John William Godward Dolce Far Niente (Sweet Idleness, or A Pompeian Fishpond) 1904
One year into the continuing COVID emergency, it’s high time to ask questions about the “legal status” of various measures and restrictions applied by various governments- as well as their other policies. Having those questions asked out in the open is good for everyone, not least for the governments themselves. If only because a government doesn’t make law, it is only supposed to abide by it while governing.
Which means the law has to be tested by courts. That someone would have to start a court case to do this in these unusual and “extreme” times is already a step too far; courts should take that upon themselves (and I know, courts don’t usually do that). Whenever a government announces another measure or restriction, its legality should be tested immediately. It is not a good sign that this hardly appears to happen. The government itself should initiate the process.
Imagine if a court waits a year or more to issue an opinion on the measures, and finds -some of- them to be illegal. How do you explain that to people, as a government, or as a court? People who’ve lost their jobs, their savings, their businesses, and are then told it was all illegal to begin with?! Nobody should want that mess.
Much of what governments decide is presented as being justified by the term “emergency”. But this particular “emergency” has lasted for a year now, and you could begin by asking a court how long an “emergency” can and should be able to last. Also, what extra powers can a government claim just because it chooses to label something an emergency? Before you know it, it starts to feel like a dictatorship.
Applicable legislation will differ from country to country, but there is little doubt that in most western democracies, laws concerning the legal powers of a government will be quite similar. If only because they copied from each other all the time. Governments do all appear to think they have a lot of power, though, and I personally would like to see where that power is engraved in their respective laws, and what part of it is truly democratic.
A bit of an aside, something I’ve talked about multiple times, and something I think perhaps originates in legal overreach: Our societies appear to have become one dimensional (never a good idea) : governments act as if there is only one problem, COVID, and discard all others, cancers, mental health, economic bereavement.
Also one dimensional: the only response to COVID is a vaccine; all other possible responses are ignored. This is curious in a 3-dimensional world, though perhaps not in a one dimensional one. Still, even there too, the law must be tested.
Back to legal issues: Does a government have the legal standing to force millions of people not to work, millions of businesses not to open, millions of kids not to go to school? My answer would be: perhaps, but certainly never before they’ve exhausted every single other avenue to solve the problem they seek to solve.
And that is something no government I’ve seen has done. Still, what does the law say? If and when you, as a government, allow an emergency to last for a year, then what part of the blame for that falls on you?
For instance, none have attempted to boost the immune systems of their citizens, they’ve simply put facemasks on weak immune systems. But COVID is a disease that attacks weaknesses in the immune system. And we know most westerners have a vitamin D deficiency, especially in winter, which hugely weakens their immune systems. Still, governments declare month after month of lockdowns and measures without having provided adequate vitamin D, which is dirt cheap, to their citizens, and then tell them to go get vaccinated, or else.
And there’s more: Professor of Medicine Dr Peter McCullough says: “..the virus invades inside cells, so we have to use drugs that go inside the cell and work to reduce viral replication“. “The drugs that work within the cell and actually reduce viral replication are hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, doxycycline and azithromycin” Have you seen those drugs made available, let alone promoted, where you live?
You don’t even have to make vitamin D and ivermectin mandatory to make them work, people will take them voluntarily. Plenty studies say that boosting your vitamin D levels decreases your risk of getting infected with COVID as well as dying from it by 50% or more. And then you take it from there: things will add up: 50% now, becomes 50%+x next week, and so on. Who needs a vaccine at all? And that’s before you even mention ivermectin, of which Dr Pierre Kory said: “If you take ivermectin, you won’t get sick”. As in: end of story, end of problem.
Whether a government can make a vaccine mandatory is questionable to begin with. But a vaccine that hasn’t been approved, other than through an emergency authorization, and for which proper research won’t be completed for at least two-three years? What is the legal basis for that? On top of that, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technology that has never before been tested on humans. How do you legally make those mandatory? How slippery is this legal scale, and how far have we already slid down it?
And then we want to issue vaccination passports to prove people have had a jab or two of these untested things? Look, they may well work, but we don’t know that, and we won’t for quite some time. But in the meantime we still want to curtail people’s freedom of movement for not getting an untested vaccine?
These questions have nothing to do with anti-vaxxers, if anything they’re about blind pro-vaxxers. And about the law. Go ask a judge, go ask the highest court in your land, what their respective laws say about this situation.
The following, sent to me by a friend, is from a Greek lady, Nelly Psarrou, who has a background in Political science and Law. She’s asking the questions in her country that everybody should ask in theirs. You can’t let a government absorb emergency powers without asking these questions. It is too dangerous.
Whether or not you get vaccinated, get informed!
1. Vaccination, like any medical action, requires citizen consent. Consent is not regarded as valid if it is not fully informed, nor “if it is the result of deceit, fraud or threat, or conflicts with the demands of decency” (Medical Code of Ethics, Greek law 3418/2005). Failing this, the consent is waived and the person/body who has exerted the pressure or extortion to vaccinate is subject to penal sanctions and/or civil damages in the event of harm.
2. Vaccination is not a prerequisite for the exercise of any other institutional requirement, such as education or otherwise recognized basic right such as the right to employment and free movement. Correspondingly, no private company has the legal authority to impose restrictions violating citizens’ constitutional rights. Discrimination and Stigmatization are forbidden (Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, UNESCO). Moreover, imposition of a medical action in any manner constitutes torture and is illegal.
3. Non-consensual participation by citizens in medical research is specifically forbidden, as prescribed by the Nuremberg Code instituted following the trial of the Nazi-collaborator doctors. Any coercion of people to participate in research transforms them into experimental animals and amounts to a reintroduction of Nazi practices and crimes on a public health pretext.
The COVID19 vaccine has an emergency licence (not final approval), which means that research and clinical studies are still under way (they are to be completed in 2023)! It is INVESTIGATIONAL, as declared by the companies themselves, and any forced vaccination with it by any means (legal obligation, extortion, fraud) falls in the category of coercion in research, which is BANNED under numerous laws and international agreements and has penal and civil consequences.
4. As indicated by doctors and companies, the vaccines HAVE NOT BEEN STUDIED to determine whether they reduce viral infection or to ascertain the duration of immunity and/or the effects of their interaction with other drugs or vaccines. Therefore, neither are other people protected from infection by the virus, nor will restrictions be lifted – as is now announced.
5. The measures themselves which have been imposed are both illegal and unscientific. They are illegal in so far as they impose medical actions (e.g. the mask), they impose individual administrative measures restricting freedoms without individual legal mandate (Article 5 of the Constitution) and THEY ARE NOT EMERGENCY AND TEMPORARY (for example since June everybody talks about a second wave of viral infection, and this has already lasted for months).
The measures are unscientific in many ways. Specifically a) they ignore the strengthening of primary health care, which is demanded by all scientific specialists. b) they impose lockdown, which is classifiable, from a medical viewpoint, as a criminal policy (it does not reduce infections and it increases mortality from other causes, worsening health overall – mental illness, cancellation of programmed examinations and operations, c) they impose masks (which is a medical action) outdoors, which does not provide protection against the virus as they themselves assert: “they are a “symbolic measure”, a slogan which says MASKS EVERYWHERE! ) d) they focus on vaccination as the only solution, instead of including the existing possibility of effective treatment with pharmaceutical drugs.
