Jul 052022
 


Pablo Picasso Sleeper with shutters 1936

 

A Great Endeavor (Jim Kunstler)
This Implosion Will Be Fast – Hold Onto Your Seats (von Greyerz)
Gas Shortage Emergency Would Push Hamburg To Ration Hot Water – Senator (EN)
Top German Trade Union Head Warns Entire Industries May Collapse (ZH)
‘We Were All Wrong’: How Germany Got Hooked On Russian Energy (G.)
Iran Slashes Cost of Its Oil to Compete With Russia in China (BBG)
Dutch Farmers Intensify Protests (CTH)
Death On The Senate Steps (George Webb)
Human Rights: the United States and Western Style (Tajik)
Supreme Court Targets the Real Enemy (Tucker)
Biden Job Approval Hits New Low (SN)

 

 

 

 

Geert: Don’t vaccinate your children with covid-vaccines! Ever!

 

 

 

 

Some eagles have too much time
https://twitter.com/i/status/1543921427606212608

 

 

 

 

“In that America, a man could easily support a family, we never gave a thought to our oil supply, and the doctor would see you now.”

A Great Endeavor (Jim Kunstler)

I wish I had a time machine. I would teleport a small delegation of Ben Franklin, Tom Jefferson, and Button Gwinnett from their sweltering labors at Independence Hall — then known as the Pennsylvania state house — to a Drag Queen Story Hour hosted by Lil Miss Hot Mess (“The People’s Drag Queen”) reading from her best-selling book, The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish, to a roomful of six-year-old offspring birthed by America’s current Progressive ruling elite. Here, I would explain, is what it has come to. Have today’s elites in our country, marinated in social justice and frantically signaling their goodness-and-virtue, gone perhaps a tad too far in their quest to liberate the populace from boundaries previously established for human behavior?

It’s one thing, you know, to throw off the onerous yoke of a British King and his agents, with their vexing taxes, despotic harassments, abuses and usurpations. It’s perhaps another thing “empowering” children to bethink themselves monomaniacs of sexual confusion, years before they’re mentally equipped to devine the conundrums of sex. What, after all, is a “hot mess?” Well, Google’s top search answer, from the Oxford Languages website, defines “hot mess” thusly: a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered, especially one that is a source of peculiar fascination. Okay, I see: this metaphor signifies what the ruling elites would like our nation to become! And, more generally, western civ — that agglomeration of fusty creeds, shopworn traditions, oppressive laws, dubious virtues, and racist arts. Mission accomplished, then!

On July 4, 2022, America is a hot mess, but exactly! Are we not now spectacularly unsuccessful and disordered — in body, mind, polity, culture, mores, convictions, and aspirations? What is functioning in America these days? Absolutely nuthin’, ugh, say it again, to quote a song lyric of my bygone youth, when our project in Vietnam had gone off the rails. Of course, that was then and this is now. Back then, say 1970, we were the exuberant avatar of Modernity and the rest of the world was still a little groggy from World War Two. In that America, a man could easily support a family, we never gave a thought to our oil supply, and the doctor would see you now.

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“..since Russia is such a major commodity country that can continue to trade with major nations, they will over time suffer less than the sanctioning countries.”

This Implosion Will Be Fast – Hold Onto Your Seats (von Greyerz)

Russia is the second biggest gold producer in the world after China. Just like with oil, gas and many other commodities, the effect will be higher gold prices over time. The gold trade is international and the major buyers of gold are China and India. So Russia can continue to sell gold to the Far East, the middle East and South America. Also, when the EU sanctions started, the LBMA (London Bullion Market Association) decided not to accept gold that had been refined in Russia. So the effect of the G7 ban will be minimal since gold deliveries from Russian refiners to the bullion banks already stopped in early March. Biden also signed an executive order on 15 March this year, prohibiting US persons to be involved with gold trading with Russian parties.

Still, more sanctions by the US and Europe will over time create shortages in gold just as it has in other commodities. So Russia will be able to sell its commodities including gold to other markets at higher prices. But since Russia by far has the greatest commodity reserves in the world at $75 trillion, the value of these reserves are going to appreciate for years as we are now at the beginning of a major bull market in commodities. The US and EU sanctions of Russia affect around 15% of the world population so there are still plenty of markets where Russia can trade. The Roman Empire controlled parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The Empire prospered primarily due to free trade within the whole area with no sanctions. Sanctions hurt all parties involved. And since Russia is such a major commodity country that can continue to trade with major nations, they will over time suffer less than the sanctioning countries.

The consequences of these sanctions especially for Europe where many countries are dependent on Russian oil and gas will be totally devastating. So the US and Europe have really shot themselves in the foot. Coming back to gold, the US and G7 move is more likely to have a beneficial effect on gold over time with demand increasing and supply being restricted. Gold started an uptrend in year 2001 that lasted for 10 years to 2011 when gold reached $1,920. After a major correction for 3 years until 2016, to $1,060, gold has resumed its exponential uptrend. Although gold has not yet made sustained new highs in dollars, we have seen much higher highs in gold against most currencies. The temporarily strong dollar is making gold look weak measured in the US currency but that is unlikely to last for long.

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Incoming!

Gas Shortage Emergency Would Push Hamburg To Ration Hot Water – Senator (EN)

The north German city of Hamburg will ration hot water and limit heating temperatures in the event of a gas emergency, its environment senator has said. The major port, home to nearly two million people, will ration hot water in homes and limit maximum heating temperatures if there are gas shortages, announced Hamburg Senator for the Environment Jens Kerstan. “In an acute gas shortage, warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day in an emergency,” Kersten told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, adding that the city was considering a general reduction of maximum room temperatures. Germany’s government is asking citizens and companies to cut back on energy use and help them fill up gas storage facilities before winter, over concerns surrounding Russian gas imports.


In June, Germany moved to stage two of its three-tier emergency gas plan after Russia reduced deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Stage two, called the Alarm Phase, is where there is a “significant deterioration” of gas supplies in Germany. According to Hamburg’s federal emergency plan, homes and critical institutions, such as hospitals, will be prioritised over industry in the third, emergency stage, which is where the government steps in to ration fuel. Yet, this might not be possible in Hamburg as “technical reasons” make it difficult to distinguish between commercial and private customers, according to Kerstan. He added that a possible temporary liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the port of Hamburg could not be operational until next May at the earliest. “In the course of July we will know whether and at which location a temporary LNG terminal in Hamburg is feasible,” said Kerstan.

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Sounds like you should negotiate for peace.

Top German Trade Union Head Warns Entire Industries May Collapse (ZH)

Last month, Russia reduced Nordstream natural gas flows by 60% because of an alleged disruption. German industries, heavily reliant on cheap Russian NatGas, face skyrocketing energy costs that have put many in danger of collapse. “Because of the NatGas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry,” Yasmin Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions, told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag. Fahimi warned: “Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany.” Economics Minister Robert Habeck was quoted by Bloomberg on Saturday saying the government is working to address surging energy costs for utilities and power costs for businesses and households. He warned weeks ago Germany should prepare for further cuts NatGas.

Germany recently triggered the “alarm stage” of its NatGas-emergency plan to address shortages as the energy crisis in Europe’s largest economy is far from over. Habeck had also likened the squeeze on Russian NatGas supplies and its damaging effects on industries to a catalyst that could spark a Lehman Brothers-like crisis. Deutsche Bank’s chief FX strategist George Saravelos told clients days ago he was becoming increasingly concerned about the unfolding energy crisis in Germany. Saravelos pointed out that dwindling NatGas supplies to Germany and the resulting surge in electricity prices have created massive problems for industries and utilities.

The biggest blowup last week was German gas and power utility Uniper. Shares in the company crashed because it only received 40% of NatGas from Russia, and the rest had to be purchased in the open market (outside of long-term contracts), where prices have soared. This has created an immense strain on the utility, losing upwards of $30 million per day, or if annualized, could be an $11 billion loss. Risks are mounting of a full NatGas disruption: “Europe should be ready in case Russian gas is completely cut off,” IEA head Fatih Birol recently told FT.

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“.. in 2020, Russia would supply more than half of Germany’s natural gas and about a third of all the oil that Germans burned to heat homes, power factories and fuel vehicles. Roughly half of Germany’s coal imports, which are essential to its steel manufacturing, came from Russia.”

‘We Were All Wrong’: How Germany Got Hooked On Russian Energy (G.)

On Sunday 1 February 1970, senior politicians and gas executives from Germany and the Soviet Union gathered at the upmarket Hotel Kaiserhof in Essen. They were there to celebrate the signing of a contract for the first major Russia-Germany gas pipeline, which was to run from Siberia to the West German border at Marktredwitz in Bavaria. The contract was the result of nine months of intense bargaining over the price of the gas, the cost of 1.2m tonnes of German pipes to be sold to Russia, and the credit terms offered to Moscow by a consortium of 17 German banks. Aware of the risk of Russia defaulting, the German banks’ chief financial negotiator, Friedrich Wilhelm Christians, took the precaution of asking for a loan from the federal government, explaining: “I don’t do any somersaults without a net, especially not on a trapeze.”

The relationship would benefit both sides: Germany would supply the machines and high-quality industrial goods; Russia would provide the raw material to fuel German industry. High-pressure pipelines and their supporting infrastructure hold the potential to bind countries together, since they require trust, cooperation and mutual dependence. But this was not just a commercial deal, as the presence at the hotel of the German economic minister Karl Schiller showed. For the advocates of Ostpolitik – the new “eastern policy” of rapprochement towards the Soviet Union and its allies including East Germany, launched the previous year under chancellor Willy Brandt – this was a moment of supreme political consequence. Schiller, an economist by training, was to describe it as part of an effort at “political and human normalisation with our Eastern neighbours”.

The sentiment was laudable, but for some observers it was a potentially dangerous move. Before the signing, Nato had discreetly written to the German economics ministry to inquire about the security implications. Norbert Plesser, head of the gas department at the ministry, had assured Nato that there was no cause for alarm: Germany would never rely on Russia for even 10% of its gas supplies. Half a century later, in 2020, Russia would supply more than half of Germany’s natural gas and about a third of all the oil that Germans burned to heat homes, power factories and fuel vehicles. Roughly half of Germany’s coal imports, which are essential to its steel manufacturing, came from Russia.

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The era of cheap oil…

Iran Slashes Cost of Its Oil to Compete With Russia in China (BBG)

Iran is being forced to discount its already cheap crude even more as a top ally gains a bigger foothold in the key Chinese market. China has become an important destination for Russian oil as Moscow seeks to maintain flows following the fallout from its invasion of Ukraine. That’s led to increased competition with Iran in one of the few remaining markets for its crude shipments, which have been significantly curtailed by US sanctions. Russian exports to China surged to a record in May, with the OPEC+ producer overtaking its cartel ally Saudi Arabia as the top supplier to the world’s biggest importer. While Iran has cut its oil prices to remain competitive in the Chinese market, it’s still maintaining robust flows, likely in part due to rising demand as China eases strict virus restrictions that had crushed consumption.

“The only competition between Iranian and Russian barrels may end up being in China, which would work entirely to Beijing’s advantage,” said Vandana Hari, founder of Vanda Insights in Singapore. “This is also likely to make the Gulf producers uneasy, seeing their prized markets taken over by heavily discounted crude.” China’s official data only lists three months of imports from Iran since the end of 2020, including in January and May this year, but third-party figures indicate a steady flow of crude. After a slight decline in April, imports have been over 700,000 barrels a day in May and June, according to Kpler. Industry consultant FGE says Russian Urals have displaced some Iranian barrels, however.

Iranian oil has been priced at nearly $10 a barrel below Brent futures to put it on par with Urals cargoes that are scheduled to arrive in China during August, according to traders. That compares with a discount of about $4 to $5 prior to the invasion. Iran’s Light and Heavy grades are most comparable to Urals. China’s independent refiners are major buyers of Russian and Iranian crudes, and cheap supplies are important because they’re constrained by rules around exporting fuels, unlike state-run processors. Known as teapots, they are not given quotas to ship fuels to overseas markets, where prices have surged on a supply crunch. Instead, they supply the domestic market and have incurred losses on refining in recent months as virus lockdowns sapped demand.

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“..a social and economic war between the farmers and Build Back Better government ideology chasing climate change goals.”

Dutch Farmers Intensify Protests (CTH)

The politicians in Dutch government recently passed sweeping new climate regulations that will result in more than a third of farmers losing their business. The government announced a €25 billion plan to radically reduce the number of livestock in the country in order to curtail emissions. As the Guardian reports, “A deal to buy out farmers to try to reduce levels of nitrogen pollution in the country had been mooted for some time,and was finally confirmed after the agreement of a new coalition government in the Netherlands earlier this week.” The plan is to reduce farming in the Netherlands, by a “one-third reduction in the numbers of pigs, cows and chickens in the country.” However, the farmers are fighting back.


The unorganized grass-roots groups have been randomly blocking roads and transportation hubs for the past three days. They have also been dropping truckloads of manure at the entrances of government businesses. In a show of solidarity, the fishing industry is now blocking ports. Additionally, the farmers are starting to block the distribution centers of supermarkets and key roads forming a cauldron where transit is at a standstill. As grocery store shelves go empty, the government is now asking the military to intervene and stop the farmer blockades. However, the Dutch people overwhelmingly support the farmers. Things have evolved into a social and economic war between the farmers and Build Back Better government ideology chasing climate change goals.

(Reuters) – “Dutch farmers angered by government plans that may require them to use less fertilizer and reduce livestock began a day of protests in the Netherlands on Monday by blocking supermarket distribution hubs in several cities. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France, have advised travellers to use public transport, rather than cars, to reach the airport, as farmers’ activist groups said on social media they planned to use tractors to block roads. Several traffic jams were reported on highways in the east of the country and on ferry routes in the north, but none near Schiphol during the morning commute. Dutch and European courts have ordered the Dutch government to address the problem. Farmers say they have been unfairly singled out and have criticised the government’s approach. Monday’s protest is widely supported by farmers’ groups but not centrally organised.”

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Laptops and Blackberries.

Death On The Senate Steps (George Webb)

I wrote about six Senate laptops stolen from the US Senate Sergeant of Arms office after the events I witnessed on January 6th. Now a key witness to the fact, Michael Stegner, the Senate Sergeant of Arms, appears to have been murdered on his way to January 6th testimony. I had the good fortune of having a long-time Biden adviser drop one of the US State Department Blackberrys configured for the US Senate in my lap in May of 2017. In a potential scheme to implicate the Bidens only in dark weapons dealing in Ukraine, the actual perpetrators may have given away key incriminating evidence about themselves. These Blackberrys connected to the Senate Sergeant of Arms laptops I was told. Kickbacks for energy deals in Ukraine seemed to be the motivation for the US Senators like Joe Biden.

One thing is for sure – the “specially configured” US State Department Blackberrys keep leading us to a Ukrainian Billionaire named Igor Kolomoisky. We seemed to be finding one Kolomoisky skeleton in the closet after another looking at the US Senate Ukraine energy deals These “special” US State Department Blackberrys traced all the way back to Beau Biden in Kosovo and Serbian NATO conflicts, and I just made a trek through all these countries tracing the Blackberrys’ early history with the Bidens. Now I had hard evidence these encrypted Blackberrys connected to the US Congress deciding on covert action in Libya, Syria, and Ukraine through an encrypted Blackberry network.

