Apr 112021
 


Bartolomeo Schedoni The Deposition of Jesus’ body by St. Joseph of Arimathea 1613

 

South African Variant Can ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Vaccine (R.)
SARS-CoV-2 Variants B.1.351 and P.1 Escape From Neutralizing Antibodies (Cell)
Facemasks in the COVID-19 Era: A Health Hypothesis (NIH)
DMX Given Covid Vaccine Days Before Lethal Heart Attack (Noq)
Data Substantiating Wide Asymptomatic Spread Of Covid-19 Remains Elusive (JTN)
German Govt Plans New Harsh Covid-19 Restrictions In Draft Law (RT)
Republicans Deflated As Nation Shrugs At Hunter Biden Revelations (G.)
Daily Mail Exposes Hunter Biden Bombshells (ZH)
More Money Put Into Stocks In Last 5 Months Than Last 12 Years Combined (CNBC)
Frederick Forsyth Says UK Government Has Launched “Campaign of Mass Fear” (SN)
Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press (MPN)
Ukraine Redux – War, Russophobia, & Pipelineistan (Escobar)
A History of the Espionage Act and How it Ensnared Julian Assange (Lauria)
Julian Assange: The Corpse In The Basement Of The West (derstandard.at )

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Vincent
https://twitter.com/i/status/1380790808153047042

 

 

Truth is stranger than fiction,but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
– Mark Twain

 

 

Viruses mutate, albeit in unpredictable ways. This virus could disappear, like so many have. But with, at any given moment, 1-10-100 million new potential hosts, that is not likely. It’s much likelier that variants will evolve that evade vaccines. Especially since, as has been argued, there is no plan to vaccinate some 3-4 billion people.

The present rollout, along with the vaccines themselves, are sold to us as the summit of human intelligence. They could well be the summit of the exact opposite.

South African Variant Can ‘Break Through’ Pfizer Vaccine (R.)

The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can “break through” Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found, though its prevalence in the country is low and the research has not been peer reviewed. The study, released on Saturday, compared almost 400 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, 14 days or more after they received one or two doses of the vaccine, against the same number of unvaccinated patients with the disease. It matched age and gender, among other characteristics. The South African variant, B.1.351, was found to make up about 1% of all the COVID-19 cases across all the people studied, according to the study by Tel Aviv University and Israel’s largest healthcare provider, Clalit.

But among patients who had received two doses of the vaccine, the variant’s prevalence rate was eight times higher than those unvaccinated – 5.4% versus 0.7%. This suggests the vaccine is less effective against the South African variant, compared with the original coronavirus and a variant first identified in Britain that has come to comprise nearly all COVID-19 cases in Israel, the researchers said. “We found a disproportionately higher rate of the South African variant among people vaccinated with a second dose, compared to the unvaccinated group. This means that the South African variant is able, to some extent, to break through the vaccine’s protection,” said Tel Aviv University’s Adi Stern. The researchers cautioned, though, that the study only had a small sample size of people infected with the South African variant because of its rarity in Israel.

They also said the research was not intended to deduce overall vaccine effectiveness against any variant, since it only looked at people who had already tested positive for COVID-19, not at overall infection rates. [..] While the results of the study may cause concern, the low prevalence of the South African strain was encouraging, according to Stern. “Even if the South African variant does break through the vaccine’s protection, it has not spread widely through the population,” said Stern, adding that the British variant may be “blocking” the spread of the South African strain.

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This is just the beginning.

SARS-CoV-2 Variants B.1.351 and P.1 Escape From Neutralizing Antibodies (Cell)

The global spread of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 is devastating health systems and economies worldwide. Recombinant or vaccine-induced neutralizing antibodies are used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the recently emerged SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) harbor mutations in the viral spike (S) protein that may alter virus-host cell interactions and confer resistance to inhibitors and antibodies. Here, using pseudoparticles, we show that entry of all variants into human cells is susceptible to blockade by the entry inhibitors soluble ACE2, Camostat, EK-1, and EK-1-C4. In contrast, entry of the B.1.351 and P.1 variant was partially (Casirivimab) or fully (Bamlanivimab) resistant to antibodies used for COVID-19 treatment. Moreover, entry of these variants was less efficiently inhibited by plasma from convalescent COVID-19 patients and sera from BNT162b2-vaccinated individuals. These results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 may escape neutralizing antibody responses, which has important implications for efforts to contain the pandemic.

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NIH, January 2021. What struck me is the health effects listed in the graphic.

Facemasks in the COVID-19 Era: A Health Hypothesis (NIH)

The physical properties of medical and non-medical facemasks suggest that facemasks are ineffective to block viral particles due to their difference in scales [16], [17], [25]. According to the current knowledge, the virus SARS-CoV-2 has a diameter of 60 nm to 140 nm [nanometers (billionth of a meter)] [16], [17], while medical and non-medical facemasks’ thread diameter ranges from 55 µm to 440 µm [micrometers (one millionth of a meter), which is more than 1000 times larger [25]. Due to the difference in sizes between SARS-CoV-2 diameter and facemasks thread diameter (the virus is 1000 times smaller), SARS-CoV-2 can easily pass through any facemask [25]. In addition, the efficiency filtration rate of facemasks is poor, ranging from 0.7% in non-surgical, cotton-gauze woven mask to 26% in cotton sweeter material [2].

With respect to surgical and N95 medical facemasks, the efficiency filtration rate falls to 15% and 58%, respectively when even small gap between the mask and the face exists [25]. Clinical scientific evidence challenges further the efficacy of facemasks to block human-to-human transmission or infectivity. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 246 participants [123 (50%) symptomatic)] who were allocated to either wearing or not wearing surgical facemask, assessing viruses transmission including coronavirus [26]. The results of this study showed that among symptomatic individuals (those with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose ect…) there was no difference between wearing and not wearing facemask for coronavirus droplets transmission of particles of >5 µm.

Among asymptomatic individuals, there was no droplets or aerosols coronavirus detected from any participant with or without the mask, suggesting that asymptomatic individuals do not transmit or infect other people [26]. This was further supported by a study on infectivity where 445 asymptomatic individuals were exposed to asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carrier (been positive for SARS-CoV-2) using close contact (shared quarantine space) for a median of 4 to 5 days. The study found that none of the 445 individuals was infected with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase [27].

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The media story is a drug overdose.

DMX Given Covid Vaccine Days Before Lethal Heart Attack (Noq)

Rapper DMX, whose real name was Earl Simmons, died yesterday following complications from a heart attack. The 50-year-old music star was widely reported to have been hospitalized for a drug overdose that induced the heart attack, but a female member of his family told MTO News that he did not take drugs prior to the heart attack. He did, however, receive a Covid vaccination days before. Editor’s Note: We generally do not post single-source stories. The source for the information—MTO News—is a heavily trafficked site (over 10 million visitors per month) with contacts in the rap world. Though we have not been able to independently confirm the interview with a member of Simmons’ family, we are running the story based on the influence of the source publication.

We have reached out to a representative of his staff for confirmation. As of the writing of this story, only MTO News has been granted an interview and released the information. Some news outlets have picked the story up while a few fact-checkers have “debunked” it, though conspicuously none of the fact-checkers have provided information demonstrating the report is false. They’ve only said that they cannot confirm its validity. According to MTO News: “MTO News spoke with a member of the Simmons family who believes that it was NOT drugs that caused the heart attack. In an EXCLUSIVE interview, MTO News spoke with DMX’ family member who told us that the rapper received the COVID vaccine about a week before he suffered from the heart attack.

DMX’s family member told MTO News, “[DMX] got the vaccine when they opened it up to people over 50. He got it so that he could go travel and perform, stuff like that.” New York State opened up the COVID-19 vaccinations for people over the age of 50 in mid March. And the family member suspects that DMX heart attack could have been a reaction to the vaccine. The family member explained, “Everyone [in the news] keeps saying that [DMX] had a drug overdose. How do they know. I’m in the family and no doctor told me anything about an overdose.” The family member is FURIOUS about the speculation surrounding DMX drug use. She told MTO News, “Yes he had past issues with drugs. But nobody knows that he had an OD. It’s f**cked up that its being reported like that.”

She told MTO News that she – and the family – are considering taking legal action against news publications prematurely concluding that DMX suffered a drug overdose. But what is clear – according to the family member – is that DMX did take the Covid vaccine.” Chances are very high that we will not receive much more confirmation about this, especially from mainstream media. Only the family, hospital personnel, or others close to DMX could confirm or deny it, and other than the interview on MTO News, there has been no informed word one way or another. But we do know this. Unless the family makes a statement regarding the Covid vaccine, this story will be treated as “debunked” by those with an agenda to promote the Covid vaccine to everyone, especially African-Americans.

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“Lost in the chaos of the past year is any definitive indication that asymptomatic spread of the virus is widespread or common.”

Data Substantiating Wide Asymptomatic Spread Of Covid-19 Remains Elusive (JTN)

Hard data on the true prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 spread remains elusive, with scientists struggling to quantify just how often carriers of the SARS-Cov-2 virus transmit it without outward signs of illness. Fears that COVID-19 can spread very easily through asymptomatic transmission were a major factor behind the lockdowns and mitigation measures seen across the world over the past year. Health leaders claimed that the threat of symptom-free spread necessitated broad shutdowns of major portions of the economy, indefinite school closures, mandatory public mask-wearing, capacity limits and other social distancing measures, and various other tactics for containing the spread of COVID-19.

Lost in the chaos of the past year is any definitive indication that asymptomatic spread of the virus is widespread or common. Scientists and public health officials have struggled to come up with meaningful epidemiological evidence to that effect, though most have continued insisting that it’s a major contributor to the overall pandemic. In June of last year, WHO official Maria Van Kerkhove encountered significant backlash when she said that, based on current evidence, asymptomatic spread appeared to be “very rare.” Van Kerkhove subsequently qualified her comment, a qualification hyped as a “walkback” by some in the media. Health officials “don’t actually have that answer yet” as to the prevalence of asymptomatic spread, she said in narrowing her previous claim. “I was referring to a small subset of studies.”

Van Kerkhove has not responded to queries since then regarding the evolving study of asymptomatic COVID transmission. Several other scientists, meanwhile, have attempted to answer that question with mixed results. One study from December found that, within households, asymptomatic carriers of the virus passed it on to housemates at the rate of about 0.7%. That investigation made headlines for its apparent demonstration that asymptomatic spread is, in effect, vanishingly rare. Yet at least one coauthor of the study, University of Florida biostatistics Professor Natalie Dean, has been warning since the study’s publication that its findings on that front should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Berlin taking powers away from German states.

German Govt Plans New Harsh Covid-19 Restrictions In Draft Law (RT)

Night-time curfews, sweeping business closures and severe limits on public gatherings are all part of the German government’s new bill aimed at “standardizing” Covid-19 measures to stop the third wave, German media report. Berlin is currently working on amendments to the national Infection Protection Act that would significantly tighten the lockdown restrictions and greatly reduce the federal states’ ability to defy the government’s orders, German media that obtained the draft document report. The document that is expected to be discussed and potentially approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Tuesday includes binding requirements for all federal states where an average seven-day Covid-19 infection rate will rise over 100 per 100,000 people.

Such states will no longer be able to find any excuses to avoid imposing the so-called “emergency brake,” the supposed text of the bill, published by Die Welt on Saturday, reads. All states over this threshold infection rate will be bound to introduce a standard set of measures developed by the federal government, should the legislation come into force. Such measures involve a night-time curfew between 21:00 and 05:00, with exceptions for medical emergencies, professional activities and for looking after people or animals. Private and public gatherings would once again be limited to the members of one household and one person outside of it, with children under 14 excluded from this rule.

All non-essential stores and services, including cafes, clubs, museums and sports facilities, as well as shops other than grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations, would be closed. Employers would also have to let their employees work from home if there are no “compelling reasons” for them to stay in the workplace. Universities would switch to distance education, with in-person classes only being allowed if every person attending them presents a negative Covid-19 test result.

Ardern

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Silencing the Hunter story is not enough anymore, now the Guardian attempts to fully whitewash it. And calls him a brave man for writing about it all. “Hunter also uses the book to deny wrongdoing in joining the board of Burisma..”

Well, as Turley wrote: “Burisma and other companies not only gave massive payments to someone without any notable skills or experience, they hired someone who was a drug addict who was, by his own account, a total trainwreck.”

Burisma paid Hunter more than $50,000 a month from 2014 to 2019, aka the cash to buy his drugs. While he was by his own account a completely retarded junkie. And this had nothing to do with his father’s name.

Republicans Deflated As Nation Shrugs At Hunter Biden Revelations (G.)

In the memoir, Beautiful Things, Hunter, 51, details a lifelong struggle with drink and drugs. He writes that his “deep descent” into substance addiction followed the 2015 death of his older brother, Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer aged 46. Hunter admits that “in the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself”. In an interview about the book on CBS, the president’s son recalled going 13 days without sleep as he smoked crack and drank vodka. “I spent more time on my hands and knees picking through rugs – smoking anything that even remotely resembled crack cocaine. I probably smoked more Parmesan cheese than anyone that you know.”

The Biden family staged an intervention at their home in Delaware in 2019, inviting two counselors from a rehab centre to dinner. Hunter swore and ran from the house but was chased down the driveway by his father, who “grabbed me, swung me around, and hugged me. He held me tight in the dark and cried for the longest time. Everybody was outside now.” Hunter also uses the book to deny wrongdoing in joining the board of Burisma, a gas company in Ukraine, where he earned more than $50,000 a month from 2014 to 2019. Republicans allege that he benefited from his family name when his father was vice-president. Hunter’s tax affairs are currently under investigation by the justice department. The memoir has earned positive reviews. Publishers Weekly found that Hunter’s “courageous self-assessment makes the despair of substance abuse devastatingly palpable”.

In a blurb on the book’s jacket, author Stephen King describes it as “harrowing and compulsively readable” with a bravery that is “both heartbreaking and quite gorgeous”. He comments: “Hunter Biden proves again that anybody – even the son of a United States president – can take a ride on the pink horse down nightmare alley.” And Dave Eggers, whose books include the memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, writes in another blurb: “Beautiful Things is so concise, so unflinching and propulsive, that outside of turning the pages and occasionally picking my jaw off the ground, I didn’t move between the first page and the last.”

None of this gives Republicans the ammunition they hoped for. Politically, the book has been a dog that didn’t bark (unlike Biden’s actual dogs, Champ and Major, which have made headlines over biting incidents and excrement in a White House hallway) and, instead of turning into a liability, only appears to reinforce Biden’s image as compassionate and humane. Sykes, founder and editor-at-large of the Bulwark website, said: “It’s also a story of a very loving and loyal father and it’s hard to turn that into a negative. There are a lot of parents out there that know how dealing with a child who has problems is one of the greatest challenges you can face and so I think people are as likely to be empathetic as they are to see it as a negative.

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These revelations will also be silenced.

Daily Mail Exposes Hunter Biden Bombshells (ZH)

With Hunter Biden on a serious image rehabilitation tour – a ‘tell all’ book combined with television interviews from friendly outlets designed to invoke pity over the First Son’s crack and hooker habits, the Daily Mail is now telling the rest of the story regarding the contents of his abandoned laptop after Hunter admitted it ‘certainly’ could be his in a Sunday interview with CBS. If you’ve seen the laptop photos which leaked last October, you can probably stop here. The Mail did spare us from blurred pictures of Hunter’s wang, along with several sex tapes released by exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui.

“After obtaining a copy of the hard drive, DailyMail.com commissioned top cyber forensics experts Maryman & Associates to analyze its data and determine whether the laptop’s contents were real. The firm’s founder, Brad Maryman, is a 29-year FBI veteran Supervisory Special Agent who served as an Information Security Officer and founded its first computer forensics lab.” -Daily Mail. The Mail obtained over 100,000 text messages, 154,000 emails and over 2,000 photos which were verified by top forensics experts, which reveal that Joe ‘became a punching bag for Hunter’s drug-fueled rants,’ and ‘paid his grandchildren’s bills when Hunter had drained his bank accounts with prostitutes and crack cocaine.’

“Hunter appeared to be obsessed with making and starring in porn films with prostitutes, videos and photos on his laptop show. The hard drive contains hundreds of pictures of naked women and naked selfies of Hunter, as well as dozens of videos. Hunter photographed and filmed himself, often with two prostitutes at a time, in explicit videos that he then posted on adult website Pornhub under the username ‘RHEast’. Hunter filmed himself with the women from his laptop webcam, sometimes shooting at different angles using an iPad and cell phone.”-Daily Mail

“Hunter’s laptop is a pandora’s box of shocking revelations, explicit photos and intimate communications.In the following days, DailyMail.com will publish more shocking stories from Hunter’s laptop, including: • How Hunter blew hundreds of thousands on prostitutes, drugs and luxury cars, leaving him scrambling to avoid jail for $320k in unpaid taxes • How five members of the Biden family have been to rehab for drug or alcohol abuse – and a stunning admission by Joe to his son • The OTHER Biden family member planning to buy and cook crack, after falling into the disastrous addiction with Hunter • Hunter’s unconventional and unlikely relationship with his well-known psychiatrist •The whispered bedroom conversation with a prostitute caught on Hunter’s webcam, in which he confesses he had a previous laptop stolen – by Russians for blackmail.

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“Market enthusiasm”.

More Money Put Into Stocks In Last 5 Months Than Last 12 Years Combined (CNBC)

The latest wave of market enthusiasm has brought with it a stunning rush of money, in which more of investors’ cash has gone to stock-based funds in the last five months than the previous 12 years combined. That statistic, from Bank of America, reflects a period in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen more than 26%. At the same time, the market has undergone some wild trends that included a massive influx to meme stocks such as GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings. Trading volume rose 40% in the first quarter from the previous three months, with investors snapping up sectors that performed poorly last year amid hopes for a pronounced economic rebound from the Covid-induced slide in 2020.

Amid the frenzy, some $569 billion has gone to global equity funds since November, compared with $452 billion in the previous 12 years that go back to the beginning of the longest bull market run in history, according to Bank of America’s chief investment strategist, Michael Hartnett. Those numbers easily could exacerbate ongoing worries about financial market bubbles as valuations are around the same levels as just before the dot-com bubble popped in 2000. But these are not ordinary times. “There’s a certain amount of logic to markets right now,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “It’s less about irrational exuberance in the overall market, less about the 1999-2000 levels, and more about what’s the driver. The driver is clearly an explosion in economic activity that likely will have some earnings growth in its wake.”


First-quarter earnings season kicks into gear next week, and sentiment is running high. Year-over-year profits are expected to expand by 23.8%, which by itself would be the best growth rate since the third quarter of 2018, according to FactSet. However, what’s even more remarkable is that analysts continue to ratchet up expectations as the profit reports near, which is the opposite of what usually happens. Wall Street generally trims its outlook the closer it gets to the report date.

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“..using fear and shame as a driver of behaviour change.”

Frederick Forsyth Says UK Government Has Launched “Campaign of Mass Fear” (SN)

Iconic author Frederick Forsyth has accused the UK government of waging a “campaign of mass fear” against the British public by using psychological methods to ensure compliance with lockdown that resemble those used against East Berliners in the 1960’s. Forsyth was responding to an article published in the Telegraph which exposed the “covert tactics” being used by the British government to frighten the public into complying with COVID regulations. The article quoted a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist who warned that there was “growing concern within my field about using fear and shame as a driver of behaviour change.”

Gary Sidley and 46 of his colleagues wrote to the British Psychological Society to express “concerns about the activities of Government-employed psychologists … in their mission to gain the public’s mass compliance with the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.” The letter states that the UK government is deploying “covert psychological strategies – that operate below the level of people’s awareness – to ‘nudge’ citizens to conform to a contentious and unprecedented public health policy.” Commenting on the article, Frederick Forsyth, author of classic thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, wrote to the Telegraph to express his alarm about how the British public had been terrorized by lockdown propaganda.

“Congratulations to the Telegraph and Gordon Rayner for revealing that the campaign of mass fear that reduced a once brave nation to trembling terror was deliberately organised to secure obedience to the policy of lockdown,” wrote Forsyth. “I have only once before seen anything like it. This was when I was posted to East Germany in 1962. Such a brainwashing tactic was employed to frighten East Berliners into believing that the Berlin Wall was a defensive measure to protect them from tiny West Berlin, and that the Stasi was their guardian. The wall was of course an instrument of enslavement.”

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Bellingcat is bad news.

Bellingcat Launders National Security State Talking Points into the Press (MPN)

[..] the evidence compiled in this investigation suggests Bellingcat is far from independent and neutral, as it is funded by Western governments, staffed with former military and state intelligence officers, repeats official narratives against enemy states, and serves as a key part in what could be called a “spook to Bellingcat to corporate media propaganda pipeline,” presenting Western government narratives as independent research. An alarming number of Bellingcat’s staff and contributors come from highly suspect backgrounds. Senior Investigator Nick Waters, for example, spent three years as an officer in the British Army, including a tour in Afghanistan, where he furthered the British state’s objectives in the region. Shortly after leaving the service, he was hired by Bellingcat to provide supposedly bias-free investigations into the Middle East.

Former contributor Cameron Colquhoun’s past is even more suspect. Colquhoun spent a decade in a senior position in GCHQ (Britain’s version of the NSA), where he ran cyber and Middle Eastern terror operations. The Scot specializes in Middle Eastern security and also holds a qualification from the U.S. State Department. None of this, however, is disclosed by Bellingcat, which merely describes him as the managing director of a private intelligence company that “conduct[s] ethical investigations” for clients around the world — thus depriving readers of key information they need to make informed judgments on what they are reading. There are plenty of former American spooks on Bellingcat’s roster as well.

Former contributor Chris Biggers, who penned more than 60 articles for the site between 2014 and 2017, previously worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency — a combat support unit that works under the Department of Defense and the broader Intelligence Community. Biggers is now the director of an intelligence company headquartered in Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington (close to other semi-private contractor groups like Booz Allen Hamilton), that boasts of having retired Army and Air Force generals on its board. Again, none of this is disclosed by Bellingcat, where Biggers’s bio states only that he is a “public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.”

For six years, Dan Kaszeta was a U.S. Secret Service agent specializing in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and for six more he worked as program manager for the White House Military Office. At Bellingcat, he would provide some of the intellectual ammunition for Western accusations about chemical weapons use in Syria and Russia’s alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Kaszeta is also a fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank funded by a host of Western governments as well as weapons contractors such as Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Its president is a British field marshal (the highest attainable military rank) and its senior vice president is retired American General David Petraeus. Its chairman is Lord Hague, the U.K.’s secretary of state between 2010 and 2015.

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Very good overview of what may well lead to an imminent war.

“Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg.”

Ukraine Redux – War, Russophobia, & Pipelineistan (Escobar)

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war. On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021. The decree establishes that retaking Crimea from Russia is now Kiev’s official policy. That’s exactly what prompted an array of Ukrainian battle tanks to be shipped east on flatbed rail cars, following the saturation of the Ukrainian army by the US with military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems, anti-tank systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). More crucially, the Zelensky decree is the proof any subsequent war will have been prompted by Kiev, debunking the proverbial claims of “Russian aggression.”

Crimea, since the referendum of March 2014, is part of the Russian Federation. It was this de facto declaration of war, which Moscow took very seriously, that prompted the deployment of extra Russian forces to Crimea and closer to the Russian border with Donbass. Significantly, these include the crack 76th Guards Air Assault Brigade, known as the Pskov paratroopers and, according to an intel report quoted to me, capable of taking Ukraine in only six hours. It certainly does not help that in early April US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, fresh from his former position as a board member of missile manufacturer Raytheon, called Zelensky to promise “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” That ties in with Moscow’s interpretation that Zelensky would never have signed his decree without a green light from Washington.

Sevastopol, already when I visited in December 2018, is one of the most heavily defended places on the planet, impervious even to a NATO attack. In his decree, Zelensky specifically identifies Sevastopol as a prime target. Once again, we’re back to 2014 post-Maidan unfinished business. To contain Russia, the US deep state/NATO combo needs to control the Black Sea – which, for all practical purposes, is now a Russian lake. And to control the Black Sea, they need to “neutralize” Crimea. If any extra proof was necessary, it was provided by Zelensky himself on Tuesday this week in a phone call with NATO secretary-general and docile puppet Jens Stoltenberg. Zelensky uttered the key phrase: “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass” – which means, in practice, NATO expanding its “presence” in the Black Sea.

“Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia, which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping.” All of these crucial developments are and will continue to be invisible to global public opinion when it comes to the predominant, hegemon-controlled narrative. The deep state/NATO combo is imprinting 24/7 that whatever happens next is due to “Russian aggression.” Even if the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) launch a blitzkrieg against the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. (To do so against Sevastopol in Crimea would be certified mass suicide). In the United States, Ron Paul has been one of the very few voices to state the obvious: “According to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more ‘Russian aggression.’”

A possibly hopeful sign is that on March 31, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, talked on the phone about the proverbial “issues of mutual interest.” Days later, a Franco-German statement came out, calling on “all parties” to de-escalate. Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg. The problem is Merkel and Macron don’t control NATO. Yet Merkel and Macron at least are fully aware that if the US/NATO combo attacks Russian forces or Russian passport holders who live in Donbass, the devastating response will target the command centers that coordinated the attacks.

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The Espionage Act should non exist. It’s a giant stain on everything American.

A History of the Espionage Act and How it Ensnared Julian Assange (Lauria)

From its earliest years the United States has found ways to deny the rights of a free press when it was politically expedient to do so. One of the latest ways was to arrest WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange two years ago today and to indict him — the first time a publisher and journalist has ever been charged under the 1917 Espionage Act for possessing and publishing state secrets. Though several U.S. administrations had come close to punishing journalists for revealing defense information, they all pulled back, until Assange. They were restrained because of a conflict with the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing any law, including the Espionage Act, that abridges press freedom. Until that legal conflict is resolved in court, resulting in parts of the Espionage Act being found unconstitutional, the language of the Act threatening press freedom remains.


Bolstered by 1950 amendments to the Act, the Donald Trump administration crossed a redline to arrest a journalist. A 1961 amendment made it possible to indict a non-U.S. citizen, acting outside U.S. territory. The Trump administration’s first indictment of a publisher opened an alarming precedent for the future of journalism. President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has not reversed Trump’s move to continue to seek Assange’s extradition from Britain though it could have. Instead it decided on Feb. 13 to pursue the appeal of Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision not to extradite Assange to the U.S. on health grounds. If the U.S. should win on appeal, Assange will be brought to the Eastern District of Virginia to face 17 Espionage Act counts, amounting to 175 years in prison, as Baraitser challenged none of those counts in her judgement.

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2 years ago today, Julian was “arrested”.

Google translate

“The verdict, as it was passed, calmed the public discourse, took the wind out of the sails of critics, the big scandal did not materialize, and public attention has waned again.”

Julian Assange: The Corpse In The Basement Of The West (derstandard.at )

Immediately after a British court had rejected the US application for extradition of the Australian Julian Assange on January 4th, the user “Spezialfahrzeug” in the STANDARD forum couldn’t help but make a malicious comment after my last blog post to put on this topic: “Well, Mr. Rosner, your written scandal process is not taking place, as we know today – and actually always knew.” So the court ruling of January 4th would have made all criticism of the proceedings against Assange obsolete, the British judiciary would now be okay after all, and we could be reassured? Unfortunately, things are completely different.

If one were aiming to tinker with a conspiracy theory, one could literally believe in a very sophisticated conspiracy, the thing has now gone so favorably for the opponents of Assange due to the subtly formulated judgment of Judge Vanessa Baraitser. If the court had simply flatly approved the request for extradition, then this might have sparked a greater wave of outrage among the European public. The protests got food and multiplied. And then perhaps some of the top politicians in the EU who had been hesitant until then would have spoken out more clearly against it. The British judiciary would have been in a bad position and the matter would have been taken to the European Court of Justice. All embarrassing. There could have been headwinds in the USA too, because free journalism is a highly respected commodity there.

They have now saved themselves. The verdict, as it was passed, calmed the public discourse, took the wind out of the sails of critics, the big scandal did not materialize, and public attention has waned again. Assange can continue to rot in jail and almost everyone looks the other way. Everything seems to be fine again anyway. In fact, however, the scandal did not end with this judgment; on the contrary, it was prolonged. The situation of the Wikileaks founder, and this is deliberately overlooked by many, has so far not changed for the better. For a good two years now, Assange has been in solitary confinement – also known as “white torture” – in Belmarsh, a maximum security prison in London, which is intended for murderers and terrorists who are dangerous to the public and whose detention conditions are so notorious that it is the “British Guantanamo” ” is called. The judgment of January 4th has bizarrely changed nothing at all.

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“Sharks’ Skylight,” by Renee Capozzola. Photo taken near shore of Mo’orea, French Polynesia.

 

 

Sea angel

 

 

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Dec 242020
 
 December 24, 2020  Posted by at 10:23 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Paul Cézanne Forest 1902-04

 

Asymptomatic Transmission Of COVID19 (BMJ)
Makers of Successful COVID19 Vaccines Wrestle With Placebo Recipients (Science)
France Reopens To UK, As EU Tackles New Coronastrain (EUO)
Trump Pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, 23 Others (JTN)
Why Trump Should Pardon Assange
The Legacy Of President Donald Trump (Taibbi)
Biden Threats Make Russia Discourse More Reckless, Dangerous (Greenwald)
DNC Was “Directly Involved” In Iowa Caucus App Development (IC)
Powerful Mobile Phone Surveillance Tool Operates In Obscurity (IC)
Where In The World Is Kamala Harris? (DP)
The Lancet Publishes German Doctors’ Report On Treatment Of Navalny (RT)
2020 Year in Review – Part 1 (Dave Collum)

 

 

 

 

How overrated is asymptomatic transmission, and why do we focus on it so much?

