say, the exercise proved what a couch potato I am!


    Another unexpected surprise this weekend is my wife and I are finally free to talk to each other again!

    Ever since my daughter came home, from her coronavirus closed university, we have had to be as quiet as mice, so as not to disturb my daughter studying for and writing her final exams online.

    My wife has a quick temper, and so does my daughter! I wonder where she got that from! Not wanting to be the jam between two slices of bread, I naturally try not to get caught in the middle!

    My wife is also rather forgetful, so she would start trying to talk to me in the kitchen where I hang out as the family’s short order cook! My daughter would then get mad at my wife for making too much noise!

    (My daughter tolerates me better simply because I feed her!)

    It also doesn’t help that my deaf wife likes to talk without her hearing aids on! That means she tends to shout rather than talk! Now you see why my hearing daughter gets upset so easily!

    Oh, yes I almost forgot! The reason we can finally talk again, is my daughter wrote her final exam last night! Hurray!

    Thank God for small mercies!


    V Arnold:

    If I nailed a N95 mask to the door, would that do?


    Again I am with DBS. I think it really is time to muster the will to action. Analysis is good but you can always judge what is going on not by what someone says but by what they do. If you aren’t doing anything then you are just talking. Put plans to work!
    I have, for a long time thought to myself – don’t take life too seriously and pay attention to what Jesus and Buddha are saying regarding illusion and peace of mind – but act as if no one will save your wretched body and life but yourself. Like Dr D is always bangin’ on about – war lords and rich bastards are always looking at a dynamic model of accumulation – and what we have and are is what they are trying always, and with insane determination, to accumulate. Fuck em. I don’t want everything but I want time to laugh, healthy children, clean water and food and the right to access land.
    This is why the crossroads of Permaculture and TAE have been where I stop and take stock. Also why the chinese art of war strategy works best for me (I don’t have Assange’s courage or brain) “Stoop to Conquer”. Keep a low profile my good friends – don’t ruffle too many feathers but don’t give anymore away than you have to in work, time, assets and labour.
    They want your money and stuff – so earn as little as you can. They are not yet costing to come in with bulldozers to rip out your nut trees or soil. They want you to always need them too. Turds. So build your house with mud and straw or sticks or rocks. What ever is on site. I’m preaching to the converted so maybe I sound like a talker but this week I planted about 70 trees for customers and then came home to dig trenches by hand through rocky hard soil with a mattock to install irrigation main line for our 22,500 litre water tank. Infrastructure I own. No fluctuating prices. Pay as you go where ever possible and regard debt as last resort very carefully managed.
    Rambling but pumped. For this 48 year old to have had to good fortune to read and interpret the combined intelligence and analysis of this crowd is humbling. Also V Arnold and DBS – kiss and make up (please). They are just opinions/thoughts and none of us are that special.


    Karl Marx in person.

    In 1983, I got to see, first hand, how the Russians pulled themselves up by their bootstraps!

    Well, first of all their boots didn’t have any straps. At least not in Siberia!

    Maybe if they had tried pulling up on their ankles, it might have worked better?

    Carl Marx’s solutions did not take into account basic human nature.

    You see in Russia, everyone was waiting for the other guy to do the heavy lifting to get to worker’s utopia!

    The problem was the other guy was waiting for them to do the heavy lifting!

    So nobody was doing any lifting, heavy or not!

    Since they all worked for the government, nobody could be held responsible!

    If from drinking the Kool-Aid, you foolishly insisted upon working, the rest of your co-workers would soon make you stop, one way or another, because you would make them look bad!

    Doesn’t that sound pretty much like how our government doesn’t works?

    V. Arnold

    If I nailed a N95 mask to the door, would that do?

    Sure… 😉



    I think what you are trying to say is called a state of confusion!

    If you listen to what a person says and then watch what they do, this creates a state of confusion because they don’t match!

    Naturally, to undo this state of confusion, you just watch what they do, and ignore what they say!

    Trudope says don’t go to the cottage! Trudope goes to his cottage.

    I am going to my cottage!

    See, I am not confused at all!


    I’ve learned that I can’t oppose the system- I must go skew.

    My fear, it doth envelop me
    ‘Til what I fear is all I see.
    I turn my eyes to what is real-
    Then none can manage how I feel.


    Check out the white house’s ai and american industry spiel. Read it and weep.


    V Arnold:

    Glad to see you have kept your sense of humor!

    I left the rat race 19 years ago, so 2 years ahead of you!

    Mind you, I probably got a head start at the ripe old age of 47!

    The usual cycle of life goes something like this: You are born, you grow up, you go to school, you get a job, as you gain work experience supposedly you move up the ladder until you reach your level of incompetence, then your grow old, then you retire, then in your golden years you lose your marbles before regressing to your childhood, then you end up in a nursing home, then you die. These days of the coronavirus, of course!

    So, you start life being a dependent child and end your life being a dependent child.

    Because I never reached my peak, I got an early start, regressing toward my second childhood!

    I have certainly lost all of my marbles! However, I still have a few lose screws!

    So now you know how I got an earlier start, regressing to my childhood, than most folks!


    My parent said know:

    You just need to pretend to go along!

    Russian saying about communism: We pretend to work, they pretend to pay us!

    After 70 years, it worked!


    Watch what they do – ignore what they say.

    Now I know why I am slow at picking up the threads of truth – I still hope that what bubbles out the mouth means something….



    For 70 years the Russians watched their leaders and ignored what they said!

    Nothing got done!

    The rest is history!



    It doesn’t really matter how the coronavirus gets into nursing homes!

    Once in, it spreads like wildfire!

    At this rate, the coronavirus will soon run out of nursing homes to visit.

    Sadly, the coronvirus death rate will only fall when it runs out of victims.

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