From the very beginning in September 2016, I was on a hunt for US State Department Blackberrys used by Hillary Clinton and her executives John Podesta and Huma Abedin at the Clinton Foundation for Libya topple gains being used to fund Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign. All suspicions on the very start, beginning with the seemingly fraudulent DNC ‘hack”, focused on one Dmitri Alperovich. I knew Dmitri as the CEO of a hacking team we bought at Network Associates in 2000 to write viruses and port the PGP encryption software to various platforms. From the outset, I knew proving the case against the Clinton Foundation for money laundering would require finding the US State Department Blackberrys that Dmitri configured. I wrote a book later about my chase to find the Dmitri Alperovich US State Department Blackberry trove called “Blackberries Matter” which again was an Amazon bestseller and then also quickly banned.

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“We saw [the US] American human rights right here in the corners of prison cells and in torture chambers..”

Human Rights: the United States and Western Style (Tajik)

The United States of America and its European posse regularly make allegations of human rights abuses against any nation that opposes their policies in the world, resists their aggressive rules, and creates obstacles to their hegemony. In atrocities committed against humans and their rights in real and tangible ways, however, said horde is not only an avant-garde of convoluted methods but also a seasoned practitioner of their own crafts. A real challenge for the US/West, nevertheless, arises when there is indisputable evidence of a clear disconnect between beautiful speeches they deliver on the subject of human rights and atrocious deeds they exact upon humans and their rights anywhere on the planet where they are allowed to do so.

With every use, this tool gets dull rendering it ineffective though. The jig was up for a lot of people decades ago. As Ayatullah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolution reminds us time and again, these shameful entities are nothing but savages and vicious wolves dressed like gentlemen with iron fists wrapped in velvet gloves. As part of an address to a group of Revolutionary Guard Commanders a while back, he described how human rights, as defined and implemented by the US and the West, had touched the lives of so many in the world, including himself and many other Iranians. He said,

“The attractive world the Westerners illustrate – in which human rights and freedom of choice exist – we have experienced that in our own lives during Pahlavi period. We understood the meaning of democracy and human rights in those days. [The US] Americans themselves collaborated with Pahlavi Regime in establishing horrific torture chambers that used torture devices and methods to capture our young people and crush our nation! This is that liberal democracy they are promising the world and their radios advertise to the people of the Third World inviting them to rush to it! They say these things to us, too. We have experimented and experienced this in our own lives. It is not something unfamiliar to us! We have personally touched the dark dictatorial rule of Pahlavi from whose claws blood dripped, from whose entire fabric corruption oozed; all these under the protective umbrella of [the US of] America, with the help of [the US of] America, with reliance on [the US of] America, it repeated these crimes and we literally touched them! These sorts of events are not unfamiliar to us. We saw [the US] American human rights right here in the corners of prison cells and in torture chambers and we felt them with our own meat and skin. Would our people forget these things?!”

Ayatullah Khamenei experienced, firsthand and for years, the torture chambers of then SAVAK (the information and security apparatus of Shah), the entity that had been established by the CIA. SAVAK enjoyed immensely the patronage of the US/West in all its torture endeavors. These first-hand experiences occurred decades before Abu Ghraib photos were released. At that time, the true nature of the US/West’s illiberal inhumanity had not been yet transparently exposed to many in the world.

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Deep state.

Supreme Court Targets the Real Enemy (Tucker)

The flurry of rulings from the Supreme Court has everyone’s head spinning. The most significant among them, even if it doesn’t capture all the headlines, is West Virginia v. EPA. The majority opinion is impressive, but the part I found truly wonderful is the concurring opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch. This is where we see things headed, toward a major and much-welcome curbing of the power of the administrative state. Just to review what this thing is, it’s an unelected bureaucracy that rules the country without oversight from voters or legislatures. For well over 100 years, most courts have given it a pass, just assuming that the “experts” in the bureaucracies are handling things just fine, faithfully interpreting legislation, and merely creating rules for easy compliance.

Generations have gone by as this fourth branch of government has grown in size, scope, and strength. For the most part, its baneful impositions have been felt by one business or one industry at a time. You have heard the stories. The car dealer complains about how the Department of Labor is making him crazy. The machine-parts manufacturer is going bonkers about letters from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The energy company can never satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are stories and we find them unfortunate, but we’ve generally avoided thinking of these as systematic, all-pervasive, and truly dangerous to the idea of freedom itself. However, there are some 432 of these agencies.

The authors of the Declaration of Independence noted their existence back in the day when they accused the English king of having “erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.” They fought a revolution to end the tyranny but now we have a home-grown form, starting in 1883 with the Pendleton Act and continuing throughout the 20th century as each new administration creates its own bureaucracy. The thing has taken on a power of its own. Strangely, the topic hardly comes up at all during elections, and that’s for a reason. Politicians running for office like to advertise their power to make change. They might even believe it. In reality, though, elected officials have very little influence over the conduct of public life relative to the administrative state. As Trump found, not even the president is a match for the deep state.

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negative 27 per cent.

Biden Job Approval Hits New Low (SN)

As Americans celebrate July the 4th, a new poll shows that President Biden’s job approval has sunk to its lowest level ever.A CIVIQS rolling job-approval average shows that 18 months into his term, Biden’s job approval stands at just 30 per cent, while 57 per cent disapprove of the job he is doing. With 12 per cent of participants refusing to be drawn on whether they approve or disapprove of Biden, his overall net job approval now stands at negative 27 per cent. The figure marks Biden’s worst job approval since becoming president, and he is now underwater in 48 states, with only voters in Hawaii and Vermont showing more approval than disapproval. Having stood at 34 per cent in May, Biden’s job approval has sunk by a further four percentage points, with only 19 per cent of Independents approving of him, and 67 per cent showing disapproval.

Biden’s popularity hasn’t been helped by his endless verbal slip-ups, which have left many Americans concerned about his mental faculties. However, the most damaging aspect of his presidency has undoubtedly been his failure to deal with a cost of living crisis which has seen inflation soar and gas prices hit new records.Biden loyalists have become increasingly absurd in trying to explain away gas price hikes and inflation, with former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers blaming people who downplay what happened on January 6.“The banana Republicans who are saying that what happened on January 6th was nothing or OK are undermining the basic credibility of our country’s institutions and that in turn feeds through, uh, for inflation,” said Summers.

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“I can’t imagine what will happen when babies start dying. It’s going to be horrendous.” -Ed Dowd

 

 

 

 

Scott Ritter: ‘Two-Front War: Biden’s Mouth is Writing Checks the US Military Can’t Cash’

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

May 312022
 
 May 31, 2022  Posted by at 8:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  34 Responses »


James McNeill Whistler Symphony in White, No. 3 1867

 

Ukraine Bits: Russian Artillery – Counter Attacks – New Missile Systems (MoA)
Biden Administration in No Rush to Help Ukraine Negotiate End to War (Jacobin)
US Won’t Send Ukraine Rocket Systems That Strike Into Russia (JTN)
Germany Is Failing Ukraine (Hoyer)
Why “Cancel” Russians? (Milacic)
Azov Battalion Drops Neo-nazi Symbol Exploited By Russian Propagandists (Times)
Putin Ready To Facilitate Export Of Grains From Ukraine (AlJ)
Gazprom Shuts Gas Deliveries to Dutch Trader GasTerra (WSJ)
EU Leaders Agree On Partial Embargo On Russian Oil (AP)
The Age of Exterminations VIII – How to Destroy Western Europe (Ugo Bardi)
Fauci’s Recent, $10M Monkeypox Grant (NP)
Almost 500,000 UK Small Businesses ‘At Risk Of Going Bust Within Weeks’ (G.)

 

 

 

 

Lara Logan

 

 

 

 

WHO Treaty

 

 

“To prolong it by supplying more money and weapons is criminal and should be punished.”

Ukraine Bits: Russian Artillery – Counter Attacks – New Missile Systems (MoA)

Former Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Daniel Davis has written some realistic pieces on Ukraine. His latest though are a bit of fantasy. He describes in three parts “How Ukraine Can Drive Russia Out”.First Ukraine would have to hold onto Donbas and with the help of raids and counterattacks unbalance the Russian forces. It would then perform a delaying retreat under fire to several new defense lines created in its rear. This delay action should allow for time to build a new force of 100,000 new troops in west Ukraine who would be equipped with a huge amount of new ‘western’ systems. It would take twelve to eighteen months to build and train that counterattack force.


Davis knows of course that each of those steps is completely unrealistic. His real advice is to negotiate an end to the war as soon as possible. But the writeup of what would really be necessary for the Ukraine to have at least a chance to win against Russia is helpful as it demonstrates the futility of such an effort. There is no way for the Ukraine to turn the situation around or to win the war. The Ukrainian government has to give up. To stop the dying and the extensive amount of damage the war causes it must end now. To prolong it by supplying more money and weapons is criminal and should be punished.

Media Is Far Too Late In Admitting Ukraine’s Severe War Losses

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Not as long as there are still Ukrainians alive.

Biden Administration in No Rush to Help Ukraine Negotiate End to War (Jacobin)

“Russians believe the US calls the shots,” says Chas Freeman, longtime US diplomat under successive presidents and assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under Bill Clinton. “Therefore, talking to those who take direction from the US is unlikely to yield anything useful.” “You’ve got the issue of whether Ukraine will join NATO, and the sanctions,” says John B. Quigley, an expert in international law who led talks on the status of the Donbas and Crimea after the Cold War. “So I think the major powers do need to be involved.” But if the diplomatic line between Kiev and Moscow has gone cold in recent weeks, the one between Moscow and Washington is buried under an ice shelf.

While the United States and Russia have engaged in a prisoner swap and seen contacts between military officials, secretary of state Tony Blinken — the top US diplomat — and his Russian counterpart haven’t spoken once since before the start of the war. US officials have justified this lack of engagement in a variety of ways, arguing that Putin isn’t serious about negotiating, and that whether or not to negotiate “are decisions for [Ukrainians] to make.” But it’s been harder to wave off as US involvement in the war has deepened. “The idea is that we don’t negotiate with him, the Ukrainians decide,” says Rajan Menon, director of the Grand Strategy program at Defense Priorities. “But we are deeply implicated in this war — we can’t pretend we aren’t.”

Washington has begun sending heavy weaponry that was considered too escalatory only weeks earlier, and has boasted of its role in helping Ukraine kill a series of Russian generals and sink the flagship of its Black Sea fleet. Multiple US officials have now openly described the conflict as a proxy war with Russia, while Steny Hoyer, the second-highest-ranking Democrat in the House, declared that “we’re at war.” The feeling is mutual over on the Russian side. The stakes of not reaching a settlement are high. For the world, there’s the hovering specter of nuclear escalation that could quickly envelop all of Europe and North America in the devastation, along with the government-toppling economic instability being fueled by the war’s resulting supply shocks. For Ukrainians, it means more death, destruction, and economic chaos, with the World Bank predicting the invasion will shrink its economy 45 percent this year.

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We only kill Ukrainians.

US Won’t Send Ukraine Rocket Systems That Strike Into Russia (JTN)

President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday that the U.S. won’t send Ukraine rocket systems that could possibly reach Russia. It was previously reported that the Biden administration was considering sending such systems to the Ukrainian government during the ongoing invasion of its country by Russia. “We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,” Biden said on Monday. He also addressed potential gun control measures that could be put into place after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas. Biden was asked if there’s an area he sees agreement on with Republicans in terms of gun policy, such as a potential red flag bill.


“That’s hard to say because I have not been negotiating with any of the Republicans yet,” he said. In terms of a possible ban on semi-automatic weapons, Biden said, “The Constitution, the Second Amendment, was never absolute,” according to a White House press pool report. Biden also reportedly told the press that “there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting.”

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“..the Bundeswehr currently only has 50 modern tanks..”

Germany Is Failing Ukraine (Hoyer)

A giant step for German and European security,’ is how Chancellor Olaf Scholz described his government’s €100 billion cash injection for the country’s depleted military. But while Germany’s newfound commitment to its own defence is welcome, its commitment to Ukraine’s is still questionable at best. Over the weekend, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that it had seen documents showing that Berlin had reduced military support for Ukraine to ‘a minimum’. According to inside sources, only two German weapon deliveries have reached Ukraine since the end of March. Both contained light equipment such as mines, hand grenades and spare parts for machine guns. The last delivery of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry dates back to 25 March.

This reality is strangely at odds with Scholz’s combative rhetoric. Last week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Chancellor condemned Putin’s ‘imperialism’. He said that the invasion had led to a fundamental change in German foreign policy: ‘For the first time ever, Germany is delivering weapons into such a war zone, including heavy gear.’ He added: ‘Putin will only seriously engage in peace negotiations when he realises that he cannot break Ukraine’s defences.’ So why has Germany been so poor at shoring up those Ukrainian defences? The reluctance to support Kyiv persists out of a misguided sense of historical legacy. As the historian Timothy Snyder argued: ‘the confusion of responsibility and guilt has become a Russian weapon’. It’s clear that Germany could have delivered more weapons earlier, even if it might have taken longer than its better-funded American and British allies.

Others have argued that Berlin has now overcome its reluctance and wants to deliver but can’t because of its depleted military supplies. Look to the deal struck with Poland, these people arguer. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confirmed that his country had sent over 240 Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukraine and hoped, in return, that western allies might help replenish Poland’s stock. In return, Germany was asked to send a set of Leopard 2 tanks to its neighbour. Yet the Polish President Andrzej Duda claimed last week Germany had agreed to send the tanks but then broke its promise. Berlin responded with surprise and indignation at the accusations. Spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said the German government was ‘baffled’ by the allegations and said no promise had been made, adding that the Bundeswehr currently only has 50 modern tanks.

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“It turned out that picturing Russia as a wild Cossack riding a bear, a ruthless Asian “enemy” at Europe’s border was more desirable than integration with Russia.”

Why “Cancel” Russians? (Milacic)

There is a persistent belief in both Europe and the United States that the “Western” economies are the most developed around, just as the “Western” culture and democracy, with its culture of abolition and total tolerance, is the only correct and advanced system. Russia, which is a bridge connecting Europe with Asia since Tsar Peter, has apparently chosen the European path. With all its exotic image and totalitarian regimes that oppressed the Russian people, deep down, the latter considered themselves Europeans. Their jokes and humor are easily understood in both North America and in Europe, and the Russians’ values in life are in many ways similar to European ones. And still, they were not accepted into the European family.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Russia accepted and completely assimilated tens of thousands of Polish, Dutch, German settlers, but was never recognized in Europe as one of their own. It turned out that picturing Russia as a wild Cossack riding a bear, a ruthless Asian “enemy” at Europe’s border was more desirable than integration with Russia. The notion of the “Russian threat” has been exploited since the 18th century by politicians, from Louis XV to Barack Obama. After all, nothing brings small European countries closer together than the image of a common enemy. The Russians sincerely did not understand why they were not accepted into the European family. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow even asked to join NATO.