Asymptomatic Transmission Of COVID19 (BMJ)

The UK’s £100bn “Operation Moonshot” to roll out mass testing for covid-19 to cities and universities around the country raises two key questions. How infectious are people who test positive but have no symptoms? And, what is their contribution to transmission of live virus? Unusually in disease management, a positive test result is the sole criterion for a covid-19 case. Normally, a test is a support for clinical diagnosis, not a substitute. This lack of clinical oversight means we know very little about the proportions of people with positive results who are truly asymptomatic throughout the course of their infection and the proportions who are paucisymptomatic (subclinical), presymptomatic (go on to develop symptoms later), or post-infection (with viral RNA fragments still detectable from an earlier infection).

Earlier estimates that 80% of infections are asymptomatic were too high and have since been revised down to between 17% and 20% of people with infections. Studies estimating this proportion are limited by heterogeneity in case definitions, incomplete symptom assessment, and inadequate retrospective and prospective follow-up of symptoms, however. Around 49% of people initially defined as asymptomatic go on to develop symptoms. It’s also unclear to what extent people with no symptoms transmit SARS-CoV-2. The only test for live virus is viral culture. PCR and lateral flow tests do not distinguish live virus. No test of infection or infectiousness is currently available for routine use. As things stand, a person who tests positive with any kind of test may or may not have an active infection with live virus, and may or may not be infectious.

The relations between viral load, viral shedding, infection, infectiousness, and duration of infectiousness are not well understood. In a recent systematic review, no study was able to culture live virus from symptomatic participants after the ninth day of illness, despite persistently high viral loads in quantitative PCR diagnostic tests. However, cycle threshold (Ct) values from PCR tests are not direct measures of viral load and are subject to error. While viral load seems to be similar in people with and without symptoms, the presence of RNA does not necessarily represent transmissible live virus. The duration of viral RNA shedding (interval between first and last positive PCR result for any sample) is shorter in people who remain asymptomatic, so they are probably less infectious than people who develop symptoms.

Viral culture studies suggest that people with SARS-CoV-2 can become infectious one to two days before the onset of symptoms and continue to be infectious up to seven days thereafter; viable virus is relatively short lived. Symptomatic and presymptomatic transmission have a greater role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 than truly asymptomatic transmission. The transmission rates to contacts within a specific group (secondary attack rate) may be 3-25 times lower for people who are asymptomatic than for those with symptoms. A city-wide prevalence study of almost 10 million people in Wuhan found no evidence of asymptomatic transmission. Coughing, which is a prominent symptom of covid-19, may result in far more viral particles being shed than talking and breathing, so people with symptomatic infections are more contagious, irrespective of close contact. On the other hand, asymptomatic and presymptomatic people may have more contacts than symptomatic people (who are isolating), underlining the importance of hand washing and social distancing measures for everyone.

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They have a control group to see if the vaccine is successful, but before the trial is even done, they already declare it successful. By now, we’d almost want it to fail spectacularly.

Makers of Successful COVID19 Vaccines Wrestle With Placebo Recipients (Science)

Now that regulators around the world have begun to issue emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for COVID-19 vaccines—the United States authorized a candidate vaccine from the biotech Moderna on Friday—a theoretical debate that has simmered for months has become a pressing reality: Should ongoing vaccine efficacy studies inform their tens of thousands of volunteers whether they were injected with a placebo or the vaccine, and also offer an already authorized vaccine to those who got the placebo? Vaccinemakers must now quickly decide how to handle this issue, called unblinding. And if they do choose to unblind, they will also need to get regulatory approval. Adding to the pressure: The choice arrives as many trial participants in the United States who are now eligible for an authorized COVID-19 vaccine are dropping out of studies in order to make sure they get immunized.

At the heart of the dilemma is a balancing act. On the one hand, unblinding a vaccine efficacy trial compromises the ability to gather robust scientific data on important issues, such as how long a vaccine protects a person against COVID-19. On the other, withholding a working vaccine from a trial participant who could get it elsewhere is ethically dicey. Last week, those issues came to the fore at a meeting of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisory committee, which was considering Moderna’s EUA request. Lindsey Baden, a principal investigator on Moderna’s vaccine efficacy trial, and Steven Goodman, an epidemiologist from Stanford University, presented two different schemes for handling the delicate matter. Both schemes differ from a third plan put forth by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, which are already distributing a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

Pfizer, which is still running trials of its vaccine, has already asked FDA for permission to unblind its study, and give volunteers who received a placebo the option of receiving its two-dose vaccine. But the offer would come with a catch. Given the limited supply of vaccine, national or local authorities have said they will first provide it to groups most at risk of becoming seriously ill or of transmitting the virus, such as front-line health care workers or the people living in nursing homes. The Pfizer plan would follow that plan by first unblinding only volunteers in one of the top-priority groups specified by authorities in their location and vaccinating those in the placebo group. (AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which jointly developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that has confusing efficacy results and does not yet have an EUA, reportedly want to offer a similar unblinding scheme.)

A different approach is advocated by Baden, an infectious disease specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He prefers an “open label” strategy, in which the Moderna trial is unblinded and the company offers everyone in the placebo group the vaccine regardless of eligibility in their location. Goodman, meanwhile, favors a “blinded crossover” option. In that approach, all trial volunteers would receive an additional pair of shots, with placebo recipients getting the vaccine and the vaccinated getting placebos. But the volunteers wouldn’t be told which arm they were in for some period of time.

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Too much panic.

France Reopens To UK, As EU Tackles New Coronastrain (EUO)

France has resumed transport links with the UK, on condition travellers get a negative test result, as the EU tries to contain a new type of Covid-19. Flights, Eurostar trains, and ferries would restart services on Wednesday (23 December) morning, French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri said after talks with his British counterpart late on Tuesday. “French nationals, people living in France, and those with a legitimate reason [to travel from the UK to France] will have to be carrying a negative test [result],” to be let through, he added, however. The deal “will see the French border reopen to those travelling for urgent reasons, provided they have a certified negative Covid test,” British transport minister Grant Shapps said.

France said travellers would need to show a negative test result less than 72 hours before departure. The UK said lorry drivers, thousands of whom were stuck near the British port of Dover, could get results within 30 minutes of taking a test, to help get them moving. France had sealed off the UK after the discovery of a mutated coronavirus strain that was apparently up to 70 percent more contagious in Britain on Sunday. Isolated cases of the new strain have already cropped up in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands, prompting Sweden to also close its border with Denmark on Monday. Virologists said there was no need to panic, as the new strain was not more lethal or vaccine-resistant. But more than 50 countries worldwide, including the vast majority of EU states, also cut transport links to the UK in the past 48 hours.

And for its part, the European Commission, on Tuesday, indicated they had overreacted. “While it is important to take swift temporary precautionary action to limit the further spread of the new strain of the virus and all non-essential travel to and from the UK should be discouraged, essential travel and transit of passengers should be facilitated,” it said in a non-binding recommendation. “Flight and train bans should be discontinued given the need to ensure essential travel and avoid supply-chain disruptions,” it added, amid concern on shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables in UK shops. “Blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes [for Christmas],” EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders also said.

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Every president pardons people they maybe should not have. Calm down.

Trump Pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, 23 Others (JTN)

President Trump pardoned 26 people on Wednesday, including Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The move comes one day after the president pardoned 15 other people, among them, George Papadopoulos and former Rep. Duncan Hunter. “Due to prosecutorial misconduct by Special Counsel Mueller’s team, Mr. Stone was treated very unfairly,” according to a statement from the press secretary about the latest executive grants. “He was subjected to a pre-dawn raid of his home, which the media conveniently captured on camera. Mr. Stone also faced potential political bias at his jury trial. Pardoning him will help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation.” Stone’s pardon from the president comes after Trump had commuted his sentence earlier this year.

“Today, President Trump has issued a full and complete pardon to Paul Manafort, stemming from convictions prosecuted in the course of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which was premised on the Russian collusion hoax,” the statement said. “Mr. Manafort has already spent two years in prison, including a stretch of time in solitary confinement – treatment worse than what many of the most violent criminals receive. As a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history. As Mr. Manafort’s trial judge observed, prior to the Special Counsel investigation, Mr. Manafort had led an ‘otherwise blameless life.’ Since May, Mr. Manafort has been released to home confinement as a result of COVID-19 concerns.”

Charles Kushner, the father of Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner, also received a pardon from the president. “Since completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy,” the statement said. “This record of reform and charity overshadows Mr. Kushner’s conviction and 2 year sentence for preparing false tax returns, witness retaliation, and making false statements to the FEC.”

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Nifty little site that allows you to contact 1000 people close to Trump.

Why Trump Should Pardon Assange

This website will show you 50 of the top 1,000 people who have influenced what Trump sees on Twitter in recent weeks. Should be random every time you refresh. Please use this tool to nicely request that people tweet support for pardoning Julian Assange.

This website makes it possible to contact people in President Trump’s political network and encourage them to support a pardon for Julian Assange. Here is how you can help convince Trump to pardon Assange:

1. Click “Tweet” or “Message”
Next to the person you want to contact. This will open a draft tweet on Twitter.

2. Write Message
Politely explain that Trump should pardon Assange. If you need inspiration, see Why Pardon Assange? for examples of what others are saying.

3. Send Message
Send the tweet or direct message that you crafted.

Read more …

“..like a social disease persisting beyond the usual course of medication, most of upscale America thought the Trump Show was a hoot.”

The Legacy Of President Donald Trump (Taibbi)

Reports say Donald Trump has lost it. Unable to face the reality that he will no longer be president soon, stung by public repudiations from the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell, Vladimir Putin, Bill Barr, and other erstwhile pals, he is said to be canceling appearances left and right, retreating to a lonely schedule of golf and manic conspiracy theorizing on Twitter. He posted 550 times in just a few weeks of November, with three-fourths of that content, the New York Times for some reason calculated, made up of rants about a stolen election. Unlike past presidents, who with the exception of Dick Nixon were all feted on the way out no matter what crooked or blood-soaked record they left behind, Trump is being ridden out on a rail.

He exits politics as he entered it, as a human punchline, a ball of catnip to the commentariat, which gets to snicker now about his thinning schedule and “tiny desk” (the updated version of all those jokes about short fingers that drove him so crazy once). There is delight as “former close associates, longtime Trump observers, and mental health experts” whisper into the op-ed pages the cold final judgment that, as Politico put it, “Trump is a loser.” Which is fine — victori sunt spoila and all that — but it’s already safe to say the Trump years will be remembered as a brutal black comedy that made winners and losers alike look very, very bad. It was supposed to be a historic, norms-smashing catastrophe, but the reality is that almost nothing actually happened during the Trump years, except for a very long, exhausting story.

The major in-between change was a total loss of our collective grip on reality, beginning with the fact that most of the country thinks we just went to hell and back a thousand times, instead of making just one noisy trip in a circle, arriving just where we might have four years ago, if Joe Biden had run instead of Hillary Clinton. The tiniest conceivable step, but oh so much grief and self-deception to get there! They’ll deny it, but huge portions of the snickering chatterati rooted for Trump at first. When he jumped in the 2016 race, cultural icons laughed, big-money Democrats cheered, and rubbernecking cosmopolitan media audiences clicked and tuned in by the millions. Except for the more favored Republican primary opponents who learned early on to look on Trump with genuine alarm, like a social disease persisting beyond the usual course of medication, most of upscale America thought the Trump Show was a hoot.

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There’s only one thing that prevents the US from attacking Russia: their weapons are far more sophisticated.

Biden Threats Make Russia Discourse More Reckless, Dangerous (Greenwald)

To justify Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss to Donald Trump, leading Democrats and their key media allies for years competed with one another to depict what they called “Russia’s interference in our elections” in the most apocalyptic terms possible. They fanatically rejected the view of the Russian Federation repeatedly expressed by President Obama — that it is a weak regional power with an economy smaller than Italy’s capable of only threatening its neighbors but not the U.S. — and instead cast Moscow as a grave, even existential, threat to U.S. democracy, with its actions tantamount to the worst security breaches in U.S. history.

This post-2016 mania culminated with prominent liberal politicians and journalists (as well as John McCain) declaring Russia’s activities surrounding the 2016 to be an “act of war” which, many of them insisted, was comparable to Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attack — the two most traumatic attacks in modern U.S. history which both spawned years of savage and destructive war, among other things. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) repeatedly demanded that Russia’s 2016 “interference” be treated as “an act of war.” Hillary Clinton described Russian hacking as “a cyber 9/11.” And here is Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on MSNBC in early February, 2018, pronouncing Russia “a hostile foreign power” whose 2016 meddling was the “equivalent” of Pearl Harbor, “very much on par” with the “seriousness” of the 1941 attack in Hawaii that helped prompt four years of U.S. involvement in a world war.

With the Democrats, under Joe Biden, just weeks away from assuming control of the White House and the U.S. military and foreign policy that goes along with it, the discourse from them and their media allies about Russia is becoming even more unhinged and dangerous. Moscow’s alleged responsibility for the recently revealed, multi-pronged hack of U.S. Government agencies and various corporate servers is asserted — despite not a shred of evidence, literally, having yet been presented — as not merely proven fact, but as so obviously true that it is off-limits from doubt or questioning.

Any questioning of this claim will be instantly vilified by the Democrats’ extremely militaristic media spokespeople as virtual treason. “Now the president is not just silent on Russia and the hack. He is deliberately running defense for the Kremlin by contradicting his own Secretary of State on Russian responsibility,” pronounced CNN’s national security reporter Jim Sciutto, who last week depicted Trump’s attempted troop withdrawal from Syria and Germany as “ceding territory” and furnishing “gifts” to Putin. More alarmingly, both the rhetoric to describe the hack and the retaliation being threatened are rapidly spiraling out of control.

Democrats (along with some Republicans long obsessed with The Russian Threat, such as Mitt Romney) are casting the latest alleged hack by Moscow in the most melodramatic terms possible, ensuring that Biden will enter the White House with tensions sky-high with Russia and facing heavy pressure to retaliate aggressively. Biden’s top national security advisers and now Biden himself have, with no evidence shown to the public, repeatedly threatened aggressive retaliation against the country with the world’s second-largest nuclear stockpile.

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Cut all machines and apps out of the election. It’s the only way.

DNC Was “Directly Involved” In Iowa Caucus App Development (IC)

The Democratic National Committee refused to cooperate with investigators and was “directly involved in the development process” of the infamous Shadow app ahead of the 2020 Iowa caucuses. That’s the conclusion of the former U.S. attorney leading the investigation into what went wrong during the first-in-the-nation caucuses, as relayed to the Iowa State Democratic Party in a closed-session meeting last week, according to a transcript of the meeting obtained by The Intercept. “The DNC was directly involved in the development process,” Nicholas Klinefeldt, a former federal attorney appointed by President Barack Obama, told the Iowa Democratic Party state steering committee in the December 12 meeting about the findings of an investigation he led alongside former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell.


Klinefeldt’s revelation about the committee’s involvement counters the DNC’s claim it made immediately after the Iowa caucuses. Back then, the DNC claimed it had “absolutely no involvement” in the development or coding of the Shadow app, which was supposed to record and report caucus results. When Third District state party member Kim Callahan asked investigators to expand on the DNC’s involvement, they failed to elaborate, simply confirming that the DNC wouldn’t cooperate with its investigation. Without the DNC’s cooperation in the probe, investigators were hamstrung. “There seemed to be a great deal of culpability by the DNC,” Jim Bunton, a Third District Iowa state party member, said to Klinefeldt in the meeting. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of cooperation from the DNC from what you’re saying. … How can we hope to have a better outcome next time around? Because the actor we can’t control is the DNC.”

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Sign of the times.

Powerful Mobile Phone Surveillance Tool Operates In Obscurity (IC)

Until now, the Bartonville, Texas, company Hawk Analytics and its product CellHawk have largely escaped public scrutiny. CellHawk has been in wide use by law enforcement; the software is helping police departments, the FBI, and private investigators around the United States convert information collected by cellular providers into maps of people’s locations, movements, and relationships. Police records obtained by The Intercept reveal a troublingly powerful surveillance tool operated in obscurity, with scant oversight. CellHawk’s maker says it can process a year’s worth of cellphone records in 20 minutes, automating a process that used to require painstaking work by investigators, including hand-drawn paper plots.

The web-based product can ingest call detail records, or CDRs, which track cellular contact between devices on behalf of mobile service providers, showing who is talking to whom. It can also handle cellular location records, created when phones connect to various towers as their owners move around. Such data can include “tower dumps,” which list all the phones that connected to a given tower — a form of dragnet surveillance. The FBI obtained over 150,000 phone numbers from a single tower dump undertaken in 2010 to try and collect evidence against a bank robbery suspect, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.

Police use CellHawk to process datasets they routinely receive from cell carriers like AT&T and Verizon, typically in vast spreadsheets and often without a warrant. This is in sharp contrast to a better known phone surveillance technology, the stingray: a mobile device that spies on cellular devices by impersonating carriers’ towers, tricking phones into connecting, and then intercepting their communications. Unlike the stingray, CellHawk does not require such subterfuge or for police to position a device near people of interest. Instead, it helps them exploit information already collected by private telecommunications providers and other third parties.

CellHawk’s surveillance capabilities go beyond analyzing metadata from cellphone towers. Hawk Analytics claims it can churn out incredibly revealing intelligence from large datasets like ride-hailing records and GPS — information commonly generated by the average American. According to the company’s website, CellHawk uses GPS records in its “unique animation analysis tool,” which, according to company promotional materials, plots a target’s calls and locations over time. “Watch data come to life as it moves around town or the entire county,” the site states.

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They’re for it if it enhances their careers.

Where In The World Is Kamala Harris? (DP)

After Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar humiliated herself by throwing cold water on the idea during an MSNBC appearance, Democratic lawmakers from across the country seem to have finally woken up and realized that there’s an economic emergency unfolding and that “let them eat Federal Reserve lending facilities” is not a compelling message. But one unique and much-needed voice is bizarrely muted: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Before we get to the California lawmaker, it’s worth noting that her boss, president-elect Joe Biden, seems to have completely checked out of the current debate, after helping create a debacle. He reportedly convinced congressional Democrats to get steamrolled by Mitch McConnell and agree to provide just $600 in direct aid — which Georgia Democratic senate candidate Jon Ossoff rightly called “a joke.”


Biden has vaguely promised to push more aid in 2021, but he is not weighing in forcefully on the budget showdown that is unfolding right now. An austerian to the core, Biden took a dump in the middle of the process, and is now running away from the mess he helped create. Harris’s absence is more notable and perplexing considering that she is in a position to play a direct role in the legislative standoff. She isn’t just the vice president-elect and she isn’t just any old member of the U.S. Senate that could ultimately decide the fate of the stimulus bill. Harris also happens to be the lead author of legislation to provide $2,000 a month to individuals during the pandemic. This wasn’t some small initiative — this was Harris’s big headline-grabbing idea she was making her namepushing during the veepstakes. This was supposed to be a proof point illustrating her progressive credentials and her appreciation of the magnitude of the crisis America now faces.

Kamala May 8 2020

So where is Harris now? It’s hard to know what’s happening behind the scenes, but at least in public, she’s been quiet on the issue. Indeed, while she has made some generic comments about Congress needing to pass some form of stimulus, she has not been an aggressive leader on the question of direct aid in the current legislative package. Take a look at her social media feeds and peruse Google News for her mentions — there doesn’t seem to be much of anything from her in the middle of the central budget controversy of the entire crisis. Why? Perhaps she is just following Biden’s lead. Or maybe she believes some ridiculous 17-dimensional-chess theory that staying out of the fray will help secure a good outcome, in the same way Democrats always come up with rationales to live to never fight another day. Or maybe there’s a more innocent explanation — maybe she just hasn’t gotten around to it but is about to weigh in.

Pelosi 1994 M4A

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Do we have to keep on talking about this guy?

The Lancet Publishes German Doctors’ Report On Treatment Of Navalny (RT)

Leading medical journal The Lancet has published a case report detailing Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny’s treatment in Germany following his alleged poisoning with the lethal Novichok nerve agent. Wednesday’s article concludes that the actions of Russian doctors in Omsk, the Siberian city where he was first treated after falling ill on a flight to Moscow, were “presumably decisive,” noting that Navalny “had a very favorable outcome.” The Lancet also credits the protest leader’s good physical condition as another reason for his excellent recovery. Navalny, who is described by the journal as “a 44-year-old man who was previously healthy,” is said to have suddenly begun to sweat, before vomiting, collapsing, and eventually losing consciousness on the plane which was traveling from Tomsk.

According to a report, written primarily by doctors based at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where Navalny spent more than a month being treated, the activist arrived with a wide range of symptoms, including a slow heart rate, hypersalivation, hypothermia, and heavy sweating, amongst others. After tests in a laboratory, he was found to have severe cholinesterase inhibition. This diagnosis was released to the public on August 24, four days after he fell ill and two days after arriving in Germany. The Russian clinic where he was first treated contradicted this finding, saying they found no cholinesterase inhibitors in his blood.

The report writes in great detail about the changes in Navalny’s condition, noting that “on day 12, the patient started to breathe spontaneously” and “could subsequently be weaned from mechanical ventilation completely by day 24.” He was released on day 33. On day 55, during his last follow-up appointment, doctors found a “near-complete recovery.” The Lancet also details that Novichok, the poison said to have been given to Navalny, is an organophosphorus compound – most commonly associated with pest control. “Organophosphorus nerve agents exert the same mechanism of action as do organophosphorus pesticides,” the article says, noting that South East Asia sees more than 100,000 annual deaths due to this type of poisoning.

Read more …

Oh no, not him again.

2020 Year in Review – Part 1 (Dave Collum)

Imagine, if you will, a man wakes up from a year-long induced coma—a long hauler of a higher order—to a world gone mad. During his slumber, the President of the United States was impeached for colluding with the Russians using a dossier prepared by his political opponents, themselves colluding with the FBI, intelligence agencies, and the Russians. A pandemic that may have emanated from a Chinese virology laboratory swept the globe killing millions and is still on the loose. A controlled demolition of the global economy forced hundreds of millions into unemployment in a matter of weeks. Metropolitan hotels plummeted to 10% occupancy. The 10% of the global economy corresponding to hospitality and tourism had been smashed on the shoals and was foundering.


The Federal Reserve has been buying junk corporate bonds in total desperation. A social movement of monumental proportions swept the US and the world, triggering months of rioting and looting while mayors, frozen in the headlights, were unable to fathom an appropriate response. The rise of neo-Marxism on college campuses and beyond had become palpable. The most contentious election in US history pitted the undeniably polarizing and irascible Donald Trump against the DNC A-Team including a 76-year-old showing early signs of dementia paired with a sassy neo-Marxist grifter with an undetectable moral compass. Many have lost faith in the fairness of the election as challenges hit the courts. Peering through the virus-induced brain fog the man sees CNBC playing on the TV with the scrolling Chiron stating, “S&P up 12% year to date. Nasdaq soars 36%.” The man has entered The Twilight Zone.

Read more …

 

 

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“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
– Werner Heisenberg

 

 

 

 

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Jun 142020
 


Gustave Dore Dante and Virgil among the gluttons 1868

 

China Reports 57 New Confirmed, 9 Asymptomatic COVID-19 Cases For June 13 (R.)
Clusters of Coronavirus Disease in Communities, Japan, January–April 2020 (CDC)
The Greatest Science Policy Failure For A Generation – Lancer Editor (G.)
Nadler: ‘Eliminating’ Private Insurance Could Pay For ‘Medicare For All’ (JTN)
Congress Spent $3.06 Million On Failed Impeachment Probe (JTN)
How Beijing Cultivated Wall Street’s Giants (SMH)
The Truth About The May Jobs Report (Axios)
Twitter Reinstates Zerohedge After Admitting It Made An “Error” (ZH)
Finishing Touches Being Put On 10 New Criminal Referrals in Russia Probe (JTN)
Julian Assange Just Called (Varoufakis)

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 9 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 132,786 (yesterday was updated to 141,973).

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is + 131,902 cases. Remember: it’s weekend.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 28,487
• Brazil + 23,468
• Russia + 8,835
• India + 12,360
• Pakistan + 6,825
• Chile + 6,509

 

 

Cases 7,895,777 (+ 131,902 from yesterday’s 7,763,875)

Deaths 432,882 (+ 4,148 from yesterday’s 428,734)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

..a new outbreak has been linked to a meat and vegetable market in south Beijing..

China Reports 57 New Confirmed, 9 Asymptomatic COVID-19 Cases For June 13 (R.)

China reported 57 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for June 13, the highest since April 13, according to data released by the national health authority on Sunday. The National Health Commission said in a statement that 38 of the new confirmed cases were locally transmitted, with 36 of them in Beijing. This is the highest daily infection count for China’s capital since authorities started releasing data. Beijing recorded a jump in new confirmed cases, up from six a day earlier, after it started doing mass-testing at the Xinfadi market in the city’s southwestern Fengtai district.


The district has put itself on a “wartime” footing and the capital banned tourism and sports events on Saturday, sparking fears of a new wave of COVID-19. Nineteen of the new confirmed cases were so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas, with 17 of them arriving in Guangdong. China also reported nine asymptomatic cases, one new suspected case and no new deaths from COVID-19 for June 13. The total number of COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stands at 83,132, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634. China does not count asymptomatic patients, who are infected with the virus but do not display symptoms, as confirmed cases.

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https://twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1271988040169328641

Clusters of Coronavirus Disease in Communities, Japan, January–April 2020 (CDC)

We investigated clusters of COVID-19 cases and probable primary cases in Japan during January 15–April 4, 2020. We found that healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, and care facilities, such as nursing homes, were the primary sources of clusters, some of which had >100 cases. Japan experienced 2 waves of imported COVID-19 cases, after which local transmission occurred and the epidemic grew (8). Of note, clusters of COVID-19 cases at healthcare and care facilities predominated at epidemiologic weeks 11 (March 9–15) and 14 (March 30–April 4), which corresponds to ≈3 weeks after the 2 waves of imported cases (Figure 1, panel C). Healthcare and care facilities might be located at the end of the local transmission chain because clusters in those facilities only became evident several weeks after community transmission persisted.

We noted many COVID-19 clusters were associated with heavy breathing in close proximity, such as singing at karaoke parties, cheering at clubs, having conversations in bars, and exercising in gymnasiums. Other studies have noted such activities can facilitate clusters of infection (9,10). Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare announced 3 situations that could increase the risk for COVID-19 cases and advised the population to avoid the “Three Cs”: closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, and close-contact settings (11).

Among the probable primary COVID-19 cases we identified from non-nosocomial clusters, half (11/22) were 20–39 years of age, which is younger than the age distribution of all COVID-19 cases in Japan (Figure 2, panel A). We do not know whether social, biological, or both factors play a role in the difference in transmission patterns between the younger and older persons. We also noted probable primary COVID-19 case-patients appear to transmit the virus and generate clusters even in the absence of apparent respiratory symptoms, such as cough.


Figure 2. Analysis of probable primary cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among 22 clusters in communities, Japan. A) Age ranges of probable primary COVID-19 cases in clusters. Age distribution among all COVID-19 cases in Japan is provided as reference. B) Proportions of symptoms among probable primary cases of COVID-19 clusters at transmission (n = 16) and among at laboratory confirmed diagnosis (n = 22). 1, Asymptomatic; 2, fever; 3, fatigue; 4, cough; 5, sore throat; 6, headache; 7, arthralgia or myalgia; 8, runny nose; 9, diarrhea; 10, difficulty breathing. C) Distribution of probable primary cases of COVID-19 clusters by time of transmission compared with illness onset by age groups (n = 16). Six cases were excluded because the time of transmission was undetermined.

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Richard Horton’s problem today is of course, apart from his bout with cancer, that he was responsible for the entirely fake report on HCQ the Lancet published.

The Greatest Science Policy Failure For A Generation – Lancer Editor (G.)

There is a school of thought that says now is not the time to criticise the government and its scientific advisers about the way they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Wait until all the facts are known and the crisis has subsided, goes this thinking, and then we can analyse the performance of those involved. It’s safe to say that Richard Horton, the editor of the influential medical journal the Lancet, is not part of this school. An outspoken critic of what he sees as the medical science establishment’s acquiescence to government, he has written a book that he calls a “reckoning” for the “missed opportunities and appalling misjudgments” here and abroad that have led to “the avoidable deaths of tens of thousands of citizens”.

The Covid-19 Catastrophe: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Stop It Happening Again is a short polemical book, building on a series of excoriating columns Horton has written in the Lancet over the past few months. He lambasts the management of the virus as “the greatest science policy failure for a generation”, attacks the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) for becoming “the public relations wing of a government that had failed its people”, calls out the medical Royal Colleges, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Medical Association (BMA) and Public Health England (PHE) for not reinforcing the WHO’s public health emergency warning back in February, and damns the UK’s response as “slow, complacent and flat-footed”, revealing a “glaringly unprepared” government and a “broken system of obsequious politico-scientific complicity”.

On the page, Horton can sound strident, even arrogant, but that’s not his manner in person at all, at least not in our long Zoom conversation. He’s charming, open, self-critical and full of easy laughter. I suggest that, as bad as things look at the moment, surely people like the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific officer, Patrick Vallance, have been doing their best. “Individually, they’re great people,” he says. “I’m not criticising individuals, but the system was a catastrophic failure.” As editor of the Lancet, he’s particularly aggrieved that the series of five academic papers the journal published in late January first describing the novel coronavirus in disturbing detail went unheeded. “In several of the papers they talked about the importance of personal protective equipment,” he reminds me.

“And the importance of testing, the importance of avoiding mass gatherings, the importance of considering school closure, the importance of lockdowns. All of the things that have happened in the last three months here, they’re all in those five papers.” He still can’t understand why the government’s scientific advisers didn’t consult their counterparts in China. The world of medicine is a small one, he says, and everyone knows the people responsible for coordinating the Chinese government’s response. “These are people they could have literally sent an email to, or picked the phone up to, and said, ‘Hey, we read your paper in the Lancet, can it really be as bad as that? What is going on in Wuhan?’ And if they’d done that they would have found out that this was indeed as bad as described.”

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Whereas Jerry Nadler’s problem is that his candidate, Joe Biden, has spoken out against Medicare For All. Wait, Nadler knows that; is he trying to embarrass Biden?