6. From the moment that vaccinations started, serious side-effects have already been recorded, auto-immune reactions but also deaths, which are, however, attributed to underlying conditions. The provision of new vaccines stopped immediately, the official justification being the impossibility of production – which had just commenced. At the same time doctors working with the government as advisors are evidently in receipt of funding from the same companies that are producing the vaccines: that amounts to, and/or would amount to, “conflict of interest”. Finally, the Prime Minister has claimed falsely that vaccination is voluntary, yet as early as 25/2/2020 the Parliament had voted the relevant laws: they are simply not in a position yet to enforce them because they do not have the vaccines.
What is most important is that citizens are denied information and doctors of alternative persuasion are muzzled, ridiculed and hounded! The mass media have already been paid for spreading this disinformation, with the 40 million euros “for strengthening information on the Corona virus” and the writing off of 30 million euros of debt. And we know that information is the most precious value in a society of freely thinking citizens. This, informing our fellow human beings is the number one priority and a socially responsible action. Seek out the information and disseminate it freely.
1. For all the above, articles with data: www.nellypsarrou.com
2. The views of numerous specialists: Radio Crete (the programs of the journalist Sachinis (in Greek) https://www.youtube.com/user/984radio
As for point 6 and 7, I think it’s not very useful to claim doctors and media are being paid off, without linking to evidence you have of that. Stick with the legal issues if you can’t.
And the legal issues raised by Nelly Psarrou look strong. Time for a lawyer and a court.
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Tucker: Trump is an indictment of America’s ruling class. They love Donald Trump because no-one else loves them.
@simongerman600: Level 1:This map from a @cgpgrey shows that winning 50.1% of each red state would be enough to become president. That means with only 22% of total US votes you could win an election. Broken system much? Source: https://buff.ly/3g6IGVq
Whereas the sequencing of DNA defined molecular biology in the early two-thousands, the sequencing of RNA defines it today. If you imagine a cell as a kind of computer, then your DNA contains all the software that it could possibly run. It is a somewhat astonishing fact of life that the exact same DNA is shared by every cell in your body, from the skin to the brain; those cells differ in appearance and function because, in each of them, a molecular gizmo “transcribes” some DNA segments rather than others into molecules of single-stranded RNA. These bits of RNA are in turn used as the blueprints for proteins, the molecular machines that do most of a cell’s work. If DNA is your phone’s home screen, then transcription is like tapping an icon.
By sampling the RNA present in a group of cells, researchers can see which programs those cells are running at that moment; by sampling it after the cells have been infected with a virus, they can see how that virus substitutes its own software. TenOever’s team quickly discovered that sars-CoV-2 was uncannily good at disrupting cellular programming. A typical virus replaces less than 1% of the software in the cells it infects. With sars-CoV-2, tenOever said, about 60% of the RNA in an infected cell is of viral origin—“which is the highest I’ve ever seen. Polio comes close.” Among other things, the virus rewires the alarm system that cells use to warn others about infection. Normally, as part of what is known as the “innate” immune response—so called because it is genetically hardwired, and not tailored to a specific pathogen—a cell sends out two kinds of signals.
One signal, carried by molecules called interferons, travels to neighboring cells, telling them to build defenses that slow viral spread. Another signal, transmitted through molecules called cytokines, gets a message to the circulatory system’s epithelial lining. The white blood cells summoned by this second signal don’t just eat invaders and infected cells; they also gather up their dismembered protein parts. Elsewhere in the immune system, these fragments are used to create virus-specific antibodies, as part of a sophisticated “adaptive” response that can take six or seven days to develop. Usually, the viruses that humans care about are successful because they shut down both of these signalling programs.
The coronavirus is different. “It seems to block only one of those two arms,” tenOever told me. It inhibits the interferon response but does nothing about the cytokines; it evades the local defenses but allows the cells it infects to call for reinforcements. White blood cells are powerful weapons: they arrive on an inflammatory tide, destroying cells on every side, clogging up passages with the wreckage. They are meant to be used selectively, on invaders that have been contained in a small area. With the coronavirus, they are deployed too widely—a carpet bombing, rather than a surgical strike. As they do their work, inflammation distends the lungs, and debris fills them like a fog.
In late May, tenOever’s team shared its findings in the biweekly journal Cell. In their article, they argued that it’s this imbalanced immune response that gives severe covid-19—which can sometimes cause blood clots, strange swelling in children, and ultra-inflammatory “cytokine storms”—the character of an autoimmune disorder. As the virus spreads unchecked through the body, it drags a destructive immune reaction behind it. Individuals with covid-19 face the same challenge as nations during the pandemic: if they can’t contain small sites of infection early—so that a targeted response can root them out—they end up mounting interventions so large that the shock inflicts its own damage.
The global governmental response to the coronavirus pandemic has been rife with shortcomings that have prolonged the acute phase of the health crisis, “Black Swan” author Nassim Taleb told CNBC on Monday. “I think this is a case study of government worldwide incompetence in dealing with a problem and denial,” said Taleb, whose bestselling 2007 book warned of highly improbable events and their potential for severe consequences. In a “Squawk Box” interview, Taleb specifically pointed to the importance of coronavirus testing. While countries have improved their capacity since the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, Taleb said there has been a failure to develop quick, efficient testing at a scale that can cut off chains of transmission early. It also has the least economic cost, he said.
“Ten months into the pandemic, we still don’t have systematic testing when you board a plane or when you want to go to a restaurant or something,” said Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University. “If we had instant, systematic testing, we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be talking now about the pandemic.” Taleb’s comments come as coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe are surging again, leading to governments in the U.K., Germany and France to put in place varying degrees of lockdowns in hopes of reducing the spread. In America, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said recently the country “could not possibly be positioned more poorly,” as daily case counts set a series of record highs.
"We can focus immediately on the simplest solution and the one with the smallest economic cost– testing would be the ideal solution. Why 10 months into the pandemic we still do not have systematic testing?" – @nntaleb. pic.twitter.com/QLttgNKA0u
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. Imagine this continuing until January, February, March because in the winter people are inside so contagion rates are higher,” Taleb said. “Think about what can happen. It’s not that rosy.” Taleb said he believes everyday citizens and government leaders have, for the most part, failed to grasp the potential consequences of the pandemic. “I’m seeing a lot of denial in social life, everywhere, about this virus from the beginning,” he said. “Now we’re 10 months into this virus, and people are still hoping for a vaccine, something that will cancel it.” [..] “You should realize you have more uncertainty ahead now than you think. The returns can be a lot better or a lot worse than you think,” Taleb said, though he refused to comment on returns directly. “There’s a tendency of people to underestimate that uncertainty is chronic.”
“At 10:04 PM on the night before an election, we discover that as part of his investigation into DNC hacking/election interference, Mueller declined to indict Assange and WikiLeaks due to a lack of evidence and First Amendment concerns.”