The only thing that politicians in Moscow asked their Western partners for was not to offend the Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic countries and Ukraine, who, in the wake of the Soviet collapse, had became second-class people there. Let us be honest, however. Russia was purposefully being nurtured as an enemy. The Russophobic policy of the Baltic republics led to a break with Russia and forced Moscow to urgently start building, due to logistical security concerns, new ports in the Baltic. Two color revolutions in Ukraine, orchestrated by Western “democracies” brought local nationalists to power and eventually sparking a conflict in Donbass, where 95 percent of people were not native speakers of the “state” Ukrainian language.

Even then, the Russians tried to demonstrate their friendliness to Europe. In the spring of 2021, when Italy’s medical system was paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russians sent there several planes with doctors and medicines, along with a team of military personnel from the chemical defense forces, who helped the Italians disinfect quarantine zones in hospitals. Following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in France, the Russian military, which had previously suffered from radical Islamists itself, wrote on the missiles, which they used against terrorist groups in Syria “For Paris.” Russia’s opposition-minded intellectuals sincerely believed that Russian liberals would be dear guests in Europe. It seems that until February 2022, pro-government circles in Russia sincerely believed that the West could force Kiev to start implementing the Minsk agreements on Donbass.

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Speechless. How dare you publish this?

Azov Battalion Drops Neo-nazi Symbol Exploited By Russian Propagandists (Times)

The Azov Battalion has removed a neo-Nazi symbol from its insignia that has helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism. At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014. Instead, they featured a golden trident, the Ukrainian national symbol worn by other regiments. “On the same principles and ideological basis as the legendary Azov regiment, we form new divisions. Every day they become more numerous and professional,” Maksym Zhorin, an Azov commander, said at the ceremony on Sunday.

Created in 2014 as a paramilitary organisation to fight pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region, the Azov Battalion first attracted far-right volunteers harbouring anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish views. This background has been used by the Kremlin to justify its assertion that Ukraine needed “de-nazifying”. Now incorporated into the national guard, the regiment has attracted fighters from a diverse range of backgrounds. It has played a decisive role in key battles in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol as part of the nationwide resistance effort. In March, President Zelensky, who is Jewish, awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to an Azov commander.

The Kremlin’s use of the Azov Battalion as a pretext for invasion is undermined by the presence of neo-Nazi divisions within its own ranks. Rusich, whose fighters have been photographed in Ukraine, is a mercenary group that uses in its insignia the valknut, an old Norse symbol appropriated by white supremacists.

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“..in case sanctions against Moscow are lifted..”

Putin Ready To Facilitate Export Of Grains From Ukraine (AlJ)

President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia is ready to facilitate the unhindered export of grain from Ukrainian ports in coordination with Turkey, according to a Kremlin readout of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russia and Ukraine together account for 29 percent of global wheat exports, mainly via the Black Sea, and for 80 percent of global exports of sunflower oil. Ukraine is also a major corn exporter. In a call with Erdogan on Monday, Putin said that global food shortages were the result of “short-sighted” Western policies, adding that Russia was ready to export significant volumes of fertilisers and food in case sanctions against Moscow are lifted, according to the Kremlin readout of the talks.


“During the discussion of the situation in Ukraine, emphasis was placed on ensuring safe navigation in the Black and Azov seas and eliminating the mine threat in their waters,” the Kremlin said. “Vladimir Putin noted the readiness of the Russian side to facilitate the unhindered sea transit of goods in coordination with Turkish partners. This also applies to the export of grain from Ukrainian ports.” It was not immediately clear which Ukrainian ports Putin was speaking of. Ukraine’s main grain export ports include Chornomorsk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Kherson and Yuzhny. Erdogan told Putin that peace needed to be established as soon as possible and that Turkey was ready to take on a role in an “observation mechanism” between Moscow, Kyiv and the United Nations, if an agreement is reached.

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The increase in the cost of living has only begun.

Gazprom Shuts Gas Deliveries to Dutch Trader GasTerra (WSJ)

Gazprom PJSC will stop supplying gas to Dutch wholesaler GasTerra from Tuesday due to the latter’s refusal to make payments in rubles. Gas trader GasTerra said Monday that it has decided not to comply with Gazprom’s payment requirements because doing so risks breaching European Union sanctions. The cessation means that around 2 billion cubic meters of contracted gas won’t be delivered between now and Oct. 1, when the deal was due to end, it said. “GasTerra has repeatedly urged Gazprom to respect the contractually agreed payment structure and supply obligations, but to no avail,” the trading company said.


GasTerra warned that it is impossible to predict whether the European market can absorb this loss of supply without serious consequences. In 2021 the EU imported 155 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia, around 40% of its total gas consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. GasTerra is 50%-owned by the Dutch government–partially through its gas company Energie Beheer Nederland B.V. The remaining shareholding is owned by Shell PLC and Exxon Mobil Corp., with each holding a 25% stake.

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Shoot Slo-mo Foot.

EU Leaders Agree On Partial Embargo On Russian Oil (AP)

European Union leaders reached a compromise Monday to impose a partial oil embargo on Russia at a summit focused on helping Ukraine with a long-delayed package of sanctions that was blocked by Hungary. The watered-down embargo covers only Russian oil brought in by sea, allowing a temporary exemption for imports delivered by pipeline. EU Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter the agreement covers more than two-thirds of oil imports from Russia, “cutting a huge source of financing for its war machine. Maximum pressure on Russia to end the war.” The EU had already imposed five previous rounds of sanctions on Russia over its war. It has targeted more than 1,000 people individually, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and top government officials as well as pro-Kremlin oligarchs, banks, the coal sector and more.

But the sixth package of measures announced May 4 had been held up by concerns over oil supplies. Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban had made clear he could support the new sanctions only if his country’s oil supply security was guaranteed. The landlocked country gets more than 60% of its oil from Russia and depends on crude that comes through the Soviet-era Druzhba pipeline. Ursula Von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive branch, had played down the chances of a breakthrough at the summit. But leaders reached a compromise after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged them to end “internal arguments that only prompt Russia to put more and more pressure on the whole of Europe.”

Von der Leyen said the punitive move will “effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year.” The EU gets about 40% of its natural gas and 25% of its oil from Russia, and divisions over the issue exposed the limits of the 27-nation trading bloc’s ambitions.

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“For the time being, Russian gas keeps flowing into Europe and the lights are still on in Europe, although it cannot be said for how long.”

The Age of Exterminations VIII – How to Destroy Western Europe (Ugo Bardi)

In 1944, Henry Morgenthau Jr., Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, had proposed the plan that would take his name, the “Morgenthau Plan.” The plan called for the complete destruction of Germany’s industrial infrastructure and the transformation of Germany into a purely agricultural society at a nearly medieval technology level. As a consequence, Germany wouldn’t have been able to import food from abroad and that would have resulted in the death of tens of millions of Germans. The Morgenthau Plan was initially approved by President Roosevelt, and it was even publicly diffused in the press. Fortunately for the Germans, it was then abandoned by President Truman, but it remained active as a practical set of guidelines for the allied policies in Germany until 1948.

As a result, untold numbers of Germans died as the consequence of starvation. Some people speak of at least one million victims (or several million) of famine during the period from 1945 to 1948, but we’ll never know the exact number. As we all know, the Germans were far from being innocent in this worldwide extermination game. In addition to the Shoah and the extermination of other ethnic groups, including German citizens judged to be a burden for society, in 1942 the German government had developed the “Generalplan Ost” (General Plan for the East) that foresaw the extermination of tens of millions of Slavs in Eastern Europe. The survivors would be used as servants and laborers for the German “master race” (Herrenvolk).

It is impressive for us to remember how, less than a century ago, there were Western governments happily engaged in planning exterminations involving tens of millions of Europeans. Could these dark times return? It is said that civilization is just three hot meals away from barbarism, and we could rephrase this old saying as “society is just one defeat away from extermination.” Indeed, the events of the past few months saw Western Europe close to inflicting a terminal defeat on itself by abandoning its main source of energy: Russian oil and gas. Fortunately, it seems that, after all, Europe won’t commit economic suicide as it seemed to be intentioned to do. For the time being, Russian gas keeps flowing into Europe and the lights are still on in Europe, although it cannot be said for how long.

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Why am I not surprised?

Fauci’s Recent, $10M Monkeypox Grant (NP)

Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health agency was funding research to identify treatments for monkeypox shortly before the virus began spreading in a global outbreak. Fauci’s agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has previously come under scrutiny for funding bat coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which many public health experts and intelligence officials believe to be the source of COVID-19. NIAID has also funded research into potential cures for monkeypox, shortly before the viral disease began spreading in a global outbreak. The curious timing of the NIAID grant comes amidst pharmaceutical giants including Pfizer and Johson & Johnson making record-level profits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant supports a “randomized, placebo-controlled trial of the safety and efficacy of tecovirimat for the treatment of patients with monkeypox virus disease.” “The funding supports a clinical trial to identify effective treatments for monkeypox virus disease,” explains a summary of the research, which, despite beginning in September 2020, has not generated any publicly available studies, papers, or patents. “The similarity between monkeypox and the variola virus, coupled with concerns about the potential of the variola virus as a potential bioterrorism agent, have placed monkeypox treatments at the forefront of public health and scientific research agendas in many countries,” adds the grant summary.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant database shows that $9,824,009 was sent to Leidos Biomedical Research, which partners with the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) to operate Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, in 2021. The grant, which is set to conclude on September 27th, 2025, was distributed to Lori Dodd, who serves as a Mathematical Statistician in the Biostatistics Research Branch of the NIAID. Dodd was previously exposed for her involvement in the NIAID’s efforts to cover up the agency reportedly altering the endpoint in a trial testing the effects of remdesivir against COVID-19 to make it look more effective.

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” They don’t have any way they can tackle this problem.”

Almost 500,000 UK Small Businesses ‘At Risk Of Going Bust Within Weeks’ (G.)

Rising costs have created a “ticking timebomb” for UK small business owners, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned, with almost half a million firms at risk of going bust within weeks without a fresh wave of government support. While the FSB chairman, Martin McTague, applauded the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest support for consumers through the £15bn cost of living package announced last week, he said some of those recipients could lose their jobs unless the government rolled out targeted measures for their employers. “We don’t have any problem with the way the chancellor dealt with consumer needs,” McTague told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But there is still a massive problem with small businesses.


“They are facing something like twice the rate of inflation for their production prices, and it’s a ticking timebomb. They have got literally weeks left before they run out of cash and that will mean hundreds of thousands of businesses, and lots of people losing their jobs.” McTague pointed to figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that 40%, or 2m, of the UK’s small businesses had less than three months’ worth of cash left to support their operations. Of those 2m, the FSB chairman said about 10% – or 200,000 – were in “serious trouble”, and that another 300,000 “have only got weeks left”. He said: “It is a very real possibility because … they don’t have the cash reserves. They don’t have any way they can tackle this problem.”

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Julian Assange: ‘This generation is the last free generation’

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

May 092022
 


Henri Gervex Rolla 1878

 

It’s Not Over. It’s Just Begun (Naomi Wolf)
FDA: Americans Should Treat COVID-19 Like the Flu (ET)
White House Warns Of Covid Surges In The Winter (Pol.)
US Senator Says Biden Admin Disinformation Board Likely Illegal (JTN)
Ukraine Will Prevail As Europe Did In 1945 – Scholz (G.)
Bono Showed up in Kyiv, Ukraine Along with Justin From Canada (CTH)
Europe’s Mad Ban on Russian Oil (Vilches)
Biden To Deliver Remarks On Inflation Tuesday (CNN)
Michigan Police Seize Voting Machine (JTN)
Courts Find No Government Coercion Of Big Tech On Covid ‘Misinformation’ (JTN)
Anatomy of the American Baby Formula Shortage (JTN)

 

 

“On Victory Day, let’s remember the heroic peoples of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere that fought together, making unbelievable sacrifices to liberate Europe from the horrors of fascism. Nothing – including today’s NATO-Nazi marriage of convenience – can erase that history.”

 

 

 

 

Biden prostitute
https://twitter.com/i/status/1523317412179111937

 

 

MEP Christine Anderson
https://twitter.com/i/status/1523255207312130048

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renz Harari

 

 

Naomi Wolf works on the Pfizer docs with a whole team of people.

It’s Not Over. It’s Just Begun (Naomi Wolf)

On MSNBC that morning, Dr Anthony Fauci, that entangled mass of compromised spiritual matter, who had presided over the intentional wastelands of the pandemic; who had for two years delivered in his nasal Brooklyn cadences its lie-based soundbites with their dearth of scientific studies, that wrecked livelihoods, destroyed kids’ educations, and that drove whole communities into destitution — had declared, as if he were God Himself, that the pandemic was over. Well — okay then! I realized as we drove that my grief was not actually grief. As any pop psychologist will tell you, just beneath depression is rage. I realized — I was furious.


Brian and I had been fighting, side by side, relentlessly, for over two years, in a bitter, exhausting war to return America to — simply to normal; to its historic status as a great, free society, in which people could enjoy their Constitutional liberties. We were part of a loose community —a movement, say — of people braver and more dedicated than we; we were part of what you might call a liberty movement. But these heroes and heroines alongside whom we fought, were all pitiably few in number. There were maybe hundreds; maybe a few thousand. Many more perhaps were in sympathy with us, but our energies were still spread very thin. As I have written before, these heroes and heroines risked medical licenses, risked livelihoods. They were smeared and mocked by their peers. They were stripped of credentials. They staked their savings and lost them as they had their incomes taken away.

But they burned, as the rebels in 1775 had burned, to defend our way of life and our institutions. They would not let the dream of America die. They were the miserably few real doctors and real reporters, real activists and real lawyers. They were the truck drivers; they were teachers and cops and firefighters. They were patriots. They did not have easy lives. You know who had easier lives over the past two years? The damn quislings. The people who stayed at the cocktail parties and who mocked the unvaccinated. The doctors who were silent about vaccine harms when teens presented with heart damage, because they might lose their licenses if they breathed a word of what they knew.


The ex-Brooklynites who were supposed to be journalists but who smeared and attacked the medical freedom movement instead of reporting on Pfizer’s internal documents showing massive undisclosed medical catastrophes, in what is turning out to be one of the great corporate coverups of our generation. I realized the source of my rage: the labor and nightmares and isolation and persecution and money worries and — well — awful battles waged by us few hundreds, few thousands, had helped these quislings and collaborators have back what — what we had wanted them to have back; indeed, what we had wanted us all to have back; our America.

Naomi Wolf Pfizer

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FDA and CDC need to be disbanded.

FDA: Americans Should Treat COVID-19 Like the Flu (ET)

Several top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials, including Commissioner Robert Califf, admitted that Americans will now have to accept COVID-19 as another respiratory virus, comparing it to influenza. Califf, Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock, and top vaccine official Dr. Peter Marks wrote for the Journal of the American Medical Association that COVID-19 will be around for the foreseeable future while suggesting that it will require yearly vaccines targeting the most threatening variations of the virus. “Widespread vaccine- and infection-induced immunity, combined with the availability of effective therapeutics, could blunt the effects of future outbreaks,” the officials said, referring to another name for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“Nonetheless, it is time to accept that the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is the new normal.” The virus “will likely circulate globally for the foreseeable future, taking its place alongside other common respiratory viruses such as influenza. And it likely will require similar annual consideration for vaccine composition updates in consultation with the [FDA],” they continued. It’s a departure from the rhetoric that was expressed by public health officials in 2020 and 2021. In late October 2020, for example, current White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci said that President Donald Trump’s comparisons to the flu were false, telling NBC at the time “it is not correct to say it’s the same as flu.”