Nadler: ‘Eliminating’ Private Insurance Could Pay For ‘Medicare For All’ (JTN)

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested Friday that Congress could pay for a “Medicare for all” health care system without raising taxes by eliminating private insurance entirely. During a discussion with the Medicare for All Caucus, Nadler repeated some of the objections that critics of single-payer health care have raised including, “How are we going to pay for it?” and “We’re gonna have to raise taxes and all.” Nadler recommended that Democrats stop engaging in the tax increase debate.

“The entire mechanism, half a trillion dollars a year of private insurance, and not only the money for the profits, but the money for the markets segmenting; the money for the entire administration that all the insurance companies do; the money that all the hospitals and the doctors have to spend to deal with the bureaucracy of insurance companies – that’s half a trillion dollars a year, all of which could be spent on medical care, instead of being spent on either profits or just administrative costs,” Nader said during the discussion.

“It’s a huge amount of money and we could institute a Medicare for all system without increasing taxes. I mean, that’s not a discussion we have to get into because the cost savings from just eliminating the private insurance leech on the system would pay for all of Medicare for all, all the services, everything we’re talking about and when we get to debating this on a political level, again, we ought to be emphasizing that,” he added. Nadler urged Democrats to begin making his argument in favor of Medicare for all on the campaign trail in this election cycle. “I don’t understand why we didn’t point this out enough and we must in the future,” he said. Such an argument will continue to face strong opposition from the country’s estimated $900 billion private insurance industry and those opposed to a completely government-run health care system.

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More Nadler. He and Schiff will simply say they had every right to do the probe, and lost only because the Senate is partisan. Just like Congress is, but for the other party.

Congress Spent $3.06 Million On Failed Impeachment Probe (JTN)

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The award is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s. This week, our award is going to the the United States Congress for spending $3.06 million in taxpayer dollars between September and December 2019 on the failed impeachment of President Trump. The recently released openthebooks.com report entitled “Congressional Membership Has Its Privileges: Salaries, Pensions, Travel & Other Taxpayer-Funded Perks” breaks down some of the exorbitant annual costs of the nation’s legislative branch.

The oversight report, which is published annually under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, was initially sponsored by the late Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and then-Senator Barack Obama. According to this year’s analysis, during the period between Sept. 24 2019, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared an impeachment inquiry, and Dec. 13, 2019, when the House Judiciary Committee sent two articles of impeachment to the Senate, the lower chamber ran up a bill to taxpayers of over $3 million. That price tag included the salaries of more than 100 congressional staffers and employees who, for those four months, essentially worked full-time on the impeachment proceedings.

It also factors in the hourly fees of the six attorneys who were hired as lawyers of record for witnesses who made appearances during hearings, and acted as impeachment counsel for the House Democratic impeachment managers throughout the trial. The high cost of the impeachment effort is primarily due to the House’s decision to use congressional staffers to investigate the president for potentially impeachable crimes. For reference, during the impeachment of President Clinton 1998, the majority of the fact-finding was done by Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s staff. For President Nixon’s impeachment inquiry, the bulk of the investigating was handled by special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski, in addition to a Senate select committee.

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Nutshell: the Fed hands Goldman Sachs buckets full of billions to aid it in selling off the US to China for profit.

How Beijing Cultivated Wall Street’s Giants (SMH)

In November 2018 Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser who at the time was intimately involved in President Trump’s trade war with Beijing, launched a scathing attack on what he called the “globalist billionaires” of Wall Street. He accused the “self-appointed group of Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers” of engaging in their own “shuttle diplomacy” with the Chinese side and attempting to sabotage US trade negotiations by putting enormous pressure on the White House to give way to Beijing. Navarro further accused the financial elite of being “unregistered foreign agents” acting as part of Beijing’s influence operations in Washington. It was strong stuff, but was there any foundation to it?

Beijing has been working on Wall Street for a long time. When Prime Minister Zhu Rongji visited the United States in 1999, he holed up in New York’s Astoria Hotel and spent days in back-to-back meetings with business leaders. “Zhu seems never to tire of courting Corporate America,” reported The New York Times. The titans of US finance have for decades been guiding the nation’s China policy. Whenever presidents Clinton, Bush or Obama threatened to take a tougher stance on China’s trade protectionism, currency manipulation or technology theft, Wall Street chiefs used their influence to persuade them to back off. And it was pressure from Wall Street that proved decisive in the Clinton White House’s decision to support China’s admission to the World Trade Organisation, despite China’s serial violation of trade rules.

Twenty years later, The New York Times was writing: “In Washington, on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms, Beijing has used the country’s size and promise for decades to quell opposition and reward those who helped its rise.” Financial institutions have been Beijing’s most powerful advocates in Washington. The finance sector – the big banks, hedge funds and investment vehicles – is thus in the centre of the map of power in the US, and occupying pride of place is Goldman Sachs. No organisation has been more important to the CCP’s campaign to penetrate US elites, or more willing. For the CCP, titans of finance are easy targets, as there’s a concordance of interests.

Wall Street executives, anticipating an Eldorado when Beijing opens up its vast finance markets to foreigners, have been advising Chinese companies about which American companies to buy and lending them the money to do it, taking a cut from the sales. In the words of a senior White House official, “people who like making deals really like the Chinese Communist Party”. The CCP is pushing on an open door. But the alignment of interests may not be long term, as it’s Beijing’s intention to eventually make Shanghai the financial capital of the world, displacing New York and the City of London. As Lenin reputedly said: “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

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The markets gain a trillion on the responses to a few questions of 41,000 Americans. You get what you deserve.

The Truth About The May Jobs Report (Axios)

The responses of fewer than 41,000 people were used to determine a major part of last month’s U.S. unemployment rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells Axios. That’s the lowest number in modern history and is one of many unusual developments in government data collection that have affected important readings for months. The surprises in May’s nonfarm payrolls report, which found there were only 21 million unemployed while 30 million Americans were collecting unemployment insurance benefits, were largely the result of oddities in data collection. A portion of the jobs report is determined by a household survey in which government workers interview people at their homes and determine whether any person over the age of 16 is “employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force” — the only three possible designations.

The coronavirus pandemic has “depressed” survey responses since March, as BLS stopped conducting in-person meetings, restricting its ability to reach new households, Julie Hatch Maxfield, BLS associate commissioner for employment and unemployment statistics, tells Axios. “The first month of the sample we get a lot of information and that sets up the whole thing going forward,” she says. This has taken the response rate from 82% in January to 73% in March to 67% in May. “Response rates probably will be depressed even when interviewers go back into the field,” Maxfield notes. In May, BLS identified 9 million people who had lost their jobs but were counted as “not in the labor force” rather than unemployed because they hadn’t been searching for a job in the last four weeks due to the pandemic.

If those people were considered unemployed it would have taken the unemployment rate to 17.9%. A similar calculation would have put the unemployment rate at 19.8% in April and 7.5% in March, BLS says in a report about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on its data. A separate “misclassification error” categorized millions of workers who had been absent and likely lost their jobs as employed. Additionally, workers who were paid by their employer for any part of the pay period including the 12th of the month were counted as employed, even if they weren’t actually at their jobs.

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Too much power. Take it away.

Twitter Reinstates Zerohedge After Admitting It Made An “Error” (ZH)

133 days after Twitter “permanently” banned Zero Hedge on January 31, the social network has reinstated us after admitting it made an error. As a reminder, what happened in late January was confusing. Shortly after we asked if “This [Is] The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic”, referring to Wuhan Institute Of Virology scientist Peng Zhou (who three months later was being investigated by western spy agencies for his role in creating Covid) and some low-grade “reporter” from Buzzfeed decided to report us to Twitter for “doxxing” Zhou using publicly available information, Twitter told us that the account had been suspended for “violating Twitter rules against abuse and harassment”, which was false as we neither incited abuse nor harrassment, but merely asked questions.

But the confusing part is that at the same time, Twitter fabricated an entirely different explanation for its decision when speaking to outside media, telling them the suspension was due to “platform manipulation” – whatever that means. An odd mix of conflicting explanations but in any case, neither was true as we said at the time, and as we further told Bloomberg, the suspension was “unjustified, and likely motivated by reasons other than the stated ones” adding that “we are confident that we did not violate any of the stated Twitter terms: we neither incited harassment, nor did we ‘dox’ the public official, whose contact information is as of this moment listed on the Wuhan institute’s website.”

Fast forward to late Friday night, when unexpectedly we received a brief email from Twitter Support informing us that “we made an error in our enforcement action” as a result of which “we have unsuspended your account.” Speaking to Bloomberg, a Twitter spokesperson said that “we made an error in our enforcement action in this case. Based on additional context from the account holder in appeal, we have reinstated the account. We have a dedicated appeals process for all account holders.” Funny how mistakes happen when you ban first and ask questions later (and only when prompted to do so). In any case, no bad blood right – honest mistake? Well, not really: before all this happened, none other than Twitter’s CEO was following us.

Not anymore. The @zerohedge account also remains highly shadow banned (try searching for the actual zerohedge account on twitter, good luck), perhaps as an innocuous consequence of the “error.” That’s OK though, we never expected an apology. We are just glad that we will be able to share facts and perspectives with our now 700K Twitter followers, a number which has spiked by more than 30K in just the past few hours since the suspension was overturned.

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The Flynn hearing ended in a delay, but these wheels will churn on.

Finishing Touches Being Put On 10 New Criminal Referrals in Russia Probe (JTN)

Congressional Republicans are putting the finishing touches on as many as 10 new criminal referrals asking the Justice Department to investigate key figures in the Russia probe for misconduct ranging from perjury to illegal leaking of classified information, officials told Just the News. The referrals have been spurred by recently declassified evidence that provided explosive new revelations about the conduct of investigators in the now-disproven Russia collusion case, including documents showing FBI agents planned to shut down their investigation of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lack of evidence in January 2017 before they were overruled by superiors.

Other newly released evidence showed numerous Obama administration officials engaged in unmasking Flynn’s name in secret intelligence intercepts during the transition period after the 2016 election and uncovered conflicts in testimonies previously given by former top FBI and intelligence community officials. “Congress is days away from making multiple criminal referrals to DOJ related to conspiracies against Michael Flynn, crimes committed during the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane, false testimony to Congress by top Obama officials, and criminal leaks of classified information from the top rung of the IC,” said a source with direct knowledge of the referrals. The planned referrals come as the Justice Department has expanded its own criminal investigation into the conduct of current and former employees during the Russia probe.

Attorney General William Barr said this week the investigation is looking at why the FBI tried so aggressively to open and sustain an investigation into Trump’s campaign before the 2016 election when it lacked the sort of evidence to justify it, and whether those efforts amounted to conspiracy to defraud the courts or violate the rights of some of the Americans that were targeted. “I think before the election I think we were concerned about the motive, the force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump Campaign without — you know, with a very thin, slender reed as a basis for it,” Barr told Fox News. “It seemed that the Bureau was sort of spring-loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign. And they — there really wasn’t much there to do that on.”

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Julian is not completely shut off from the world. Good.

Julian Assange Just Called (Varoufakis)

Julian called me a little earlier on, at 14.22 London time to be precise. From Belmarsh High Security Prison of course. This is not the first time but, as you can imagine, every time I hear his voice I feel honoured and moved that he should dial my number when he has such few and far between opportunities to place calls. “I want a perspective on world developments out there – I have none in here”, he said. Which, of course, placed a considerable burden on me to articulate thoughts on capitalism’s fate during this pandemic and the repercussions of it all on politics, geopolitics etc. The knowledge that Her Majesty’s Prison authorities would discontinue our discussion at any moment made the task harder.

In a feeble attempt to paint a picture for him on as broad a canvass as possible, I shared with Julian my main thought of the last weeks: Never before has the world of money (i.e. the money markets, that include the share markets) been so decoupled from the world of real people, real stuff – from the real economy. We watch in awe as GDP, personal incomes, wages, company revenues, businesses small and large, collapse while the stock market is staying relatively unscathed. The other day, Hertz declared bankruptcy. When a company does this, its share price goes to zero. Not now. In fact, Hertz is about to issue $1 billion worth of new shares. Why would anyone buy shares of an officially bankrupt company?

The answer is: Because central banks print mountain ranges of money and give it for almost free to financiers to buy any piece of junk floating around the stock exchange. “Complete zombification of the corporations”, is how I put it to Julian. Julian commented that this proves that governments and central banks can keep corporations afloat even when they sell next to nothing at the marketplace. I agreed. But, I also pointed out a major conundrum that capitalism faces for the first time. It is this: Central bank money printing keeps asset prices very high while the price of ‘stuff’ and wages fall. This disconnect can go on growing.

But, when Hertz, British Airways etc. can survive in this manner, they have no reason not to fire half the workforce and to cut the wages of the other half. This creates more deflation/depression in the real economy. Which means that the Central Banks must print more and more to keep asset and share prices high. At some point, the masses out there will rebel and governments will be under pressure to divert some income to them. But this will deflate asset prices. At that point, because these assets are used by corporations as collateral for all the loans they take out to stay afloat, they will lose access to liquidity. A sequence of corporate failures will commence under circumstances of stagnation. “I don’t think capitalism can easily survive, at least not without huge social and geopolitical conflicts, this conundrum”, was my conclusion.

Julian thought about this for a moment and asked me: “How important is consumption to capitalism? What percentage of GDP is at stake if consumption does not recover? Do the corporations need workers or customers?” I answered that it was high enough to make this conundrum real. Yes, Central Banks and robots can keep the corporations going without customers or workers. But, robots cannot buy the stuff they produce. So, this is not a stable equilibrium. The losses in people’s incomes will accelerate, thus generating pivotal discontent.

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https://twitter.com/i/status/1271806010416607232

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Jun 092020
 


Harris&Ewing War Savings Stamps poster, Washington DC 1917

 

Fed Eases Terms Of Main Street Loans (R.)
Nasdaq Ends At Record, Confirms Bull Market On Economic Recovery Hopes (R.)
WHO Warns of COVID19 Rebound Risk, Says Pandemic ‘Worsening’ Globally (RT)
WHO Says Pandemic ‘Far From Over’ As Daily Cases Hit Record High (R.)
Asymptomatic Spread Of Coronavirus Is ‘Very Rare’ – WHO (CNBC)
57% of People Tested In Italy’s Bergamo Have COVID19 Antibodies (R.)
University of Washington Forecasts 145,000 US COVID19 Deaths By August (R.)
Lockdowns Could Have Saved Three Million Lives Across Europe – Study (Ind.)
Arizona State Health Director: Hospitals Must Activate Emergency Plan (ABC15)
EasyJet CEO Says Legal Case Against UK Quarantine Is Strong (R.)
Tesla’s Double-WTF Chart of the Year (WS)
Chinese Investment In 2019 In Australia Down 60% To Lowest Since 2007 (G.)
Barr: Clearing Of Lafayette Park Was Unrelated To Church Photo Op (Turley)
Ex-Warren Surrogate Blasts White Dems For Kneeling In African Cloth (Fox)
The Appallingly Bad Neoclassical Economics of Climate Change (Steve Keen)

 

 

Worldometer has global new cases for June 8 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 107,270.

My count from about 6 am EDT to 6 am EDT is about + 106,175 cases. If the fall from 130,000 continues, that would be good.

 

 

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 19,006
• Brazil + 18,925
• Russia + 8,985
• India + 8,442
• Pakistan + 4,646
• Chile + 4,696

 

 

Cases 7,219,187 (+ 106,175 from yesterday’s 7,113,012)

Deaths 409,108 (+ 2,559 from yesterday’s 406,549)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 


 

 

Ali at his best. Don’t miss.

 

 

The Fed finds yet another way for banks to make money, that can be disguised as helping those in need. Banks get money for virtually free, lend it to small and medium-sized businesses at an elevated rate, pocket the difference, and let the Fed buy up 95% of the loans afterward.

Fed Eases Terms Of Main Street Loans (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve eased the terms of its “Main Street” lending program on Monday, cutting the minimum loan size in half to $250,000 and lengthening the term by a year to encourage more businesses and banks to participate. The central bank also said registration for the program will begin soon and that lenders will be able to start making the loans to small and medium-sized businesses shortly thereafter. The changes, which the Fed said was based on outreach with potential lenders and borrowers, address some of the concerns raised by lenders, lawyers and small business consultants that the previous minimum loan amount of $500,000 was too large to help many businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.


“Supporting small and mid-sized businesses so they are ready to reopen and rehire workers will help foster a broad-based economic recovery,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a statement. The Fed is further minimizing downside risks for banks and credit unions by purchasing 95% of all loans issued through the program, rather than a range of 85% to 95%. The new borrowing minimum may still not be low enough as some businesses need loans smaller than $250,000, Jill Castilla, president and CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma said on Twitter after the Fed announced the changes.

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All banks and investors who’ve received bailout packages will now have to repay them, right?

Nasdaq Ends At Record, Confirms Bull Market On Economic Recovery Hopes (R.)

The Nasdaq posted a record closing high on Monday, becoming the first of the major indexes to confirm a new bull market, while the S&P 500 ended in positive territory for the year as expectations for a swift recovery from a coronavirus-driven downturn increased. Rising technology and communication stocks have driven gains in the Nasdaq, which confirmed a new bull market just 16 weeks after coronavirus fears crushed stocks and pushed the U.S. economy into recession. The Nasdaq has climbed 44.7% from its March 23 bottom. A bull market is confirmed once the index makes a new high and is considered to have begun at the index’s low, according to a widely accepted definition.


The S&P 500 remains about 4.5% below its record high close, while the Dow is about 6.7% below. A closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday showed an unexpected fall in unemployment rate, bolstering views that the worst of the economic damage from the virus outbreak was over. “It’s optimism surrounding the reopening of the global economy, and the likely confirmation that the U.S. economy will experience a V-shaped recovery in the second half,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

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If there is a general second wave, it will hit very hard. Lockdown 2.0 will be difficult to explain, let alone enforce. That’s what you get when you f*ck up 1.0.

WHO Warns of COVID19 Rebound Risk, Says Pandemic ‘Worsening’ Globally (RT)

Now is not the time to become complacent and drop our guard about the coronavirus as the pandemic is still growing globally, World Health Organization officials have warned. Despite some improvements in infection rates in Europe, the global Covid-19 situation is “worsening” yet again, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday during an online press briefing. Sunday, June 7, had most reported cases in a single day so far of the outbreak, he added. According to Tedros, active surveillance and contact tracing are still essential to ensure the virus doesn’t rebound. “More than six months into the pandemic this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” he warned.

The alarming comments by Tedros come as many countries are lifting their Covid-19 lockdowns after reporting success in containing the spread of disease. Businesses are reopening and people are starting to return to offices, with timelines for the resumption of international air travel also being announced. But the WHO has been warning that easing restrictions will inevitably lead to a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus, with the disease making a comeback in a different part of the population after an initial decline in cases. [..] Worldwide, more than 7 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 403,000 have died since the pandemic was first reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

The US remains the worst-hit country with almost 2 million confirmed cases and a death toll of over 110,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. It’s followed by Brazil which has more than 691,000 infections and some 36,400 fatalities. Russia, which has been one of the world leaders in Covid-19 testing, has recorded 476,000 confirmed cases, with almost 6,000 people succumbing to the disease. The WHO has been heavily criticized over its initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UN health agency held off calling the spreading coronavirus a “pandemic,” despite it being found in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East, until March, 11.

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More on that WHO briefing.

WHO Says Pandemic ‘Far From Over’ As Daily Cases Hit Record High (R.)

New coronavirus cases had their biggest daily increase ever as the pandemic worsens globally and has yet to peak in central America, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday, urging countries to press on with efforts to contains the virus. “More than six months into the pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing. More than 136,000 new cases were reported worldwide on Sunday, the most in a single day so far, he said. Nearly 75% of them were reported from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. In response to a question on China, WHO’s top emergencies expert, Dr. Mike Ryan, said retrospective studies of how the outbreak has been addressed could wait, adding: “We need to focus now on what we are doing today to prevent second peaks.”


Ryan also said infections in central American countries including Guatemala were still on the rise, and that they were “complex” epidemics. “I think this is a time of great concern,” he said, calling for strong government leadership and international support for the region. Brazil is now one of the hotspots of the pandemic, with the second highest number of confirmed cases, behind only the United States, and a death toll that last week surpassed Italy’s. After removing cumulative numbers for coronavirus deaths in Brazil from a national website, the Health Ministry sowed further confusion and controversy by releasing two contradictory sets of figures for the latest tally of infection cases and fatalities.

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Very curious statement. And they don’t provide the sources it’s based on.

Asymptomatic Spread Of Coronavirus Is ‘Very Rare’ – WHO (CNBC)

Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections. Some people, particularly young and otherwise healthy individuals, who are infected by the coronavirus never develop symptoms or only develop mild symptoms. Others might not develop symptoms until days after they were actually infected. Preliminary evidence from the earliest outbreaks indicated that the virus could spread from person-to-person contact, even if the carrier didn’t have symptoms. But WHO officials now say that while asymptomatic spread can occur, it is not the main way it’s being transmitted.


“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters. “It’s very rare.” [..] To be sure, asymptomatic and presymptomatic spread of the virus appears to still be happening, Van Kerkhove said but remains rare. That finding has important implications for how to screen for the virus and limit its spread. “What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases,” Van Kerkhove said. “If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce” the outbreak.

https://twitter.com/ganeshran/status/1270082616834826242

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With Wuhan, the worst hit place on earth. But 57% still doesn’t appear enough for herd immunity.

Testing for antibodies is still shaky, and so is its effect on the disease.

57% of People Tested In Italy’s Bergamo Have COVID19 Antibodies (R.)

More than half the residents tested in Italy’s northern province of Bergamo have COVID-19 antibodies, health authorities said on Monday, citing a sample survey. Of 9,965 residents who had blood tests between April 23 and June 3, 57% had antibodies indicating they had come into contact with the coronavirus, the survey showed. Health authorities in Bergamo said the results were based on a “random” sample which was “sufficiently broad” to be a reliable indicator of how many people had been infected in the province, which became the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak. In a separate statement issued later, the Bergamo health agency said that most of those in the sample were residents of the worst-hit areas.


Many had already been put under quarantine, the statement added. Antibodies were found in just over 30% of the 10,404 health operators tested although they are generally considered more at risk than other people. In a report released in early May, national statistics institute ISTAT said the number of deaths in Bergamo was up 568% in March compared with the 2015-2019 average, making it Italy’s worst-hit city in terms of deaths. Its hospitals were overwhelmed by infected people and, with morgues unable to keep up, convoys of army trucks carrying away the dead became a chilling symbol of the global pandemic.

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Now we’re just throwing numbers around. They “estimated on Monday that 145,728 people could die of COVID-19 in the United States by August”. Not 145,729.

University of Washington Forecasts 145,000 US Covid-19 Deaths By August (R.)

University of Washington researchers estimated on Monday that 145,728 people could die of COVID-19 in the United States by August, raising their grim forecast by more than 5,000 fatalities in a matter of days. On Friday, the widely cited Institute for Health Metrics and evaluation at the university projected 140,496 deaths by August from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Researchers did not give a reason for the abrupt revision. The new estimate came on the same day that Texas reported its highest number of hospitalizations so far in the pandemic and 22 U.S. states showed at least a small uptick in the number of new confirmed cases, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.


Among the states with the sharpest increases were Michigan and Arizona, according to Johns Hopkins, while Virginia, Rhode Island and Nebraska showed the greatest decreases. Infectious disease experts have said that large street protests held in major U.S. cities after the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody, could touch off a new outbreak of the disease. A total of more than 1.9 million cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, have been reported in the United States, according to a Reuters tally, which has confirmed 110,000 deaths.

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Or could not. Could be half, could be twice as much. Who has faith in the Imperial College?

Lockdowns Could Have Saved Three Million Lives Across Europe – Study (Ind.)

Europe’s lockdowns over coronavirus may have saved around three million lives, according to a new study. Imperial College London scientists found restrictions had a “substantial effect” in reducing transmission levels of the virus in a modelling study involving data from 11 countries from the continent up to early May. European nations began implementing social distancing, school closures and national lockdowns in March, with the UK going into lockdown on 23 March. The Imperial researchers estimate across the countries looked at – including France, Germany, Italy and Spain – between 12 and 15 million people were infected with Covid-19 up to 4 May, representing between 3.2 per cent and 4.0 per cent of the population. Scientists also studied data from the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

In their paper, published in the Nature journal, they said the results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions and lockdown in particular have had a “large effect on reducing transmission”. The researchers estimated 3.1 million deaths had been prevented across the 11 countries due to interventions since the beginning of the pandemic. They came up with the figure after comparing the deaths predicted under a model with no interventions to the deaths predicted in an intervention model. The paper says: “Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.”

Meanwhile, a second study from the University of California, looking at China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France, and the United States, has estimated interventions in those countries prevented or delayed around 530 million cases. The paper, also published in Nature, said: “In the absence of policy actions, we estimate that early infections of Covid-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of roughly 38% per day.” Researchers said they found that anti-contagion policies “significantly and substantially” slowed this growth, adding: “Some policies have different impacts on different populations, but we obtain consistent evidence that the policy packages now deployed are achieving large, beneficial, and measurable health outcomes.”

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Several states need to watch out.

Arizona State Health Director: Hospitals Must Activate Emergency Plan (ABC15)

The Arizona Department of Health Services director sent out a letter this weekend, informing hospitals in our state to “fully activate” their facility emergency plans. In doing so, the hospitals are going to be preparing surge beds, cross-training staff, and possibly reducing or suspending elective surgeries to “ensure adequate bed capacity for both COVID and non-COVID admissions.” The Saturday letter states the hospitals need to identify additional ICU and inpatient beds to meet the 50 percent additional bed increase. The state’s hospitals now must determine whether or not to move their facilities from conventional care to contingency care, and also prepare for crisis care.


The letter was dated the same day that ADHS director Dr. Cara Christ told ABC15 that her department’s staff had made errors and reported incorrect hospitalization numbers since April on the Arizona Department of Health Services coronavirus dashboard. ADHS miscalculated the number of hospital beds currently available and in use in Arizona, due to staff members’ confusion about the hospitals’ licensed bed capacity and surge capacity.

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The quarantine comes at the wrong end of the lockdown. They should have isolated the 100,000 they let in during the lockdown, but instead never even tested them, as a matter of policy.

EasyJet CEO Says Legal Case Against UK Quarantine Is Strong (R.)

Britain’s quarantine plan was rushed into existence, is out of proportion and should be challenged in the courts, according to the head of easyJet which has joined rivals in threatening legal proceedings. Chief Executive Johan Lundgren said he believed easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways had a good chance of winning any legal battle and warned that if the measure stayed in place for a long time he could have to make further job cuts. Britain on Monday introduced a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals despite the threat of legal action. “We think that there’s enough evidence and there’s a strong case here that this should be challenged by the courts. This is something that has been rushed through. It’s not in proportion,” Lundgren told Sky News on Monday.


EasyJet is already planning to cut 4,500 jobs or 30% of its workforce because of the coronavirus crisis, and Lundgren said quarantine would make the situation even worse. He said he hoped the threat of legal action would push the government to replace the measure with “a targeted approach that is based on the solutions of air bridges”, which allow people to travel freely between countries with low infection rates. When asked if the quarantine could lead to more job losses, he said, “I fear so…I think and I fear unless there is a change to this (the quarantine rule), that the aviation industry as we know it here in the UK will not be in tact.”

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Fun with Musk.

Tesla’s Double-WTF Chart of the Year (WS)

Tesla’s shares closed at a new closing high today of $949.92. This beat the prior closing high of February 19 of $917.42. But it remains a tad below the intraday high of 968.99 of February 4. So let me walk you through this in chronological order because it’s just too juicy to pass up. On February 4, 2020, when Tesla’s shares hit $968.99, I posted the “WTF chart of the year,” calling Tesla a “Supernatural Phenomenon.” The shares had surged 170% from mid-December. And Tesla’s market cap had skyrocketed during the less than two-month period by over $110 billion:

Then it came unglued. On the way down, on February 13, Tesla sold new shares at $767 a share and collected over $2 billion in cash from investors. This was a wise move for Tesla. Perhaps Musk saw that the pandemic might be shutting down the factory in Fremont, after it had already shut down the factory in Shanghai, and perhaps he saw that Tesla would burn through cash a lot faster during the pandemic than before, and it was a lightning-fast drive-by share sale.


And shares swooned. Then on March 18, Tesla shares plunged another 16% to $361.22, amid allegations that it was flouting the lockdown order of Alameda County, by running two full shifts at its Fremont factory. This was a confusing story with allegations and counter-allegations, that then threatened to spiral out of control, and we won’t get into it. Nevertheless, that fateful March 18, I posted the new version of the WTF chart of the year, one of the most majestic double-sided spikes:

And then the whole circus started all over again. Since March 18, the stock has re-skyrocketed 163%, and Tesla’s market capitalization has re-skyrocket by $110 billion, which brings us to the new-and-improved Double-WTF chart of the year.

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Is it mainly coal?

Chinese Investment In 2019 In Australia Down 60% To Lowest Since 2007 (G.)

Chinese investment in Australia has fallen by almost 60% as Beijing shifts its focus towards developing nations that have signed up for its Belt and Road Initiative. Despite record trade between the two nations, Chinese investment in Australia fell from $8.2bn in 2018 to $3.4bn in 2019, with 43% fewer deals struck. A new report puts the plunge down to tighter Chinese regulations, a negative perception of Australia’s investment rules, and a shift towards Latin America and Belt and Road projects in developing countries. The KPMG and University of Sydney study found new Chinese investment in Australia had plunged to its lowest level since 2007.


Hans Hendrischke, one of the report’s authors, said the decline mirrored similar patterns in other western countries. But he said Chinese investment into Australia had fallen at a faster rate than other nations including the United States. Australian food and agricultural businesses were the biggest recipients of Chinese investment, with 44% of the total funding flowing into the sector. The result was largely driven by the acquisition of the Bellamy’s dairy company. The commercial real estate sector was the second largest recipient despite an annual decline of 51%.