Ad Jesus Christ, Buzzfeed, there were never any hacked emails. Stop that nonsense!
Prosecutors investigated Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone for the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers as well as for possible campaign finance violations, but ultimately chose not to charge them, newly released portions of the Mueller Report reveal. Although Wikileaks published emails stolen from the DNC in July and October 2016 and Stone — a close associate to Donald Trump — appeared to know in advance the materials were coming, investigators “did not have sufficient evidence” to prove active participation in the hacks or knowledge that the electronic thefts were continuing. In addition, federal prosecutors could not establish that the hacked emails amounted to campaign contributions benefitting Trump’s election chances and furthermore felt their publication might have been protected by the First Amendment, making a successful prosecution tenuous.
The fresh details of special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision not to charge Assange, WikiLeaks, or Stone for their role in influencing the 2016 election come just a day before voters head to the polls for the 2020 presidential election. The material sheds new light on the seriousness with which the special counsel investigated the hacks of Democratic party computers. In July 2018, Mueller indicted 12 Russian officers belonging to the Kremlin’s intelligence directorate, the GRU, for the theft and distribution of those emails. The role that Stone and Assange may have played in the hacks or their distribution has been the subject of much speculation. Little, however, was known about how intently the special counsel focused on those individuals as possible targets for prosecution during the two-year investigation into Russian election interference.
But a new version of the 448-page Mueller report released Monday by the Justice Department contains previously redacted sections on 13 pages, nearly all of them dealing with events surrounding the hacked emails and their eventual publication. The passages were disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed by BuzzFeed News and the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, that called on the government to release the report in its entirety. In September, a federal judge ruled that while some parts could still remain hidden, the government had violated the law by withholding portions dealing with internal discussions among prosecutors. The judge ordered the Justice Department to release relevant sections by Nov. 2.
At 10:04 PM on the night before an election, we discover that as part of his investigation into DNC hacking/election interference, Mueller declined to indict Assange and WikiLeaks due to a lack of evidence and First Amendment concerns. https://t.co/ZrmtqS7R7j
Just days before the 2020 election the bureaucratic forces behind the original claim of Russian hacking of state election-related websites in 2016 launched a new drive to spawn fears of Moscow-made political chaos in the wake of the voting. The new narrative was not consistent with information previously published by the the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), however. It was so incoherent, in fact, that it suggested a state of panic on the part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials worried about a possible transition to a Joe Biden administration. On October 20, Christopher Krebs, the head of CISA, issued a video statement expressing confidence that “it would be incredibly difficult for them to change the outcome of an election at the national level.”
Then he abruptly changed his tone, adding, “But that doesn’t mean various actors won’t try to introduce chaos in our elections and make sensational claims that overstate their capabilities. In fact, the days and weeks just before and after Election Day is the perfect time for our adversaries to launch efforts intended to undermine your confidence in the integrity of the electoral process.” Krebs’ warning of a possible Russian announcement that hackers had succeeded in disrupting the result of the U.S. election was so removed from reality that it suggested internal panic DHS over the failure of Russian hackers to do anything that could be cited as interfering the election.
Two days after Krebs’ dubious warning, the FBI and the DHS’s new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an “alert” reporting that “a Russian state-sponsored APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] actor” known as “Berserk Bear” had “conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets.” Since “at least September,” according to the DHS alert, the DHS warning claimed that it had targeted “dozens” of “U.S. state, local, territorial and tribal government networks.” It even claimed that the supposed Russian campaign had compromised the network infrastructure of several official organizations and “exfiltrated data from at least two victims servers”. At the same time, it acknowledged there was “no indication” that any government operations had been “intentionally disrupted.”
The report went on to suggest, “[T]here may be some risk to elections information housed on SLTT [state, local territorial and tribal] government networks.” And then it abruptly shifted tone and level of analysis to offer the speculation that the Russian government “may be seeking access to obtain future disruption options, to influence U.S. policies or actions”, or to “delegitimize” the “government entities”. On October 28, Krebs elaborated on the latter theme in an interview with the PBS NewsHour. Referring inaccurately to government warnings about “Russian interference, some of which targeted voter registration,” which the FBI-CISA alert had never mentioned, PBS interviewer William Brangham asked, “Do you worry at all that there might be infiltration that we are not aware of?” Instead of correcting Brangham’s inaccurate suggestion, Krebs responded that “infiltration” into voter registration files was “certainly possible,” but that “[W]e have improved the ability to detect compromises or anomalous activity.”
“Mr Biden still comes a distant third when asked about who has had the most positive impact on the criminal justice system with 14 percent behind both Mr Trump and the celebrity Kim Kardashian both on 43 percent.”
Donald Trump is on course to win four more years in the White House with a one point lead in the popular win, the final Democracy Institute poll for the Sunday Express has found. The survey of voters by the US President’s favourite pollsters gives him 48 percent ahead of his rival Joe Biden on 47 percent. In the last days of the campaign the Democrat former vice president who has been dogged by corruption allegations surrounding his son Hunter which have, according to the poll, cut through with the electorate. Significantly, the President has, according to the latest findings, maintained a four point lead of 49 percent to 45 percent in the key swing states including Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
It means he is on course to easily win the electoral college by 326 to 212 votes against his Democrat rival in a result which would shock the world even more than his astonishing defeat of Hilary Clinton in 2016. The Democracy Institute/Sunday Express poll has throughout the campaign been one of the few to predict a Trump victory since March. This is because unlike other polls it only looks at people identifying as likely voters instead of just registered to vote and it has tried to identify the shy Trump vote. According to this latest poll almost eight in ten (79 percent) of Trump supporters would not admit it to friends and family compared to 21 percent of Biden supporters.
With the race hotting up in the final days allegations that Mr Biden and his family are corrupt surrounding claims about his son Hunter’s business dealings with China and the Ukraine using family connections appear to have had cut through. There was controversy when social media platforms including Twitter apparently attempted to filter out the stories surrounding Hunter Biden published by the New York Post. But the row has, according to the poll, only helped to put the issue in the public consciousness more. Asked who they thought was telling the truth about the Biden family allegations 57 percent chose businessman and former Biden associate Tony Bobulinski who has levelled accusations against the former vice President.
Meanwhile, 52 percent agreed that Mr Biden is “a corrupt politician” with 21 percent saying they are less likely to vote for him and 75 percent saying it makes no difference. Asked if the allegations made him a national security risk, 54 percent agreed that it did. [..] Mr Biden still comes a distant third when asked about who has had the most positive impact on the criminal justice system with 14 percent behind both Mr Trump and the celebrity Kim Kardashian both on 43 percent.
Trump within one state of winning
Director of Battleground Strategy Nick Trainer tells reporters that Biden campaign just outlined on a zoom call that said Trump was within one state of winning
In 2016, Donald Trump got a lower share of the white vote than the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and white turnout was stagnant as compared to 2012. Trump was able to win nonetheless because he got a higher share of Black and Hispanic voters than his predecessor — up roughly 3 percentage points with African Americans and 2 percentage points with Hispanics — helping tilt pivotal races in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania toward Trump. That is, it was minorities, not whites, who proved more decisive for Trump’s victory. Going into Election Day in 2020, Trump seems poised to do even better with minority voters.