About a year later, Fauci told CBS News that Americans will “likely” have to deal with COVID-19 in a similar manner as influenza. “That’s entirely conceivable and likely, as a matter of fact, we are not going to be in a situation of this degree of intensity indefinitely,” he said when asked about the Omicron variant. Data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that while cases have trended slightly upward in the United States, the numbers are a fraction of the cases that were reported in mid-January when the seven-day average stood at around 800,000 per day. As of May 6, the seven-day average was about 68,000 per day.

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Ha ha ha. The White House knows better than the FDA.

White House Warns Of Covid Surges In The Winter (Pol.)

Covid cases surged during the last two winters and are likely to again this year — unless the country can prepare and act, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said Sunday morning. “If we don’t get ahead of this thing, we’ll have a lot of waning immunity, this virus continues to evolve and we may see a pretty sizable wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths this fall and winter,” Jha said on ABC’s “This Week.” Congress needs to provide resources, Jha said, specifically $22.5 billion, a number that will help with a vaccine supply that’s dwindling. In March, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said: “If the science shows that fourth doses are needed for the general population later this year, we will not have the supply necessary to ensure shots are available.”


The money, once allocated, would go toward Covid vaccine supply and coronavirus testing. “If Congress doesn’t step up and fund these, I think, urgent and emergent priorities … they can’t wait until the fall, it will be too late,” Jha said. And the proof is in the jab. With cases increasing in the Northeast, deaths remain low because of high vaccination rates. “That’s not true for the whole country,” Jha said. With enough resources to get more people vaccinated and more therapeutics in place, he said, “I do think we can get through this winter without a lot of suffering and death.”

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“Federal funding available for the board and for Jankowicz’s salary “is ‘none,’” he said, because “Congress explicitly defunded it, just weeks ago.”

US Senator Says Biden Admin Disinformation Board Likely Illegal (JTN)

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., says the creation of a board within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tasked with combating “disinformation” is likely illegal. Creating the board and hiring its new director without Congressional authorization violates several federal laws, Hagerty, R-Tenn., said. Knowingly and willfully violating one of them carries a $5,000 fine and up to two years in prison, he adds. Hagerty sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas saying his “actions merit review by Congress, both as a general matter, as well as under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and because the actions may be in violation of provisions of the Antideficiency Act.”

He told Mayorkas that “you will comply with the requirements” of the CRA when it comes to the creation of DHS’ disinformation board because the law requires “any agency action that falls within the definition of a ‘rule’ must be submitted to Congress for review before it can take effect.” Creating the board and hiring its new director, Nina Jankowicz, “may also be a direct violation of provisions of the Antideficiency Act,” Hagerty wrote. The law prohibits “making or authorizing an expenditure from, or creating or authorizing an obligation under, any appropriation or fund in excess of the amount available in the appropriation or fund unless authorized by law.” Federal funding available for the board and for Jankowicz’s salary “is ‘none,’” he said, because “Congress explicitly defunded it, just weeks ago.”

Citing a section of the fiscal 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Hagerty said the law “specifically prohibits the Secretary of Homeland Security from using any funds provided by Congress to carry out Section 872 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which means it defunded any action to ‘allocate or reallocate functions among the officers of the Department of Homeland Security or to establish, consolidate, or alter organizational units within the Department of Homeland Security.’” Hagerty also put Mayorkas on notice, writing: “As you know, an officer or employee, including you, who violates the Antideficiency Act ‘shall be subject to appropriate administrative discipline,’ and, for willful violations, faces a criminal fine, imprisonment, or both.”

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The man whose country was defeated, for which 25-40 million Russians gave their life. Maybe that man should shut his face on Victory Day.

Ukraine Will Prevail As Europe Did In 1945 – Scholz (G.)

Ukraine will prevail over Russia as freedom prevailed over the Nazi dictatorship in 1945, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, will say in a TV address to mark the 77th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, in which he will accuse Vladimir Putin of falsifying history. In the speech, which will be aired on German TV at 8.20pm CET (7.20pm BST) on Sunday, Scholz says the “legacy of 8 May” for his country must be to help to ensure that there will never again be genocide or tyranny in Europe. “I am deeply convinced. Putin will not win the war,” the centre-left politician says. “Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and safety will win, just like freedom and safety triumphed over servitude, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago.”

Scholz says it is “falsifying history and disgraceful” of Russia’s president to equate his own “barbaric war of aggression” with the fight against National Socialism. “It is our duty to state this clearly,” his speech says. In keeping with previous postwar German leaders’ messages on 8 May, Scholz thanks the Allied forces for their defeat of Nazi Germany, and says his country owes a debt to both Russia and Ukraine, which suffered millions of casualties in the second world war. Scholz has repeatedly declared Germany’s support for Ukraine’s defensive effort but diplomatic relations between Berlin and Kyiv have been frosty. Ukrainian diplomats have accused his left-liberal coalition government of stalling over embargoes on Russian energy and deliveries of military hardware.

The chancellor, meanwhile, appeared personally piqued after Germany’s president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, previously a Social Democratic party (SPD) ally, was told last month he was not welcome to visit Kyiv along with eastern European leaders. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week he had made up with Steinmeier and invited Scholz to pay a symbolic visit to Ukraine’s capital on 9 May. The German leader did not give any indication on Sunday of whether he was likely to accept or not.

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“Bono’s appearance in any State Dept/CIA construct usually precedes the bombing of the proverbial milk factories and subsequent “babies are casualties of war” narrative.”

Bono Showed up in Kyiv, Ukraine Along with Justin From Canada (CTH)

It’s the new cool thing. It’s the latest rage on Insta. All the most virtuous people are doing it. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to support the movement. Travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, snap a few selfies… Social media archives will record history. According to pop culture, the Facebook, Insta, Twitter and YouTube social media campaign to save Kyiv, is bigger than the Berlin wall falling. The CIA, DoS, DHS and Nina Jankowicz have declared it true. When the conflict in Ukraine first began, the White House announced the victor would be the one who could “tell a better story.” The war in Ukraine would be determined by who was more likeable on social media. From that moment forth, winning the PR battle has been the focus.


Within days of the White House declaring the strategy, Google, DuckDuckGo, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all announced they would filter and block content that did not support World War Reddit. Anyone who was not supporting Ukraine and “churchill in a T-Shirt” ran the risk of being deplatformed; and so, the strategy has continued through today. After writing pro-Ukraine poems for Nancy Pelosi to read to congress, now Bono travels to Ukraine. I said on March 1st when Bono shows up, that’s the moment when you know western propaganda over Ukraine will soon apex. Bono’s appearance in any State Dept/CIA construct usually precedes the bombing of the proverbial milk factories and subsequent “babies are casualties of war” narrative.

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May I call you Ursula ?

Europe’s Mad Ban on Russian Oil (Vilches)

May I call you Ursula ? Thank you. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion [… a phenomenal bad joke of sorts… ] in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets” you said. Question: will the Russians just idly watch you trying to execute such enormity at the EU´s preferred speed and political and geopolitical sequencing? And the Russians would never dare to strike back with natural gas or other restrictions no? For starters, what about nickel, uranium, and lithium? Not having them would be like trying to prepare tasty food without salt, pepper or mustard. Without uranium no nuclear power is possible, did you know? [ more on that later ]. Ursula, your pink unicorn wishful thinking is unfathomable gal.

This mad-ban requires EU approval with conditional support from Hungary, Greece, and others. So some special EU members will be exempted while regular EU ´kelpers´ will not. Now could that lead to serious friction ? How many years will it take all of Europe to reconvert its industry and supply chains? “This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within 6 months and refined products by the end of the year.” Okay, so Aunty Ursie you believe the Russians are dumb enough to let you phase this idea out nice and easy at your own pace and whenever you decide to act per your own special EU schedule. No market dynamics involved as Europe plays everybody else´s pieces too as grandpas would do with 3-year-old grandkids.

No way Ursula, the Russians play world-class professional chess while you play elementary school checkers, not even being good at that either. The instant Russia perceives the initial execution of your game plan regarding banning of Russian oil, they´ll make their moves, not yours. And those Russian moves will not be nice and pretty. For one, Europe will not have anywhere nearly ready its own diesel refining capacity by the end of 2022 while the middle distillate market is ever much tighter everywhere as demand recovers from the Covid pandemic. So the EU “plan” is to frantically search for hard-to-find or simply non-existent substitutes while investing tons of time, money, effort and risk. Well, the Russians know that already even before you start. Diesel is already in critically short supply in the EU. Furthermore, Europe will continue buying Russian oil and distillates via third countries once it introduces any embargo only that at much higher prices than today. Such old, quick and dirty business is known as “triangulation” Ursula.

The existential threat imposed on Russia by the EU with its macabre “Ukraine Plan” and sanctions has not left Russia any way out other than playing hardball for keeps. Furthermore, the Russian non-military retaliation domain is actually unlimited due to the full-scale and open-ended addiction that Europe has developed for Russian imports of different sorts including commodities of any and every imaginable type. Without such, Europe will cease to exist as we know it in a matter of a very few months, if not weeks. As Francis Fukuyama should posit, Europe´s dependency on Russian commodities is the end of its own history.

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They think they found a way to blame the GOP – and Putin, of course.

Biden To Deliver Remarks On Inflation Tuesday (CNN)

President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on inflation Tuesday, a White House official said, as his administration looks to further address one of the key economic concerns for voters heading into November’s midterm elections. “He’ll detail his plan to fight inflation and lower costs for working families, and contrast his approach with Congressional Republicans’ ultra-MAGA plan to raise taxes on 75 million American families and threaten to sunset programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” the official said in an email. A CNN poll released last week found 8 in 10 US adults said the federal government wasn’t doing enough to curb inflation, and a majority said the President’s policies have hurt the economy.


Even within the Democratic Party, just 7 in 10 approve of Biden on the economy (71%) and helping the middle class (71%), considerably lower than the 86% of Democrats who approve of his performance overall. Inflation rates have been increasing sharply since August 2021 and have been out of the normal 2%-to-4% range for a full year. The Consumer Price Index rose 8.5% for the year ending in March, a rate that hadn’t been seen since December of 1981. “It’s our job to make sure that inflation of that unpleasant high nature doesn’t get entrenched in the economy,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week, just after he announced a half-point interest rate hike to combat inflation.

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2000 mules coming right at you.

Michigan Police Seize Voting Machine (JTN)

Michigan State Police seized a voting machine as part of an investigation into possible unauthorized access to election equipment. Law enforcement and officials at Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office had a warrant and took a voting machine from Irving Township into custody, officials told CNN and The Epoch Times. “The Township intends to fully cooperate with law enforcement, and the Township attorneys have been in contact with the Michigan State Police regarding this matter. The Township has no further comment at this time,” Irving Township supervisor Jamie Knight told The Epoch Times. County clerk Pamela Palmer told CNN that she did not know about any machine issue until police notified her of the equipment’s seizure. The 2020 election investigation has expanded in Michigan. “As we found out more information we’ve expanded our area to see if any other places were compromised,” Michigan State Police Lieutenant Derrick Carroll said. “We have gone to other regions.”

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Not every court will be this blind.

Courts Find No Government Coercion Of Big Tech On Covid ‘Misinformation’ (JTN)

Social media users alleged that federal authorities used an old gangster tactic to compel Twitter and Facebook to censor purported COVID-19 misinformation: “Nice place you’ve got here, be a shame if something happened to it.” Federal judges in Ohio and California didn’t buy those arguments, dismissing both First Amendment cases Thursday for lack of legal standing. Both claimed Facebook and Twitter might have punished the plaintiffs anyway under their own terms of service. “The 1st amendment is a dead letter,” Stanford University medical professor Jay Bhattacharya, also a target of censorship for his anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration, tweeted in response to the rulings.

“The judges are looking at this very technically,” faulting the absence of direct orders to censor, New Civil Liberties Alliance lawyer Jenin Younes, counsel in the Ohio case, told Just the News. She believes her three clients have better chances in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, pointing to its 2019 ruling against the University of Michigan, which both the court and feds ignored. The 6th Circuit let a First Amendment group represent students challenging the university’s “bias response team,” agreeing it imposed an “objective chill” on their speech regardless of whether it had “actual power to punish” them. The student-run Harvard Law Review blasted the ruling at the time for a “lax view of standing” that “seemingly dispensed with the requirement that a plaintiff show actual injury.

The setbacks may take a backseat to a broader lawsuit filed Thursday. The attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana accused the Biden administration of “colluding” with Big Tech to censor information about the Hunter Biden laptop story, origins of COVID and security of voting via mail during the pandemic. Justin Hart, identified by MIT researchers as an “anchor” for data-driven mask skepticism on Twitter, sued Facebook, Twitter, President Biden, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and federal offices last summer in California, alleging “state action” against his posts. Murthy and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki publicly disclosed “within days” of Hart’s suspensions from Facebook and Twitter that the feds were pressuring social media to remove “misinformation super-spreaders” and that White House “senior staff” were directly contacting the companies.

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An unexpected emergency?! “..the Biden Food and Drug Administration was alerted by a whistleblower last fall..”

Anatomy of the American Baby Formula Shortage (JTN)

At the outset of his presidency, Joe Biden promised competence by a bigger, better government. A few days ago, one of his loyal allies exposed a gross incompetence by federal officials on Biden’s watch that defied that promise and inflamed a baby formula shortage now panicking parents nationwide. Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., a reliable liberal ally, unveiled documents showing the Biden Food and Drug Administration was alerted by a whistleblower last fall about potential contamination issues at the Abbott Nutrition baby formula factory in Michigan and failed for months to act aggressively. “The FDA reacted far too slowly to this report,” DeLauro said in releasing a letter to the Health and Human Services inspector general demanding an immediate investigation to an incident that has led to babies being sickened and dying and a belated recall that has emptied shelves of formula nationwide.

The congresswoman, the chairwoman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, laid out a four-month-long trail of federal bumbles and stumbles: the report came in Oct. 20, the whistleblower didn’t even get interviewed for two months, the plant didn’t get inspected until Jan. 31 and the recall didn’t get issued until Feb. 17. “Why did the FDA not spring into action?” she implored during a congressional hearing. “Why did it take four months to pull this formula off store shelves? How many infants were fed contaminated formula during this time, by parents who trusted that the formula they were buying was safe? How many additional illnesses and deaths were there due to FDA’s slow response?”