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Apparently CBS cut out all sorts of things Barr said.

Barr: Clearing Of Lafayette Park Was Unrelated To Church Photo Op (Turley)

Margaret Brennan just completed an interview with Attorney General Bill Barr on CBS Face the Nation. For days, the allegation from politicians, the press, protesters, and pundits has been that the Park was cleared for the purpose of the widely criticized photo op held by Trump in front of St. John’s Church. [..] The photo op allegation continues to be repeated on the Internet despite various media reports debunking it. This morning Barr confirmed the details in those reports and offered some new details. Barr however continues to support the level of force used in the Park and the decision to go forward with the clearing of the Park. Barr confirmed that the plan to clear the park came from the Park Police, which asked for the expansion of the perimeter on Sunday night. He reviewed the plan Monday morning and, with others, approved the plan. The order was transmitted to Park Police at 2 pm.

[..] Brennan does challenge what she said was Barr’s assertion that the Secretary Mark Esper did not rule out the use of the Insurrection Act. This may have been a lost in legal translation moment. It think Barr was making a narrower legal point while Brennan thought it was a more general statement. Here is what Barr said: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.” Esper was not saying that the Act could not be used but should only be used as a “last resort.”

Neither Barr not Esper supported invoking the Act, i.e., ordering deployments under the Act. Both however agreed it could be used as a legal matter if circumstances warranted. Here is what Barr said: MARGARET BRENNAN: So in this Monday meeting with the president, when the Defense Secretary, who has now publicly said that he opposed using the Insurrection Act, you said what to the president? BARR: I don’t think the Secretary of Defense said he opposed it. I think he said that it was a last resort and he didn’t think it was necessary. I think we all agree that it’s a last resort, but it’s ultimately the president’s decision. The- the reporting is completely false on this. Both Esper and Barr seem to agree that the Act is available but that current circumstances do not warrant their use. Both agree it should be used as a “last resort.”

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I know this is Fox, and only one black voice (many more have spoken), but this must be one of the most racist things I’ve seen in a long time.

I was wondering at what point in the carefully planned spin doctor meeting, was the suggestion voted down to go in blackface.

Ex-Warren Surrogate Blasts White Dems For Kneeling In African Cloth (Fox)

A former national surrogate for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., ripped into white congressional Democrats on Monday after they wore African-patterned garb and knelt in a demonstration against racism and police brutality. “I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that they draped these white people in kente cloth to ‘honor’ him. This has to be hell,” author Frederick Joseph tweeted, also arguing that black Americans are “being pandered to, and ultimately, disrespected.” In a tweet thread, he argued that Democrats were failing in their attempts to be helpful amid ongoing strife surrounding George Floyd’s death.

He specifically took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who joined other Democrats in kneeling inside of the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. Democratic members of both the House and Senate knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor Floyd, representing the amount of time he was pinned down by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The kneeling also touched on an ongoing protest trend harkening back to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick and demonstrations during the national anthem. Pelosi said on Monday that members of Congress would be kneeling in a place where they typically recited the Pledge of Allegiance.


“This is a mess,” Joseph said in one tweet. In another, he added: “If anyone can’t understand why Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and them dressed up like they’re trying to sneak into Wakanda is disrespectful and appropriative you have a great deal to learn.” Wakanda is the fictional land in Africa associated with the Marvel superhero Black Panther.

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Very long from Steve on the nonsense most economists spout about the role of energy in an economy. They basically treat it as if it doesn’t play any role, much in the same way that people like Paul Krigmen deny the role that banks play.

The Appallingly Bad Neoclassical Economics of Climate Change (Steve Keen)

Nordhaus justified the assumption that 87% of GDP will be unaffected by climate change on the basis that: “..for the bulk of the economy—manufacturing, mining, utilities, finance, trade, and most service industries—it is difficult to find major direct impacts of the projected climate changes over the next 50 to 75 years”. (Nordhaus 1991, p. 932) In fact, a direct effect can easily be identified by surmounting the failure of economists in general—not just Neoclassicals—to appreciate the role of energy in production. Almost all economic models use production functions that assume that “Labour” and “Capital” are all that are needed to produce “Output”.

However, neither Labour nor Capital can function without energy inputs: “to coin a phrase, labour without energy is a corpse, while capital without energy is a sculpture” (Keen, Ayres et al. 2019, p. 41). Energy is directly needed to produce GDP, and therefore if energy production has to fall because of global warming, then so will GDP. [..] if climatic changes caused by the increase in global temperature persuade the public and policymakers that we must stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere “now”, whenever “now” may be, then global GDP will fall roughly proportionately to the ratio of fossil-fuel energy production to total energy production at that time.

As of 2020, fossil fuels provided roughly 85% of energy production. So, if 2020 were the year humanity decided that the growth in CO2 had to stop, GDP would fall by of the order of 85%. Even if the very high rate of growth of renewables in 2015 were maintained—when the ratio of renewables to total energy production was growing at about 3% per annum—renewables would still yield less than 40% of total energy production in 2050—see Figure 8. This implies a drop in GDP of about 50% at that time. The decision by Neoclassical climate change economists to exclude “manufacturing, mining, utilities, finance, trade, and most service industries” from any consequences from climate change is thus utterly unjustified.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Apr 212020
 


Ben Shahn “Scene in Jackson Square, New Orleans” 1935

 

Coronavirus’s Ability To Mutate Has Been Vastly Underestimated (SCMP)
WHO Warns That Few Have Developed Antibodies To COVID19 (G.)
LA Infections 40 Times Greater Than Known Cases In Antibody Tests (R.)
Getting A Handle On Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Scripps)
Coronavirus Attacks Blood Vessel Linings All Over The Body (SCMP)
Through No Fault of Their Own (Ben Hunt)
US Economic Shutdown Too Tight For ‘Optimal’ Outcome: Minneapolis Fed (R.)
Oil’s Big Crash Is More Rational Than It Looks (R.)
US Energy Industry Steps Up Lobbying For Fed’s Emergency Aid (R.)
Mortgage Payments Paused Or Reduced For 3 Million US Households (R.)
US Treasury Releases $2.9 Billion In Airline Support (R.)
Banks Warn New Small-Business Funding Could Evaporate In 2 Days (Pol.)
NHS Staff Not Allowed To Tweet About ‘Political Issues’ – Like PPE (Ind.)
New Zealanders Donate $230,000 To Help Zoo Feed Animals (G.)
The Placeholder (Kunstler)

 

 

With test results all over the place, we need to recognize that having all the world’s top minds on viruses focused on the same issue, does not guarantee a thing. Other than confusion.

• US records 1,433 #coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours:.

 

Cases 2,498,480 (+ 79,296 from yesterday’s 2,419,184)

Deaths 171,333 (+ 5,559 from yesterday’s 165,774)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: among Active Cases, Serious or Critical fell to 3%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live: Note: Turkey is coming on very strong.

 

 

 

 

Virustime and human time are different things.

Coronavirus’s Ability To Mutate Has Been Vastly Underestimated (SCMP)

A new study by one of China’s top scientists has found the ability of the new coronavirus to mutate has been vastly underestimated and different strains may account for different impacts of the disease in various parts of the world. Professor Li Lanjuan and her colleagues from Zhejiang University found within a small pool of patients many mutations not previously reported. These mutations included changes so rare that scientists had never considered they might occur. They also confirmed for the first time with laboratory evidence that certain mutations could create strains deadlier than others. “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity,” Li and her collaborators wrote in a non-peer reviewed paper released on preprint service medRxiv.org on Sunday.

Li’s study provided the first hard evidence that mutation could affect how severely the virus caused disease or damage in its host. Li took an unusual approach to investigate the virus mutation. She analysed the viral strains isolated from 11 randomly chosen Covid-19 patients from Hangzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, and then tested how efficiently they could infect and kill cells. The deadliest mutations in the Zhejiang patients had also been found in most patients across Europe, while the milder strains were the predominant varieties found in parts of the United States, such as Washington state, according to their paper. A separate study had found that New York strains had been imported from Europe. The death rate in New York was similar to that in many European countries, if not worse.

But the weaker mutation did not mean a lower risk for everybody, according to Li’s study. In Zhejiang, two patients in their 30s and 50s who contracted the weaker strain became severely ill. Although both survived in the end, the elder patient needed treatment in an intensive care unit. This finding could shed light on differences in regional mortality. The pandemic’s infection and death rates vary from one country to another, and many explanations have been proposed. Genetic scientists had noticed that the dominant strains in different geographic regions were inherently different. Some researchers suspected the varying mortality rates could, in part, be caused by mutations but they had no direct proof.

The issue was further complicated because survival rates depended on many factors, such as age, underlying health conditions or even blood type. In hospitals, Covid-19 has been treated as one disease and patients have received the same treatment regardless of the strain they have. Li and her colleagues suggested that defining mutations in a region might determine actions to fight the virus. “Drug and vaccine development, while urgent, need to take the impact of these accumulating mutations … into account to avoid potential pitfalls,” they said.

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Confusion reigns supreme.

WHO Warns That Few Have Developed Antibodies To COVID19 (G.)

Only a tiny proportion of the global population – maybe as few as 2% or 3% – appear to have antibodies in the blood showing they have been infected with Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization, a finding that bodes ill for hopes that herd immunity will ease the exit from lockdown. “Easing restrictions is not the end of the epidemic in any country,” said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a media briefing in Geneva on Monday. “So-called lockdowns can help to take the heat out of a country’s epidemic.” But serological testing to find out how large a proportion of the population have had the infection and developed antibodies to it – which it is hoped will mean they have some level of immunity – suggests that the numbers are low.

“Early data suggests that a relatively small percentage of the populations may have been infected,” Tedros said. “Not more than 2%-3%.” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, an American infectious diseases expert who is the WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19, said they had thought the number of people infected would be higher, but she stressed it was still too early to be sure. “Initially, we see a lower proportion of people with antibodies than we were expecting,” she said. “A lower number of people are infected.” On Friday, a study carried out in Santa Clara, California by Stanford University and released as a “pre-print” without peer review, found that 50 to 85 times more people had been infected with the virus than official figures showed.

Santa Clara county had 1,094 confirmed cases of Covid-19 at the time the study was carried out, but antibody tests suggest that between 48,000 and 81,000 people had been infected by early April, most of whom did not develop symptoms. But even those high figures mean that within the whole population of the county, only 3% have been infected and have antibodies to the virus. A study in the Netherlands of 7,000 blood donors also found that just 3% had antibodies. Van Kerkhove said they needed to look carefully at the way the studies were being carried out. “A number of studies we are aware of in pre-print have suggested that small proportions of the population [have antibodies],” she said. These were “in single digits, up to 14% in Germany and France”. “It is really important to understand how the studies were done.”

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Are the antibody tests valuable?

LA Infections 40 Times Greater Than Known Cases In Antibody Tests (R.)

Some 4.1% of adults tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in a study of Los Angeles County residents, health officials said on Monday, suggesting the rate of infection may be 40 times higher than the number of confirmed cases. The serology tests, conducted by University of Southern California researchers on 863 people indicate the death rate from the pandemic could be lower than previously thought but also that the respiratory illness may be being spread more widely by people who show no symptoms. “We haven’t known the true extent of COVID-19 infections in our community because we have only tested people with symptoms and the availability of tests has been limited,” Neeraj Sood, a professor of public policy at USC and lead researcher on the study.

“The estimates also suggest that we might have to recalibrate disease prediction models and rethink public health strategies,” Sood said. At least 17 additional fatalities were recorded in Los Angeles County on Monday, bringing the total to 600, with more than 12,300 positive cases, according to a Reuters tally. The county is home to roughly 8 million people. The Los Angeles County results were announced as antibody tests come under increasing scrutiny over a high number of false positives reported in the kits. A similar study conducted in Santa Clara County last week by a Stanford University researcher has been criticized over its methodology and sample size.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said health officials there would begin conducting statewide antibody testing of 3,000 people on Monday. The antibody tests, using decades-old ELISA technology, do not always pick up early-stage infections but show whether a person had the virus in the past, even if the person was asymptomatic. In comparison, the so called RT-PCR-technology swab tests used at drive-through stations and clinics across the country determine whether a person has the virus at that moment by looking for it in nose or throat secretions.

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40%? 80%? Anybody’s guess.

Getting A Handle On Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Scripps)

Since human-to-human transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was first confirmed in January 2020, the early identification and testing of individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 has been the primary focus of public health measures in virtually all locales affected by the pandemic. But over the last two months [1], it has become increasingly clear that a sizable proportion of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not, in fact, have any symptoms of COVID-19. This new knowledge has significant implications for the targeting and scale of our testing efforts. For reasons that are not yet known, SARS-CoV-2 infection in certain individuals appears to cause no detectable illness.

Presumably, though, because these individuals shed enough virus particles to trigger positive results in PCR testing, they may be capable of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others, an uncertain number of whom will develop COVID-19. Such cryptic transmission might explain the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 around the globe—and the grave challenge involved in containing the virus. In the studies that we have summarized in the table, the range of infection rates is wide: from 0.76% for residents of Iceland to 36% for residents of a Boston homeless shelter. It is striking, however, that the proportion of individuals who test positive for SARS-CoV-2, but who have no symptoms of COVID-19, remains consistently high: from approximately 31% to 88%, with a mean of 56%.

Because of various limitations in the summarized studies, this likely overstates the overall population mean, which some observers have suggested is around 40%. It should be noted that the summarized studies are essentially convenience samples. They do not purport to depict anything more than the circumscribed populations from which data were collected. Large, well-designed studies with representative samples are desperately needed to accurately assess the prevalence of those who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, yet are asymptomatic for COVID-19—and to determine their impact on the pandemic.

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So, blood vessel linings and testicles.

Coronavirus Attacks Blood Vessel Linings All Over The Body (SCMP)

The coronavirus attacks the lining of blood vessels all over the body, which can ultimately lead to multiple organ failure, according to a new study published in The Lancet. “This virus does not only attack the lungs, it attacks the vessels everywhere,” said Frank Ruschitzka, an author of the paper from University Hospital Zurich. He said the researchers had found that the deadly virus caused more than pneumonia. “It enters the endothelium [layer of cells], which is the defence line of the blood vessels. So it brings your own defence down and causes problems in microcirculation,” said Ruschitzka, referring to circulation in the smallest of blood vessels. It then reduces the blood flow to different parts of the body and eventually stops blood circulation, according to Ruschitzka, chairman of the heart centre and cardiology department at the university hospital in Switzerland.


“From what we do see clinically, patients have problems in all organs – in the heart, kidney, intestine, everywhere,” he said. That also explained why smokers and people with pre-existing conditions who had a weakened endothelial function, or unhealthy blood vessels, were more vulnerable to the novel virus, he said. Those underlying conditions included hypertension, or high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and established cardiovascular disease. The study, published on Friday, found viral elements within endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels, and inflammatory cells in Covid-19 patients. While the results were based on analysis of three cases, Ruschitzka said autopsies on other Covid-19 patients had also found their blood vessel linings were “full of virus” and the function of vessels was impaired in all of their organs.

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Moral hazard squared.

Through No Fault of Their Own (Ben Hunt)

“I think we all agree with you that more money for Main Street is needed. But maybe not in spite of the money to all of these companies and whatever that make up the economy, as well. More money is needed everywhere, perhaps. Why does anybody deserve to get wiped out from a crisis created like this? It’s like a natural disaster! Why does anyone deserve to be wiped out? Wouldn’t that be immoral itself?”


“Mr. Clarida also dismissed a question about whether the central bank had created a “moral hazard” that encouraged risky investor behavior when the Fed moved quickly to backstop swaths of credit markets. “This is entirely an exogenous event,” said Mr. Clarida, noting how the virus—not private-sector behavior—had forced widespread business closures and revenue losses.”

I, for one, am delighted to learn of the “Through No Fault of Their Own” exemption to stock market risk. What a relief to learn that there’s no need for the plebes to hog all of the money, that so long as investment losses are from an “exogenous event” as opposed to “private sector behavior” – whatever the hell that means – the Fed will provide unlimited amounts of money – their words, not mine – to make the rich investors whole. Could this possibly be a bad idea … some form of moral hazard … for the federal government to insure the rich investors against capital market losses by buying TRILLIONS of dollars in financial assets and providing TRILLIONS of dollars in interest-free loans liquidity facilities? You know, provided that these losses weren’t their fault. LOL.

These are exactly the same people who paid off Goldman Sachs 100 cents on the dollar with their AIG losses in 2009. You think they give a flying fuck what you think about moral hazard or precedent or optics or fairness or decency? You think these oligarchs and their CNBC/fintwit Renfields care about ANYTHING other than getting their MONEY back? Why, it would be immoral NOT to pay off the rich investors on their market losses. I mean, sure, let’s hope that Congress gets its act together and throws a bone to the poors, but c’mon, man. First things first. Besides, you wanna know the REAL moral hazard here? Wanna know what sort of immoral behavior your sociopath “leaders” are worried about encouraging?

“Claiming the relief package will encourage people to stay out of the workforce, Graham told reporters that the bill “pays you more not to work than if you were working,” noting that it would provide the equivalent of $24.07 an hour in South Carolina versus the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. “If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.”‘

I am not making this up. It’s the old Welfare Queen argument, all dolled-up for the age of COVID-19. Can’t make unemployment too attractive, you know … all those good-for-nothing poors will laze at home eating bonbons and sucking on the gummint teat instead of getting off their ass and doing an honest day’s work.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Big 4 airlines will be accessing tens of billions of dollars in cash grants and easy 10-year loans, all explicitly designed to support entrenched management and equity shareholders. But hey, fret not, concerned citizen! Management will be prevented from making more stock buybacks until Sept. 30, 2021. That’s a whole eighteen months of no stock buybacks, so don’t tell me that Wall Street doesn’t understand shared sacrifice. And yikes! Management will also have to get by on their current salaries for the next three years, as hard as it may be to imagine the privation and human misery that will entail.

Read more …

The middle ground between a job and a life as expressed in “..setting the “value of a statistical life” at $11.5 million..”

US Economic Shutdown Too Tight For ‘Optimal’ Outcome: Minneapolis Fed (R.)

Current U.S. economic restrictions may be twice as tough as needed to balance the risks of the coronavirus pandemic against the economic needs of workers, according to research here released on Monday by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve. Titled “Health versus Wealth,” the paper was explicit in its topic and its methodology, setting the “value of a statistical life” at $11.5 million, in line with other federal agencies like the Department of Transportation. It used that figure to analyze the trade-offs between keeping more workers idled and easing social distancing. The current restrictions, the research concluded, are shifting benefits from younger workers, who would be better off with looser rules, to older individuals for whom protection from the coronavirus is more vital.


A middle ground, with more modest restrictions left in place until the end of July, produces the “optimal” outcome, it said. “The shutdown in place is around twice as extensive as it should be,” wrote the research team, which included Minneapolis Fed monetary adviser Jonathan Heathcote and Kansas City Fed senior economist Andrew Glover. The team noted that ending the shutdown at Easter, as President Donald Trump initially hoped to do, “would have implied an additional 172,000 deaths,” more than four times the 40,000 who have died so far.As it stands, the group estimates that 418,000 people in the United States would die over the next 18 months or so if economic restrictions are largely lifted by July 1. The Trump administration has relied on estimates of around 60,000 deaths through early August.

Read more …

Oil’s Big Crash Is More Rational Than It Looks (R.)

Oil prices have gone through the floor, literally. The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil went negative for the first time in history on Monday as traders panicked that storage for black gold coming from the vast U.S. fields had filled to the brim. Normally, that sort of crash in one-month U.S. crude futures would be indicative of something funny going on in the market rather than something deeply disturbing. In this case, both things can be true. The immediate cause of the mayhem was the normally innocuous news that the so-called “front-month” contract for May is expiring on Tuesday. Usually, investors who want to continue to invest in oil would simply sell their soon-to-expire paper to buyers that want it right now, and then buy the June contract, with a minimal price difference between the two.

Yet with the June contract still trading at $20 a barrel, that spread is now at an unprecedented level. Plummeting demand and a lack of restraint from U.S. drillers mean that at the current rate, storage capacity in Oklahoma will be full in a few weeks, traders told Reuters. Buyers are so wary of taking delivery of crude amid what they see as a global oil glut and a storage crunch that they will only do so at murderously low prices. The optimist’s view, if such a thing is possible, is that other oil benchmarks are less bombed out, and dislocations like this could also suggest short-term investors are struggling with their trades. The similar contract for Brent crude, which reflects oil prices in Europe, fell “only” 9% to $25 a barrel on Monday.

Recent cuts led by Saudi Arabia and Russia in theory offer a coordinated reduction that will remove 10 million barrels of oil from the market daily in May and June. Critically, though, these cuts don’t start until next month. A large chunk of the promised cuts may not even materialise, and pressure on Texas regulators to limit production hasn’t transpired, suggesting there’s no regional relief in sight either. The basic problem remains that the hit to daily global oil demand from Covid-19 could be as high as 30 million barrels. If so, storage will be busted through, and prices will need to fall low enough for the market to balance. While Monday’s epic crash may represent an overshoot, it is based in reality.

Read more …

Let’s bailout shale.

US Energy Industry Steps Up Lobbying For Fed’s Emergency Aid (R.)

The U.S. energy industry has asked the Federal Reserve to change the terms of a $600 billion lending facility so that oil and gas companies can use the funds to repay their ballooning debts, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The effort comes at a time of intensifying pain for the sector as U.S. crude oil futures traded in negative territory on Monday for the first time in history on worries of massive oversupply. So far, the energy industry has largely missed out on federal support to businesses hurt by the novel coronavirus economic disruption, but it is hoping it can benefit from the Fed’s Main Street Lending Program due to launch in coming weeks. The Fed has been deluged with roughly 2,000 letters seeking changes to the rules of the program, under which the Fed will purchase 95% of eligible bank loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.


The terms of that and other federal assistance schemes are under growing scrutiny amid worries that insufficient conditions are being placed on borrowers and banks may dish out funds to companies without the greatest need for the cash. The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) asked the Fed to reconsider a provision that bars eligible borrowers from using the cash to repay other loan balances and requires borrowers to promise to repay the Fed before other debt of equal or lower priority, according to an April 15 letter seen by Reuters. “Oil and natural gas producers are not looking for a government handout; they are seeking a bridge to help survive this economic disruption,” the IPAA, which represents thousands of independent oil and natural gas producers, wrote in the letter, which has not been previously reported.

Read more …

How about renters though?

Mortgage Payments Paused Or Reduced For 3 Million US Households (R.)

Some 3 million U.S. households have won at least a measure of relief on mortgage payments as efforts to squelch the coronavirus pandemic throw millions out of work and stretch household balance sheets, a survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed on Monday. About 5.95% of mortgage loans were in forbearance during the survey week of April 6-12, up from 3.74% a week earlier and from just 0.25% the week of March 2, the industry lobbying group said on Monday. That increase helps builds the case for a rescue for the mortgage services industry, suggested Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s senior vice president and chief economist.


“To ensure market stability during these challenging times for consumers and the entire industry, servicers need access to interim financing so that they can continue to play this critical role,” Fratantoni said. Congress did not include any such relief in its recent $2.3 trillion stimulus package, though some top Democrats have called for it and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan has said he is open-minded about potentially coming to the sector’s aid. The survey covered 38.3 million loans serviced by independent mortgage companies and banks, representing about 77% of the first mortgage-servicing industry.

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Cheap air travel is a huge bubble, so yeah, bailout.

US Treasury Releases $2.9 Billion In Airline Support (R.)

The U.S. Treasury Department said on Monday it had disbursed $2.9 billion in initial payroll assistance to 54 smaller passenger carrier and two major passenger airlines, while it finalized grant agreements with six major airlines. The Treasury is initially giving major airlines 50% of funds awarded and releasing the rest in a series of payments. In total, Treasury is awarding U.S. passenger airlines $25 billion in funds earmarked for payroll costs. Major airlines must repay 30% of the funds in low-interest loans and grant Treasury warrants equal to 10% of the loan amount, while airlines receiving $100 million or less do not need to repay any funds or issue warrants to the government.


Treasury said on Monday it had finalized grant agreements with Allegiant Air, American Airlines Group Inc, Delta Air Lines Inc, Southwest Airlines Co, Spirit Airlines Inc, and United Airlines Holdings Inc. Air carriers have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and seen U.S. travel demand fall by 95%. Southwest said it would receive half of the $3.2 billion payroll award immediately and the remainder in installments during May, June and July. Separately, Treasury said Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp and SkyWest Airlines had also indicated that they planned to participate. The 12 major airlines represent nearly 95% of U.S. airline capacity.

Read more …

The entire US economic system is ideal for smothering small business.

Banks Warn New Small-Business Funding Could Evaporate In 2 Days (Pol.)

Lawmakers are nearing a deal to restart an emergency small-business loan program that exhausted its funding last week — but it may buy only a few days before the program screeches to a halt once again. Lenders are warning their customers they might not be able to secure loans even if Congress provides an additional $300 billion as soon as this week. Banking industry representatives say the program has a burn rate of $50 billion per day and needs closer to $1 trillion to meet demand, with hundreds of thousands of applications pending. “This is going to go within, at most, 72 hours,” said Consumer Bankers Association President Richard Hunt, who represents large banks. “But the odds are more like 48 hours.”

The legislation also likely won’t tackle controversial elements of the program’s structure, chiefly an exemption that allowed large companies such as Shake Shack and Ruth’s Hospitality Group to obtain tens of millions of dollars in loans, as well as rules that encouraged banks to favor their existing customers. The hurried rescue effort had only just begun to operate as intended when funding lapsed Thursday, after banks at first muddled through with a lack of guidance from the Trump administration and an overloaded Small Business Administration system needed to approve loans. Lenders handed out nearly 1.7 million loans from April 3 until the initial allocation of $350 billion for the program was exhausted.

Now, with controversy swirling around big companies taking advantage of the first rounds of loans, small businesses may be in for another shock with funding set to run dry again shortly after it’s made available to the program, which was set up to avert massive layoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The loans have proved enticing to businesses because they can be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payroll.

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The level of craziness is not always easy to comprehend.

NHS Staff Not Allowed To Tweet About ‘Political Issues’ – Like PPE (Ind.)

An NHS trust has been accused of “gagging” its staff by asking them not to tweet about “political issues” such as “PPE, testing and exit strategies”. Workers at the Norfolk and Suffolk mental health trust were issued guidance on “Covid-19 suggested subjects for tweets” as part of a staff newsletter. Acceptable tweets included praising staff for their hard work, volunteering to move departments, working over the weekend and keeping people safe. The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust faced backlash over their definition of a “political issue” after an extract from the newsletter was posted to Twitter by the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk. A spokesperson for The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust told us:


“In response to requests for guidance from our staff who are new to social media we produced guidelines to help support them. Our staff are keen to reassure the public and celebrate the work of their colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic and these suggestions were intended to support them to do that. We actively encourage our staff to use social media within the remit of our social media policy. It was never the intention to deter staff from giving their own views on these issues.” According to government figures, 27 NHS staff members have died nationwide while fighting Covid-19. Why some NHS workers have not had proper access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing have been some of the key questions levelled at the government over its handling of the coronavirus crisis. The least we can expect NHS frontline staff to do is talk about it.

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This must be a glbal issue. If you live near a zoo, check them out.

New Zealanders Donate $230,000 To Help Zoo Feed Animals (G.)

New Zealanders have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed hungry zoo animals in the midst of lockdown as the prime minister announced coronavirus lockdown restrictions would continue for at least three more weeks. Orana Wildlife Park on the outskirts of Christchurch is home to 400 wild and domestic animals, including chimps, meerkats, rhinos and giraffes. The zoo has been shut to the public during the lockdown, with keepers, deemed essential workers, working split shifts to stay safe. Unable to earn any income from visitors, which usually accounts for 95% of its revenue, the zoo is now struggling to pay its weekly NZ$70,000 (US$42,000) food bills, and has appealed to the general public for help. The gorillas alone eat NZ$800 (US$485) worth of vegetables every week.


In just four days more than 4,000 Kiwis have donated more than NZ$230,000. The wildlife park is the country’s only open-range zoo and is home to over 70 species of endangered animals from New Zealand and around the world. According to the givealittle appeal, the government’s wage subsidy only covers 40% of the park’s operating costs. “These costs are impossible to put on hold and include enormous food bills, huge electricity bills to keep our animals warm in the cooler weather and essential veterinary costs,” the appeal reads. “Our important New Zealand native conservation work continues, such as Kiwi chicks have recently hatched and must have access to heated brooder units in these crucial early stages.”

Read more …

“..those capers were just old-fashioned scams. Joe Biden for President is Emperor’s-New-Clothes caliber deceit..”

Check out the Trump campaign video. At least make him work for it please.

The Placeholder (Kunstler)

Everybody knows he’s dimmer than a night-lite, and everybody’s pretending it’s okay. There’s no analog in history for any faction putting up such an empty vessel for high office. Granted, the Democratic Party has trafficked in unreality for years, from Crossfire Hurricane through UkraineGate – with side-trips like trannies in women’s sports – but those capers were just old-fashioned scams. Joe Biden for President is Emperor’s-New-Clothes caliber deceit, requiring a rank-and-file so marinated in falsehood they couldn’t tell you the difference between a red light and a green light. So, you have to ask: what is their game? In the weeks that led up to the blossoming of Covid 19, the game was apparently to bump off Bernie Sanders to satisfy the party’s corporate sponsors, who were not so eager to back someone that promised to confiscate their wealth.


Ironically, Covid 19 only fortified Bernie’s case that the nation’s obscenely crooked health care system demands drastic reform. Now, you could easily construct a scenario in which ol’ Bernie would have glided to victory in November on the basis of that, combined with unemployment figures that make the Great Depression look like a job fair. Picking Joe Biden as the instrument to block Bernie seemed especially dumb just weeks after the Democrats’ impeachment gambit blew up in their faces by shining a fiercely revealing light on Joe and Hunter’s adventures in international grift. One can easily discern Mr. Biden’s motive for remaining in the race after that because sheltering in candidacy seemed to inoculate him from any criminal investigation. But, did the whole party want to go all-in on that?