His gains in the polling have been highly consistent and broad-based among Blacks and Hispanics — with male voters and female voters, the young and the old, educated and uneducated. Overall, Trump is polling about 10 percentage points higher with African Americans than he did in 2016, and 14 percentage points higher with Hispanics. Perceptions of Trump as racist seem to be a core driving force pushing whites toward the Democrats. Why would the opposite pattern be holding among minority voters — i.e. the very people the president is purportedly being racist against? It may be that many minority voters simply do not view some of his controversial comments and policies as racist. Too often, scholars try to test whether something is racist by looking exclusively at whether the rhetoric or proposals they disagree with resonate with whites.
They frequently don’t even bother to test whether they might appeal to minorities, as well. Yet when they do, the results tend to be surprising. For instance, one recent study presented white, Black and Hispanic voters with messages the researchers considered to be racial “dog whistles,” or coded language that signals commitment to white supremacy. It turned out that the messages resonated just as strongly with Blacks as they did with whites. Hispanics responded even more warmly to the rhetoric about crime and immigration than other racial groups. That is, on balance, these “racist” messages seemed to resonate more strongly with minorities than whites! Across racial groups, most did not find the messages to be racist or offensive— despite researchers viewing these examples as clear-cut cases of racial dog whistles.
And, if by some mysterious act of God (or write-in ballot fraud) Joe Biden manages to get elected POTUS, how can he possibly be inaugurated with himself and his family tangled up in a grift case that involves the Chinese Communist Party’s intel service? It flat-out ain’t gonna happen. Mr. Biden will be forced to disqualify himself. Does Kamala Harris then become Acting-POTUS. There’s no precedent for a president-elect resigning before he is sworn into office. No doubt there will be lawsuits over this and they will lead post-haste to Supreme Court adjudication. At the same time, also look for an all-out Lawfare assault on individual state voting outcomes and the translation of dubiously harvested votes into electoral college alt-delegations.
Lawfare will bring to bear every legerdemain in the trick-bag of legal necromancy to work this scam in the Democratic Party’s favor. But they will not go unopposed by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. And what will it avail the Lawfare campaign, anyway, as Mr. Biden gets buried in allegations of criminal misconduct. And — not to lard the lily, as they say — what happens if, post-election and before January 20, Messers Barr and Durham just happen to finally deliver indictments against the perps of RussiaGate? Oh, won’t this be a world-beating political mess of all messes ever? Think the stock and bond markets will love it? Meanwhile, will we be treated to the extravaganza of Antifa and BLM burning and looting in the cities from sea to shining sea? I would ask: How might that not happen?
They’ve been rehearsing for the Big Show all year. With new Covid lockdowns, the insectile armies of black-clad street-fighters will be anxious to reactivate the social space that Antifa and BLM so nicely afford. Riots are fun! Especially when the police are not allowed to effectively intervene to stop them. Smashing stuff, burning, and looting are fun — like Halloween and Christmas put together! I’ll be voting for Mr. Trump tomorrow in my little bid to prevent the Democratic Party from getting its depraved mitts on the levers of government. I’ll chime in with a post-election-day update, right here on Wednesday, though perhaps not at the crack of dawn.
Joe Biden is a corpse with hair plugs whose idea of “empathy” is to jam fingers in the sternums of people who ask the wrong questions, or call them “fat” or “full of shit,” or dare them to “try me” — and that’s if he remembers what state he’s in. Is he a better human than Donald Trump? Probably, but his mental decline has hit Lloyd Bridges-in-Hot-Shots! levels and he shares troubling characteristics with the president, beginning with a pathological struggle with truth. Biden spent much of 2020 lying about everything from his Iraq War vote to his educational history to a fantasy about being arrested in South Africa with Nelson Mandela. The same press that killed him for this behavior in the past let it all slide this time. Same with the growing ledger of handsy-uncle incidents that had adolescent girls and campaigning politicians alike wondering why a Vice President needs to smell their hair or plant lingering kisses on their heads while cameras flash.
Biden’s entire argument for the presidency, and it’s a powerful one, is his opponent. This week’s election is not a choice between “light or darkness,” but “pretty much anything or Donald Trump,” and only in that context is this disintegrating, bilious iteration of Scranton Joe even distantly credible as a choice for the world’s most powerful office. Donald Trump is going to be a difficult case for future historians because he’s simultaneously the biggest liar and the most lied-about politician in American history. The standard propaganda lines about Trump are all incorrect. The usual technique involves sticking his name in headlines next to absurd disqualifying descriptors: “fascist,” “traitor,” “dictator,” and so on.
“18 Ways Trump Might Be a Russian Asset” is a typical example of what passed for commentary at outlets like the Washington Post in the Trump years. Such hot takes were a sure way to get TV invites. Trump may have played cartoon Mussolini on the stump and reached for Hitlerian cliches in his campaign videos, but the dirty secret of the last four years — hidden from the broad mass of voters by both conservative and mainstream media — was that the president’s much ballyhooed strongman leanings were a fraud. Trump the Terrible was great TV, but away from cameras he was a fake despot who proved repeatedly that he didn’t know the first thing about how to exercise presidential power, even in his own defense.
Twitter has put a “might be misleading” label on a tweet in which President Donald Trump condemned a Supreme Court ruling that allows absentee ballots to be accepted in Pennsylvania after election day, calling it “dangerous.” “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process,” reads the warning the platform attached to Trump’s tweet, in which the president aired his grievances over a recent SCOTUS decision to allow mail ballots that arrive three days after November 3 to be included in the Pennsylvania tally. “The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one,” Trump argued in the tweet, referring to the court’s decision last week to deny a GOP request to block the three-day extension for counting late-arriving ballots that had been granted by Pennsylvania’s top court.
The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!
The Republicans wanted the SCOTUS to fast-track their motion, and, although they did not succeed, several conservative justices indicated they might take up the issue after election day. The GOP insists that the extension runs afoul of the US Constitution, arguing that the organization of the electoral process is up to state legislatures, rather than state courts. As he heaped scorn on the ruling, Trump rehashed his claim that the delayed ballot count “will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws.” It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!
Trump has repeatedly alleged that the system of universal mail-in voting is highly vulnerable to fraud and abuse, arguing that the postal service is unprepared to deal with an unprecedented surge in absentee ballots streaming into the system due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The US Postal Service, however, brushed off these concerns, with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy saying in September that the service was “equipped” to deliver the ballots. Pennsylvania is one of the key battleground states, representing 20 Electoral College votes out of the 270 needed to win the race.
America hasn’t been this divided almost since the end of the “Reconstruction” era. President Trump has been labeled the most polarizing political figure of his generation. In certain areas, the red ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball cap simply cannot be worn without the risk of harassment or physical violence. This has made many Trump supporters all the more stubborn about expressing their views, provoking confrontations and arguments at the table during family get-togethers. In a recent piece published just one day before Election Day, Reuters spoke to 10 people who shared how their support for the president has impacted their relationships with family member.