Now the bureaucratic stumbling has escalated into a national crisis, as video of bare shelves and panicked parents harken in America some of the same fears and images as the bread lines and rationing that befell the Soviet Union in the early 1990s just before its collapse. The problems began even before the recall as inflation, labor shortages and supply chain slowdowns began putting pressure on the baby food staple last fall. In November, baby formula was already substantially more expensive and supply shortages had already risen to 11%. By the first week of April, the shortages had soared to 31%, and last week the number stood at a stunning 40%, according to statistics kept by Datasembly.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Musk SNL
https://twitter.com/i/status/1523366203242262529

Buffett

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Rogan Vikings

 

 

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Mar 012022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Diana Bathing with her Nymphs with Actaeon and Callisto 1634

 

The Consequences of Humiliating Russia (Brenner)
Putin Slams West’s ‘Empire Of Lies’ (RT)
Bulgarian Defense Minister Fired Over Ukraine Comments (RT)
Zelensky’s Saakashvili Moment (Daniel McAdams)
London Takes Back ‘Putin Regime Change’ Claim (RT)
Putin The Apostate (Matt Taibbi)
Freeland Caught Holding Pro-Nazi Banner At Ukraine Protest (TNC)
Hunter Biden Business Associate Sentenced To Prison For Fraud Scheme (JTN)
Pfizer mRNA Does Indeed Integrate Into Our DNA (RioTimes)
Back to Reality: We are All Children of Oil (Ugo Bardi)

 

 

 

 

Ukraine army shelling its own people
https://twitter.com/i/status/1498224087822487556

 

 

No invasion
https://twitter.com/i/status/1498391194199592960

 

 

US expat

 

 

System pigs
https://twitter.com/i/status/1498280206766854144

 

 

Michael Brenner is a professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Consequences of Humiliating Russia (Brenner)

The Mafia is not known for its creative use of language beyond terms like “hitman,” “go to the mattresses,” “living with the fishes” and suchlike. There are, though, a few pithy sayings that carry enduring wisdom. One concerns honor and revenge: “If you are going to humiliate someone publicly in a really crass manner, make sure that he doesn’t survive to take his inevitable revenge.” Violate it at your peril. That enduring truth has been demonstrated by Russia’s actions in the Ukraine which, to a great extent, are the culmination of the numerous humiliations that the West, under American instigation, has inflicted on Russia’s rulers and the country as a whole over the past 30 years.

[..] The West nostalgically celebrates the Yeltsin years as the Golden Age of Russian Democracy – an age when life expectancy dropped sharply, when alcoholism rose and mental health declined, when the tanking economy threw millions into poverty, when the oligarchs strutted their stuff, when the presidential chauffeur was the most influential man in the country, and when everyone was free to shoot his mouth off since nobody else heard him in the din of their own voices. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs – to coin a phrase. Vladimir Putin, of course, was made of sterner stuff. He put an end to the buffoonery, successfully took on the Herculean task of reconstituting Russia as a viable state, and presented himself as ruler of an equal sovereign in cultivating relations with his neighbors. In addition, he insisted that the civil rights and culture of Russians stranded in the Near Abroad be respected.

Still, he gave no sign by word or deed that he contemplated using coercive means to restore the integration of Russian and Ukraine that had existed for more than 300 years. True, he opposed Western attempts to sever the ties between the two by incorporating Ukraine into their collective institutions – most notably the NATO declaration of 2008 stating that Ukraine (along with Georgia) were in the alliance’s antechamber being readied for entrance. Putin’s restraint contrasted with the audacity of Washington and its European subordinates who instigated the Maidan coup toppling the democratically elected president and promoting an American puppet in his place. In effect, the United States has been Ukraine’s overseer ever since – a sort of absentee landlord.

Putin’s views about the preferred principles of organization and conduct that should govern inter-state relations have been elaborated in a series of speeches and articles over the years. The picture it draws is far different from the cartoonish distortion created and disseminated in the West. It clearly delineates ways and means to constrain and limit the element of conflict, above all military conflict, the requirement for rules-of-the-road that should serve as the systems software, the necessity of recognizing that the future will be more multipolar – yet more multilateral – than it has been since 1991. At the same time, he stresses that every state has its legitimate national interests and the right to promote them as a sovereign entity so long as it does not endanger world peace and stability.

Read more …

“All [the US] satellites not only dutifully agree, sing along to its music, but also copy its behavior, and enthusiastically accept the rules they are offered.”

Putin Slams West’s ‘Empire Of Lies’ (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the West an “empire of lies,” responding to a new wave of sanctions that hit the country over its special military operation in neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to top government officials on Monday, he said: “I invited you to discuss economic and financial issues … bearing in mind the sanctions that the so-called Western community — an empire of lies, as I called it in my address — is trying to implement against our country.” The “empire of lies” term was coined by Russia’s president last Thursday, when he announced the launch of the offensive in Ukraine. Since the US is a “system-forming power,” the whole collective West has become such an “empire,” he said then. “By the way, American politicians, political scientists, and journalists themselves write and say that, in recent years, an actual ‘empire of lies’ has been created inside the United States. It’s hard to disagree with that, as it’s true,” Putin stated.


All [the US] satellites not only dutifully agree, sing along to its music, but also copy its behavior, and enthusiastically accept the rules they are offered. Therefore, with good reason, we can confidently say that the entire so-called Western bloc, formed by the United States in its own image and likeness, all of it is an ‘empire of lies.’ Russia’s operation in Ukraine has become the only option left to prevent further bloodshed in the country and stop Kiev from trying to launch an all-out assault on the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the country’s east, the Kremlin has explained. Ahead of the offensive, Moscow formally recognized the People’s Republics there as independent states.

Peter Hitchens

Read more …

“Our suffering motherland does not deserve to be sacrificed in the game of the great powers.”

Bulgarian Defense Minister Fired Over Ukraine Comments (RT)

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has fired defense chief Stefan Yanev over his word choices in describing the Russia-Ukraine conflict, calling the situation a “military intervention” or an “operation” rather than a “war.” “My defense minister cannot use the word operation instead of the word war,” Petkov told reporters on Monday. “You cannot call it an operation when thousands of soldiers from the one and the other side are already killed.” The prime minister added that “the Bulgarian interest is not in bending our heads down.” Rather, “When we see something we do not agree with, something so obvious, we cannot keep quiet.” All four parties in Bulgaria’s ruling coalition agreed to call for Yanev’s resignation, Petkov noted. A new defense minister – reportedly Todor Tagarev, who held the position in 2013 – will be appointed in an extraordinary session of Parliament that will be held on Tuesday.


The firing came in reaction to a Facebook post by Yanev. Commenting on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the defense minister warned against using the word “war.” He said there was no need for Bulgaria to side with Russia, the US, or European allies in the conflict, adding, “Our suffering motherland does not deserve to be sacrificed in the game of the great powers.” Petkov chided him for the post, saying, “No minister can attempt to do foreign policymaking on his own, especially on Facebook.” Yanev argued that he was being targeted for removal so the government could install a defense minister who will be more willing to serve foreign interests, in some cases at the expense of Bulgaria’s security.

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“Then later in the day, perhaps around cocktail hour, he demanded that President Biden enforce a “no-fly” zone over much of Ukraine..”

Zelensky’s Saakashvili Moment (Daniel McAdams)

Perhaps Putin is the apotheosis of evil after all, and everyone who dares challenge this modern-day golem is destined for madness. Or maybe not. Whatever the case, Zelensky is sounding a bit unhinged of late. No one will dispute that he’s a man of many talents… However, when the chips are down, as they are, he seems to be a tie-muncher at the end of the day. Take his frenetic activities yesterday, starting with his signing a formal application to join the European Union – about as likely as my being chosen “Miss Sweden.” Then later in the day, perhaps around cocktail hour, he demanded that President Biden enforce a “no-fly” zone over much of Ukraine, assuring Biden that Ukraine “can beat the aggressor if the Western allies do their part.”

At that point even hawkishly-unhinged Senator Marco Rubio had to descend from the ether of Washington’s war machine. Poor Biden drunk-walked across the White House lawn as reporters asked him legitimate questions about the threat of nuclear war. But the fact is quite plain: for the US to (attempt to) impose a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine would require that the United States military annihilate every single S-400 and S-500 air defense system located inside Russian territory. In other words, were Washington to abide the fake frontline warrior Zelensky’s request it would require the initiation of a civilization-destroying World War III. How many American sheeple who have subbed out their “Wear the damn mask!” Facebook profile pictures for “Save Ukraine” or “Pray for Ukraine” are willing to see the end of life on earth as we know it to “save” a country that nearly seven in ten Americans literally cannot locate on a map of the globe?

It’s all fun and games until the world blows up. Soon it will become obvious that the comedian-president who has openly welcomed child soldiers, is forcing men from 18-60 to fight, has released hardened criminals from prison to fight on the front lines, and has called for foreign mercenaries to come fight for Ukraine is not currently scoring an overwhelming victory against the Russian military, as the Pravda-esque US mainstream media continues to report. America: you get the heroes you deserve. How do you like your tie?

Read more …

The first person I saw tweet about regime change in Russia was Carl Bildt, former Swedish PM and Co-Chair European Council on Foreign Relations.

London Takes Back ‘Putin Regime Change’ Claim (RT)

Toppling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is the goal of the new wave of international sanctions introduced in response to Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, a spokesman for Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on Monday. Downing Street later clarified that the spokesperson had “misspoken”. “The measures we are introducing, that large parts of the world are introducing, are to bring down the Putin regime,” the unnamed official said. The restrictions, centered around Russia’s financial sector, are aimed to “inflict financial pain on Putin”, the spokesman went on. The sanctions are also meant to “stymie the Russian war machine as it attempts to subjugate a democratic European country,” he added, referring to the Ukraine conflict.

Further enquiry on the “regime” change remark, however, prompted the spokesman to somewhat quickly backtrack, insisting that London has not actually been actively seeking to do so. “We are not seeking anything in terms of regime change, what we are talking about here clearly is how we stop Russia seeking to subjugate a democratic country,” the spokesman said, warning “that businesses should think very carefully if they are still continuing to do anything that props up the Putin regime.” Downing Street then later said the PM’s spokesman “misspoke” when he claimed that the sanctions aimed “to bring down the Putin regime.”

The new wave of Western restrictions, that included personal sanctions against Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and against President Putin, come amid Moscow’s special military operation in neighboring Ukraine launched last week. The operation’s stated goal is to protect the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk from an allegedly imminent all-out offensive by the Kiev forces, Moscow has claimed. Days before the launch of the operation, Russia formally recognized the republics as independent states.

Read more …

And the president of the Council of Foreign Relations does it too:

Putin The Apostate (Matt Taibbi)

The president of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, made an extraordinary statement over the weekend. “Just days ago much of the world was focused on the unwanted prospect of regime change in Ukraine,” he tweeted. “Now the conversation has shifted to include the possibility of desired regime change in Russia.” Senior Brookings Institute fellow Benjamin Wittes was even more explicit:

For anyone expecting me to be outraged about this — I am, after all, almost daily denounced as a Putin-lover and apologist, so surely I must want the Great Leader to stay in power forever — I have to disappoint. If Vladimir Putin were captured tomorrow and fired into space, I wouldn’t bat an eye. I would like to point out that we already tried regime change in Russia. I remember, because I was there. And, thanks to a lot of lurid history that’s being scrubbed now with furious intensity, it ended with Vladimir Putin in power. Not as an accident, or as the face of a populist revolt against Western influence — that came later — but precisely because we made a long series of intentional decisions to help put him there.

Once, Putin’s KGB past, far from being seen as a negative, was viewed with relief by the American diplomatic community, which had been exhausted by the organizational incompetence of our vodka-soaked first partner, Boris Yeltsin. Putin by contrast was “a man we can do business with,” a “liberal, humane, and decent European” of “alert, controlled poise” and “well-briefed acuity,” who was open to anything, even Russia joining NATO. “I don’t see why not,” Putin said. “I would not rule out such a possibility.” The New York Times Magazine, noting that the KGB of the seventies that Putin joined was no longer really a murder factory but just another “thinking corporation,” even compared him once to Russia’s first true Western-looking leader:

In him, Russia has found a humane version of Peter the Great, a ruler who will open the country to the influence of a world at once gentler and more dynamic than Russia has ever been. I’ve been bitter in commentary about Putin in recent years because I never forgot the way the West smoothed his rise, and pretends now that it didn’t. It’s infuriating also that many of us who were critical of him from the start are denounced now as Putin apologists, I think in part because we have inconvenient memories about who said what at the start of his story. The effort to wipe that history clean is reaching a fever pitch this week. Before they finish the job, it seemed worth getting it all down.

Read more …

She’s Ukrainian. She knows exactly what the banner is. In a 2nd photoshopped version the banner is gone.

Freeland Caught Holding Pro-Nazi Banner At Ukraine Protest (TNC)

Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland was photographed on Sunday with a scarf promoting a far-right Ukrainian Nationalist movement linked to Neo-Nazis and extremism. Remarkably, Freeland (or more likely, a member of her staff) posted the photo to her own official social media accounts, apparently ignorant of the radical far-right movement the scarf represents. Freeland posted the photo, which also shows Toronto Mayor John Tory, to her Twitter and Instagram accounts on Monday morning. These posts were deleted, without any comment or acknowledgement of why they were taken down. She reposted the same message on Twitter by mid-morning on Monday, but with a new photo where the scarf had been removed.

The red and black flag has historically represented the Bandera movement in Ukraine. Stepan Bandera was a Nationalist Ukrainian politician during the Second World War who is accused of war crimes and leading atrocities against Jewish and Polish people. He is an incredibly polarizing political figure in Ukraine, as some view him a national hero who fought for Ukrainian independence. Bandera helped create the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (UPA), an organization that legacy media reports have described as being “far-right” and “extremist” and who have been characterized as “Neo-Nazis.” In April 2021, Euro News described Bandera and the UPA as Nazi-collaborators and war criminals.


“Bandera, Shukhevych, and the UPA are controversial for several reasons. Critics point to the mass killings of up to 100,000 Jews and Poles and the fact that UPA cooperated with Nazi Germany at the beginning of WW2 until it became clear that Nazi Germany wouldn’t recognize Ukrainian independence.” Chrystia Freeland describes herself as a Ukrainian-Canadian and has recently begun speaking and sharing posts in Ukrainian. She presents herself as a politically savvy international player who is incredibly well-versed in Ukrainian politics and culture. It begs the question of why she would be willing to be in a photo, and then personally post it, with a flag representing a militant insurgency group and the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi-linked far-right.

Read more …

Small world.

“Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine..”

Hunter Biden Business Associate Sentenced To Prison For Fraud Scheme (JTN)

Devon Archer, a former business partner of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was sentenced on Monday to just over a year in prison for defrauding a Native American tribe of $60 million in bonds. Manhattan Judge Ronnie Abrams, an Obama appointee, sentenced Archer to one year and one day in federal prison for “defrauding a Native American tribal entity and various investment advisory clients” of more than $60 million. From March 2014 to April 2016, Archer worked with others on the scheme that caused the Wakpamni Lake Community Corporation, a tribal entity, to issue a series of tribal bonds through “lies and misrepresentations,” the Department of Justice press release states.