Read more …

 

We would like to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. Since their revenue has collapsed, ads no longer pay for all you read, and your support is now an integral part of the process.

Thanks everyone for your wonderful donations to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/aubrey75092/status/1252421403078299648

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth. It’s good for your mental health.

 

Apr 022020
 


William Henry Jackson Camp wagon on a Texas roundup 1901

 

More Than 1,000 New York City Police Officers Have The Coronavirus (CNBC)
Of 125,000 NHS Staff Self-Isolating, Still Just 2,000 Were Tested (Ind.)
Chinese Smartphone Health Code Rules Post-Virus Life (AP)
More Than 1.7 Million Britons May Have Contracted COVID19 – NHS |(Ind.)
Pelosi Wants ‘Vote By Mail’ Provisions In Next US Coronavirus Bill (R.)
Key Medical Supplies Were Shipped From US Manufacturers To Foreign Buyers (IC)
$2 Trillion CARES Act A Lifeline For Gig Workers And Freelancers (CNBC)
US Banks To Make Billions On Small Business Bailout (ZH)
Top US Banks May Shun Small-Business Rescue Plan On Liability Worries (R.)
US Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming (Nation)
Privatization, National Security State Left Americans Defenseless (GZ)
Biden’s False Claim on Trump’s Response to Coronavirus (FactCheck)
Chinese Scientists Seeking COVID19 Treatment Find ‘Effective’ Antibodies (R.)
Texas Pastors Demand “Religious Liberty” Exemption To Stay-at-home Orders (Vox)
Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism (TO)
Israeli Doctors Demand Health Minister Be Replaced By Professional (YNet)
All Roads Lead To Dark Winter (Whitney Webb & Raul Diego)

 

 

It’s blame game time. We have plenty theories to keep you occupied with while sitting at home. I’m surprised at how many people can’t seem to face the day without such a theory. Which is fine, but at least come with evidence.

In other news: We’ll pass 1 million cases today.

 

 

Cases 950,425 (+ 77,548 from yesterday’s 872,777)

Deaths 48,276 (+ 5,005 from yesterday’s 43,271)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 19% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

 

 

I guess NYC thinks their heroes are all Marvel characters who A) don’t die and B) come in droves

More Than 1,000 New York City Police Officers Have The Coronavirus (CNBC)

More than 1,000 New York City police officers have contracted COVID-19 as emergency calls in the city hit record highs. Of the New York Police Department’s more than 36,000 employees 1,048 officers and 145 civilian employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, NYPD said in a statement. The department added that 5,657 uniformed officers, or more than 15% of the force, called out sick on Tuesday. “I am worried about essential workers getting scared and not wanting to show up,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. “That I am worried about. You know the number of police officers who are getting sick is going up.”

Officials from the Fire Department of New York told NBC News on Tuesday that 282 members, including firefighters, EMTs and civilians, have tested positive for COVID-19. At the same time, 911 call volume is hitting record daily highs, the Fire Department said. There were 6,527 medical calls to 911 placed on Monday, and over the past few days the FDNY has had to “hold” hundreds of calls, according to NBC News. This means that lower priority sick calls have to wait for ambulances. COVID-19 has infected 43,119 people in New York City and killed at least 1,096 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Last month, the New York City Police Benevolent Association, or PBA, filed a complaint with the New York State Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau demanding NYPD provide adequate protective equipment, including masks and gloves, to all police officers. “No matter how this pandemic progresses, New York City police officers will remain on the front lines and will continue to carry out our duties protecting New Yorkers,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “The NYPD has not done enough to ensure that all of our members have protective equipment such as masks and gloves, nor does it have adequate supplies of that equipment to weather a prolonged outbreak.”

Read more …

Britain has the same issue: They’re our heroes, so we don’t test them.

Of 125,000 NHS Staff Self-Isolating, Still Just 2,000 Were Tested (Ind.)

Just 2,000 NHS frontline staff forced to stay home due to coronavirus have been tested to see if they can return to work, Downing Street has admitted. The figure – a tiny fraction of the 125,000 staff believed to be self isolating – emerged as the government faced mounting criticism for its failure to move to mass testing for Covid-19. Public Health England medical director Yvonne Doyle told a Downing Street press conference that officials hoped hundreds of thousands of staff would be tested “within the coming weeks”. But ministers were unable to give clear answers on how quickly they can ramp up antigen tests, which show whether someone has the disease. They were also unclear over the question of when the UK will see the introduction of antibody tests, which indicate if an individual has been infected and recovered.


Industry figures and scientists questioned ministers’ claims that a lack of chemicals and swabs is to blame for the UK lagging behind Germany, where as many as 70,000 are being tested every day. Unions issued a joint demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline health and social care staff, warning that the lack of kit was “a crisis within a crisis”. And there were demands for testing to be extended to all care home staff, with one MP claiming there has been rationing of antigen tests. The UK’s death toll from the pandemic has now reached 2,352 after 563 patients who had tested positive died in hospital in one day. Among them weas 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, who reportedly died alone and without his family as he became the youngest victim in England.

Read more …

Told you the virus is a timemachine. Here’s another look at your future.

Chinese Smartphone Health Code Rules Post-Virus Life (AP)

Since the coronavirus outbreak, life in China is ruled by a green symbol on a smartphone screen. Green is the “health code” that says a user is symptom-free and it’s required to board a subway, check into a hotel or just enter Wuhan, the central city of 11 million people where the pandemic began in December. The system is made possible by the Chinese public’s almost universal adoption of smartphones and the ruling Communist Party’s embrace of “Big Data” to extend its surveillance and control over society. Walking into a Wuhan subway station Wednesday, Wu Shenghong, a manager for a clothing manufacturer, used her smartphone to scan a barcode on a poster that triggered her health code app.


A green code and part of her identity card number appeared on the screen. A guard wearing a mask and goggles waved her through. If the code had been red, that would tell the guard that Wu was confirmed to be infected or had a fever or other symptoms and was awaiting a diagnosis. A yellow code would mean she had contact with an infected person but hadn’t finished a two-week quarantine, meaning she should be in a hospital or quarantined at home. Wu, who was on her way to see retailers after returning to work this week, said the system has helped reassure her after a two-month shutdown left the streets of Wuhan empty. People with red or yellow codes “are definitely not running around outside,” said Wu, 51. “I feel safe.”


AP Photo/Olivia Zhang

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Well, could be ten times that, but we’ll levae that for next week.

More Than 1.7 Million Britons May Have Contracted COVID19 – NHS |(Ind.)

More than 1.7 million people may have contracted Covid-19 so far, according to the NHS. New figures from NHS 111 online show there were 1,496,651 web-based assessments which flagged potential coronavirus cases based on people’s symptoms between 18 March and 31 March. A further 243,543 assessments via the NHS 111 and 999 phone lines also concluded people had possibly contracted the disease. But the assessment numbers do not necessarily relate to individual people, the NHS said, as it is possible people have sought help more than once or through various channels. The data, published by NHS Digital, comes after GP practices in England were told to open over the Easter Bank Holiday to help the NHS cope with coronavirus.

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1) how do you make it safe health-wise?
2) how do you make it hack-wise?
3) why on earth does it have to cost $4 billion?

Pelosi Wants ‘Vote By Mail’ Provisions In Next US Coronavirus Bill (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan being put together by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Pelosi said at least $2 billion, and ideally $4 billion, was needed to enable voting by mail, to give citizens a safe way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 4,300 people across the United States. She noted Democrats got just $400 million for that purpose in the $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday.

“Vote by mail is so important to … our democracy so that people have access to voting and not be deterred, especially at this time, by the admonition to stay home,” Pelosi told reporters. Trump told Fox News on Monday that voting by mail would hurt the Republican Party. Pelosi rejected that argument. “When I was chair of the California Democratic party many years ago, the Republicans always prevailed in the absentee ballots,” she said. “They know how to do this.” Indeed, some Democrats fear voting by mail could disenfranchise minorities and low-income voters who tend to move more frequently. The $400 million in the recent coronavirus bill is intended to help state and local officials bolster vote by mail and early voting, expand facilities and hire more poll workers.

[..] Three states – Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska – have scrapped in-person voting for Democratic primaries on April 4, and will only permit voting by mail. Ohio pushed back its March 17 voting, setting a new date of April 28 for a primary conducted almost completely by mail, and at least eight other states pushed their primaries back to May or June.

Read more …

Where was the CDC?

Key Medical Supplies Were Shipped From US Manufacturers To Foreign Buyers (IC)

While much of the world moved swiftly to lock down crucial medical supplies used to treat the coronavirus, the U.S. dithered, maintaining business as normal and allowing large shipments of American-made respirators and ventilators to be sold to foreign buyers. The foreign shipments, detailed in dozens of government records, show exports to other hot spots where the pandemic has spread, including East Asia and Europe. American hospitals around the country are now running low on all forms of personal protective gear, such as N95 masks or purified air personal respirators, for medical staff, as well as life-saving ventilators, which pump oxygenated air into the lungs, for patients.

[..] Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based health product firm that produces supplemental oxygen machines, sent at least three different shipments of respiratory equipment to Belgium in mid-February and early March. The total cargo included 14 containers weighing more than 55 tons. DeVilbiss and its owner, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, a New York-based private equity firm, did not respond to a request for comment. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf reportedly reached out to DeVilbiss later in March to support the company’s increased production of respiratory medical devices. “Our demand is unprecedented,” Tim Walsh, the company’s vice president, told WJAC, a local news station.

Vapotherm, a New Hampshire firm that produces respiratory equipment, has faced surging demand from international customers. The company has added 50 employees and a second shift to meet growing demand for its products. WMUR, a local news station, profiled Vapotherm’s role in producing lifesaving respiratory equipment used to treat the coronavirus. During the segment, Joseph Army, the chief executive of Vapotherm, told the station that he first heard from customers in Europe and Asia in response to the coronavirus. A camera shot of Vapotherm’s factory showed a box labeled “Japan.” The demand, he added, has shifted in recent weeks to domestic contracts for clients in Seattle, New York City, Georgia, and Florida.

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You mean something went right? I’d still like to see proof.

$2 Trillion CARES Act A Lifeline For Gig Workers And Freelancers (CNBC)

The $2 trillion federal stimulus package signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 27, will be a lifeline to many gig workers and freelancers. Known as the CARES Act, the law takes unprecedented steps in including the self-employed in the social safety net. It offers freelancers unemployment insurance, for which they generally don’t qualify, on a large scale for the first time. As stipulated in the House bill, it offers freelancers an additional $600 a week in unemployment insurance, bringing weekly payouts to the $800- to $900-a-week range when state benefits are added, to workers including the self-employed, for up to four months.

“It’s an amazing win, given that there is no unemployment insurance for freelancers,” says Rafael Espinal, who recently took the helm of the Freelancers Union as executive director. “This will help inject cash flow into their homes.” The stimulus package also offers the self-employed and small business owners a $10,000 advance on an Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that does not have to be paid back, even if the borrower does not qualify for an SBA loan. The program provides loans up to $200,000.

Sole proprietors, ESOPs, cooperatives, businesses with no more than 500 employees and tribal small business concerns can apply. Under the EIDL program, administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, applicants will not have to submit a tax return and will be evaluated based on their credit score. The SBA will provide the funding within three days of a successfully completed application as an advance payment. There is no personal guarantee required for the loans. The SBA is waiving the requirement that businesses have one year of operations prior to the disaster, but businesses are not eligible if they were not in operation on January 1, 2020. The bill authorizes $10 billion in appropriations for these loans.

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Color me amazed.

US Banks To Make Billions On Small Business Bailout (ZH)

As part of the $2 trillion fiscal stimulus package that was signed into law by Donald Trump on Friday, the Small Business Administration will offer $350 billion in loans to US small businesses meant to preserve business solvency as part of the emergency federal response to the coronavirus pandemic; the loans, part of the so-called “Paycheck Protection Program” will be offered through banks and credit unions to cash-strapped businesses employing under 500 people (it’s not clear how a company employing 500 people is a “small business” but we can assume that this is just a stealthy bailout of some not so small businesses).

To be sure, the terms of the loans are generous: the full amount of the loan will be forgiven if it is used for payroll, mortgage interest, rent or utilities in the two months after the money is received. Less will be forgiven if the employees are sacked or salaries cut. Any amount that is not forgiven will accrue interest at just 0.5% rate and the principal will come due in two years. Borrowers will need to fill out a two-page form and document that they were in business as of mid-February. Lenders will not need to wait for SBA confirmation before providing cash in hand, as soon as Friday. Businesses will be eligible to borrow the equivalent of 2.5 times their average monthly payroll with a cap of $10mm.

According to the SBA, there are 30m businesses with fewer than 500 employees in the US, employing 60m people, almost half of the private workforce. The National Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group, says about three-quarters of its members have been affected by the crisis. Yet some may be “shocked” to learn that like in any government bailout package, the biggest winners here will not be America’s vibrant small and medium business sector, which at best will get the bare minimum cash to fund 2.5 months of payroll (this assume the pandemic will be resolved by mid-June) but – drumroll – America’s banks.

As the FT reports overnight, banks stand to make billions by overseeing the distribution of these loans as they receive processing fees, paid by the federal government, for making the loans. The fees will vary with loan size: 5% for loans under $350,000, 3% for loans under $2MM, and 1% for loans greater than $2MM. The loans will not incur a capital charge. This means that banks stand to earn as much as $17.5 billion – and $10 billion if one assumes an average rate of 3% – for doing something the government is incapable of doing: handing out hundreds of billions in loans/grants to America’s businesses in the shortest possible time.

Read more …

Oh wait, the banks don’t need those billions.

Top US Banks May Shun Small-Business Rescue Plan On Liability Worries (R.)

Top U.S. banks have threatened to give the federal government’s small-business rescue program a miss on concerns about taking on too much financial and legal risk, five people with direct knowledge of industry discussions told Reuters. Seeking to help millions of small businesses whose operations have either shut down or have been dramatically curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, Congress last week passed a $2 trillion stimulus package that includes $349 billion aimed at small firms. Borrowers can apply for the loans through participating banks starting from Friday and until June 30. Trump administration officials have said they want the loans disbursed within days. But representatives of some big lenders, in an industry conference call on Wednesday, expressed serious reservations about participating in the scheme in its current form.


Their main concern is that the Treasury Department has said it expects lenders to verify borrower eligibility, and take steps to prevent fraud, money laundering and protect customer information under the Bank Secrecy Act, sources said. Banks are worried they could face regulatory penalties or legal costs down the line if things go awry in the haste to get money out the door, or get blamed for not moving funds fast enough if they perform due diligence the way they would in ordinary times, the sources said. After hearing the concerns, Treasury officials are considering withdrawing guidance that instructed lenders to verify borrowers had the specified number of employees on their books, and that their other costs are legitimate, according to two sources.

Read more …

So where were they? Note: eevrybody knnew it was coming. Just not the timing.

US Military Knew Years Ago That a Coronavirus Was Coming (Nation)

Despite President Trump’s repeated assertions that the Covid-19 epidemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was well aware of not just the threat of a novel influenza, but even anticipated the consequent scarcity of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan obtained by The Nation. “The most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease,” the military plan states. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel (meaning new to humans) coronavirus. The document specifically references coronavirus on several occasions, in one instant saying, “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.”

The plan represents an update to an earlier Department of Defense pandemic influenza response plan, noting that it “incorporates insights from several recent outbreaks including…2012 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.” Titled “USNORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560: Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response,” the draft plan is marked for official use only and dated January 6, 2017. The plan was provided to The Nation by a Pentagon official who requested anonymity to avoid professional reprisal. Denis Kaufman, who served as head of the Infectious Diseases and Countermeasures Division at the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2014 to 2017, stressed that US intelligence had been well-aware of the dangers of coronaviruses for years. (Kaufman retired from his decades-long career in the military in December of 2017.)

“The Intelligence Community has warned about the threat from highly pathogenic influenza viruses for two decades at least. They have warned about coronaviruses for at least five years,” Kaufman explained in an interview. “There have been recent pronouncements that the coronavirus pandemic represents an intelligence failure…. it’s letting people who ignored intelligence warnings off the hook.” In addition to anticipating the coronavirus pandemic, the military plan predicted with uncanny accuracy many of the medical supply shortages that it now appears will soon cause untold deaths. The plan states: “Competition for, and scarcity of resources will include…non-pharmaceutical MCM [Medical Countermeasures] (e.g., ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves), medical equipment, and logistical support. This will have a significant impact on the availability of the global workforce.”

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First we dump on Trump, and only then do we say what is really goinng wrog.

Privatization, National Security State Left Americans Defenseless (GZ)

Donald Trump’s failure to act decisively to control the coronavirus pandemic has likely made the Covid-19 pandemic far more lethal than it should have been. But the reasons behind failure to get protective and life-saving equipment like masks and ventilators into the hands of health workers and hospitals run deeper than Trump’s self-centered recklessness. Both the Obama and Trump administrations quietly delegated state and local authorities with the essential national security responsibility for obtaining and distributing these vital items. The failure of leadership was compounded the lack of any federal power center that embraced the idea that guarding for a pandemic was at least as important to national security as preparing for war.

For decades, the military-industrial-congressional complex has force-fed the American public a warped conception of US national security focused entirely around perpetuating warfare. The cynical conflation of national security with waging war on designated enemies around the globe effectively stifled public awareness of the clear and present danger posed to its survival by global pandemic. As a result, Congress was simply not called upon to fund the vitally important equipment that doctors and nurses needed for the Covid-19 crisis. At the heart of the growing coronavirus crisis in the US is a severe shortage of N95 respirators and ventilators. Those items should have been available in sufficient numbers through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which holds the nation’s largest supplies necessary for national emergencies.

But the stocks of crucial medical have not been maintained for years, largely because Congress has not provided the necessary funding. Congress has been willing to dole out load of cash after pandemics hit the US. When the H1N1 flu crisis hit the United States in 2009, and close to 300,000 Americans were hospitalized, Congress appropriated $7.7 billion in special funding, including support for building up the SNS. That allowed the stockpile to provide 85 million respirators and millions of ventilators to hospitals around the country, especially during the second half of the yearlong crisis. But since that 2009-10 crisis ended, the stockpile of such vital equipment has never been replenished.

In 2020 the stockpile holds only 12 million N95 respirators – as little as 1 percent of what is now needed by health workers – and just 16,000 ventilators, compared with the estimated 750,000 people at minimum who will need a ventilator because of the Covid-19 pandemic. These numbers are so scandalously low in relation to what is needed that senior officials Department of Health and Human Services have refused to reveal publicly how many they have in stock.

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Especially in times of stress, the world is an easier place if it is in black and white.

Biden’s False Claim on Trump’s Response to Coronavirus (FactCheck)

Former Vice President Joe Biden was wrong when he said that the Trump administration made no effort to get U.S. medical experts into China as the novel coronavirus epidemic spread there early this year. “[W]hen we were talking … early on in this crisis, we said — I said, among others, that, you know, you should get into China, get our experts there, we have the best in the world, get them in so we know what’s actually happening,” Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said at a CNN virtual town hall on March 27. “There was no effort to do that.” Except that isn’t the case. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to get into China just one week after China reported the outbreak to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, 2019.

“On January 6, we offered to send a CDC team to China that could assist with these public health efforts,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a Jan. 28 press conference. “I reiterated that offer when I spoke to China’s Minister of Health on Monday, and it was reiterated again via the World Health Organization today. We are urging China: More cooperation and transparency are the most important steps you can take toward a more effective response.” More than a week later, Azar said again at a Feb. 7 press conference that “our longstanding offer to send world-class experts to China to assist remains on the table.” At the time, the New York Times reported, “Normally, teams from the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service can be in the air within 24 hours.”

A team of public health experts from the WHO was allowed by Chinese authorities to visit Wuhan, where the outbreak began, later in February, according to the South China Morning Post. The team included specialists from the United States as well as Germany, Russia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Nigeria. Biden was correct at the town hall when he said the Trump administration had eliminated a position set up by the Obama administration, in which Biden served, to coordinate the response to pandemics like the coronavirus crisis. But he got the timing wrong, and Trump administration officials say it was a reorganization, with the responsibilities of that office falling to other individuals.

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I was wondering yesterday what happened to all of the earlier stories about cures and vaccines. None seem to have aged well..

Chinese Scientists Seeking COVID19 Treatment Find ‘Effective’ Antibodies (R.)

A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells, which eventually could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19. There is currently no proven effective treatment for the disease, which originated in China and is spreading across the world in a pandemic that has infected more than 850,000 and killed 42,000. Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University in Beijing said a drug made with antibodies like the ones his team have found could be used more effectively than the current approaches, including what he called “borderline” treatment such as plasma. Plasma contains antibodies but is restricted by blood type.


In early January, Zhang’s team and a group at the 3rd People’s Hospital in Shenzhen began analysing antibodies from blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies which showed what he described as a “strong” ability to bind with the virus’ proteins. Among the first 20 or so antibodies tested, four were able to block viral entry and of those, two were “exceedingly good” at doing so, Zhang said. They then conducted another test to see if they could actually prevent the virus from entering cells [..] The team is now focused on identifying the most powerful antibodies and possibly combining them to mitigate the risk of the new coronavirus mutating. If all goes well, interested developers could mass produce them for testing, first on animals and eventually on humans.

Read more …

This is where you say: no, it isn’t Iran…

Texas Pastors Demand “Religious Liberty” Exemption To Stay-at-home Orders (Vox)

Last week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who oversees the area of Texas that includes Houston, issued an order requiring “all individuals currently living within Harris County … to stay at their place of residence except for Essential Activities” (in Texas, the title “county judge” refers to the chief executive of a county government). Like many similar orders handed down by state and local officials throughout the United States, which are intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Hidalgo’s order closes most businesses within the county and shuts down most places where people gather in large groups. Although it allows faith leaders to “minister and counsel in individual settings, so long as social distance protocols are followed,” it requires worship services to “be provided by video and teleconference.”

That restriction on in-person worship services has sparked a lawsuit, filed by three Texas pastors and Steven Hotze, a medical doctor and anti-LGBT Republican activist whose political action committee was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. These four men ask the Texas Supreme Court to strike down Hidalgo’s order, claiming, among other things, that it violates the “religious liberty” of pastors who wish to gather their parishioners together during a pandemic. Under existing precedents, the petitioner’s arguments in Hotze are not strong. They rely heavily on older US Supreme Court decisions that were effectively overruled by the Supreme Court’s later decision in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) (although it’s worth noting that Smith is very much out of favor with judicial conservatives and could, itself, be overruled by the Court’s current majority).

The Hotze petitions also essentially ask the Texas Supreme Court to place the temporary interests of a few pastors before the county’s interest in combating a deadly disease. The US Supreme Court has long held that the government may take targeted action to protect especially compelling interests — even when doing so implicates constitutional rights.

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The headline feels designed to cast doubt on the man.

Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism (TO)

The scale of the plague is surprising, indeed shocking, but not its appearance. Nor the fact that the U.S. has the worst record in responding to the crisis. Scientists have been warning of a pandemic for years, insistently so since the SARS epidemic of 2003, also caused by a coronavirus, for which vaccines were developed but did not proceed beyond the pre-clinical level. That was the time to begin to put in place rapid-response systems in preparation for an outbreak and to set aside spare capacity that would be needed. Initiatives could also have been undertaken to develop defenses and modes of treatment for a likely recurrence with a related virus.

But scientific understanding is not enough. There has to be someone to pick up the ball and run with it. That option was barred by the pathology of the contemporary socioeconomic order. Market signals were clear: There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe. The government could have stepped in, but that’s barred by reigning doctrine: “Government is the problem,” Reagan told us with his sunny smile, meaning that decision-making has to be handed over even more fully to the business world, which is devoted to private profit and is free from influence by those who might be concerned with the common good. The years that followed injected a dose of neoliberal brutality to the unconstrained capitalist order and the twisted form of markets it constructs.

The depth of the pathology is revealed clearly by one of the most dramatic — and murderous — failures: the lack of ventilators that is one the major bottlenecks in confronting the pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services foresaw the problem, and contracted with a small firm to produce inexpensive, easy-to-use ventilators. But then capitalist logic intervened. The firm was bought by a major corporation, Covidien, which sidelined the project, and, “In 2014, with no ventilators having been delivered to the government, Covidien executives told officials at the [federal] biomedical research agency that they wanted to get out of the contract, according to three former federal officials. The executives complained that it was not sufficiently profitable for the company.”

Doubtless true. Neoliberal logic then intervened, dictating that the government could not act to overcome the gross market failure, which is now causing havoc. As The New York Times gently put the matter, “The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.”

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“The lunatic minister of health in Apartheid #Israel, the one who said #Covid_19 was a sign of #Armageddon and the #Messiah arriving in April; just confirmed positive for the virus along with his wife.”

Israeli Doctors Demand Health Minister Be Replaced By Professional (YNet)

Israeli doctors on Sunday called on the government to replace Health Minister Yaakov Litzman with a medical professional in the wake of coronavirus crisis in the country. In an open letter some to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his future coalition partner Benny Gantz, the heads of hospital departments and senior medical officials expressed their dissatisfaction with Litzman’s conduct during the COVID-19 epidemic and urged to replace him with someone who has the necessary experience. Netanyahu and Gantz are in the midst of unity talks in an effort to agree on a coalition government to address the coronavirus pandemic emergency.


Sources familiar with the negotiations told Ynet the replacement of Litzman is not currently on the table. “We have nothing against outgoing Health Minister Litzman and have great respect for him,” said Professor Yoram Kluger, Rambam Hospital’s chief of surgery who was behind the initiative. “But, in light of the dire state Israel’s healthcare system and an emergency on the scope of a pandemic, health workers can no longer agree to be cast aside by other considerations.”

Read more …

Extremely long by Whitney Webb. And then there are at least 3 parts. Maybe somebody actually has the time to read it.

All Roads Lead To Dark Winter (Whitney Webb & Raul Diego)

In late June 2001, the U.S. military was preparing for a “Dark Winter.” At Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Maryland, several Congressmen, a former CIA director, a former FBI director, government insiders and privileged members of the press met to conduct a biowarfare simulation that would precede both the September 11 attacks and the 2001 Anthrax attacks by a matter of months. It specifically simulated the deliberate introduction of smallpox to the American public by a hostile actor.

The simulation was a collaborative effort led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies (part of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security) in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Analytic Services (ANSER) Institute for Homeland Security and the Oklahoma National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The concept, design and script of the simulation were created by Tara O’Toole and Thomas Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Center along with Randy Larsen and Mark DeMier of ANSER.

The name for the exercise derives from a statement made by Robert Kadlec, who participated in the script created for the exercise, when he states that the lack of smallpox vaccines for the U.S. populace means that “it could be a very dark winter for America.” Kadlec, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration and a former lobbyist for military intelligence/intelligence contractors, is now leading HHS’ Covid-19 response and led the Trump administration’s 2019 “Crimson Contagion” exercises, which simulated a crippling pandemic influenza outbreak in the U.S. that had first originated in China. Kadlec’s professional history, his decades-old obsession with apocalyptic bioweapon attack scenarios and the Crimson Contagion exercises themselves are the subject of Part III of this series.

Read more …

 

It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderful and generous donations over the past days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your own mask in 2 minutes. Instructions here.

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Apr 012020
 


Byron In Chinatown, Pell Street, New York 1900

 

Greek Mothers, Grandmas and Wives to Enforce Quarantine As Police Struggle (GR)
White House Predicts 100,000 To 240,000 Will Die In US From Coronavirus (CNBC)
Putin Asked Trump If He Needed Help & He Accepted (RT)
How To Rescue Our Coronavirus-Infected Economy From Collapse (Richard Vague)
Obama’s Failure To Resupply Respirators In Federal Stockpile (JTN)
Do I Have to Pay My Rent or Mortgage During the Pandemic? (DB)
Will Shift To Distance Learning Reshape American Education? (JTN)
Should All Americans Be Wearing Face Masks? (JTN)
Fed Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ To Help US Economy Likely In Recession (R.)
US Virus Cases Off The Scale – But People Can Build Movement From This (MoA)
China Starts To Report Asymptomatic Coronavirus Cases (R.)
How Disinformation Really Works: Russian COVID19 Aid To Italy Smeared (RT)

 

 

The US is slowly coming to terms with the numbers representing its reality. And unlike fast food, they need to be fed the news in little bites.

 

 

Cases 872,777 (+ 73,054 from yesterday’s 799,723)

Deaths 43,271 (+ 4,551 from yesterday’s 38,720)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 19% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

A good representation by Jo Michell of how the FT graph (see below) can be made clearer by tweaking between log scale and linear scale.

Log scale corona:

 

 

Linear scale corona:

 

 

 

 

Best story of the day for this day.

Greek Mothers, Grandmas and Wives to Enforce Quarantine As Police Struggle (GR)

Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis who was among the first EU leaders to implement a strict quarantine in Greece, in now transferring the authority of enforcing the quarantine to Greek women. The decision took most by storm but police sources say it was planned since a few weeks ago, when police was needed to help in hospitals in vital positions for the fight against Coronavirus. The PM made his decision known with a tweet in the early hours of Wednesday:

“Police will continue to assist in enforcing the quarantine if needed on a case by case basis, but this won’t be its primary responsibility,” a Greek official clarified. The amendment to the current quarantine law transfers the power of issuing the necessary permits primarily to mothers and grandmothers, as well as wives and sisters where there in no mother or grandmother.


“A checkpoint on Patission street. Groups of 3-4 women will be assembling in each neighbourhood during rush-hour to check cars and individuals if they are on the street legally.” Credit: Greek Government handout

“Women have been defending the Greek household for thousands of years, since the Ancient times when every Greek woman was the protector of ‘estia’” noted the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou. It is also true that women and especially Greek women are also experts on discovering germs and dirt where you think there is none, so this might be another skill that comes in handy. “If one person of the household is infected the whole family is in danger, notes Antonia Parisi who sees this as a necessary step for a family’s wellbeing. “Women are best to protect the family” adds the shop owner and mother of two from Piraeus, Greece.