One lifelong Democrat named Mayra Gomez, an immigrant to the country, told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she was voting for Donald Trump. In response, she says, he cut her out of his life. Their last argument was so acrimonious, Gomez isn’t even certain whether their differences can be overcome. “He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump’” Gomez, 41, a personal care worker in Milwaukee, told Reuters. Their last conversation was so bitter that she is not sure they can reconcile, even if Trump loses his re-election bid. “The damage is done. In people’s minds, Trump is a monster. It’s sad. There are people not talking to me anymore, and I’m not sure that will change,” said Gomez, who is a fan of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and handling of the economy.
Once upon a time, elderly family members relied on their children and grandchildren to run errands and help provide for them in old age. That social contract has now eroded to such an intense degree that many believe it’s too late now: the damage to the inter-generational relationship will be almost impossible to repair, even if Trump loses, few expect the animosity animating Trump and his supporters to fade quickly. “Unfortunately, I don’t think national healing is as easy as changing the president,” said Jaime Saal, a psychotherapist at the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “It takes time and it takes effort, and it takes both parties – no pun intended – being willing to let go and move forward,” she said. Saal said tensions in people’s personal relationships have spiked given the political, health and social dynamics facing the United States. Most often she sees clients who have political rifts with siblings, parents or in-laws, as opposed to spouses.
From the moment Donald J. Trump took office, I argued it was necessary that he face a rational opposition — with an emphasis on “rational.” Discerning, targeted, evidence-based criticism would be imperative to counteract against Trump’s worst impulses, I maintained at the time, given his hardly-disguised penchant for blusterous, petty authoritarianism. While of course Trump would be far from the only president whose excesses needed checking — any occupant of the most powerful office in world history would — there was at least some reasonable cause to believe that his regular issuances of impulsive, fly-by-tweet demands could eventually raise unique civil liberties concerns. In hindsight, I might as well have been arguing for a parade of pinstriped purple unicorns to march down Fifth Avenue. Because the concept of a rational Trump opposition was an utter fantasy.
Instead what we got right off the bat was blanket “Resistance” to Trump, with the concept of “Resistance” turning into far more of a self-promotional branding exercise than any kind of sensible civic-minded disposition. Seemingly every word that came out of Trump’s mouth, no matter how inane or innocuous, prompted wild outbursts of blithering hysteria — egged on by the unholy profit-seeking alliance of social media algorithms and TV ratings. In the imaginations of his most excitable antagonists, it was taken as a truism that the United States was perpetually teetering on the edge of total Trump-induced collapse. Usually because he insulted a cable news host or something. To encapsulate this paranoid oppositional tendency, the slogan “Resistance” was picked for a specifically self-aggrandizing reason — having been derived from European anti-Nazi insurgent brigades in World War II.
As preposterous as it sounds that anyone of stable mental health could have possibly believed present-day America to be meaningfully comparable with Occupied France, this conceit became near-ubiquitous within anti-Trump activism and media circles. Sure, some who trafficked in rhetoric of “anti-fascism” probably did so out of a bizarre psychic need to feel as though they were combatants in an epic battle to save civilization from genocidal tyranny. But many also came to really and truly believe it, with full-fledged sincerity — as I can personally attest based on innumerable direct interactions with such people. A “Literal Nazi” president running literal concentration camps? Yup, that was a standard, uncontroversial viewpoint amongst the culture-media-activism industrial complex.
Clearly, to harbor such delusions about the nature of your own country’s political circumstances was antithetical to the “rational opposition” ideal that I’d initially floated. Combine it with the storyline that Trump had been illegitimately installed into power by a hostile foreign government — another profit-generating bonanza for the corporate media — and any prospect of sanity being maintained during the 2016–2020 period was rendered completely hopeless.
A day before the Ukrainian parliament convenes for its first session after the Oct. 25 local elections, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed lawmakers of his party in an audio message, calling them to back his draft bill that seeks to fire all judges of the Constitutional Court. In an audio message that was leaked on Nov. 2 through LB.ua news website, Zelensky urged his party, Servant of the People, which holds the majority seats in the parliament, to show unity and support his bill. Zelensky came up with the proposition to dismiss the Constitutional Court after it ruled against Ukraine’s anti-corruption system last week, undoing several years of progress and jeopardizing backing by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
This week, the Constitutional Court is set to review some of the most contentious bills such as those on farmland sales, the Ukrainian language law, and the Deposit Guarantee Fund. Their reversal might further harm Ukraine’s reform record and undermine international support. The president’s bill, which was registered on Oct. 29 and marked as top priority, has to get a green light from the parliamentary committee on legal policy before being put out for a vote. The date of the committee’s meeting is unknown. Head of the committee Andriy Kostin did not respond to calls. An ideal solution to the crisis would be if all of the court’s 15 judges resigned, Zelensky said during an appearance on a political talk show on ICTV channel on the night of Nov. 2.
However, that’s not likely to happen. So Zelensky wants his lawmakers to at least pass his bill in the first hearing to provide leverage over the court’s judges. “This bill will hang above them as the Damocles sword (an impending disaster),” said Zelensky. “And they will not rule on the language law, on farmland sales, or (annul) the High Anti-Corruption Court.” Zelensky notably didn’t mention the court’s intention to rule on the Deposit Guarantee Fund on Nov. 3, which can undermine Ukraine’s whole banking system.
With President Donald Trump saying he wants to lift stay-at-home novel coronavirus orders and open up parts of the country, more than 45 economists, social scientists, lawyers and ethicists say there’s a growing consensus pointing to a major step necessary to put Americans back to work: dramatically upscaling testing. In a report titled “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” set to be released on Monday, a blue-ribbon panel of thought leaders across the political spectrum called COVID-19 “a profound threat to our democracy, comparable to the Great Depression and World War II.” “It’s a moment for a ‘Can Do America’ to really show up and put itself to work,” Danielle Allen, lead author of the report and a professor at Harvard University’s Edmond J.Safra Center on Ethics, told ABC News.
The report says that ending the quarantine safely will require testing, tracing, and supported isolation, a combination known by the acronym TTSI. “What people need to recognize is that a massively scaled-up testing, tracing and supported isolation system is the alternative to national quarantine,” Allen said. “We all had to learn PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] and we all had to learn about flattening the curve … now we have to learn about TTSI.” Test producers will need to deliver 5 million tests per day by early June to safely open parts of the economy by late July, according to the report. To “fully re-mobilize the economy,” the country will need to see testing grow to 20 million a day, the report suggests. “We acknowledge that even this number may not be high enough,” according to the report.
Some experts, including Nobel laureate economist Paul Romer, who did not assist in the report but has a similar approach, estimate the country may need more than 30 million tests per day. [..] One of the largest biotech firms manufacturing the COVID-19 test, Roche Diagnostics, said it is producing about 400,000 test kits per week. Abbott Laboratories, which has created a 5-minute test, says it plans to boost its production from 50,000 tests per week to 1 million and is also working to distribute about 4 million antibody tests — which shows if someone has recovered from the virus, even people who were never symptomatic — by the end of April and about 20 million per month by the end of June.