Archer, who has maintained his innocence, was ordered to forfeit more than $15 million and pay over $43 million in restitution. He will also have one year of supervised release after prison. “There’s no dispute about the harm caused to real people,” Abrams said, the New York Post reports. She also noted that the fraud was “too serious” to let him out without prison time and that the victims are part of one of the poorest tribes in the nation, the Oglala Sioux. [..] Before being arrested, Archer served with Hunter Biden on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. Biden has not been connected to the tribal fraud scheme that Archer was sentenced for. A 2020 report from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Senate Committee and the Senate Finance Committee shows Archer’s close ties to the Biden family.

Archer is mentioned in the second paragraph of the report, 42 times total. “On April 16, 2014, Vice President Biden met with his son’s business partner, Devon Archer, at the White House. Five days later, Vice President Biden visited Ukraine,” the report states, adding that within a month both Archer and Hunter Biden were appointed to the Burisma board. “Over the course of the next several years, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were paid millions of dollars from a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch for their participation on the board,” the 87-page report alleges.

Read more …

Stop vaccinating. Start testing. See you in 5 years.

Maybe people will understand now just how experimental the mRNA vaccines are.

Pfizer mRNA Does Indeed Integrate Into Our DNA (RioTimes)

Swedish lab studies show that mRNA from the ‘vaccines’ does integrate itself into human cellular DNA. This means that a shot of the Pfizer vaccine, taken even once, permanently changes the DNA of affected cells. For over a year, we’ve been told that mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, don’t integrate with human cell DNA. What the article shows is that in vitro, using a human liver cell line, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine uses a natural reverse transcriptase enzyme called LINE-1, and the genetic code of the vaccine is reverse transcribed into the DNA. It also explains that vaccine mRNA actually does travel to the liver as one of the preferred sites (the other sites, as we heard, are ovaries and more).

Pfizer 12% effective

What does it mean? Normally, our cells do the reverse: the cell nucleus, where the DNA is, expresses certain DNA code based on conditions of the cell and produces natural, human messenger RNA. That messenger RNA travels out of the nucleus, where it is expressed into proteins needed for cell building. This is how growing organisms express different genetic programs to grow muscle cells or brain cells, etc. This process is called “transcription”. For many years, Central Dogma of Molecular Biology stated that the “reverse transcription” — moving genetic code from RNA back into the sacred cellular nuclear and recoding the DNA — was impossible. Eventually, scientists realized that it is possible under various conditions. For example, the HIV RNA virus is able to do so and it reprograms our DNA to produce copies of it. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

To effect reverse transcription, enzymes called “reverse transcriptases” are needed. One of them is called LINE-1. Apparently, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine causes cells to produce that LINE-1 enzyme, says the study. After seeing LINE-1 reverse transcriptase rise, they tested for alterations to the DNA, making sure they are not picking up the RNA instead. Considering that Sars-Cov-2 “spike protein” has a cancer code from Moderna 2017’ patent 9,587,003, it is imperative to find out the implications of this reverse transcription, and whether the vaccinated now have any undesirable genetic code embedded into their DNA. Of particular interest is whether this mRNA-induced reverse transcription affects the “germ line”, such as eggs and sperm cells, and whether it also affects the fetus of pregnant mothers.

Read more …

“..when you deal with Nature, everything is up for negotiations. And Nature always wins the game..”

Back to Reality: We are All Children of Oil (Ugo Bardi)

In the early 2000s, Colin Campbell proposed that the peak of “conventional” oil production would come around 2012. It probably did, but the peak was masked by the production of non-conventional resources. “Shale oil” bought us another decade of growth, although at a modest rate and at a high cost. So, we had more than 20 years to prepare from when, in 1998, Colin Campbell and Jean Lahérrere had first flagged the problem with an article published on “Scientific American.” But, as we should have expected, nothing serious was done. On the contrary, the entity called “humanity” showed the maturity and wisdom of someone in the grip of convulsions, possessed by demonic forces. We have seen 20 years of a roller coaster in the desperate search for an enemy to destroy and turn the clock back, to when things were good.

The enemy has been singled out as Osama, Saddam, Assad, Qaddafi, and many others, destroyed only to be replaced by the new monster of the year. For two years, then, the monster was not a human being, but a microscopic peduncled creature that nicely played its role of bugaboo, until it was officially vaporized by the microscopic equivalent of carpet bombing. Now, it is over, and a new, more conventional monster is advancing: the soulless Vladimir Putin. Chances are that he will not be the last monster in the demonization chain. Every time we seemed to have destroyed our arch-enemy, it came back in another form, bigger and uglier than before. And each time, in the fight against the monster on duty, we lost something of our wisdom, our freedom, our humanity.

We never realized that what we were fighting was not a monster, but a reflection of ourselves in the desperate search for a way to continue a way of life that some of our leaders defined as “not up for negotiations.” But when you deal with Nature, everything is up for negotiations. And Nature always wins the game. Peak oil never reached the level of the official monster of the day, but it was also demonized. It could not be bombed, there was no vaccine against it. But we marginalized it, ridiculed it, and made it disappear from view as if we had bombed it to smithereens. Yet, it is returning, even though not mentioned, during the current crisis. We are 8 billion on this planet, and everyone is a child of crude oil. Without crude oil and other fossil fuels, most of us simply wouldn’t exist. And without crude oil, we cannot continue to exist. As a monster, peak oil is much scarier than any of the bugaboos that the mainstream media have been proposing to us.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Controlling what people think is our job
https://twitter.com/i/status/1497933106040344576

 

 

 

 

A New Global Treaty
https://twitter.com/i/status/1498223375264595968

 

 

 

 

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Feb 152021
 
 February 15, 2021  Posted by at 3:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  25 Responses »


Giorgione The Tempest 1508

 

 

“Mankind’s only chance to not destroy its planet lies in diverging from all other species in that not all energy available to it, is used up as fast as possible. But that’s a big challenge. It would, speaking from a purely philosophical angle, truly separate us from nature for the first time ever, and we must wonder if that’s desirable.”

 

I wrote that 4 years and 2 months ago today, and I’m still thinking about it. It came to mind again, along with the article it comes from, see below, when I saw a few recent references to climate change, and to how any policy to halt it should be financed. It’s all painfully obvious.

Bill Gates, while on a virtual book tour, says governments should pay. In particular for the innovation needed. We’re going to solve it all with things we haven’t invented yet. That kind of thinking never fails to greatly boost my confidence in people and their ideas.

Overall, Gates’ words feel like a stale same old same old been there done that tone. But one thing is changing. Since Joe Biden became the most popular US president ever, according to his vote count, there is now a climate czar at the US Treasury, and a climate change team at the US Fed. Progress! At least for those seeking to use your money to solve their problems.

 

Bill Gates: Solving Covid Easy Compared With Climate

Mr Gates’s new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, is a guide to tackling global warming. [..] Net zero is where we need to get to. This means cutting emissions to a level where any remaining greenhouse gas releases are balanced out by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. One way to do this is by planting trees, which soak up CO2 through their leaves. Mr Gates’ focus is on how technology can help us make that journey. Renewable sources like wind and solar can help us decarbonise electricity but, as Mr Gates points out, that’s less than 30% of total emissions.

We are also going to have to decarbonise the other 70% of the world economy – steel, cement, transport systems, fertiliser production and much, much more. We simply don’t have ways of doing that at the moment for many of these sectors. The answer, says Mr Gates, will be an innovation effort on a scale the world has never seen before. This has to start with governments, he argues. At the moment, the economic system doesn’t price in the real cost of using fossil fuels. Most users don’t pay anything for the damage to the environment done by pollution from the petrol in their car or the coal or gas that created the electricity in their home.

“Right now, you don’t see the pain you’re causing as you emit carbon dioxide,” is how Mr Gates puts it. That’s why he says governments have to intervene. “We need to have price signals to tell the private sector that we want green products,” he says. That is going to require a huge investment by governments in research and development, Mr Gates argues, as well as support to allow the market for new products and technologies to grow, thereby helping drive down prices.

 

Yes, a climate change team at the US Fed. Which has been handed yet another mandate. Because the Treasury can only do so much, after all. What you want and need is something unlimited to pay for all those yet-to-be-invented tools that Bill Gates and his ilk will be happy to research with your money. Jim Rickards has this:

 

Green New Deal Is Underway

The overall Green New Deal calls for ending the use of oil and natural gas, moving to electric vehicles, solar, wind and geothermal power, imposing carbon taxes to reduce C02 emissions and providing government subsidies to non-carbon-based energy technologies. The U.S. would also seek to embed these policies and priorities in new trade treaties and multilateral agreements. President Biden has already begun this process by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, which actually doesn’t mean much; it’s mostly for show. The Paris Accord is also a platform for pursuing the Green New Deal.

[..] With the job creation mandate in its portfolio, the Fed was empowered to interfere with almost every aspect of the real economy, including jobs, inflation, interest rates, liquidity and financial regulation. As if that weren’t enough, economist Barry Eichengreen now calls on central banks, especially the Fed, to use their regulatory powers to control climate change! Part of the agenda would address racial inequality, income inequality and credit access for underprivileged groups. These may be laudable goals, but it’s a long way from the Fed’s role as lender of last resort.

What’s frightening about this push to expand the Fed’s mandate is not that it can’t work, but that it could. A central bank could require commercial banks to lend money to solar and wind generating companies and deny credit to oil companies. A central bank could require more loans to disadvantaged neighborhoods and require that no credit be made available to gun manufacturers or gun dealers. There is no aspect of the economy and business activity that could not be affected positively by mandatory credit or destroyed by the lack of credit and access to the payments system.

This is already being done to some extent by cabals of commercial banks. It would be even more powerful if required by central banks. This is exactly the outcome that has been warned about for centuries by philosophers and political scientists. It is exactly the reason Americans abolished two U.S. central banks in the 19th century.

 

This is precisely what I was warning about in December 2016, when the protagonists were Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg, who wrote “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change”. If you are serious about saving your planet, you’re not going to listen to the ideas of billionaires and central bankers. Because they are the people behind the original problem, and the only tools they know of are the ones who created that problem.

You can’t solve a problem with the same tools that created it. And you’re not going to solve the climate problem by seeking to make a profit from it. Here’s from 2016. Oh wait, do remember that our societies and economies don’t run on using energy, but on wasting it. If you haven’t internalized that one, take a few steps back and try again.

 

 

Heal the Planet for Profit (December 16, 2016)

 


Parisians duck down to evade German sniper fire following Nazi surrender of Paris, 1945

 

 

If you ever wondered what the odds are of mankind surviving, let alone ‘defeating’, climate change, look no further than the essay the Guardian published this week, written by Michael Bloomberg and Mark Carney. It proves beyond a moonlight shadow of a doubt that the odds are infinitesimally close to absolute zero (Kelvin, no Hobbes).

Yes, Bloomberg is the media tycoon and former mayor of New York (which he famously turned into a 100% clean and recyclable city). And since central bankers are as we all know without exception experts on climate change, as much as they are on full-contact crochet, it makes perfect sense that Bank of England governor Carney adds his two -trillion- cents.

Conveniently, you don’t even have to read the piece, the headline tells you all you need and then some: “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change” really nails it. The entire mindset on display in just a few words. If that’s what they went for, kudo’s are due.

These fine gents probably actually believe that this is perfectly in line with our knowledge of, say, human history, of evolution, of the laws of physics, and of -mass- psychology. All of which undoubtedly indicate to them that we can and will defeat the problems we have created -and still are-, literally with the same tools and ideas -money and profit- that we use to create them with. Nothing ever made more sense.

That these problems originated in the same relentless quest for profit that they now claim will help us get rid of them, is likely a step too far for them; must have been a class they missed. “We destroyed it for profit” apparently does not in their eyes contradict “we’ll fix it for profit too”. Not one bit. It does, though. It’s indeed the very core of what is going wrong.

Profit, or money in general, is all these people live for, it’s their altar. That’s why they are successful in this world. It’s also why the world is doomed. Is there any chance I could persuade you to dwell on that for a few seconds? That, say, Bloomberg and Carney, and all they represent, are the problem dressed up as the solution? That our definition of success is what dooms us?

Philosophers, religious people, or you and me, may struggle with the question “what’s the purpose of life?”. These guys do not. The purpose of life is to make a profit. The earth and all the life it harbors exist to kill, drill, excavate and burn down, if that means you can make a profit. And after that you repair it all for a profit. In their view, the earth doesn’t turn of its own accord after all, it’s money that makes it go round.

 

The worrisome thing is that Mark and Michael will be listened to, that they are allowed a seat at the table in the first place, whereas you and I are not. A table that will be filled with plenty more of their ilk, as the announcement of Bill Gates’ billionaire philantropist energy fund says loud and clear:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and a group of high-profile executives are investing $1 billion in a fund to spur clean energy technology and address global climate change a year after the Paris climate agreement. Gates launched the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund on Monday along with billionaire entrepreneurs such as Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma and Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos. The fund seeks to increase financing of emerging energy research and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to help meet goals set in Paris, according to a statement by the investor group known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

Yes, many of the same folk and/or their minions were sitting at the table with Trump on Dec 14. To see if there are any profits to be made. When a profit is involved they have no trouble sitting down with the same guy they insulted and warned against day after grueling day mere weeks ago. They have no trouble doing it because they insulted him for a potential profit too. It’s business, it’s not personal.

Billionaires will save us from ourselves, and make us -and themselves- rich while doing it. What is not to like? Well, for one thing, has anybody lately checked the energy footprint of Messrs. Bloomberg, Gates, Ma, Zuckerberg, Bezos et al? Is it possible that perhaps they’re trying to pull our collective wool over our eyes by pretending to care about those footprints? That maybe these ‘clean energy’ initiatives are merely a veil behind which they intend to extend -and expand- said footprints?

The ones in that sphere who wind up being most successful are those who are most convincing in making us believe that all we need to do to avert a climate disaster is to use some different form of energy. That all the talk about zero emissions and clean energy is indeed reflecting our one and only possible reality.

That all we need to do is to switch to solar and wind and electric cars to save ourselves (and they’ll build them for a subsidy). That that will end the threat and we can keep on doing what we always did, and keep on growing it all and as the cherry on the cake, make a profit off the endeavor.

 

None of it flies even a little. First of all, as I said last week in Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity, there are many more problems with our present lifestyles than ‘only’ climate change, or the use of carbon. Like the extinction of two-thirds of all vertebrate life in just 50 years leading up to 2020. There’s -close to- nothing wind and solar will do to alleviate that.

Because it’s not oil itself, or carbon in general, that kills; our use of it does. And the rush to build an entire new global infrastructure that is needed to use new energy forms, which will depend on using huge amounts of carbon, is more likely to kill off that globe than to save it. “Carbon got us in this, let’s use lots more of it to get us out”.

The trillions in -public- investment that would be needed will make us all dirt poor too, except for the gentlemen mentioned above and a handful of others who invent stuff that they manage to make us believe will save us. Still convinced?

 

The lifestyles of the last 10 generations of us, especially westerners, are characterized more than anything else by the huge increase in the use of energy, of calories and joules. As we went from wood to peat to coal to oil and gas, the energy return on energy investment kept going higher. But that stopped with oil and gas. And from now on in it will keep going down.

“Free carbon excess” was a one-off ‘gift’ from nature. It will not continue and it will not return. Different forms of carbon have offered us a one-time source of free energy that we will not have again. The idea that we can replace it with ‘clean energy’ is ludicrous. The energy return on energy investment doesn’t even come close. And you can’t run a society with our present levels of complexity on a much lower ‘net energy’. We must dress down. No profit in that, sorry.