[..] some Greeks are not happy by the move. Most complain that Greek mothers and wives are way stricter in accepting fair reasoning to go out during a pandemic. “I don’t know if I will ever see the light of the day,” says Petros Kakavas from Peristeri, Athens who in absence of a mother and a grandmother has to ask his wife for permission to leave the house. In ancient Sparta the male fighters’ health was a responsibility of their mothers and wives. It is since then, we have the saying behind every strong man there is an even stronger woman. But sometimes history just repeats itself.

Read more …

I got a lot of criticism on my Fauci article 2 days ago, thought I merely connected two things he said over the space of two days, which meant 200 million Americans would become infected. That number is still not mentioned for some reason, but soon it will have to be. For now 240,000 deaths are the new normal.

White House Predicts 100,000 To 240,000 Will Die In US From Coronavirus (CNBC)

President Donald Trump prepared Americans for a coming surge in coronavirus cases, calling COVID-19 a plague and saying the U.S. is facing a “very, very painful two weeks.” “This could be a hell of a bad two weeks. This is going to be a very bad two, and maybe three weeks. This is going to be three weeks like we’ve never seen before,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday. White House officials are projecting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. with coronavirus fatalities peaking over the next two weeks. “When you look at night, the kind of death that has been caused by this invisible enemy, it’s incredible.” The U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any other country across the globe with 184,000 confirmed infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

New York has now become the new epicenter of the outbreak in the world with 75,795 confirmed cases as of Tuesday morning, more reported infections than China’s Hubei province where the coronavirus emerged in December. Earlier in the day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the outbreak in the state may not peak for three weeks. “I’m tired of being behind this virus. We’ve been behind this virus from day one,” the governor said in Albany. “We underestimated this virus. It’s more powerful, it’s more dangerous than we expected.” Trump, who grew up near New York City’s Elmhurst hospital in Queens, said no one can believe officials are setting up refrigerator trucks as temporary mortuaries outside the hospital. Trump said New York “got a late start” in rolling out its mitigation efforts.

New York City is setting up a handful of makeshift field hospitals to house coronavirus patients at the Jacob K. Javits Center, in Central Park and at the tennis courts in Queens that host the U.S. Open. De Blasio said the city is working with the federal government, the hotel industry and various other businesses to turn other buildings into potential medical facilities. More than 1,000 people in New York City alone have already died from the coronavirus, according to data updated at 5 p.m. ET by the NYC Health Department. “This is going to be the roughest three weeks we’ve ever had in this country,” Trump said. “I wanted as few as a number of people to die as possible. And that’s all we’re working on.”

US coronavirus deaths:

3/1 2
3/2 6
3/3 9
3/4 11
3/5 12
3/6 17
3/7 19
3/8 21
3/9 26
3/10 31
3/11 38
3/12 41
3/13 49
3/14 58
3/15 65
3/16 87
3/17 111
3/18 149
3/19 195
3/20 263
3/21 323
3/22 413
3/23 541
3/24 704
3/25 938
3/26 1195
3/27 1588
3/28 2043
3/29 2419
3/30 3004
Now 4076

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“At least 400 people died TODAY in New York because of the coronavirus.

We have refrigerated trucks now set up all over the city to hold the bodies.

The morgues are at capacity.

Absolutely heartbreaking day.”

Putin Asked Trump If He Needed Help & He Accepted (RT)

A cargo plane loaded with medical supplies and protection equipment may depart for the US by the end of Tuesday, the Kremlin said, after a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The issue of protective gear was raised during the Monday phone talks, with Putin asking if the US needed help and Trump accepting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday. Moscow suggested the aid in anticipation that the US will be able to return the favor if necessary, once its manufacturers of medical and protective equipment catch up with demand, Peskov said. The current situation “affects everyone without exception and is of a global nature,” he added. “There is no alternative to acting together in the spirit of partnership and mutual assistance.”


On Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House press briefing that “Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.” The comment left everyone scratching their heads, as no one in the US seemed to know anything about the plane in question. It appears the US president was referring to the aid arranged on the phone call as something that had already happened. Peskov chastised “some of the American side” who “at least did not contribute to the prompt resolution of technical issues” regarding the agreed-upon delivery, which could explain the delay. Official data shows the US has been among the nations hardest-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost 175,000 confirmed cases and 3,416 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon – overtaking China, where the contagion originated in December. Italy still has the highest death toll in the world, at 12,428.

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Steve Keen: “an editorial in The Hill by Richard Vague, who is Pennsylvania’s acting Secretary of Banking and Securities. Richard was a highly successful banker, the co-founder of two major personal-finance-oriented companies Juniper Financial, and First USA Bank, and then CEO of the energy marketing company Energy Plus. He is a patron and a close friend. He is the author of “A Brief History of Doom” (2019), which I regard as the best history of financial crises ever written–far better than Kindleberger and Mackay.”

How To Rescue Our Coronavirus-Infected Economy From Collapse (Richard Vague)

The U.S. government should implement a program of monthly checks of $1,000 for three months — a timeframe which could be extended — to individuals above 18 and below some income threshold, say $200,000. A one-time check is not enough. The continuity of these payments is the most central, critical recommendation. Even if Americans stay cooped up, they can and should be encouraged to spend across the board, including on things like restaurant gift certificates, since the restaurant industry alone now estimates up to 7 million job losses. Even ten years after the Great Recession, households and businesses still have near-record levels of debt and, with this GDP collapse, will now be drowning in that debt.

The U.S. government should institute an immediate three-month moratorium on payments of mortgages, credit cards and student debt, along with a similar moratorium policy for business loan payments. This should be extended beyond three months if necessary. Having spent much of my career in banking, I view this approach as feasible, as long as regulators have the guidance to allow it. As part of this, the federal government would implement this policy for government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for government-guaranteed student loans and other lending programs that have its full or partial backing; the loans could be extended or restructured to accommodate this, and borrowers could continue to pay if they chose. Regulators also should work with the industry to put together other prudent forms of loan forbearance.

The government should implement a three-month moratorium on all rent payments, and establish a fund to extend money to landlords to accommodate this rent forbearance. It should implement a three-month moratorium on all federal tax payments, which could be extended if necessary. It should commit to cover all healthcare costs associated with the coronavirus, structured such that care providers can bill the government directly so no forms or reimbursements would be required of individuals. It also will be necessary to provide capital support for select, troubled industries beyond the airline, hotel and cruise ship industries. This part does not need to be a handout; it can take the form of a preferred equity investment. It will soon need to provide substantial support to states and local governments. This program will not provide a result that is perfect in its fairness, but the need to move quickly far outweighs that consideration.

Read more …

From a right wing source. A different view on this topic: “On March 1, 2003, the NPS became the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) program managed jointly by DHS and HHS. With the signing of the BioShield legislation, the SNS program was returned to HHS for oversight and guidance. In 2018, oversight of Strategic National Stockpile was transferred to HHS/ASPR from HHS/CDC.”

What does the move from CDC to Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response entail?

Obama’s Failure To Resupply Respirators In Federal Stockpile (JTN)

The Strategic National Stockpile, America’s giant medical storage closet for a terrorist or biological crisis, once boasted more than 100 million respirator masks to protect doctors, nurses and other frontline health care workers in case of a contagion. But when the COVID-19 pandemic started a few months ago, the supply had dwindled down to just 12 million fitted masks, known as N95 respirators, and 30 million surgical masks, a supply deemed to be less than 2 percent of what the nation would need for full-blown pandemic. The tale of how such a critical supply lapsed, leading the Trump administration to scramble for 500 million new masks in the midst of pandemic, is one of government neglect and competing priorities that began in 2009.

That’s when the Obama administration drew down nearly 97 million of the masks to deal with the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, effectively protecting frontline medical workers from a virus that infected more than 60 million Americans. But when it was over, the administration decided not to fully restock the respirators, choosing to spend its $600 million annual budget for the stockpile on other priorities such as key drugs and vaccines to deal with smallpox, anthrax and the like, experts said. There is really “no answer why the supplies were not replenished because the N95 masks are invaluable tools for preparedness and it was important that they be restocked,” said Charles Johnson, President of International Safety Equipment Association, whose members make supplies for the stockpile.

In the end, Johnson said, the Obama administration chose to use its “limited funds” in other ways and “made the best choices at the time even though his association and others periodically restated their calls to replenish” the N95 masks. That trend continued in the early Trump years as well. The Clinton administration first began to examine a national plan to respond to pandemics and create the federal stockpile in 1990s. But the formal National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza was not officially published until 2005 during the George W. Bush administration, following the anthrax scare in 2001 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002.

[..] According to a Center for Disease Control report published after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 39 million N95 masks were initially distributed from the stockpile, followed by 59.5 million more in second wave. According to Johnson, the stockpile originally was about 100 million masks. From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, there were over 60 million cases of H1N1 requiring 274,304 hospitalizations and resulting in 12,469 deaths in the United States. After the H1N1 virus slowed down in 2010, according to Johnson, “it was important to restock.” That did not happen as the national stockpile budget focused on other priorities deemed higher.

Read more …

Literally every single state appears to have different rules?!

Do I Have to Pay My Rent or Mortgage During the Pandemic? (DB)

As March winds down, at least 250 million Americans have been told to stay home or “shelter in place” to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Problem is, many can’t help wondering if they can still afford a place to shelter in—if they ever could. Long before the coronavirus pandemic, generous swaths of the United States faced an affordable housing crisis. With millions of Americans losing their jobs and millions more facing unemployment in the near future thanks to a concerted economic shutdown geared at reining in the disease, talk of rent strikes and freezes are in the air.

The Trump administration recently nodded to the problem by ordering a foreclosure moratorium on single-family home mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration or obtained through government-owned lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie and Freddie have also offered forbearance for borrowers experiencing hardship. And the finance giants have dangled payment relief to indebted apartment building owners who grant respite to renters, a move the Federal Housing Finance Agency estimates could affect 43 percent of the market in multifamily leases. Then there’s the $2 trillion stimulus bill that passed last week, which contains language forbidding evictions and late charges on any property receiving virtually any federal aid.

It also permits those owing money to Fannie or Freddie to request up to six months of forbearance, though it leaves the onus on borrowers to do so. If your home doesn’t fall under one of these categories or programs, and you’re wondering if you owe money to your landlord or lender, the answer is probably yes—at least for now. Still, some state and local governments have moved to stem evictions and foreclosures for everyone, and a few are even freezing rent and mortgage payments entirely. Here’s a breakdown of COVID-19 rules on housing across every state and many large metropolitan areas. This story will be updated as events warrant.

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Like, make it even worse?

Will Shift To Distance Learning Reshape American Education? (JTN)

It likely represents one of the most ambitious, albeit uncoordinated, educational experiments in history: Can you successfully digitize an entire country’s higher education industry very nearly overnight? And if so, what does that say about the future of distance learning? Where does it go from here? Distance education itself is already widespread throughout the United States: The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that in the fall of 2017 there were well over 6.5 million American students enrolled in online programs, nearly a third of all postsecondary students in the country. Nearly half of those were exclusively enrolled in online programs; slightly more than half had “at least one” online course.

When they hear of online education, most people might picture private, for-profit corporations, the ones that build vanilla, office park-like campuses in the suburbs of American cities and whose commercials pop up regularly on network television and YouTube advertisements: Strayer, the University of Phoenix, DeVry University. Yet those establishments form a relatively small minority of the overall online education industry: the NCES says the vast majority of students who attend virtual classrooms do so at more traditional institutions. Not even 15% of all online attendance is done at private, for-profit organizations.

Distance education, then, is very much a concern for legacy institutions, including those known for their idyllic and venerated campus experiences: Schools like Harvard and Princeton and Northwestern and Chicago all have their own exclusively online divisions, while more and more state and regional schools are expanding their digital opportunities. Indeed, the existence of those programs is likely why many American schools were able to transition with (relative) ease to online learning environments. A vital question to ask, then, is: Does this near-total transition to online learning suggest an upcoming major shift in the distance education economy? Will schools be able to use this monumental adjustment to expand online learning and perhaps fundamentally reshape American higher education?

Dr. Wallace Boston, the president of the private, for-profit, online American Public University System, says yes. “I believe we will see an uptick in distance education” following the pandemic, he told Just the News. “The most likely reason that we will see an uptick is that many institutions will want to keep some form of online instruction and infrastructure in the event that this pandemic recycles through again or that there is another event that might require social distancing or quarantines,” he argued. “Some may even view online offerings as strategic opportunities for their institution.”

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Before or after they’ve been tested?

Should All Americans Be Wearing Face Masks? (JTN)

[California] Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday said that the state is considering guidance around whether people beyond the medical profession should wear some sort of mask or face covering, including in professions like grocery store workers. The science is incomplete in this area, according to Newsom, and there is a concern that people will think masks are a replacement for social distancing, which they aren’t. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has said that the practice often leads to increased touching of one’s face and can produce a “false sense of security,” adding that the World Health Organization and the CDC have reaffirmed in the last few days is that they do not recommend the general public wear masks.

“The virus is not spreading in the general community,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a Jan. 30 briefing. “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness. And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.” As the cases of COVID-19 grows across America and supplies like face masks and gowns are in short supply, health experts say implementing guidance may take masks away from the health care providers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic. However others believe that masks, even homemade masks, would help reduce the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus through coughs, sneezes, even yawns or simple conversation.

George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in an interview with Science magazine that “when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.” “The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” Gao said. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Tuesday that the White House coronavirus task force is also seriously considering guidance that Americans wear masks. “The idea of getting a much more broad, community-wide use of masks outside of the health care setting is under very active discussion at the task force. The CDC group is looking at that very carefully,” Fauci told CNN.

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Poor choice of words perhaps? To hide the emptiness implied?

Fed Will Do ‘Whatever It Takes’ To Help US Economy Likely In Recession (R.)

The Federal Reserve is ready to do more to help a U.S. economy ground to a sudden halt as businesses shutter and people stay home to slow the coronavirus pandemic, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said on Tuesday. “The Federal Reserve is prepared to do whatever it takes within our powers to ensure that we are part of the solution of shoring up people over the virus, shoring up the American economy and putting us in the best position to grow again once the virus recedes,” Daly said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “If we do the right thing and shelter in place and curb the spread of the virus, the economy will be in the best position to bounce back.”


With the coronavirus infecting tens of thousands of Americans and killing hundreds each day, three-quarters of the U.S. population are under orders to stay home except for essential trips to slow the spread of the virus. With businesses laying off millions of workers as demand dries up and states ordering non-essential businesses to close, the economy is likely already in recession, Daly said. The Fed’s job, along with that of the U.S. government that on Friday finalized a $2.2 trillion rescue package, is to provide the support to financial markets, businesses and people who are doing their duty to boost the public health, Daly said. Once the pandemic threat has passed, the Fed’s programs and low interest rates will help drive the economic recovery, she said.

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FTCoronaGraphMar31

Is Moon of Alabam going full hippie on us?

US Virus Cases Off The Scale – But People Can Build Movement From This (MoA)

When John Burn-Murdoch created that daily updated chart he did not anticipate that any country would have more than a 100,000 total cases. That was a reasonable assumption as China, with 1.4 billion inhabitants, stopped the epidemic with less than 85.000 total cases even when it was surprised by the outbreak. As of now the U.S. has 164.435 known cases. It will reach a total number of several dozens of millions and will have several hundreds of thousands of dead caused by the covid-19 disease. Most but not all of those who will die from it will have one or more co-morbid diseases.

The number of death in the U.S. will likely be higher than elsewhere because obesity, diabetes and heart problems are more prevalent in the U.S. than in most other countries. Another reason why the U.S. will have a larger than necessary outbreak is wide mistrust in the authority of the state. A significant number of people will reject stay at home orders or other measures the authorities will have to take. Then there is this: Pouya Alimagham @iPouya – 0:48 UTC · Mar 31, 2020 “The regime doesn’t want to antagonize the religious classes. Thus, it isn’t doing anything about the fact that some religious sites remain open & clerics are encouraging worshippers to come & pray. These gatherings risk exploding #COVID19. I’m talking about the US, not #Iran.”

The U.S. also has many people without health insurance. The many newly laid off people will additionally lose theirs. These people will avoid seeing a doctor or to go to a hospital as the enormous costs would ruin them. The for-profit health system will reject sick persons who are unlikely to be able to pay their bills. The cases of people who die from such circumstance should be put into the death by lack of money category instead of being blamed on something else. Congress has failed to take the necessary measures and to give everyone access to free tests and free care. This will come back to bite everyone as it makes sure that the disease will circulate longer and stronger than in other rich countries.

Every crisis is also a chance. Congress has used it to again loot the people and to push more money to the rich. At the same time the powers that be have denied universal healthcare and paid sick leave to those who need it. The covid-19 epidemic is a chance to change that. There are already a number of strikes at Amazon and similar companies over work safety, health care and pay. Rent strikes must now follow. When the bills come in for families with covid-19 cases many more people will get more interested in medicare for all. A movement can be build from these issues. The Sanders campaign should provide a (virtual) platform for it.

The U.S. has enough money to pay for the security of its people. Security is not a military issue. A hugely expensive aircraft carrier with sick sailors is worth nothing. Pandemics are a real security issues and the U.S. has left its people defenseless against them. Cut the aircraft carriers and other insane military spending and invest it in the health of the people. That message will soon be widely understood. We can all help to reinforce it.

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Q: how useless is this if you test only some people? Can’t very well adopt the western idea of testing only those who look sick.

China Starts To Report Asymptomatic Coronavirus Cases (R.)

Chinese health authorities began on Wednesday reporting on asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus as part of an effort to allay public fears that people could be spreading the virus without knowing they are infected with it. China, where the coronavirus emerged late last year, has managed to bring its outbreak under control and is easing travel restrictions in virus hot spots. But there are concerns that the end of lockdowns will see thousands of infectious people move back into daily life without knowing they carry the virus, because they have no symptoms and so have not been tested. Up to now, the number of known asymptomatic cases has been classified, and it is not included in the official data, though the South China Morning Post newspaper, citing unpublished official documents, recently said it was more than 40,000.


In an effort to dispel public fears about hidden cases of the virus, the government has this week ordered health authorities to turn their attention to finding asymptomatic cases and releasing their data on them. Health authorities in Liaoning province were the fist to do so on Wednesday, saying the province had 52 cases of people with the coronavirus who showed no symptoms as of March 31, they said in a statement on a provincial government website. Hunan province said it had four such cases, all of them imported from abroad, it said in a statement on its website. The National Health Commission is due to start reporting aggregate, national data on asymptomatic cases later on Wednesday.

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Unthinkable now, but soon Americans will be thanking Putin, and thanking Trump.

How Disinformation Really Works: Russian COVID19 Aid To Italy Smeared (RT)

With over 11,000 deaths and more than 100,000 cases of Covid-19, Italy is currently a country which feels under siege. But this is no impediment to the think tank racket twisting an offer of support for its propaganda purposes. Here’s what happened. The weekend before last, Vladimir Putin called Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. During the conversation, Conte asked for help, in fighting coronavirus, according to the Kremlin readout which hasn’t been contradicted by Italian officials. Let’s be clear from the outset, there was undoubtably a strong PR, as well as practical, element to Russia’s assistance. However, there were also advantages to Rome from this approach, as the move may have helped to concentrate a few minds among its traditional allies.

Moscow sent teams of “doctors, protective gear and medical equipment” to the stricken country. The detail included 100 military virologists and epidemiologists, along with eight medical teams, according to Russian news outlets. Most importantly, it delivered 600 ventilators. A significant amount given Italy apparently had only about 5,000 of the devices. Indeed, a few days after the Putin/Conte call, the New York Times was writing about Italy’s “ventilator crisis.” There’s usually nothing like a bit of Russian influence to jolt EU and NATO elites into action. As mentioned above, no doubt this was also part of Conte’s reasoning. That said, it’s also worth mentioning that some other Europeans states have tried to help the Italians. Germany and France, in particular, took patients and sent supplies, despite dealing with outbreaks of their own. Yet, many in Italy feel they haven’t done enough.

A few days after the aid landed, a campaign began on Twitter to discredit the Russian initiative. The first I saw of it was a tweet from Oliver Carroll, of London’s Independent newspaper, who presumably speaks Italian (I don’t, so I am relying on his translation). “Some Italians are expressing unease about Putin’s Covid-19 emergency aid,” he wrote. “Acc(ording) to La Stampa, 80 percent of supplies (are) “useless,” (and) sources worry about high-ranking military officers now in (the) country. Russian soldiers (are) free to roam (in) Italy a few steps away from NATO,” the paper stated. “La Stampa says China sent masks (and) ventilators; (but) Russia sent irrelevant equipment used for bacteriological and chemical outbreaks,” Carroll added. “(There is a) belief that Russia … (is) not helping us only for great goodness of its people… now beginning to circulate in broad sectors, military and political.”

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderful and generous donations over the past days.

 

 

“Our leaders, if they think of empathy at all, think in terms of Steve Martin’s advice: ‘Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.’”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Mar 272020
 

 

 

More People Are Dying Of COVID-19 In The US Than We Know (BF)
We Could Watch Entire Populations Vanish (IC)
Coronavirus Could Kill 81,000 In US, Subside In June – Washington U. (R.)
Hold The Line (M.)
China Promotes Bear Bile As Coronavirus Treatment (NatGeo)
Fed Balance Sheet Tops $5 Trillion For First Time (R.)
Broward Poll Workers Test Positive For COVID-19 (L10)
Moscow Laboratories Will Conduct 13,000 Tests For Coronavirus Every Day (Tass)
New Zealand Coronavirus Deaths During Lockdown Could Be Just 20 – Modelling (G.)
Coronavirus Job Losses Will Raise Mortgage Stress More Than GFC Did (ABC.au)
France, Czechs, & Other US Allies Exit Iraq Over COVID-19 Fears (ZH)
Spike in Unemployment Claims is Even More Horrid Than it Appears (WS)
What Should The EU Do Now: 3-Point Plan For Averting A Depression (Varoufakis)
Dylan Ratigan: “An Abomination Beyond Comprehension” – “Bernie Folded” (Dore)
Muder Most Foul (Bob Dylan)

 

 

A word about testing. There are stories everywhere of people dying without even having beenn tested, and of doctors not getting permission to test. Many countries have a central body that must give permission for a test, and they often don’t until it’s too late in the game (the life). To a larg extent, this is because politicians simply failed to procure test kits. But there’s another thing: political incentives for massive and accurate testing hardly exist at all (in the short term), while incentives for not testing are obvious: you look better.

The UK testing story could change that all, with its potential finger-prick 15 minute test, but only if that test is at least 95% accurate. I know they claim it is, but we’ll have to see. There are stories about Chinese tests that are 30% accurate, and it’s easy to see why that is useless. But I was talking to someone yesterday who said: there are now tests that are fast and 70% accurate! But isn’t that useless too. No, they can do a better test with those who test negative! Yes, but the 70% applies to the positives too… So 70% means you have to retest everyone. And we haven’t even mentioned asymptomatic cases yet…

 

 

Note: we may see the first time that 100,000 new cases come within 24 hours

Cases 542,385 (+ 55,683 from yesterday’s 486,702)

Deaths 24,368 (+ 2,347 from yesterday’s 22,021)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close) US: 17,000 cases in a day

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 16% –

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

 

 

Not in the US, everywhere.

More People Are Dying Of COVID-19 In The US Than We Know (BF)

Medical professionals around the US told BuzzFeed News that the official numbers of people who have died of COVID-19 are not consistent with the number of deaths they’re seeing on the front lines. In some cases, it’s a lag in reporting, caused by delays and possible breakdowns in logging positive tests and making them public. In other, more troubling, cases, medical experts told BuzzFeed News they think it’s because people are not being tested before or after they die. In the US, state and county authorities are responsible for collecting data on cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and deaths. The data is then reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In California, one ER doctor who works at multiple hospitals in a hard-hit county told BuzzFeed News, “those medical records aren’t being audited by anyone at the state and local level currently and some people aren’t even testing those people who are dead.” “We just don’t know. The numbers are grossly underreported. I know for a fact that we’ve had three deaths in one county where only one is listed on the website,” the doctor said. A spokesperson for the California Department of Health told BuzzFeed News in an email that “local health jurisdictions are required to report all positive COVID-19 cases to the state. In addition, when a death or impending death from COVID-19 occurs, health care facilities must immediately notify their local health jurisdiction and the state.”

[..] two of the hardest-hit areas in the nation — New York City and Los Angeles County — released guidance earlier this week encouraging doctors not to test patients unless they think the test will significantly change their course of treatment. That means that potentially more people in both places could be admitted to hospitals with severe respiratory symptoms and recover — or die — and not be registered as a coronavirus case.

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Africa. Pray.

We Could Watch Entire Populations Vanish (IC)

On March 18, Burkina Faso suffered the first confirmed Covid-19 fatality in all of sub-Saharan Africa. The victim was Rose-Marie Compaoré, the first vice president of the Sahelian nation’s parliament. Tiny, impoverished, and conflict-scarred, Burkina Faso is now West Africa’s worst-affected country, with 146 confirmed cases, including four government ministers. The U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso, Andrew Young, has also tested positive for the disease. Burkina Faso has seen more than its share of hardships: poverty, drought, hunger, coups. But the coronavirus poses a new kind of threat to a country wracked by a war that has displaced around 700,000 Burkinabe in the last year.

Many of those people now find themselves under great physical and emotional strain, lacking proper shelter, food, and the other necessities — all of which makes them more vulnerable to the pandemic. Experts fear that Covid-19 could decimate entire settlements of Burkina Faso’s displaced, and they are bracing for devastating outbreaks in conflict zones, refugee camps, and the poorest countries in the developing world. Globally, millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, or IDPs, living in cramped, squalid conditions find themselves at risk. “When the virus hits overcrowded settlements in places like Iran, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Greece, the consequences will be devastating,” warned Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council [..] He also spoke of “carnage when the virus reaches parts of Syria, Yemen, and Venezuela where hospitals have been demolished and health systems have collapsed.”

[..] I have no reason to believe Moumoumi Sawadogo had Covid-19 when I met him eight weeks ago in Burkina Faso. After living 89 years in an arid, impoverished land on the fringe of the Sahara Desert, surviving a massacre, walking for a week and enduring hunger and homelessness, it was clear that Sawadogo was a survivor. But Covid-19 posed a different kind of danger. “These populations are already very vulnerable to diseases that are otherwise easy to treat. But that’s not the case when they have no access to water or proper sanitation or health care,” Alexandra Lamarche, senior advocate for West and Central Africa at Refugees International, told The Intercept. “We could watch entire populations vanish.”

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Modelling is only as good as its initial assumptions. Which in this case come out of hot thin air.

Coronavirus Could Kill 81,000 In US, Subside In June – Washington U. (R.)

The coronavirus pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people in the United States in the next four months and may not subside until June, according to a data analysis done by University of Washington School of Medicine. The number of hospitalized patients is expected to peak nationally by the second week of April, though the peak may come later in some states. Some people could continue to die of the virus as late as July, although deaths should be below epidemic levels of 10 per day by June at the latest, according to the analysis. The analysis, using data from governments, hospitals and other sources, predicts that the number of U.S. deaths could vary widely, ranging from as low as around 38,000 to as high as around 162,000.

The variance is due in part to disparate rates of the spread of the virus in different regions, which experts are still struggling to explain, said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the study. The duration of the virus means there may be a need for social distancing measures for longer than initially expected, although the country may eventually be able relax restrictions if it can more effectively test and quarantine the sick, Murray said. The analysis also highlights the strain that will be placed on hospitals. At the epidemic’s peak, sick patients could exceed the number of available hospital beds by 64,000 and could require the use of around 20,000 ventilators. Ventilators are already running short in hard-hit places like New York City.

The virus is spreading more slowly in California, which could mean that peak cases there will come later in April and social distancing measures will need to be extended in the state for longer, Murray said. Louisiana and Georgia are predicted to see high rates of contagion and could see a particularly high burden on their local healthcare systems, he added.

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Let the caretakers talk. They need to, and we need to hear them.

Hold The Line (M.)

As an infectious disease epidemiologist (although a lowly one), at this point I feel morally obligated to provide some information on what we are seeing from a transmission dynamic perspective and how they apply to the social distancing measures. Like any good scientist I have noticed two things that are either not articulated or not present in the “literature” of social media. I have also relied on my much smarter infectious disease epidemiologist friends for peer review of this post; any edits are from peer review. Specifically, I want to make two aspects of these measures very clear and unambiguous. First, we are in the very infancy of this epidemic’s trajectory. That means even with these measures we will see cases and deaths continue to rise globally, nationally, and in our own communities in the coming weeks.

This may lead some people to think that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. They may feel futile. They aren’t. You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos. But this is normal epidemic trajectory. Stay calm. This enemy that we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not my opinion; this is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. I want to help the community brace for this impact. Stay strong and with solidarity knowing with absolute certainty that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people begin getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

Second, although social distancing measures have been (at least temporarily) well-received, there is an obvious-but-overlooked phenomenon when considering groups (i.e. families) in transmission dynamics. While social distancing decreases contact with members of society, it of course increases your contacts with group (i.e. family) members. This small and obvious fact has surprisingly profound implications on disease transmission dynamics. Study after study demonstrates that even if there is only a little bit of connection between groups (i.e. social dinners, playdates/playgrounds, etc.), the epidemic isn’t much different than if there was no measure in place. The same underlying fundamentals of disease transmission apply, and the result is that the community is left with all of the social and economic disruption but very little public health benefit. You should perceive your entire family to function as a single individual unit; if one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk.

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This is about wildlife, not economic pessimists. Just in case you were confused.

China Promotes Bear Bile As Coronavirus Treatment (NatGeo)

Less than a month after taking steps to permanently ban the trade and consumption of live wild animals for food, the Chinese government has recommended using Tan Re Qing, an injection containing bear bile, to treat severe and critical COVID-19 cases. It is one of a number of recommended coronavirus treatments—both traditional and Western—on a list published March 4 by China’s National Health Commission, the government body responsible for national health policy. This recommendation highlights what wildlife advocates say is a contradictory approach to wildlife: shutting down the live trade in animals for food on the one hand and promoting the trade in animal parts on the other. Secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder, bile from various species of bears, including Asiatic black bears and brown bears, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since at least the eighth century.