According to the bipartisan team who worked on the report, implementing its plan would cost between $100 billion and $300 billion over two years. But Allen suggested comparing the price tag to the astronomical cost the shutdown is accumulating. ”Collective quarantine is costing us $350 billion a month … and we’ve seen the massive unemployment numbers,” Allen told ABC News.
[..] The report details 4 specific phases to reopening the economy and ending the lockdown: Phase 1: (May-June) 40% of the population — including all essential workers (health care workers, firemen, police, sanitation, etc) — will be tested and their contacts traced. Phase 2: (June-July) 70% of the population goes back to work — including workers directly supporting the health sector, such as delivery, service, construction workers, building engineers, maintenance and food workers. The government makes massive infrastructure investments. Phase 3: (July-Aug) 80% of the population is back to work, including those who must work at locations and in offices. Phase 4: (Aug-March) All workers return to work and schools reopen. Continue to take precautions until a vaccine is widely available, but the lockdown is over.
How many tests do we need in order to safely relax social-distancing measures, reopen nonessential businesses and schools, and allow large gatherings? According to the Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison and the Harvard professor Ashish Jha, we should be conducting a minimum of 500,000 tests a day. One of the authors of this article, Paul Romer, has called for the capacity to run 20 million to 30 million tests a day. Even this has been criticized as insufficient for the task of identifying enough of the asymptomatic spreaders to keep the pandemic in check.
Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give priority first to hospitalized patients and symptomatic health-care workers, then to high-risk patients, specifically those over 65 and those suffering from other serious health conditions, with COVID-19 symptoms. Under this system, asymptomatic individuals are not tested, even if they had contact with people who tested positive. This is an enormous mistake. If we want to control the spread of COVID-19, the United States must adopt a new testing policy that prioritizes people who, although asymptomatic, may have the virus and infect many others.
We should target four groups. First, all health-care workers and other first responders who directly interact with many people. Second, workers who maintain our supply chains and crucial infrastructure, including grocery-store workers, police officers, public-transit workers, and sanitation personnel. The next group would be potential “super-spreaders”—asymptomatic individuals who could come into contact with many people. This third group would include people in large families and those who must interact with many vulnerable people, such as employees of long-term-care facilities. The fourth group would include all those who are planning to return to the workplace. These are precisely the individuals without symptoms whom the CDC recommends against testing.
[..] To shift the focus of testing away from the sickest patients and toward the people most likely to spread the coronavirus, we will have to conduct millions of tests a day. Millions of health-care workers in the United States are in positions that may expose them to infection: physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, midwives, pharmacists, phlebotomists, hospital cleaners, and others. By one estimate, 3 million people work in grocery stores. To screen everyone in these two groups once a week will require about 1 million tests a day. We currently lack the infrastructure for that. And that is before we add the approximately 800,000 police officers, 290,000 bus drivers, and 60,000 sanitation workers—and patients without any symptoms in the health-care system.
People are starting to understand stuff. It took a pandemic for that.
I never never dreamed that my Russian Roulette argument would be expressed by those against whom I have used it over the past 2 decades. pic.twitter.com/Xih2Vse1Ft
President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that he plans to use the Defense Production Act to increase the nation’s swab production by at least 20 million per month for coronavirus tests. Trump said the administration is close to finalizing a partnership with one manufacturer to produce an additional 10 million swabs per month for coronavirus test kits, which are used to collect specimens from a patient’s throat or nose. Trump said he is preparing to use the Defense Production Act on another manufacturer to increase its swab production by over 20 million per month. Trump did not disclose the names of the manufacturer.
The president previously enacted the Defense Production Act on companies like General Motors and General Electric to manufacturer additional ventilators, although many had already ramped up production. “We’ve had a little difficulty with one so we’re calling in, as in the past you know, we’re calling in the Defense Production Act and we’ll be getting swabs very easily,” Trump said. “Swabs are easy. Ventilators are hard.” Trump’s announcement comes after some governors cited a lack of swabs and reagents as hampering their ability to conduct more coronavirus tests. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that her state could triple the number of tests conducted if the key components were made available.
[..] Earlier on Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence said the administration has “laid a strong foundation for testing for phase one.” He said that there are enough tests for any governor who meets the 14-day criteria of declining case numbers outlined by the White House to move into phase one and begin reopening their state’s economy. Experts have warned, however, against opening the country before widespread testing is available. Some say that as many as 20 to 30 million people per day will need to be tested before the nation can return to a semblance of economic normality. There are currently more than 150,000 tests being conducted per day, Pence said, but that number could “double” once laboratories across the country are activated.
Israel has launched a network of new ‘contactless’ roadside covid-19 testing booths which have zero contact between nurse and patient. The country has offered to share the design, which is relatively cheap and easy to produce, with other countries as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The booths, produced by healthcare companies together with civilian and military partners, provide an entirely sealed, sterile environment for the medic, and can be quickly disinfected between patients. Tests are carried out using two rubber gloves which are attached to the outer wall with airtight seals. Results are processed in a matter of hours and reported directly via the patient’s electronic health record.
‘After proving itself as a safe and easy way to test patients with minimum risk, the booth we created is sparking national and international interest,’ said Ran Sa’ar, CEO of Maccabi Healthcare Services, one of the firms behind the booth. ‘We would be happy to share the design plans with any health organization worldwide in order to support our shared mission of fighting the covid-19 virus.’ The booth was designed to ensure zero exposure between the patient and the tester. It enables a sterile sampling process from the moment the patient begins the test to the transfer of the sample to the laboratory. The development of the contactless testing centre, which is highly effective yet relatively simple and cheap to manufacture, took less than a week.
The innovative technology has been watched closely by governments around the world struggling to provide safe, effective and fast coronavirus tests on a mass scale to their citizens. Israel has been one of the world leaders in its response to covid-19, enacting lockdown measures early on and introducing technological solutions to help fight the spread of the disease. These have included the use of anti-terror phone tracking technology to trace people who have come into contact with covid patients and tell them to self-isolate before they experience symptoms. In addition, hotels have been repurposed to cater for coronavirus patients, helping alleviate the strain on hospitals. There have been just 140 deaths from covid-19 in the Jewish state, with 12,591 infections and 2,624 recoveries.
Because children don’t get tested at all: “..estimated that 176,190 children in the US had been infected with the virus, based on data showing 74 children admitted to paediatric intensive care units ..”
Paediatric services in the US could be overwhelmed by thousands of sick infants and young children – an overlooked group which has a higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to a new study. While children are at a lower risk of fatality from Covid-19 compared to the elderly, the very young were most at risk of becoming seriously ill and the sheer weight of population numbers in the US meant the need to be prepared for an influx of cases was urgent, the study said. The research was led by Elizabeth Pathak, a population health scientist and president of the US think tank Women’s Institute for Independent Social Inquiry, and warned against a sense of complacency about the impact of the disease on children.