We built what we have now with oil at an EROEI of 100:1. There are no forms of energy left that come remotely close, including new, unconventional, forms of oil itself. Peak oil has been a much maligned and misunderstood concept, but its essence stands: when it takes more energy to ‘produce’ energy than it delivers, there will be no production.

This graph is a few years old, and wind and solar may have gained a few percentage points in yield, but it’s still largely correct. And it will continue to be.

 

 

We have done with all that free energy what all other life forms do when ‘gifted’ with an excess of available energy: spend it as fast as possible, proliferate to speed up the process (we went from less than 1 billion people to 7 billion in under 200 years, 2 billion to 7 billion in 100 years) and, most of all, waste it.

Ever wonder why everybody drives a car that is ten times heavier then her/himself and has a 10% efficiency rate in its energy use? Why there’s an infrastructure everywhere that necessitates for every individual to use 1000 times more energy than it would take herself to get from A to B on foot? Sounds a lot like deliberately wasteful behavior, doesn’t it?

The essence here is that while we were building this entire wasteful world of us, we engaged in the denying and lying behavior that typifies us as a species more than anything: we disregarded externalities. And there is no reason to believe we would not continue to do just that when we make the illusionary switch to ‘clean’ energy.

To begin with, the 2nd law of thermodynamics says there’s no such thing as clean energy. So stop using the term. Second, that we call wind and solar ‘clean energy’ means we’re already ignoring externalities again. We pretend that producing windmills and solar panels does not produce pollution (or we wouldn’t call it ‘clean’). While enormous amounts of carbon are used in the production process, and it involves pollution, loss of land, loss of life, loss of resources (once you burn it it’s gone).

 

An example: If we want to ‘save’ the earth, we would do good to start by overthrowing the way we produce food. It presently easily takes more than 10 calories of energy -mostly carbon- for every calorie of food we make. Then we wrap it all in (oil-based) plastic and transport it sometimes 1000s of miles before it’s on our plates. And at the end of this process, we will have thrown away half of it. It’s hard to think of a more wasteful process.

It’s a process obviously devised and executed by idiots. But it’s profitable. There is a profit to be made in wasting precious resources. And there is a key lesson in that. There is no profit in producing food in a more efficient way. At least not for the industries that produce it. And perhaps not even for you, if you produce most of your food – it takes ‘precious’ time.

It would still be hugely beneficial, though. And there’s the key. There is no direct link between what is good for us, and the planet, on the one side, and profit, money, on the other. What follows from that is that it’s not the people whose entire lives are centered around money who are the most obvious choices to ‘save the planet’. If anything, they are the least obvious.

But in an economic and political system that is itself as focused on money as ours is, they are still the ones who are allowed to assume this role. It’s a circle jerk around, and then into, a drain.

 

Mankind’s only chance to not destroy its planet lies in diverging from all other species in that not all energy available to it, is used up as fast as possible. But that’s a big challenge. It would, speaking from a purely philosophical angle, truly separate us from nature for the first time ever, and we must wonder if that’s desirable.

We would need to gain much more knowledge of who we are and what makes us do what we do, and why. But that is not going to happen if we focus on making a profit. Using less energy means less waste means less profit.

Yes, there may be energy sources that produce a bit less waste, a bit less pollution, than those that are carbon based. But first, our whole infrastructure has been built by carbon, and second, even if another energy source would become available, we would push to grow its use ever more, and end up initially in the same mess, and then a worse one.

 

 

I stumbled upon an excellent example of the effects of all this today:

The Shattering Effect Of Roads On Nature

Rampant road building has shattered the Earth’s land into 600,000 fragments, most of which are too tiny to support significant wildlife, a new study has revealed. The researchers warn roadless areas are disappearing and that urgent action is needed to protect these last wildernesses, which help provide vital natural services to humanity such as clean water and air. The impact of roads extends far beyond the roads themselves, the scientists said, by enabling forest destruction, pollution, the splintering of animal populations and the introduction of deadly pests.

An international team of researchers analysed open-access maps of 36m km of road and found that over half of the 600,000 fragments of land in between roads are very small – less than 1km2. A mere 7% are bigger than 100km2, equivalent to a square area just 10km by 10km (6mi by 6 mi). Furthermore, only a third of the roadless areas were truly wild, with the rest affected by farming or people.

The last remaining large roadless areas are rainforests in the Amazon and Indonesia and the tundra and forests in the north of Russia and Canada. Virtually all of western Europe, the eastern US and Japan have no areas at all that are unaffected by roads.

 

 

It’s a good example because it raises the question: how much of this particular issue do you think will be solved by the promotion of electric cars, or windmills? How much of it do you think can be solved for a profit? Because if there’s no profit in it, it will not happen.

One more for the philosophy class: I know many people will be inclined to suggest options like nuclear fusion. Or zero point energy. And I would suggest that not only do these things exist in theory only, which is always a bad thing if you have an immediate problem. But more than that: imagine providing the human race with a source of endless energy, and then look at what it’s done with the free energy available to it over the past 10 generations.

Give man more energy and he’ll just destroy his world faster. It’s not about carbon, it’s about energy and about what you yourself do with it. And no, money and profit will not reverse climate change, or any other detrimental effects they have on our lives. They will only make them worse.

 

 

 

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Apr 272020
 


Dorothea Lange On the road to Los Angeles, California 1937

 

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)
European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)
Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)
Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)
UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)
One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)
Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)
Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)
US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)
Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)
How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)
When Oil Became Waste (R.)
EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)
Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)
Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)
Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

 

 

We passed 3 million global cases.

 

• US records 1,330 #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours: Johns Hopkins

• The US now has an overall death toll of 54,841, with 964,937 confirmed infections, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday)

 

• Sweden is the favorite of the anti-lockdown crowd, but contrary to what they claim, Sweden isn’t doing very well at all, so it’s a bit of a mystery why.

• Sweden is no. 8 (out of 200+) in the world in deaths per million people, in which it is 3 times worse than neighbors Denmark and 6 times worse than Norway and Finland. It’s even worse than the US.

• Deaths per million population (Worldometer):
Belgium 612
Spain 496
Italy 441
France 350
UK 305
Netherlands 261
Ireland 220
Sweden 217
Switzerland 186
US 167

 

 

NOTE: lowest number of global deaths for a long time.

Cases 3,008,196 (+ 73,557 from yesterday’s 2,934,639)

Deaths 207,361 (+ 3,678 from yesterday’s 203,683)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – Among Closed Cases, Deaths have fallen to 19%

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

As an aside: the ambassador claims that “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity..” The only numbers of any antibodies I’ve seen on this globally were in the region of 5% or less. How then do the Swedes measure it?

Sweden’s Stay-Open Approach Is Creating Herd Immunity Quickly – Ambassador (JTN)

Sweden’s decision to keep schools, malls and restaurants open with limited restrictions during the pandemic is yielding success, with its capital city about to reach herd immunity in the next few weeks, according to the country’s ambassador to the United States. “About 30% of people in Stockholm have reached a level of immunity,” Ambassador Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter told NPR in an interview published Sunday. “We could reach herd immunity in the capital as early as next month.” Herd immunity means between 60% and 80% percent of a country’s population has become immune to a virus, either recovering from it or through immunization. Sweden banned gatherings of over 50 people but otherwise left schools, restaurants and malls open, provided citizens observe social distancing.


Facilities that don’t comply have been aggressively closed down. Sweden has reported more than 18,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,194 deaths as of Sunday. The country’s approach to the pandemic has bucked much of the Western world, and generated controversy. “We share the same goal as all other countries, and that is of course to save as many lives as possible and protect public health,” Olofsdotter explained to NPR. “So we face the same reality as everyone else. But what’s different, and I think it’s important to underline that all countries are different, is that politicians take the measures that they think works best for their country and their general public.”

Read more …

Airlines receive hand-outs, their shares surge. Why oh why should this proft go to shareholders, when it’s made possible only through taxpayer dollars?? The Airfrance/KLM CEO was set to get a huge bonus because he managed to get the state bailouts; only at the very last minute did a few parliamentarians prevent that from happening? Doesn’t anybody care anymore that we don’t have financial markets but pretend we do?

European Shares Rise On Airline Surge, Upbeat Earnings (R.)

European shares rose on Monday, as airline stocks soared on hopes of state support, while a slew of upbeat earnings added to optimism over signs many countries would soon ease tough lockdown measures. Shares of Lufthansa jumped 7.2%, with Berlin expected to decide on state support, while Air France KLM rose 5.2% after the government said it would give a 7-billion-euros ($7.6 billion) aid package. Positive quarterly reports also helped. German drugs and pesticides company Bayer gained 2.8% and Deutsche Bank jumped 7.7% after their first-quarter earnings topped market expectations.


The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 1.7% by 0720 GMT, following gains in Asian markets after the Bank of Japan pledged to buy unlimited amount of bonds to keep borrowing costs low. The European benchmark ended with weekly losses on Friday, hit by the lack of details in a trillion-euro emergency fund agreed by the euro zone leaders. However, investors are pinning hopes on further stimulus expansion by the European Central Bank, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday. Shares in Adidas, however, fell 1.6% as it reported a 93% plunge in first-quarter profit, and warned of a deeper hit to second-quarter revenue as lockdowns forced it to close stores.

Read more …

From March 18 to April 10, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15%.

Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10% gain.

Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, Pandemic Profiteers (IPS)

Billionaires dominate our politics, culture, and economy. Their wealth, as this report shows, has concentrated mightily over the last four decades — even as the number of U.S. households with zero or negative net worth is increasing and most of us are living paycheck to paycheck. The current pandemic is exposing our central economic and social reality: Extreme wealth inequality has become America’s “pre-existing condition.” In this report, we show how billionaire wealth has grown astoundingly over the last few decades — and, for some “pandemic profiteers,” even more dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis — even as billionaire tax obligations have plummeted. If this inequality isn’t treated with both short and long-term tax reforms and oversight, America’s “pre-existing condition” of extreme inequality could overwhelm not only our economy, but our democracy itself.

• Between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest 170 billionaires saw their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars. Eight have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.

• As of April 15, Jeff Bezos’s fortune had increased by an estimated $25 billion since January 1, 2020. This unprecedented wealth surge is larger than the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras, $23.9 billion in 2018.

• Between March 18 and April 10, 2020, over 22 million people lost their jobs as the unemployment rate surged toward 15 percent. Over the same three weeks, U.S. billionaire wealth increased by $282 billion, an almost 10 percent gain.

• Billionaire wealth rebounded quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. Between 2010 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth increased 80.6 percent, more than five times the median wealth increase for U.S. households.

• Between 1990 and 2020, U.S. billionaire wealth soared 1,130 percent — an increase more than 200 times greater than the 5.37 percent growth of U.S. median wealth.

• Measured as a percentage of their wealth, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires decreased 79 percent between 1980 and 2018.

Read more …

The UK is in no position to relax.

Over 100,000 Virus Deaths in 2020 If UK Lockdown Ends Early – Ferguson (St.)

The UK death toll could jump past 100,000 by the end of the year if lockdown is lifted too early, a top professor has warned. Imperial College epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson said if the healthy go back to work while the vulnerable remain in lockdown there will be a huge increase in virus fatalities. The expert said social isolation will need to be kept in place until a pharmaceutical intervention is found, whether that is a vaccine or treatment drugs, and one is unlikely within the next year. His warning comes as the British Government faces intense pressure to reveal its Covid-19 lockdown exit strategy .


Speaking to UnHerd, Prof Ferguson said he is sceptical that the UK can achieve a level of shielding that will be effective. “If you just achieve 80 per cent shielding – and 80 per cent reduction in infection risk in those groups – we still project that you would well over 100,000 deaths this year from that kind of strategy,” he said. The Government is under pressure from senior Tories to relax the strict social-distancing measures amid concern at the damage they are doing to the economy. Sir Keir Starmer has also called on the Prime Minister to produce a clear lockdown exit strategy.

https://twitter.com/ThePalpitations/status/1254529121134264322

Read more …

Modeling in finance is as bad as in epidemiology.

UK Economy Will Take Three Years To Recover From Coronavirus – EY (G.)

It will take the UK economy three years to fully recover from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading forecasting group. As the damage for jobs and growth unfolds, the EY Item Club said it would take until 2023 for the the economy to return to the level reached at the end of last year due to the depth of the crisis. One month on from the imposition of lockdown measures across Britain, effectively bringing large swathes of the economy to a halt, the group warned that almost half of all consumer spending in 2020 – the major engine of UK growth over recent decades – is at risk of either being delayed or lost completely.


The group of economists said GDP was set to collapse by 6.8% in 2020, before returning to positive growth of 4.5% in 2021 as businesses try to make up for lost time and consumers ramp up their spending again. The forecast is based on the assumption that some lockdown restrictions will start to be eased in May, with controls relaxed further in June. As such, the Item Club believes the economy should benefit later in the year from a degree of pent-up demand as people are allowed to travel again and return to the shops. Howard Archer, the chief economic adviser to the Item Club, said the report assumes that the government’s measures aimed at supporting businesses and saving jobs would have a significant positive impact. “[The support] is absolutely crucial to limiting the potential longer-term damage to the economy,” he said.

Read more …

After all the lockdown- and economic recovery talk, there’s still the real world.

One In Three UK Doctors Left Without Protective Gear (Ind.)

More doctors are being forced to treat coronavirus patients without protective equipment, it has been revealed, as Dominic Raab refused to say when shortages would finally end. A third of physicians working in high-risk settings have reported running short of long-sleeved gowns or full-face visors – a situation that has “worsened over the past three weeks”, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said. Of those working in other hospital areas, 40 per cent are not always equipped with eye protection, while 15.5 per cent are sometimes left without fluid-repellent face masks. They are faced with the “awful” choice “between protecting our own lives or protecting those of the patients we treat”, one physician said.


The grim survey results were disclosed as Mr Raab admitted the government has fallen short on protecting frontline NHS and care staff, more than a month after Boris Johnson insisted PPE would be provided. Asked when there would be “enough”, the stand-in prime minister said: “It’s very difficult to say that with precision and the kind of reliability that you want as a guarantee.” And asked to acknowledge that some medical and care staff had been let down, Mr Raab replied: “I think we’re not in the place on PPE that we’d want to be.”

Read more …

Can’t do anything that involves crowds. Not for a very long time. Forget about soccer games.

Italy To Reopen Factories In Staged End To Coronavirus Lockdown (R.)

Italy will allow factories and building sites to reopen from May 4 and permit limited family visits as it prepares a staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday. More than two months after the first case of COVID-19 appeared in a small town outside Milan and following weeks of lockdown, Italy is looking ahead to a second phase of the crisis in which it will attempt to restart the economy without triggering a new wave of infections. “We expect a very complex challenge,” Conte said as he outlined the road map to restarting activities put into hibernation since early March. “We will live with the virus and we will have to adopt every precaution possible.”