It contains high levels of ursodeoxycholic acid, also known as ursodiol, which is clinically proven to help dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease. Ursodeoxycholic acid has been available as a synthetic drug worldwide for decades. [..] Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners typically use Tan Re Qing to treat bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. Clifford Steer, a professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, has studied the medical benefits of ursodeoxycholic acid. He knows of no evidence that bear bile is an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus. But, he says, ursodeoxycholic acid is distinct from other bile acids in its ability to keep cells alive and may alleviate symptoms of COVID-19 because of its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to calm the immune response.

Although use of bear bile from captive animals is legal in China, bile from wild bears is banned, as is the import of bear bile from other countries. According to Aron White, wildlife campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)—a nonprofit based in London, England, that exposes wildlife crimes—his organization learned first about the Chinese government’s recommendations to treat COVID-19 via social media posts from illegal traders. “We were witnessing how this government recommendation was being coopted by the traffickers to advertise their illegal products as a treatment,” White says. Illegal bile from wild bears is produced in China, he says, and is also imported from wild and captive bears in Laos, Vietnam, and North Korea.

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If numbers get big enough, they lose meaning.

Fed Balance Sheet Tops $5 Trillion For First Time (R.)

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s balance sheet soared past $5 trillion in assets for the first time this week as it scooped up bonds and extended loans to banks, mutual funds and other central banks in its unprecedented effort to backstop the economy in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic. The Fed’s total balance sheet size exploded by more than half a trillion dollars in a single week, roughly twice the pace of the next-largest weekly expansion in the financial crisis in October 2008. As of Wednesday, the Fed’s stash of assets totaled $5.3 trillion, according to data released on Thursday.

The Fed bought $355 billion of Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds in the last week in what is now an open-ended commitment to stabilize financial markets rocked by the outbreak and the halt in economic activity that has come in its wake. It also offered more than $200 billion in credit through so-called foreign currency swap lines to other central banks to allow them to pump much-needed greenbacks into their jurisdictions to help foreign borrowers stay current with their dollar-denominated liabilities.

The weekly snapshot of the Fed’s balance sheet, released each Thursday, also showed sizable demand for a pair of brand new liquidity facilities aimed at stabilizing money markets and supporting primary dealers, the banks that transact directly with the central bank. The new Primary Dealer Credit Facility had been tapped for $27.7 billion in loans as of Wednesday, while the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility had borrowings of $30.6 billion.

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Which bunch of fools decided to have that vote?

Broward Poll Workers Test Positive For COVID-19 (L10)

Two poll workers have been positively diagnosed with coronavirus, according to a statement from The Broward County Supervisor of Elections. One of the workers was only at Precinct V011 on Tuesday, March 17, Election Day, which is located at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Hollywood. The other worked at V020 at the David Park Community Center (also in Hollywood) as well as a Weston early voting location. The supervisor said that county staff as well as other poll workers at the locations have been notified of the situation. However, voters who were at the polls in person on March 17 at either of those locations or who voted early at the Weston early voting location may “wish to take appropriate steps and seek medical advice.”

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Because of western testing that may seem like a high number, but it’s not.

Moscow Laboratories Will Conduct 13,000 Tests For Coronavirus Every Day (Tass)

The laboratories in Moscow will carry out up to 13,000 tests for the novel coronavirus per day, Deputy Mayor Anastasiya Rakova said on Thursday. “Last week, only federal laboratories were authorized to conduct tests. We have fully joined this effort, launching nine laboratories. Today we are conducting nearly 4,000 tests for the coronavirus in Moscow laboratories. In the coming week w will boost the capacity to 13,000 [tests] per day,” Rakova told a TV program hosted by Vladimir Solovyov on Rossiya-1 channel. According to Rakova, the authorities were preparing for all scenarios of how the events would unfold. “Increasing the number of people who are to be tested for the coronavirus is a necessary condition and a crucial step for stopping the spread of the virus,” she stressed.


In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus – named COVID-19 by the WHO – have been reported in more than 150 countries. [..]Russia has recorded 840 coronavirus cases, with more than half of them in Moscow. Some 38 people have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals, and two people have died.

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When the desire for optimist political messaging becomes fully irresponsible.

New Zealand Coronavirus Deaths During Lockdown Could Be Just 20 – Modelling (G.)

Jacinda Ardern has implored New Zealanders to “stay local” during a four-week countrywide lockdown as modelling showed that strict measures adopted by the country could limit deaths to 0.0004% of the population – or about 20 people. Research released by Te Punaha Matatini suggested that, left unchecked, the virus could eventually infect 89% of New Zealand’s population and kill up to 80,000 people in a worst-case scenario. According to the research, intensive care beds would reach capacity within two months and the number of patients needing intensive care would exceed 10 times capacity by the time the virus peaked.


However, with the strictest suppression measures, which the country has adopted, the fatalities would drop to just 0.0004%. Hospital capacity would not be exceeded for over a year. These measures included physical distancing, case isolation, household quarantine, and closing schools and universities and would require the restrictions to remain in place until a vaccine or other treatment was developed. However, researchers noted such strategies can “delay but not prevent the epidemic”. “When controls are lifted after 400 days, an outbreak occurs with a similar peak size as for an uncontrolled epidemic,” the researchers wrote. The government has currently mandated a four-week lockdown.

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Zero recognition of living in a bubble.

Coronavirus Job Losses Will Raise Mortgage Stress More Than GFC Did (ABC.au)

As job losses continue to rise because of shutdowns in place to fight the coronavirus crisis, the number of Australians struggling to repay their mortgages is expected to lift to higher levels than seen during the global financial crisis. Credit rating agency S&P Global has warned the number of Australians falling behind on their mortgage repayments is likely to soar. “We currently expect increases in arrears to be higher than during the 2008 global financial crisis, given the wide-ranging effects on the economy stemming from the sudden disruption to economic activity,” S&P analyst Erin Kitson said. Australia avoided mass defaults during the GFC, with mortgage arrears rising to 1.69 per cent after the 2008 crisis, from a pre-crisis average of about 1.40 per cent.

The latest S&P data said mortgage arrears were 1.36 per cent in January, up from 1.28 per cent last December. Ms Kitson could not put a number on the exact number of Australian households that would be impacted by arrears but noted that many of those facing difficulty would be the self-employed. But the Federal Government’s stimulus packages and hardship relief measures from banks would limit some of the damage, Ms Kitson added. To fight the economic threat, the Government will announce a third stimulus package, expected within days. Many banks have also recently announced COVID-19 support packages that provide affected borrowers with an option to defer their repayments for up to six months.

The Reserve Bank cuts interest rates to a record low and announces a quantitative easing program for the first time in its history to help prevent a coronavirus-driven recession. And regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), has said if a borrower who has been meeting their repayment obligations until recently chooses to take up the repayment holiday, then the bank need not classify that period as “arrears”. Other emergency measures aimed at banks include an emergency interest rate cut and $90 billion in cheap 0.25-per-cent funding for three years for small business loans.

Read more …

One day the Pentagon stops all troop movements, the next day the US declares Maduro a terrorist, and the allies, want nno part of this.

Seeing your soldiers die of corona would be much too close to WWI mass Spanish flu deaths in the trenches.

France, Czechs, & Other US Allies Exit Iraq Over COVID-19 Fears (ZH)

The United States has shown itself willing to both keep up its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran and its proxies while riding roughshod over Iraqi sovereignty by remaining in the country even as Baghdad leaders and the broader population demand a final exit. But in another sign Europe is ready to divorce itself from US aims in the region, France has abruptly withdrawn its forces from the country after being there for five years. Interestingly the prime reason given was troop safety concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, but we imagine European leaders likely now see an opportunity to make a swift and easy exit without provoking the ire of their US counterparts. International correspondents say this includes French withdrawal from six bases, with a small contingent of about 100 troops remaining in the country.


The Czech Ministry of Defense also announced the exit of its forces Wednesday, which followed a large contingent of British forces leaving last week, also on fears of coronavirus exposure during the mission. “British, French, Australian and Czech troops who were coaching Iraqi counterparts were being temporarily sent home as Baghdad had put a hold on training operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” reports the AFP this week. All had been there to support coalition anti-ISIL operations led by Washington. But as the US mission to defeat the Islamic State has lately become less relevant given the demise of the terror group, Washington’s focus became Iranian influence inside Iraq – far beyond the original mission scope. The US itself had been reportedly drawing down from certain bases, but is not expected to ultimately depart given the current high state of tensions with Iran-backed militias in the country.

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The stimulus bill has opened access to assictance for the entire gig economy.

Spike in Unemployment Claims is Even More Horrid Than it Appears (WS)

This morning, the US Dept. of Labor announced that 3.283 million people had filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended March 21. We were warned yesterday that today’s initial claims would be horrid. In his press conference yesterday concerning the coronavirus, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that California by itself had “just passed the 1 million mark” in unemployment claims since March 13 — and this might include claims to be reflected in the next reporting week. And it’s going to get worse. The five largest counties of the San Francisco Bay Area were the first major region in the US to go into lockdown on March 17. The State of California followed on March 20, toward the end of the unemployment-claims reporting week (through March 21), and many other states followed within days – and many of those claims were filed after this reporting week had ended. This is the mind-blowing effect what started to happen in the week ended March 21:

The report by the Department of Labor this morning listed some sectors that were particularly hard hit by “COVID-19 virus impacts”: • Services industries broadly, particularly accommodation and food services; • health care and social assistance services; • arts, entertainment and recreation; • transportation and warehousing; • manufacturing industries. However, this horrid spike in claims only shows a partial picture. Since the end of that reporting week, lockdowns have spread to many other states, and companies in those states are now struggling with how to cope. Many companies had already laid off people before the lockdowns – and this is reflected in today’s unemployment claims. But much of the fallout from those lockdowns and their secondary effects will be reflected in future reports.


The gig economy, as the US economy has been called due to the growth of business models that shift labor from employees to contract workers, is unprepared for this. Under current rules, gig workers cannot file for unemployment claims – though the stimulus package will change this. And for now, they have not filed for unemployment claims. But their hours of many have been cut, and others lost their gigs entirely. This includes musicians whose gigs were eliminated when bars, restaurants, and clubs shut down. It includers actors and singers and artists. It includes Uber and Lyft drivers whose business has dwindled. It includes self-employed vacation-rental entrepreneurs with some units on Airbnb that no one is booking because the travel industry has shut down. It includes tech workers whose projects have been put on hold. It includes instructors and coaches of all kinds – such as figure skating coaches, language coaches, and corporate coaches. And so on. Many millions of people.

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The battle between getting closer together and staying further apart. Stuck between social distancing and political distancing.

What Should The EU Do Now: 3-Point Plan For Averting A Depression (Varoufakis)

With Lives, Livelihoods and the Union on the brink, the COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest test of the European project in the history of the Union — and we are failing. Solidarity was meant to be a foundational principle of the EU. But solidarity is missing at the moment it is most needed. COVID-19 has revealed a fundamental truth: Europe is only as healthy as its sickest resident, only as prosperous as its most bankrupted. But the EU’s leadership is paralysed by its beggar-thy-neighbour – and now sicken-thy-neighbour – mindset. The price of this failure will not merely be lives lost and livelihoods destroyed. It will be the disintegration of the Union itself. In line with its Green New Deal for Europe, DiEM25 offers a 3-point plan to protect all European residents, avert an economic depression, and prevent the collapse the Union.

Our plan is premised on four basic facts.
1) Public debt will, and must, rise: The precipitous fall in private sector incomes must be replaced by government expenditure. If not, bankruptcies will destroy much of Europe’s productive capacity and, thus, deplete the tax base even further.

2) The wholesale rise in public debt must not divide us: The last euro crisis wrecked some member-states’ fiscal position while improving the fiscal position of others. The results are wildly different fiscal absorption capacities across the eurozone. If the rise in public debt is not a shared burden, the new euro crisis will destroy the last chance to hold the European Union together once the virus itself has been defeated.

3) A Eurobond is essential, but the devil is in its details: Nine eurozone governments have rightly demanded the issue of a Eurobond so that the burden of rising public debt is shared. But the most important questions remain: Which institution should issue it? And who will back it? DiEM25 believes there is only one answer: an ECB-Eurobond backed solely by the ECB.

4) A Eurobond is essential, but it is not enough: Two more interventions are needed. During the pandemic, Europe must inject directly cash into every citizen’s bank account immediately so as to prevent as many bankruptcies and lost livelihoods as possible. Once the pandemic recedes, Europe must embark upon a sizeable, effective and common green investment program so as to improve Europe’s overall capacity to bounce back.

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I haven’t had time to listen to the whole thing. But I miss Dylan Ratigan.

Dylan Ratigan: “An Abomination Beyond Comprehension” – “Bernie Folded” (Dore)

Jimmy Dore talks to Dylan Ratigan

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In the midst of the corona crisis,, Bob Dylan dropped a 17-minute song, on the murder of JFK. It’s his first original song in 8 years, and also of course since getting the Nobel Prize.. And why not. For help with lyrics go here

The day that they killed him, someone said to me, ‘Son
The age of the Antichrist has only begun.’
Air Force One coming in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to thrown in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul


What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s 36 hours past Judgment Day

Muder Most Foul (Bob Dylan)

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Readership is up, but ad revenue is not. I’ve said it before, it must be possible to run a joint like the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of it. It has become a two-way street; and isn’t that liberating, when you think about it?

Thanks everyone for your wonderful donations over the past few days.

 

 

 

Support us in virustime. Help the Automatic Earth survive. It’s good for you.

 

Mar 242020
 


DPC City Hall subway station, New York 1904

 

Coronavirus Survived In Vacated Cruise Ship Cabins For Up To 17 Days (CNBC)
46.5% Of Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Passengers, Crew Were Asymptomatic (CNN)
Italy Has A Brief Glimpse Of Hope As New Cases Drop To A 5-Day Low (SCMP)
India Faces Spike In Coronavirus Cases – Study (R.)
Coronavirus Treatment Developed By Gilead Granted “Rare Disease” Status (IC)
Man Dies After Ingesting Chloroquine (NBC)
‘Miracle’ Malaria Drug Saved Us From Coronavirus, Claim Americans (DM)
War Couldn’t Stop Parliament, So Why Should COVID-19? (Aus.)
Ecuadoreans Print 3-D Protective Gear For COVID-19 Doctors (Telesur)
Electricity Consumption In Italy Plummets Amid Countrywide Quarantine (ZH)
China’s Propaganda Campaign in Europe (Kern)
All the Fed’s Corporate & Investor Bailout Programs and SPVs (WS)

 

 

Scariest bit today? Here it is:

 

 

Cases 391,947 (+ 46,654 from yesterday’s 345,292)

Deaths 17,138 (+ 2,213 from yesterday’s 14,925)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening (before their day’s close)

One look at the US suffices. It was up 9,293 at 42,893. So far today another 2,434 were added, total now 46,168. Death toll yesterday was 522, now 582.

 

 

From Worldometer -NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 14% !! 2 weeks ago it was at 6%-

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Live.info:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Just today, March 24, two more deaths from the Diamond Princess were announced. The last crew members left the ship March 1.

Coronavirus Survived In Vacated Cruise Ship Cabins For Up To 17 Days (CNBC)

The coronavirus survived for up to 17 days aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, living far longer on surfaces than previous research has shown, according to new data published Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study examined the Japanese and U.S. government efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreaks on the Carnival-owned Diamond Princess ship in Japan and the Grand Princess ship in California. Passengers and crew on both ships were quarantined on board after previous guests, who didn’t have any symptoms while aboard each of the ships, tested positive for COVID-19 after landing ashore.

The virus “was identified on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted,” the researchers wrote, adding that the finding doesn’t necessarily mean the virus spread by surface. “COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain spread,” the CDC wrote, reiterating its guidance to vulnerable populations to avoid cruises during the pandemic.

[..] The new study set out to determine how “transmission occurred across multiple voyages of several ships.” They noted that as of March 17, there were at least 25 cruise ship voyages with confirmed COVID-19 cases that were detected either during or after the cruise ended. Almost half, 46.5%, of the infections aboard the Diamond Princess were asymptomatic when they were tested, partially explaining the “high attack rate” of the virus among passengers and crew. [..] The researchers found that 712 of 3,711 people on the Diamond Princess, or 19.2% were infected by COVID-19.

Read more …

And why wouldn’t this be true everywhere?

Note: the -unrelated- explainer video is pretty much a must see

46.5% Of Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Passengers, Crew Were Asymptomatic (CNN)

Nearly half of the Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers and crew who tested positive for the novel coronavirus were asymptomatic at the time they were tested, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 712 passengers and crew members of the ship who tested positive for coronavirus, 331 – or 46.5% – were asymptomatic at the time of testing, the CDC said. The agency said that the high rate of asymptomatic infections could partly explain the high rate of infection among cruise ship passengers and crew.


Traces of the virus were found “on a variety of surfaces in cabins of both symptomatic and asymptomatic infected passengers up to 17 days after cabins were vacated on the Diamond Princess but before disinfection procedures had been conducted,” the CDC said. However, the surface contamination on the ship can’t be used to determine whether transmission occurred from contaminated surfaces without further study, the CDC cautioned. As of March 13, 107, or 25%, of the 428 Americans on the Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus, the agency said.

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Italian newspaper La Repubblica apparently reports that infection rate in Italy is 10x higher than acknowledged. I like the tweeted response:

“That’s actually good news (if true). Death rate much lower and also means everyone has it.”

If everyone’s infected, there’s no more need for lockdowns.

Italy Has A Brief Glimpse Of Hope As New Cases Drop To A 5-Day Low (SCMP)

Italy’s number of new Covid-19 cases dropped to a five-day low on Monday, easing tension on overstretched hospitals and bringing a glimmer of hope to a nation that has lost more lives than any other country to the pandemic. In Spain, however, more people died in the last 24 hours than at any point since the coronavirus outbreak erupted in what has become Europe’s second most devastated country. Italian health authorities announced 4,789 new cases in the last 24 hours, a drop from 5,560 on Sunday and 6,557 on Saturday. It was also lower than the levels of Thursday and Friday, when the figures for confirmed cases were still rising. The number of hospitalised cases in Lombardy – the Italian region enduring the most serious outbreak – also declined for the first time since the contagion took root.


“Today is perhaps the first positive day we have had in this hard, very tough month,” said Giulio Gallera, the top health official in Lombardy, an area known as the economic engine of Italy. “It is not the time to sing victory, but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has risen to 63,927 – compared to 81,093 in mainland China. [..] The overall death rate from the pandemic in Italy has further risen to 9.5 per cent, far exceeding the global average of 4.4 per cent. Of the confirmed cases, 3,204 were in intensive care, while 26,522 were under home quarantine.

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The US went from 409 cases two weeks ago to 46,000 now, sure to cross the 100,000 line in a few days, i.e. in under 3 weeks. This “study” claims this could take almost 2 months in India.

India Faces Spike In Coronavirus Cases – Study (R.)

India could face between around 100,000 and 1.3 million confirmed cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus by mid-May if it continues to spread at its current pace, according to a team of scientists based mainly in the United States. The estimates reinforce concerns among some medical officials and experts in India that the country of 1.4 billion people could see coronavirus cases jump sharply in the coming weeks and put its health system under severe strain. The scientists said projections could change as the country conducts more testing, while also putting in place stricter restrictions and measures to stem the spread of the virus.

“Even with the best case scenarios, probably, you are in a very painful crisis,” said Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan who was involved in the study. The study was carried out by the COV-IND-19 Study Group of scholars and scientists looking into the threat posed by the coronavirus, and COVID-19, the disease it causes, in India. [..] India probably has only around 100,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 40,000 ventilators, said Dhruva Chaudhry, president of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, based on industry estimates and other data. “We can handle it if an even number (of cases) come over a period of time,” Chaudhry said. But he warned that there was not sufficient infrastructure or staff to handle a sharp spike in critical patients.

[..] So far, India has reported 471 cases of the coronavirus and 9 deaths, numbers dwarfed by countries like China, Italy and Spain, but which are nonetheless beginning to accelerate. Authorities have imposed a lockdown across large parts of the country, including in the capital city New Delhi and the financial hub of Mumbai. The original study was based on data up to March 16, but following a request from Reuters, the team updated their model using cases from Indian health authorities up to March 21.

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Yeah, this stinks. But it’s not a “coronavirus treatment”. Remdesivir is an antiviral that’s alleged to be effective against Ebola and Marburg.

Coronavirus Treatment Developed By Gilead Granted “Rare Disease” Status (IC)

This afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration granted Gilead Sciences “orphan” drug status for its antiviral drug, remdesivir. The designation allows the pharmaceutical company to profit exclusively for seven years from the product, which is one of dozens being tested as a possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Experts warn the designation, reserved for treating “rare diseases,” could block supplies of the antiviral medication from generic drug manufacturers and provide a lucrative windfall for Gilead Sciences, which maintains close ties with President Donald Trump’s task force for controlling the coronavirus crisis. Joe Grogan, who serves on the White House coronavirus task force, lobbied for Gilead from 2011 to 2017 on issues including the pricing of pharmaceuticals.

“The Orphan Drug Act is for a rare disease and this is about as an extreme opposite of a rare disease you can possibly dream up,” said James Love, the director of Knowledge Ecology International, a watchdog on pharmaceutical patent abuse. “They’re talking about potentially half the population of the United States,” said Love, adding that “it’s absurd that this would happen in the middle of an epidemic when everything is in short supply.” The 1983 Orphan Drug Act gives special inducements to pharmaceutical companies to make products that treat rare diseases. In addition to the seven-year period of market exclusivity, “orphan” status can give companies grants and tax credits of 25 percent of the clinical drug testing cost. The law is reserved for drugs that treat illnesses that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S.

But a loophole allows drugs that treat more common illnesses to be classified as orphans if the designation is given before the disease reaches that threshold. As of press time, there were more than 40,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S, and some 366,000 worldwide. The distinction could severely limit supply of remdesivir by granting Gilead Sciences exclusive protection over the drug and complete control of its price. Other pharmaceutical firms, including India-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla, are reportedly working towards a generic form of remdesivir, but patients in the U.S. could be prevented from buying generics with lower prices now that Gilead Sciences’ drug has been designated an orphan.

The distinction could severely limit supply of remdesivir by granting Gilead Sciences exclusive protection over the drug and complete control of its price. Other pharmaceutical firms, including India-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla, are reportedly working towards a generic form of remdesivir, but patients in the U.S. could be prevented from buying generics with lower prices now that Gilead Sciences’ drug has been designated an orphan. Today, Gilead abruptly announced that it would no longer provide emergency access to remdesivir, telling the New York Times that “overwhelming demand” left it unable to process requests for the drug through its compassionate use program. Hours later, the Food and Drug Administration gave the drug orphan status. Almost immediately, Gilead’s stock price shot up.

Read more …

Okay, I’m confused. Time for Dr. John Day and other medical commentariat to chime in. This suggests the “human” version’s generic name is hydroxychloroquine, but when we started discussing it here 5 weeks ago, we were talking about chloroquine phosphate, which the article says is for fish only.

Also, we don’t read how much these people took. And the woman is critical but still does elaborate interviews?

Man Dies After Ingesting Chloroquine (NBC)

An Arizona man has died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate — believing it would protect him from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man’s wife also ingested the substance and is under critical care. The toxic ingredient they consumed was not the medication form of chloroquine, used to treat malaria in humans. Instead, it was an ingredient listed on a parasite treatment for fish. The man’s wife told NBC News she’d watched televised briefings during which President Trump talked about the potential benefits of chloroquine. Even though no drugs are approved to prevent or treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, some early research suggests it may be useful as a therapy.

The name “chloroquine” resonated with the man’s wife, who asked that her name not be used to protect the family’s privacy. She’d used it previously to treat her koi fish. “I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'” The couple — both in their 60s and potentially at higher risk for complications of the virus — decided to mix a small amount of the substance with a liquid and drink it as a way to prevent the coronavirus. “We were afraid of getting sick,” she said. Within 20 minutes, both became extremely ill, at first feeling “dizzy and hot.” “I started vomiting,” the woman told NBC News. “My husband started developing respiratory problems and wanted to hold my hand.”

She called 911. The emergency responders “were asking a lot of questions” about what they’d consumed. “I was having a hard time talking, falling down.” Shortly after he arrived at the hospital, her husband died. [..] On Monday, Banner Health, based in Arizona, said the couple took the additive called chloroquine phosphate. The couple unfortunately equated the chloroquine phosphate in their fish treatment with the medication —known by its generic name, hydroxychloroquine ..

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One coin, two sides.

‘Miracle’ Malaria Drug Saved Us From Coronavirus, Claim Americans (DM)

People across the US have come forward to call the anti-malaria drug a ‘miracle’ coronavirus treatment as New York state officials announce they will start trials with the medication on Tuesday. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will doctors will start trialing hydroxychloroquine this week after the number of coronavirus cases in New York City alone rose to 12,000, an increase of more than 3,000 overnight. The drug has not yet been proven as effective in battling the virus, but President Donald Trump drummed up excitement over it when he called it a ‘game changer’ last week. Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House coronavirus expert, said more work was needed before it could be heralded as a solution. But people like Rio Giardinieri, Margaret Novins and Lost star Daniel Dae Kim are praising the drug for saving their lives.

Giardinieri, who is the vice-president of a company that manufactures cooking equipment for high-end restaurants in Los Angeles, said his doctors administered the drug as a last hope for his recovery. The 52-year-old believes he contracted the virus during a conference in New York and immediately fell ill with a fever for five days, back pain, headaches, a cough and fatigue. ‘I was at the point where I was barely able to speak, and breathing was very challenging,’ he told Fox 6. He went to Joe DiMaggio Hospital in South Florida, where doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and coronavirus. Giardinieri explained that he was placed on oxygen but he was still unable to breath. After a week, doctors told him there was nothing else they could do and on Friday evening he said goodbye to his wife and three children.

‘I really thought my end was there. I had been through nine days of solid pain and for me, the end was there, so I made some calls to say, in my own way, goodbye to my friends and family,’ he told the news site. Giardinieri said a friend then told him about the anti-malaria drug. He immediately asked a doctor to administer the medication. He then explained what came next, including the moment when he felt like his heart was beating out of his chest. ‘They had to come in, and get me calmed down, and take care of me,’ Giardinieri said. But then the next morning he says he ‘woke up like nothing ever happened’ and feeling much better. The doctors said they don’t believe Giardinieri’s episode was a reaction to the anti-malaria drug but instead was likely the virus progressing in his body. ‘To me, the drug saved my life,’ Giardinieri said.

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Keep distance everywhere except in parliament? There are pictures of UK nurses in overloaded London subway trains. Because the risk of infection at work is not high enough, I guess.

War Couldn’t Stop Parliament, So Why Should COVID-19? (Aus.)

The decision to shut down parliament until August goes against the entire underpinnings of our Westminster political democracy. The argument that it practically needs to happen is just rubbish. Parliament kept operating through both World Wars. It operated during the Great Depression and even the Spanish Influenza of 1919. In those days we didn’t have the technology nor know-how we do today to make it even easier to keep parliament open, whether from a transport or communications perspective. The same reason that well prepared private schools have seamlessly moved to online learning systems is the reason the nation’s parliament could operate — at the very least — as a virtual chamber if necessary. Or as it did this week with social distancing and limited attendance.


What message does it send culturally that parliament is apparently so irrelevant it can pack up until the second half of the year without concern? Our democracy is not about the executive running the joint without parliamentary oversight — especially in times of crisis when scrutiny and accountability become even more important. While parliament inevitably includes no small degree of buffoonery, the role of Question Time and the platform the chamber gives individual MPs to voice the concerns of their local communities is vital. As are the committee processes.

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Shouldn’t everyone be doing this? Where are governments’ purchases of 3D printers?

Ecuadoreans Print 3-D Protective Gear For COVID-19 Doctors (Telesur)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ecuador has become the second worst-hit country in the region with over 980 infected as of Monday and with the rapid spread of the virus the country now faces a severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for its health workers. Yet this grim reality became an opportunity for a group of Ecuadoreans business owners and enthusiasts of 3-D printing to join together and apply their knowledge to produce much-needed equipment for the doctors and nurses fronting the virus. “As soon as the news came, we started to think and talk about ways to help…we saw there was a need for protective gear and realized we could help,” Mateo Arcos, co-coordinator of the Hacking COVID-10 EC initiative told teleSUR.


The group began with 60 volunteers that decided to produce face shields, which are PPEs that provide over the top, side, and front face protection against splash and splatter of fluid-borne pathogens. Now the initiative has over 280 volunteers. The decision to opt for this was based on the fact many medical personel across the country were cutting off plastic bottles in order to make their own masks, crippling health workers’ ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. “There is a clear scarcity of it so we opted to make them, also as it was the more viable option,” Arcos added.

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Imagine the earth protecting herself from mankind by debilitating its powers to destroy her any further.

Electricity Consumption In Italy Plummets Amid Countrywide Quarantine (ZH)

Italy has gone full “Wuhan” with a massive lockdown across the country amid a virus crisis that has paralyzed its economy. So far, 63,927 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported, with 6,077 deaths. The Italian economy is being dragged into a depression as the fast-spreading virus cripples its northern regions, forcing the government to ban travel and close all industrial production across the country. The impact of the virus on Italy’s economy led to the collapse of electricity consumption last week. Electricity usage fell 16% YoY for March 16-22, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Terna SpA data.

Diego Marquina, an analyst covering European power markets at BloombergNEF, noted on Monday that electricity demand in every European country has declined due to the impact of quarantine measures to mitigate the virus spread. Marquina said if declining electricity consumption is “sustained…weekday power demand would most likely fall to Sunday levels – a 10-26% reduction, depending on the country.” He estimates that power prices could drop between 6-18 EUR/MWh.