The most conservative estimates considered in the study showed that one in 200 children in the US would be infected with the virus, with 991 severe enough to require hospitalisation. In the most extreme scenario, three out of five US children would be infected, with 118,887 becoming seriously ill. “Severity and case fatality are much lower for children than for elderly persons, and this truth has created a sense of complacency that Covid-19 is not a major concern for children’s health,” according to the study which was published last week in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. “Because there are 74 million children 0 to 17 years old in the United States, the projected number of severe cases could overextend available paediatric hospital care resources under several moderate cumulative paediatric infection proportion scenarios for 2020, despite lower severity of Covid-19 in children than in adults.”
[..] Pathak and her colleagues estimated that 176,190 children in the US had been infected with the virus, based on data showing 74 children admitted to paediatric intensive care units in 19 states in the US, as of April 6. For every admission of a child to an intensive care unit – estimated at 11 per cent of children hospitalised for the virus – the researchers calculated a further 2,381 children were infected with the Covid-19 virus who remained in their local communities. The report cited studies from China which found infants at the highest risk of becoming severely or critically ill with the virus, at 10.6 per cent, followed by 7.3 per cent of severe or critical infection for those aged between one and five, falling to 4.2 per cent among children between six and 15 years old.
The coronavirus could linger in the testicles, making men prone to longer, more severe cases of the illness, according to a new study. Researchers tracked the recovery of 68 patients in Mumbai, India, to study the gender disparity of the virus, which has taken a worse toll on men, according to a preliminary report posted on MedRxix, which hosts unpublished medical research papers that have not been peer reviewed. Dr. Aditi Shastri, an oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and her mother, Dr. Jayanthi Shastri — a microbiologist at the Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Mumbai — said the virus attaches itself to a protein that occurs in high levels in the testicles.
This protein, known as angiotensin converting enzyme 2, or ACE2, is present in the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract and the heart in addition to large quantities in the testicles. But since testicles are walled off from the immune system, the virus could harbor there for longer periods than the rest of the body, according to the study. The mother-daughter researchers said these findings may explain why women bounce back from the virus more quickly than men. They determined that the average amount of time for female patients to be cleared of the virus was four days, while men saw recoveries that on average were two days longer, the report said. “These observations demonstrate that male subjects have delayed viral clearance,” the authors wrote, adding that the testicles may be serving as “reservoirs” for the virus.
World Health Organization officials Monday said they still recommend people not wear face masks unless they are sick with Covid-19 or caring for someone who is sick. “There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday. “There also is the issue that we have a massive global shortage,” Ryan said about masks and other medical supplies. “Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the WHO, also said at Monday’s briefing that it is important “we prioritize the use of masks for those who need it most,” which would be frontline health care workers. “In the community, we do not recommend the use of wearing masks unless you yourself are sick and as a measure to prevent onward spread from you if you are ill,” Van Kerkhove said. “The masks that we recommend are for people who are at home and who are sick and for those individuals who are caring for those people who are home that are sick,” she said. WHO officials warned at a media briefing last week that globally there is a “significant shortage” of medical supplies, including personal protective gear or PPE, for doctors. “We need to be clear,” Van Kerkhove said last week. “The world is facing a significant shortage of PPE for our frontline workers — including masks and gloves and gowns and face shields — and protecting our health care workers must be the top priority for use of this PPE.”
New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked on Sunday whether or not he has faith in President Trump when it comes to handling the Wuhan coronavirus. Gov. Cuomo made it clear that he not only trusts the president but that what Trump and his administration have done was nothing short of a “phenomenal accomplishment.” “What the federal government did working with states was a phenomenal accomplishment,” the governor marveled. “We bent the curve. We flattened the curve. Government did it. People did it, but government facilitates people’s actions, right?”
Gov. Cuomo has consistently praised the president for helping New Yorkers while the state quickly emerged as an international hotspot of the Wuhan coronavirus. Only on the issue of ventilators, when Gov. Cuomo anticipated New York would need some 40,000 ventilators, were the president and the governor at odds. Trump expected the actual number of ventilators New York needed to be much lower, and Trump was right. Instead of 40,000 ventilators, New York needed about 5,000. The state now has so many ventilators they have begun sending them to other states.
“We had to double the hospital capacity in New York State,” Gov. Cumo recalled on Sunday. “That’s what all the experts said. The president brought in the Army Corps of Engineers. They built 2,500 at Javits … It was a phenomenal accomplishment. Close to a thousand people have gone through Javits. Luckily, we didn’t need the 2,500 beds. But all the projections said we did need it and more … so these were just extraordinary efforts and acts of mobilization, and the federal government stepped up and was a great partner, and I’m the first one to say it. We needed help and they were there.”
More than 150 Australian economists on Monday warned the government against easing social distancing rules aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus even as the rate of infections slowed to a multi-week low. Australia has so far avoided the high numbers of coronavirus casualties reported around the world after closing its borders and imposing restrictions on public movement. While the measures have slowed the growth in new infections to fewer than 40 new cases a day, the restrictions are expected to push unemployment to a 16-year high of about 10%. With growing calls to ease the restrictions, leading Australian economists issued an open letter to call on the government to prioritise containing the spread of coronavirus.
“We cannot have a functioning economy unless we first comprehensively address the public health crisis,” the group of 157 economists from Australian universities wrote. Australia’s government and central bank have said they will inject A$320 billion ($203 billion) into the country’s economy to try and cushion the economic blow. Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week said there would no easing of Australia’s restrictions for at least four weeks, and several state premiers on Monday urged the public to keep to the social distancing rules. “We’ve all made massive sacrifices, given a lot. We can’t give back all the gains made because of sense of frustration gets the better of us,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.
Any significant easing of the current limitations would not occur until Australia had increased testing capacity, strengthened contact tracing and readied local responses for further outbreaks, Andrews said. Central to the government’s strategy is a controversial new mobile phone app that will track users’ movements to allow contact tracing in the event of an outbreak of coronavirus. The government said it will need at least 40% of the country’s population to be signed up to make it effective.
Australians shouldn’t worry about rising public debt as the federal government can roll it over indefinitely, a think tank has said. Instead, governments should be encouraged to borrow even more money to protect jobs and boost economic activity. Using public debt to fund investments in critical infrastructure, as well as education and training, would boost the nation’s productive capacity and help it service the debt through stronger economic growth, argues progressive think tank Per Capita. It says the “virtuous circle of public investment leads to higher wages and profits and thus to a broader tax base,” which allows government to either pay down the debt or keep investing in economic productivity.
Per Capita makes the case for sustained government spending in a new report that describes growing fears over how to pay for the government’s coronavirus support measures as “largely misplaced”. Report authors Emma Dawson and Matthew Lloyd-Cape argue this is because the federal budget is not like a household’s, as governments borrow against the productive capacity of the economy, which unlike the working lives of home owners has an infinite lifespan. This means governments never need to pay off their debts completely. All that matters is whether they can meet their repayments.