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Remeber that, as I wrote yesterday in , the leadership in all these countries failed miserably. All of them, including China.

China’s Propaganda Campaign in Europe (Kern)

Fortune magazine explained the motivation behind China’s propaganda push: “For China, the outreach to Europe is part of an effort to claw back an international leadership role after early cover-ups helped the virus spread well beyond its borders. President Xi Jinping’s government has sought to silence critics, including reporters and online commentators, and also spread conspiracy theories about where the virus originated. “Geopolitically, China’s move to brand itself as Europe’s savior aims to improve its standing on a global stage as both spar with the Trump administration. China and the U.S. have continued a wider fight for global influence — Beijing kicked out more than a dozen American journalists this week — while also seeking to deflect blame for their handling of the disease.”

On March 12, China sent to Italy a team of nine Chinese medical staff along with some 30 tons of equipment on a flight organized by the Chinese Red Cross. The head of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca, said that the shipment “revealed the power of international solidarity.” In recent days, China has also sent aid to:

• Greece, March 21. An Air China plane carrying 8 tons of medical equipment — including 550,000 surgical masks and other items such as protective equipment, glasses, gloves and shoe covers — arrived at Athens International Airport. The Chinese Ambassador to Greece, Zhang Qiyue, referred to words by Aristotle: “What is a friend? A single soul living in two bodies.” He said that “difficult times reveal true friends” and that China and Greece are “working closely together in the fight against the coronavirus.” This, he said, “confirms once again the excellent relations and friendship between the two peoples.”

• Serbia, March 21. China flew six doctors, ventilators and medical masks to Serbia to help Belgrade halt spreading of the coronavirus infection. “A big thank you to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people,” said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. China’s ambassador to Belgrade, Chen Bo, said the aid was a sign of the “iron friendship” between the two countries.

• Spain, March 21. The founder and president of the Chinese technology company Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, donated one million face masks. They were expected to arrive at Zaragoza Airport in northeastern Spain on March 23. The masks will be stored at a warehouse belonging to the Spanish apparel retailer Zara. From there, Zara will put its logistics network at the service of the Spanish government.

• Czech Republic, March 21. A Ukrainian cargo plane reportedly carrying 100 tons of medical supplies from China arrived at the airport in Pardubice, a city situated 100 kilometers east of Prague. On March 20, a Chinese plane carrying one million masks arrived in the Czech Republic, which reportedly ordered another 5 million respirators from China along with 30 million masks and 250,000 sets of protective clothing.

• France, March 18. China sent to France, the second-most powerful country of the European Union, a batch of medical supplies, including protective masks, surgical masks, protective suits and medical gloves. The Chinese Embassy in France tweeted: “United we will win!” The following day, China sent a second batch of supplies. The Chinese Embassy tweeted: “The Chinese people are next to the French people. Solidarity and cooperation will allow us to overcome this pandemic.”

• The Netherlands, March 18. China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, codeshare partners with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, donated 20,000 masks and 50,000 gloves. The shipment arrived at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on a Xiamen Airlines flight. “These are extremely difficult times for our country and our company, so we are very happy with this help for KLM and for the Netherlands,” KLM CEO Pieter Elbers said. “Less than two months ago, KLM made a donation to China and now we are being helped so wonderfully and generously.”

• Poland, March 18. The Chinese government pledged to send Poland tens of thousands of protective items and 10,000 coronavirus test kits. On March 13, the Chinese Embassy in Warsaw sponsored a videoconference during which experts from China and Central Europe shared their knowledge on tackling the coronavirus.

• Belgium, March 18. A Chinese cargo plane carrying 1.5 million masks landed at Liege Airport. The masks, which will be distributed to Belgium, France and Slovenia, were donated by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, a Chinese ecommerce giant known as the “Amazon of China.”

• Czech Republic, March 18. A plane carrying 150,000 test kits for coronavirus landed in Prague. The Ministry of Health paid about CZK 14 million ($550,000) for 100,000 testing kits, while another 50,000 kits were paid for by the Ministry of the Interior. Transport was provided by the Ministry of Defense.

• Spain, March 17. A Chinese plane carrying 500,000 masks arrived at Zaragoza Airport. “The sun always rises after the rain,” Chinese President Xi Jinping told Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. He said that the friendship between China and Spain will be stronger and bilateral ties will have a brighter future after the joint fight against the virus. Xi said that after the pandemic, both countries should intensify exchanges and cooperation in a wide range of fields.

• Belgium, March 16. Another shipment of medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation for epidemic prevention in Europe arrived at Liege Airport.

Read more …

Unlimited purchases announced and stocks tank. Is that the end of the line?

All the Fed’s Corporate & Investor Bailout Programs and SPVs (WS)

With its announcement this morning, the Fed expanded its three fundamental mechanisms in which it is once again bailing out the biggest risk takers, over-leveraged companies, hedge funds, mortgage REITs, and PE firms; wiping out cash-flows for crash-averse savers and holders of Treasury securities; and creating special opportunities for well-connected individuals who have access to the Fed’s programs. And let’s get this straight: None of the programs are going to fix the economy.

These bailout programs fall into three mechanisms:
1. Fed buys assets directly. Until this morning, this was limited to Treasury securities, agency debt, and residential MBS backed by Ginnie Mae (US government agency) and the GSEs, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This morning, the Fed added agency-backed commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) to the list.

2. Fed sets up special purpose vehicles (SPV) and lends to the SPVs which then buy assets or lend. These SPVs can buy assets the Fed is not allowed to buy and they can lend to entities and individuals to buy certain assets. Under the Federal Reserve Act, these SPVs require taxpayer backing from the Treasury Department to protect the Fed from losses.

3. The Fed lends to its 24 Primary Dealers against collateral, and that collateral can be anything the Fed decides, including now stocks – and in the end finally old bicycles.

The entire alphabet soup of new programs will take a while to get set up and get started. And since they won’t fix the economy and its underlying problems, they might not work as well in accomplishing their goals – making the wealthy wealthier – as they did during the Financial Crisis. So we’ll have to see how this works out.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

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Mar 022020
 


John Vachon Big Four Cafe, Cairo, Illinois 1940

 

China Leaves Asymptomatic Patients off Coronavirus Infection Tally (Caixin)
Epidemic Won’t Spark Financial Crisis In China (Global Times)
CDC Retesting Patient After Testing Negative, Being Released (KSAT)
CDC Testing Limits May Have Delayed Coronavirus Response (HP)
US Agency Investigating Production Of Faulty Coronavirus Test Kits (R.)
Murder Probe Sought For South Korea Sect At Center Of Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)
China Gives Relief to Shield Trillions of Yuan in Bad Debt (BBG)
Australia Warns It Can’t Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus From Overseas (R.)
Indonesia Confirms First Cases, Linked To Japanese Citizen In Malaysia (SCMP)
Japan’s Factory Activity Shrinks At Fastest Pace Since 2016 (R.)
Buttigieg Drops Out Of Democratic Race Two Days Before Super Tuesday (R.)
Klobuchar Cancels Campaign Rally After Protests (Hill)
Tulsi Gabbard Urges Trump: Don’t Drag Us Into War With Russia (ZH)
Assange Enters The Kangaroo Court (MStar)
EU Accepts Greek Demand For Emergency Foreign Affairs Council (K.)

 

 

 

Cases 89,248 (+ 1,616 from yesterday’s 87,632)

Deaths 3,058 (+ 64 from yesterday’s 2,994)

 

Everyone just dances on. China pretends it’s fine, and the Global Times assures us there will be no financial crisis. As the US CDC is found painfully wanting on multiple fronts. As Super Tuesday draws near, Trump will be criticized heavily for the US response to COVID19, especially now the first US deaths are on the tally. But though he certainly stumbles his way awkwardly through, the CDC would be what it is no matter which party is in charge.

And while western governments, along with China, have no strong desire to perform the best testing they can, because it can only make them look worse, “newly infected” countries like Nigeria (190 million) and Indonesia (260 million), don’t have the desire, and not the means either. This will keep official infection numbers low(er), but does that mean we can all go visit without any worries?

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer (Note: mortality rate fell to 6%):

 

 

A more complete pic of COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

“If you don’t have symptoms, it’s not an illness,” he said. “There’s no need to announce it.”

And at the same time, the first lung transplant:

Twitter: “Oh gosh – first lung transplant done for a #COVID19 patient. Hope only a fraction of the 20% severe cases ever need this. Though there is currently 50% 28-day mortality if someone enters ICU (based on China data). But what % or total infected will need ICU? Unclear.”

China Leaves Asymptomatic Patients off Coronavirus Infection Tally (Caixin)

China’s decision to exclude individuals who carry the new coronavirus but show no symptoms from the country’s public tally of infections has drawn debate over whether this approach obscures the scope of the epidemic, with a document received by Caixin showing a significant proportion of one province’s cases show no symptoms. Since early February, the National Health Commission (NHC) has concluded that “asymptomatic infected individuals” can infect others and demanded local authorities to report those cases. However, the commission has also decided not to include these people in its statistics for “confirmed cases” or indeed to release data on asymptomatic cases.

On Feb. 25, in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province there were 104 asymptomatic infected individuals, according to a Feb. 26 Heilongjiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by Caixin. That same day the province said it had 480 “confirmed cases,” a tally which did not include the 104 asymptomatic cases. In its Jan. 28 virus prevention and control plan, the NHC demanded the prompt detection and reporting of those with light or no symptoms. According to a document obtained by Caixin, the Heilongjiang CDC confirmed its first asymptomatic individual on Feb. 1 and asked the NHC for permission to leave the case off its public list of confirmed cases.

[..] two days after the fourth edition of the NHC’s Covid-19 guidelines released on Feb. 7 said asymptomatic cases should be reported separately and excluded from the confirmed case tally, Heilongjiang removed 13 asymptomatic infected individuals from its tally of “confirmed cases.” However, multiple studies from both Chinese and overseas researchers have been published, suggesting that individuals infected with Covid-19 can be contagious even if they do not feel ill.

In earlier guidelines, asymptomatic individuals were supposed to be observed and treated at home. But by the fifth edition of the NHC guidlines released Feb. 21, they had to undergo a 14-day quarantine as well as test negative in two separate nucleic acid tests before being released. Health authorities have also developed criteria to determine whether an asymptomatic individual is the source of infection in any given cluster. Nevertheless, at a Feb. 14 press conference, NHC deputy director Zeng Yixin said that the country would only publicize “suspected” and “confirmed cases.” “If you don’t have symptoms, it’s not an illness,” he said. “There’s no need to announce it.”

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The Party speaks. It’s not feeling well.

Epidemic Won’t Spark Financial Crisis In China (Global Times)

China is not facing a financial system crisis, despite mounting pressure from the coronavirus epidemic on the economy and global stock market routs, but further macro stabilizing measures, including more liquidity injections, might be necessary, analysts said on Sunday. Ominous signals have begun to suggest that the epidemic might have hit the Chinese economy harder than some had expected, which in turn has fueled speculation that China might face a financial crisis. On Saturday, official data showed that China’s manufacturing sector may have experienced a sharp downturn in February worse than during the global financial crisis in 2008.

The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to 35.7 in February, the lowest level on record, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The non-manufacturing PMI plunged to 29.6, deep in contraction territory. The downbeat data followed hefty losses in the Chinese A-share market on Friday amid a worldwide stock market rout due to concerns over the coronavirus epidemic. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plummeted 3.71 percent on Friday to drop below the psychologically important level of 3,000. The index lost 4.87 percent for the week. Although the Chinese stock market fared better than Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 percent last week, concerns over a potential downtrend in the A-share market or even a broader financial crisis grew.

“Suggestions that China is facing risk of a financial crisis are just absurd,” Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Sunday. “If anything, China’s A-share market is facing an upward trajectory given the fact that it has been at its historic lows and that the economic fundamentals have not changed.” [..] In light of moves by China’ s central bank to inject liquidity and local governments to support businesses, some argue the potential risks of a spike in non-performing loans among local governments could cause a financial crisis.

But Dong said that China’s government debt level remains significantly lower than those of developed countries and banks are among the world’s biggest and most regulated. “Everything is very much under control,” he said. China’s A-share market might be at the start of a bull run, according to Yang Delong, chief economist at Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund. “US stocks have reached its top, whereas the A-share market is bottoming out. Therefore I think the A-share market will increase by 20 percent this year,” he wrote in a note sent to the Global Times on Sunday.

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The CDC is being exposed as a pretty incompetent entiry.

CDC Retesting Patient After Testing Negative, Being Released (KSAT)

A patient released from isolation in San Antonio on Saturday is being retested for the coronavirus at a local health facility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say the patient met the criteria for release after testing negative for the virus twice. Both of the tests were administered more than 24 hours apart. However, the patient later returned to isolation after a pending lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the CDC. The patient was isolated when they were treated at the local medical facility for several weeks after returning from Wuhan, China, on a State Department chartered flight, the CDC says. Out of caution, the CDC says the individual was brought back into isolation at a local medical facility and is getting retested.


The patient did have contact with others while outside of isolation, and health officials are working to trace others that may have been exposed. Metro Health is working to track where the patient went, who they interacted with, the time frames they spent outside of the quarantined facility and who may have been exposed, officials say.“This is an unfolding situation with many unknowns. CDC is making decisions on a case-by-case basis using the best available science at the time. CDC’s priority is to protect both patients and communities,” said the CDC in part, in a press release. Several Texas officials are speaking out after the CDC’s announcement that a patient was released into San Antonio with possible coronavirus exposure. Mayor Ron Nirenberg says it’s unacceptable that CDC officials released the patient and allowed the public exposure.

Read more …

You could be minutes from death, but if you didn’t visit China or French kiss with someone who did, no tests for you.

CDC Testing Limits May Have Delayed Coronavirus Response (HP)

Genetic sequencing of two cases of the novel coronavirus in Washington suggests the disease had been circulating in the state for six weeks — but went undetected because of strict testing restrictions set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a scientist who compared the genetic fingerprints. The study of the coronavirus contracted by a high school student in Snohomish County north of Seattle links the illness to the very first COVID-19 case in the nation, a man who tested positive Jan. 19 after returning to his home in Snohomish county from China. He has since recovered, but the illness was passed on, undetected, via community transmission for “the past six weeks,” noted Trevor Bedford, an associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington.

He attributed the lack of earlier detection of an “already substantial outbreak” to the CDC’s “narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China” (or contact with someone known to be ill with coronavirus) before people could be tested. [..] Besides restrictions until recently on when it could be used, the test created by the CDC in early February initially only worked predictably in a handful of labs. Early detection is critical so that people can begin treatment and be isolated before passing on the virus to someone else. As of Friday, fewer than 500 people had been tested in the U.S., according to the CDC, compared with countries like South Korea, where 65,000 have been tested.

[..] Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health officer for Seattle and King County, complained about the testing system Saturday when addressing the first coronavirus death in the nation in Kirkland, Washington. “Testing capacity is so limited,” he said at a press conference. The state public health lab only began testing for COVID-19 on Friday, but officials hope soon to be able to also rely on commercial and university labs. “If we had the ability to test earlier, I’m sure we would have identified patients earlier,” said Duchin. [..] To ease the testing logjam, the FDA announced Saturday that labs and hospitals across the nation will now be able to conduct the test for COVID-19 and won’t have to wait for results from the CDC.

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You can always export them to Africa.

US Agency Investigating Production Of Faulty Coronavirus Test Kits (R.)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on Sunday that it is investigating a manufacturing defect in some initial coronavirus test kits that prompted some states to seek emergency approval to use their own test kits. On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would immediately begin using its own test kit developed in-state after asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday for permission to do so. The FDA said on Saturday it would allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus. On Sunday, New York confirmed its first case of coronavirus.


FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Sunday that “upon learning about the test issue from CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), FDA worked with CDC to determine that problems with certain test components were due to a manufacturing issue. We worked hand in hand with CDC to resolve the issues with manufacturing.” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday the United States has 75,000 test kits on hand “and over the next week that will expand radically.” He said over 3,600 people in the United States have been tested to date. Hahn added that the “FDA has confidence in the design and current manufacturing of the test that already have and are continuing to be distributed. These tests have passed extensive quality control procedures.”

Read more …

Also for Chinese government, western governments? They also hid facts.

As for Seoul, they tested only a few 1000 of the 317,320 Shincheonji members and “trainees”..

Murder Probe Sought For South Korea Sect At Center Of Coronavirus Outbreak (R.)

The government of Seoul asked for a murder investigation into leaders of a Christian sect at the center of the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak, saying the church was liable for its refusal to cooperate with efforts to stop the disease. A large majority of the more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the South Korean outbreak, the largest outside China and still growing, have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive movement that reveres founder Lee Man-hee. Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul, said if Lee and other leaders of the church had cooperated, effective preventive measures could have saved those who later died of the virus. “The situation is this serious and urgent, but where are the leaders of the Shincheonji, including Lee Man-hee, the chief director of this crisis?” Park said in a post on his Facebook page late on Sunday.


Seoul’s city government said in a separate statement that it had filed a criminal complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, asking for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on charges of murder and disease control act violations. The prosecutors’ office said it had received the complaint and was reviewing it. Health authorities said the vast majority of the 3,000 cases confirmed in Daegu, another Korean city, were linked to a branch of the church there, where a person who had tested positive in February attended services twice. [..] Health authorities said they have obtained a list of 317,320 Shincheonji members and “trainees”, but have been told by some local governments that it was not exhaustive.

Read more …

When money is your only answer to all questions.

China Gives Relief to Shield Trillions of Yuan in Bad Debt (BBG)

China’s financial regulators will allow the nation’s lenders to delay recognizing bad loans from smaller businesses reeling from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, giving temporary reprieve to trillions of yuan of debt. Qualified small- and medium-sized businesses nationwide with principal or interest due between Jan. 25 and June 30 can apply for a delay to the end of the second quarter, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory said in a joint statement with the central bank on Sunday. In Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, the waiver applies to all companies, including large firms, according to the statement. Chinese banks are taking extraordinary steps to avoid recognizing bad loans, seeking to protect themselves and cash-strapped borrowers from the economic fallout of the epidemic, as Bloomberg News reported last week.


Regulators told lenders not to downgrade loans with missed payments or report delinquencies to the country’s centralized credit-scoring system before the end of June, according to the statement. The push by banks and regulators to ease the wave of debt going bad is part of a broader effort by President Xi Jinping’s government to shore up the Chinese economy, which some forecasters predict may suffer a rare quarter-on-quarter contraction to start 2020. Gross domestic product may shrink by 2.5% in the first quarter, Nomura Holdings Inc. economists led by Lu Ting said in a report on Saturday, after the country’s manufacturing sector reported record-low activity in February. In addition to pumping billions of yuan into the banking system to make it easier for lenders to extend credit, authorities have cut interest rates, reduced taxes and pledged to adopt more “proactive” fiscal policies.

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It’s a choice, a trade-off. Close the borders OR get infected.

Australia Warns It Can’t Stop The Spread Of Coronavirus From Overseas (R.)

Australia’s chief medical officer said on Monday it was no longer possible to completely prevent people with the coronavirus from entering the country, citing concerns about outbreaks in Japan and South Korea. Australia, one of the first countries to put restrictions on its borders in a bid to limit the spread of the virus, confirmed its first death from the disease on Sunday. “It is no longer possible to absolutely prevent new cases coming in,” Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, told reporters in Canberra. “We have got concerns about Japan and South Korea. They are working hard to control their outbreaks but we are still concerned that people in those countries and other high risk countries may present with an infection.”


The chief medical officer’s comments came as Australian officials confirmed the country’s 30th case of coronavirus, a 40-year old man who arrived in Australia’s second most populated city, Melbourne from Iran. He later travelled to Tasmania. Meanwhile, Australia named the 78-year old man who became the country’s first person to die from coronavirus as James Kwan. He was a passenger on the Diamond Princess ship that was held off Japan’s coast for weeks. Kwan and his wife, who also has the virus, were transferred back to Australia for treatment. Australia barred entry from Feb. 1 to any foreigners who had travelled through China in the two weeks prior to arriving in Australia. It extended that ban to Iran on Sunday. Both bans are in force until at least March 7. Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempted.

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That country of 260 million with a very sparse health care system. That has neither the desire nor the means to count its victims.

Indonesia Confirms First Cases, Linked To Japanese Citizen In Malaysia (SCMP)

Two Indonesians have tested positive for the coronavirus after being in contact with an infected Japanese national, Indonesian President Joko Widodo revealed on Monday, marking the first confirmed cases in the world’s fourth most populous country. The two had been hospitalised in Jakarta, Widodo told reporters at the presidential palace in the capital. The president said a 64-year-old woman and her 31-year-old daughter had tested positive after being in contact with a Japanese national who lived in Malaysia and was found to have the virus after returning from a trip to Indonesia. Widodo said an Indonesian medical team had traced the movements of the Japanese visitor before uncovering the cases.


“After checks, they were in a sick state. This morning I got a report that the mother and the daughter tested positive for coronavirus,” said Widodo, who said they were being treated at Jakarta’s Sulianti Saroso infectious diseases hospital. Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto told reporters the Japanese visitor was a friend of the two women’s family and had visited their house. He said authorities were checking who else the Japanese visitor may have come into contact with. The confirmation of the first cases of coronavirus came after authorities had defended their screening processes, with some medical experts raising concerns of a lack of vigilance and a risk of undetected cases in the Southeast Asian country of more than 260 million people.

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Who could have predicted that?

Japan’s Factory Activity Shrinks At Fastest Pace Since 2016 (R.)

Japan’s factory activity was hit by its sharpest contraction in nearly four years in February, raising a red flag over manufacturing in the world’s third-largest economy as the impact from the coronavirus outbreak spreads. The manufacturing slowdown offers the clearest evidence yet of the epidemic’s damaging effects on global growth and businesses and is likely to ramp up pressure on Japanese policymakers to boost growth. The au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) slipped to a seasonally-adjusted 47.8 from a final 48.8 in the previous month. The February reading was its lowest since May 2016.


The index stayed below the 50.0 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for a 10th month, marking the longest stretch since a 16-month run to June 2009 during the global financial crisis. “Near-term prospects for Japan’s industrial sector appear very bleak,” said Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey. “Weakness was driven by the demand-side in a broad-based fashion. Consumer, intermediate and capital goods producers recorded faster declines in demand and overall order books fell at the sharpest rate in over seven years.” The pressure on the world’s third-largest economy has built rapidly during the past weeks as the virus outbreak is dealing a sharp blow to China’s economy, Asia’s biggest.

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Good DNC boy. All against Bernie.

Buttigieg Drops Out Of Democratic Race Two Days Before Super Tuesday (R.)

Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, saying he no longer saw a chance of winning, the day after fellow moderate Joe Biden won a big victory in South Carolina. The move shook up the Democratic contest to pick a candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election and came two days before the 14-state Super Tuesday nominating contests that will offer the biggest electoral prize so far. Buttigieg, a 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who gained early momentum after he narrowly won the Iowa caucuses last month and finished a close second in New Hampshire, had sought to unite Democrats, independents and moderate Republican voters.


But he finished a distant third in Nevada and fourth in South Carolina. “Today is a moment of truth … the truth is that the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy if not for our cause,” Buttigieg told supporters in South Bend on Sunday night. “Our goal has always been to unify Americans to help defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.” [..] An adviser told Reuters that Buttigieg was dropping out to avoid helping the odds of front-runner Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist. “Pete was not going to play the role of spoiler,” said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Could he have went through Super Tuesday and beyond? Sure. But this was not a vanity exercise.”

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Klobuchar out today? Place your bets. She has zero chance, but can take away votes from Sleepy Joe. They’ll keep Warren in, so she can dig into Bernie’s support.

And as all the TV clowns talk about Bernie’s support among black voters, check this:

“Klobuchar was the lead attorney in the county at the time of his initial trial, and she later denied a request for him to attend his mother’s funeral after he was imprisoned.”

Klobuchar Cancels Campaign Rally After Protests (Hill)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) canceled a campaign rally in St. Louis Park, Minn., on Sunday after protesters reportedly affiliated with Black Lives Matter and other civil rights groups took the stage at her event for over an hour. In a statement obtained by The New York Times, Klobuchar’s campaign said the senator offered to meet with demonstrators in exchange for them exiting the stage and allowing her rally to proceed, adding that the protesters initially agreed to such terms before reportedly backing out and refusing to leave the stage.

“The campaign offered a meeting with the senator if they would leave the stage after being on the stage for more than an hour,” a spokesperson for the Klobuchar campaign told the Times. “After initially agreeing, the group backed out, and we are now canceling the event.” The campaign did not immediately return a request for further comment from The Hill. Klobuchar has faced calls to suspend her campaign from Black Lives Matter and NAACP activists over her role in the criminal prosecution of Myon Burrell, an African American man who was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison while still a teenager. Klobuchar was the lead attorney in the county at the time of his initial trial, and she later denied a request for him to attend his mother’s funeral after he was imprisoned.

Burrell’s case has become a point of criticism for Klobuchar’s campaign, as many including the victim’s father believe he may have been wrongfully convicted. “What I need people to understand is this isn’t about partisanship and this isn’t about politics,” said Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, in January. “This is about justice. … This isn’t just a situation that happened to the Central Park Five alone. This is a situation that happens all around America. This is a situation that happens right here in Minnesota.” “Young people, young adults were given life sentences to rot away in prison,” he added at the time. “This benefits no one. However, it does benefit politicians who use the criminal justice system to benefit their political careers. Enough is enough.”

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But Tulsi is still running.

Tulsi Gabbard Urges Trump: Don’t Drag Us Into War With Russia (ZH)

Tulsi Gabbard has once again gone on the offensive, skewering Washington mainstream foreign policy and the Trump administration’s refusal to stand up to “dictator” Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump reportedly told Erdogan in a phone call last week as the Idlib crisis escalates, now in an open state of war between the Turkish and Syrian armies, and with Russia supporting the latter, that the US “reaffirmed” its support for Turkey in Idlib. Ankara is now demanding greater support from NATO as well, after Russian jets were widely believed behind last Thursday’s massive air strike which killed 33 Turkish soldiers.


Congresswoman and Democratic presidential hopeful Gabbard attacked this stance in a weekend video statement, urging Trump instead to make clear that “the United States will not be dragged into a war with Russia by the aggressive Islamist expansionist dictator of Turkey via NATO.” She also slammed the mainstream media’s efforts to renew holding up al-Qaeda terrorists on the ground in Idlib as mere “rebels” and “freedom fighters” — saying it’s a disgrace to men and women in uniform who signed up to fight terrorists in the wake of 9/11. “Turkey’s been supporting ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists from behind the scenes for years,” she pointed out. “Turkey’s Erdogan wants to create an Islamist caliphate in Syria, reestablish the Islamist Ottoman Empire, and is working with al-Qaeda and other terrorists to achieve his goal.” “He wants to be the caliph,” she added, explaining further he’s not a “friend” of America, but remains one of the most dangerous dictators in the world.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1233740452182024193

Read more …

A kangaroo court in a banana republic.

Assange Enters The Kangaroo Court (MStar)

The most visually striking aspect of the Woolwich courtroom is where Assange sits — in a box covered by bullet-proof glass. This obviously unnecessary “security” measure was aimed at portraying Assange as a dangerous, violent terrorist who must be restrained at all times. Not only was the bullet-proof box dehumanising and degrading, it also made it impossible for Assange to participate in his own defence — a basic principle of due process. Assange could barely even hear the proceedings, let alone communicate with his legal team. Any communications that did occur in the box were not confidential since he was flanked at all times by at least one security guard. On Wednesday, Assange finally had enough. He stood up and began to address the judge, requesting he be permitted to properly communicate with his own lawyers.

The judge cut him off and sent the court into recess rather than allow him to speak. When the court reconvened, Assange’s lawyer formally requested Assange be permitted to sit with his legal team — a position that astonishingly was supported by the lawyer for the prosecution, who apparently found the whole set-up so gross as to discredit the entire proceeding. Yet still, the judge would not relent and Assange remained caged like an animal. However the abuse in the courtroom pales in comparison to the abuse behind closed doors in Belmarsh prison. The night after the trial opened, prison authorities relentlessly harassed Assange. He was shuffled from room to room all night, stripped naked and handcuffed multiple times throughout the ordeal. His legal papers were also confiscated.

When the defence lawyers complained the following day in court, the judge shrugged her shoulders and said that she had no authority over the prison administration who subjected him to such humiliation. The years of suffering Assange has endured while being persecuted by the US, British and other governments is evident simply from his physical appearance. Assange was clearly exhausted in the courtroom, sometimes slumped over. Even before being subjected to nearly a year of HMP Belmarsh, Assange had to deal with the psychological torment of nearly seven years’ confinement in the Ecuadorian Embassy. At the same time it is clear he still has the will to fight and has not compromised his principles an inch. The trial resumes in May, and will likely be followed by an extensive series of appeals.

Read more …

The pace the EU moves at. As Greece’s borders are being overrun. Erdogan is to visit Putin on Thursday.

Greece swears it won’t let the “migrants” enter, which Erdogan has selected for women and children (photo-ops) and militant youth (severity).

EU Accepts Greek Demand For Emergency Foreign Affairs Council (K.)

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has convened an extraordinary Foreign Council for next week on developments in Syria and the ensuing migration emergency, at the request of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Dendias had formally requested an extraordinary meeting Saturday. In his statement, Borrell says that the EU-Turkey agreement on repatriation of refugees needs to be upheld and confirms EU supports Greece and Bulgaria in addressing the migration issue. Borrell’s statement:


“The ongoing renewed fighting in and around Idlib represents a serious threat to international peace and security. It is causing an untold human suffering among the population, and having a grave impact on the region and beyond. The European Union needs to redouble efforts to address this terrible human crisis with all the means at its disposal. I am therefore calling for an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council next week to discuss the unfolding situation, in particular at the request of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece. Over the past days, I have been in contact with key actors. I have called for an immediate de-escalation and for a lasting ceasefire, deplored the loss of lives, and offered EU support to mitigate the consequences of the crisis. There is only a political solution to this crisis.

Read more …

 

 

 

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