“Australia will never ‘retire’. It will continue to generate income through productive economic activity,” the authors wrote in the report’s introduction. “Therefore, unlike a household, the federal government can roll its debt over indefinitely, provided the nation’s economic activity continues and Australia’s productive capacity operates to its full potential.” [..] Per Capita points out that Australia’s public debt-to-GDP ratio (roughly 20 per cent) is much lower than other advanced economies’. And although future generations will inherit an economy with higher levels of public debt, Per Capita argues they need not suffer as a result, so long “as we prioritise the maintenance of economic activity to support the jobs and incomes our children need to build a good life”.
Germany’s health minister says the month-long lockdown has brought his country’s coronavirus outbreak under control. Jens Spahn said that since 12 April the number of recovered patients had been consistently higher than the number of new infections. The infection rate has dropped to 0.7 – that is, each infected person passed the virus to fewer than one other. In Germany 3,868 have died of Covid-19 – fewer than in Italy, Spain or France. However, the number of fatalities is still rising in Germany, as is the number of infected health care workers. So far almost 134,000 people have been infected in Germany. The degree of lockdown varies across Germany’s regions – it is tightest in the states of Bavaria and Saarland.
On Wednesday Chancellor Angela Merkel announced tentative steps to start easing the restrictions. Some smaller shops will reopen next week and schools will start reopening in early May, with the focus on students due to sit exams soon. But Mrs Merkel warned there was “little margin for error” and that “caution should be the watchword”. Sports and leisure facilities, as well as cafes and restaurants, will remain closed indefinitely. Germany’s network of diagnostic labs has been praised internationally for having responded rapidly to the pandemic. By early April Germany was doing more than 100,000 swab tests daily, enabling more coronavirus carriers to be traced than in other EU countries. Mr Spahn said that by August, German companies would produce up to 50 million face masks a week for healthcare workers.
Unemployment in Europe could nearly double in the coming months, with up to 59 million jobs at risk from permanent cutbacks as well as reductions in pay and hours because of the coronavirus pandemic, estimates from consultancy McKinsey said. The consulting firm estimated unemployment levels in the 27-member state bloc peaking at 7.6% in 2020 and a return to pre-crisis levels in Q4 2021. But in a worst-case scenario, unemployment could peak in 2021 at 11.2%, with a recovery to 2019 levels by 2024. Euro zone unemployment fell to a 12-year low in February, the month before coronavirus containment measures began to be introduced widely across Europe. The jobless rate was 7.3% in the 19 countries sharing the euro zone, the lowest level since March 2008.
McKinsey said that the levels of impact would vary between demographic groups and industry sectors. “Losing those jobs would not only be a tragedy on an individual level, but would also be very painful from an economic perspective,” McKinsey said in its report. The study highlighted a close link between level of education and the short-term risk for jobs, “potentially exacerbating existing social inequalities.” Half of all jobs at risk are in customer service and sales, food service and builder occupations. In Europe’s wholesale and retail sector, 14.6 millions jobs could be threatened, 8.4 million jobs in accommodation and food and 1.7 million in arts and entertainment.
The S&P 500 index is set to suffer the worst quarter for earnings since the 2008 financial crisis, and it’s likely to get a lot worse because the results due this week will barely show the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 9% of S&P 500 companies reported earnings through Friday and after the first official week of 2020 first-quarter results earnings are on track to decline 14.5% from a year ago, according to John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet. That would be the biggest decline since the 15.7% plunge in the third quarter of 2009. Butters’s projections are based on blended estimates compiled by FactSet, which include actual results and consensus analyst estimates of companies that haven’t reported yet.
The bad news is that actual results have been a lot worse than expected so far, as earnings for the 46 companies that have already reported dropped 32.7%, according to FactSet. Companies have thus far missed earnings-per-share expectations in aggregate by 7.0%, according to Credit Suisse chief U.S. equity strategist Jonathan Golub. That compares with a beat of 5.2% on average over the past three years. The worst is yet to come. The energy and consumer-discretionary sectors are expected to suffer the biggest profit declines, but only one of 27 energy companies and six of 62 consumer discretionary companies have already posted numbers. Energy earnings are projected to decline 64.2% and consumer discretionary earnings are expected to fall 34.7%.
After recovering a chunk of the losses racked up during the worst of the coronavirus-induced selloff last month, the stock market finds itself at a crucial inflection point, writes Alan B. Lancz. “The next 45 days may just become the most critical period in U.S. financial history,” he wrote in a newsletter published Wednesday. “While on average we may face a bear market every 10 years, this one is like no other,” he said. The contrarian money manager, who is a disciple of famed investor Sir John Templeton, said that the timing and execution of the reawakening of the U.S. economy from its dormancy could be one of the biggest factors in determining how the market recovers from COVID-19, which has forced swaths of businesses to shut down to help stem the spread of the deadly contagion [..]
And even if the economic revival is executed flawlessly, the founder of the eponymous Toledo, Ohio-based investment advisory firm said the result will be a so-called U-shaped recovery, where a rebound in business and consumer activity from pre-crisis levels will be long and slow. “Even if we execute properly, the recovery will take time and a best-case scenario is a ‘U’ shaped recovery,” he wrote. “The much talked about ‘V’ shaped recovery is no longer in the equation because of the unprecedented combination of negatives with this crisis,” he said, referring to hope for a recovery that is sharp and fast. The money manager’s comments come as President Donald Trump has underscored his eagerness to restart the economy after a string of bleak reports demonstrate the damage the illness is doing to the health of small and large businesses.
Indeed, a reading on Wednesday of business activity in the New York state area, the New York Empire State Index, dropped to a record low of negative-78.2 in April from negative-21.5 in the previous month. A report on U.S. industrial production fell 5.4% in March, the steepest decline since early 1946, and retail sales in March registered a record 8.7% slump; meanwhile, a reading of confidence among U.S. home builders in April fell to its lowest reading since 2012 and the largest monthly change in the index’s 30-year history.
Crude oil futures fell on Monday, with U.S. futures touching levels not seen since 1999, extending weakness on the back of sliding demand and concerns that U.S. storage facilities will soon fill to the brim amid the coronavirus pandemic. The oil market has been under pressure due to a spate of reports on weak fuel consumption and grim forecasts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the International Energy Agency. The volume of oil held in U.S. storage, especially at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) contract, is rising as refiners throttle back activity due to slumping demand. The front-month May WTI contract was down $2.62, or 14%, to $15.65 a barrel by 0142GMT.
At one point, the contract had fallen as much as 21% to hit a low of $14.47 a barrel, the lowest since March 1999. That contract is expiring on Tuesday, and the June contract CLc2, which is becoming more actively traded, fell $1.28, or 5.1%, to $23.75 a barrel. Brent was also weaker, down 21 cents, or 0.8%, to $27.87 a barrel. The plunge in crude oil prices reflects a glut at the main U.S. storage facilities at Cushing and a big drop in demand, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “It hasn’t reach capacity but the fear is that it will,” he said, adding that once the maximum capacity is reached, producers will have to cut output. Production cuts from OPEC and its allies such as Russia will also kick from May. The group has agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million bpd [..]