Manufacturers, construction companies and some wholesalers will be allowed to reopen from May 4, followed by retailers two weeks later. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen fully from the beginning of June, although takeaway business will be possible earlier. “The reopening is allowed on condition that all companies involved strictly respect security protocols in the workplace,” Conte said, adding that the reopening would lay the ground for deeper reforms of the economy in the months ahead. In addition, parks will be allowed to reopen and limited family visits and funerals with no more than 15 people present will be permitted. But movement between regions remains suspended and people moving about will still have to carry a declaration explaining the reasons for their journeys.

Museums and libraries can reopen from May 18, when sports teams will also be able to resume group training, although Conte said conditions would have to be assessed before any decision on resuming the top-flight Serie A soccer championship. Schools will remain shut, however, until the start of the new academic year in September, leaving families facing childcare problems for months to come.

Read more …

Let’s make a deal: stop talking about relaxing lockdowns until you can test 1 million people per day. That would still mean it takes a year to test every American just once. Which is nowhere near enough.

Fauci Says US Coronavirus Testing Likely Will Double In The Coming Weeks (JTN)

The current amount of COVID-19 testing likely will double in the coming weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a National Academy of Sciences panel about the virus. “We’re doing about 1.5, 2 million per week,” said Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will. “Testing is an important part of what we’re doing, but is not the only part,” Fauci noted. “But no doubt it is important to be able to do the identification, isolation and contact tracing.”


Fauci, who has factored prominently in the daily coronavirus task force briefings at the White House, said it is important to have “enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur as you try and ease your way back into the different phases.” As the nation moves toward reopening in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has issued Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, which include three phases.

Read more …

aka lend to the big boys until there’s nothing left.

US To Cap How Much Each Bank Can Lend Under Emergency Coronavirus Program (R.)

The U.S. government notified lenders on Sunday that it will cap how much each bank can lend under the emergency loan program designed to keep workers on payrolls amid the coronavirus pandemic, hours ahead of the reopening of the lending program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will impose a maximum dollar amount for individual lenders at 10% of Paycheck Protection Program funding, or $60 billion per lender, and pace the applications filed, according to SBA guidance on Sunday to lenders that have received a significant number of applications. The steps are “prudent and reasonable” due to the unprecedented demand for the loans, the memo said. U.S. banks were girding over the weekend for another frantic race to grab $310 billion in fresh small-business aid due to be released by the government.


The SBA was due to reopen PPP funding at 10:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT) on Monday, allowing lenders to resume processing piles of backlogged applications from businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdown. The SBA will also take applications in one bulk submission with a minimum of 15,000 loans, the SBA said in the memo. The PPP came under criticism after a number of publicly traded companies with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales got loans, while smaller businesses did not. Nearly 5,000 lenders, including big banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup as well as community banks, participated in the prior, $349-billion round of funding. No lender accounted for more than 5% of that total, the SBA said previously.

Read more …

US media need this kind of topic; they’d be completely lost without Trump.

Not The End Of The Road For US Health Secretary Azar, Trump Says (JTN)

President Trump emphatically denied Sunday that he is planning to fire Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar, calling reports of an impending dismissal “fake news.” Trump made the comments on Twitter, after multiple reports surfaced over the weekend that Azar’s job is in jeopardy, including in The Wall Street Journal. “Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News,” Trump tweeted. “The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask.


He added for emphasis: “Alex is doing an excellent job!” White House spokesman Judd Deere also called the reports inaccurate. “The Department of Health and Human Services, under the leadership of Secretary Azar, continues to lead on a number of the President’s priorities,” Deere said. “Any speculation about personnel is irresponsible and a distraction from our whole-of-government response to COVID-19.”

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CMBS = Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities. The Fed will bail them out.

How the Unicorn Blowup & Oil Bust Bleed into CMBS (WS)

The office segment of the commercial real estate market – and the debt and the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) that are backed by it – are going through serious gyrations on a combination of factors. Companies have figured out how to make work-from-home manageable. Other companies are moving out, leaving buildings vacant, or are deferring rent payments. Landlords whose cashflow from rents has suddenly crashed are failing to make their mortgage payments or are asking for forbearance. And CMBS are at the receiving end of the process.


That any return to the old normal for landlords, banks, and holders of CMBS is just a dream is now being increasingly accepted, including by Larry Fink, CEO of mega asset-manager BlackRock: “I don’t think any company’s going to go back to 100% of the workforce in the office,” he said at an online event. “That means less congestion in cities. It means, more importantly, less need for commercial real estate.” This new era of office real estate comes on top of the problems currently erupting: Tenants moving out for nicer digs, now that there are plenty available, or tenants laying off people and possibly shutting down. So here are two specific examples of how this is bleeding into CMBS.

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Given the efficiency of the internal combustion engine, plus the ubiquity of plastics made from oil, its overall effect has always been at least 90% waste.

When Oil Became Waste (R.)

The magnitude of how damaged the energy industry is came into full view on April 20 when the benchmark price of U.S. oil futures, which had never dropped below $10 a barrel in its nearly 40-year history, plunged to a previously unthinkable minus $38 a barrel. In just a few months, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed so much fuel demand as billions of people curtail travel that it has done what financial crashes, recessions and wars had failed to ever do – leave the United States with so much oil there was nowhere to put it. While the unusual circumstance of negative oil prices may not be repeated, many in the industry say it is a harbinger for more bleak days ahead, and that years of overinvestment will not correct in a period of weeks or even months.


“What happened in the futures contract the other day indicated things are starting to get bad earlier than expected,” said Frederick Lawrence, vice president of economics and international affairs at the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “People are getting notices from pipeline companies that say they can’t take their crude anymore. That means you’re shutting down the well yesterday.” Evidence of the erosion of value for a product that has been a mainstay of global society since the late 19th century abounded across the world last week. In Russia, one of the world’s top producers, the industry is considering resorting to burning its oil to take it off the market, sources told Reuters.

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And who are the experts? Investors. Who only want “to go green” because it promises a big profit.

Green is turning into a swearword, but so many people are invested in it they fail to notice.

The Green New Deals will destroy our ability to save anything, not help it. They will be a huge pool of malinvestment and gobble up what we have left.

EU’s COVID Recovery Spending Should Be Guided By Green Finance Plan (R.)

Planned European Union rules requiring investments to be in line with climate policy should be used to guide economic recovery measures after the coronavirus pandemic, despite not yet being law, the bloc’s expert advisers said on Monday. With the bloc headed for a steep recession and its executive, the European Commission, drawing up a trillion-euro recovery plan, calls are growing from politicians, companies and campaigners to make sure the money does not prop up environmentally damaging industries. The Commission had planned to introduce rules on which investments can be called “green” from 2021, forcing providers of financial products to disclose which investments meet the criteria – known as the EU “sustainable finance taxonomy”.


However, the Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG), a 35-member panel of investors, business leaders and climate policy experts, said the rules – designed by the TEG, at the Commission’s request – should inform stimulus plans now. “The opportunity for a resilient, sustainable and fair economic recovery is right before us. We encourage all governments, public institutions and the private sector to use the right tools for the job,” it said in a statement. The TEG has also drawn up a green bond standard for the EU and a framework to assess whether financial instruments, contracts or investment funds conform with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “There’s going to be, potentially, a surge of public and private spending to reboot the economy,” said Nathan Fabian, chief responsible investment officer at the U.N.-backed Principles for Responsible Investment investor group and member of the TEG.

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“Authorities “assume that people infected animals”…

Minks Test Positive For COVID19 At Two Dutch Farms (EN)

Two Dutch mink farms have reported cases of COVID-19 among their animals, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Sunday. Minks at the two farms located within 15km of each other in southern Netherlands “showed various symptoms including respiratory problems,” the ministry said in a statement. Mink are dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals bred for their furs. An investigation has been launched to determine the source of the infections. Authorities “assume that people infected animals” as the two farms had employees with symptoms for COVID-19 and stressed that although “human to animal contamination is possible, the impact of this mink contamination on human health is currently negligible”.


To prevent the spread of the disease to other farms, both animals and manure are banned from leaving the infected farms. Samples are being collected from healthy and infected animals with authorities also collecting air and dust samples in the vicinity “as a precaution”. The ministry said public roads around the two frame have been closed and advised people not to walk or cycle within a 400-metre radius until the samples have been analysed.

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They didn’t even bother about legislation. Betcha that’s true for most countries.

Israel’s Top Court Says Government Must Legislate COVID-19 Phone-Tracking (R.)

Citing grave dangers to privacy, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Sunday that the government must bring its use of mobile phone tracking deployed in the battle against the new coronavirus under legislation. Circumventing parliament in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet approved emergency regulations that enabled the Shin Bet internal security service to tap into cellular data to retrace the movements of people infected by the virus. The technology, customarily used for anti-terrorism, has since yielded data used by the Health Ministry to locate and alert those who have been in their vicinity. The practice has been subjected to some parliamentary oversight following a subsequent court ruling.


Accepting petitions from Israeli rights groups, the Supreme Court said the government must begin legislation by April 30 and complete it within a few weeks if it wanted to continue tracking people’s phones in its bid to stop the virus spreading. “The state’s choice to use its preventative security service for monitoring those who wish it no harm, without their consent, raises great difficulties and a suitable alternative, compatible with the principles of privacy, must be found,” the court said. Citing freedom of the press, the court also ruled that monitoring of journalists confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus can only be done with their consent. If they refuse, members of the media could seek an injunction against the practice, in order to protect their sources.

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After this morning, proceedings have been adjourned until 4 May. Defense and prosecutors both want the May 18 hearing pushed forward to September at the earliest. Even highly partial judge Vanessa Baraitser says question of 18 May start date now “at best uncertain”.

The next period the court would be available for 3 weeks is from 2 November. She should order him freed on bail until then. No threat to his environment, no flight risk.

Assange: Espionage is the Charge, But He’s Really Accused of Sedition (Lauria)

The United States has had two sedition laws in its history. Both were repealed within three years. Britain repealed its 17th Century sedition law in 2009. Though this crime is no longer on the books, the crime of sedition is really what both governments are accusing Julian Assange of. The campaign of smears, the weakness of the case and the language of his indictment proves it. The imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher has been indicted on 17 counts of espionage under the 1917 U.S. Espionage Act on a technicality: the unauthorized possession and dissemination of classified material—something that has been performed by countless journalists and publishers over the decades. It conflicts head on with the First Amendment. But espionage isn’t really what the government is after. Assange did not pass state secrets to an enemy of the United States, as in a classic espionage case, but rather to the public, which the government might well consider the enemy. Assange revealed crimes and corruption by the state.

Punishing such legitimate criticism of government as sedition has deep roots in British and American history. Sedition was seen in the Elizabethan era as the “notion of inciting by words or writings disaffection towards the state or constituted authority.” Punishment included beheading and dismemberment. “In their efforts to suppress political discussion or criticism of the government or the governors of Tudor England, the Privy Council and royal judges needed a new formulation of a criminal offence … This new crime they found in the offence of sedition, which was defined and punished by the Court of Star Chamber.… If the facts alleged were true, that only made the offence worse,” wrote historian Roger B. Manning. Sedition fell short of treason and did not need to provoke violence.

Though the Star Chamber was abolished in 1641, the British Sedition Act of 1661, a year after the Restoration, said, “…a seditious intention is an intention to bring into hatred or contempt, or to exite disaffection against the person of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, or the government and constitution of the United Kingdom.” Under President John Adams, the first U.S. Sedition Act in 1798 put it this way: “To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false, scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.”

While WikiLeaks publications have never been proven false, the U.S. government is certainly portraying its work as “scandalous and malicious writing against the United States” and has accused him of encouraging “hostile designs” against the country. Congress did not renew the Act in 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson pardoned those serving sentences for sedition and refunded their fines.


1918 protest in front of the White House against the Sedition Act.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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“..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 202020
 


Paul Caponigro Backlit Sunflower, Winthrop, MA 1965

 

 

20 Million COVID19 Tests Per Day Needed To Fully Open US Economy (ABC)
Without More Tests, America Can’t Reopen. And We’re Testing The Wrong People (Atl.)
Trump To Use Defense Production Act To Increase Swab Production (CNBC)
Israel Launches New ‘Contactless’ Roadside COVID19 Testing Booths (DM)
US Coronavirus Study Warns Sick Children Could Overwhelm Health System (SCMP)
Testicles May Make Men More Vulnerable To Coronavirus (NYP)
WHO Stands By Recommendation To Not Wear Masks (CNN)
Cuomo Praises Trump’s COVID19 Response: ‘Phenomenal Accomplishment’ (TH)
Australians Told Restrictions Must Stay Even As New Virus Infections Slow (R.)
No Need To Worry About Paying Off Government Debt – Think Tank (TND)
Germany Says Its Outbreak Is ‘Under Control’ (BBC)
McKinsey Predicts Near Doubling Of Unemployment In Europe (R.)
Earnings Set For Biggest Dive Since Late 2009 – And It Gets Worse (MW)
Next 45 Days Are The ‘Most Critical Period In US Financial History’ (MW)
US Oil Falls More Than 10% To Lows Not Seen Since 1999 (R.)

 

 

The buzzword of the day is testing. Under 150,000 people per day are being tested in the US, and consensus appears to be growing that this must be ramped up to 10-20-30 million per day.

Number of #coronavirus deaths in US rises by 1,997 in the past 24hrs to 41,379

 

Cases 2,419,184 (+ 73,798 from yesterday’s 2,345,476)

Deaths 165,774 (+ 4,578 from yesterday’s 161,196)

 

 

 

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:

 

 

 

 

Current testing is below 150,000 a day. Still, the US has tested 3.8 million people, and compared to the rest of the world, that’s not terrible.

20 Million COVID-19 Tests Per Day Needed To Fully Open US Economy (ABC)

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.

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Who to test if not everyone?

Without More Tests, America Can’t Reopen. And We’re Testing The Wrong People (Atl.)

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.

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“Some say that as many as 20 to 30 million people per day will need to be tested..”

Trump To Use Defense Production Act To Increase Swab Production (CNBC)

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.

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I want one!

Israel Launches New ‘Contactless’ Roadside COVID19 Testing Booths (DM)

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.

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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 ..”

US Coronavirus Study Warns Sick Children Could Overwhelm Health System (SCMP)

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.

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Because “testicles are walled off from the immune system”..

Testicles May Make Men More Vulnerable To Coronavirus (NYP)

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.

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The only reason to give out such painfully poor advice is they are afraid there are not enough masks. Well, say that then!

WHO Stands By Recommendation To Not Wear Masks (CNN)

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.”

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Thought I’d include this because all I see is negative stories. It’s exactly like 4 years ago. But of course Trump et al don’t get every single thing wrong.

Cuomo Praises Trump’s COVID19 Response: ‘Phenomenal Accomplishment’ (TH)

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.”

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The only viable option until -much- later.

Australians Told Restrictions Must Stay Even As New Virus Infections Slow (R.)

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.

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MMT goes mainstream?!

No Need To Worry About Paying Off Government Debt – Think Tank (TND)

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”.


Getty

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“However, the number of fatalities is still rising in Germany, as is the number of infected health care workers.”

Germany Says Its Outbreak Is ‘Under Control’ (BBC)

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.

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Europe has kept far more jobs than the US so far. But Europe is Germany AND Greece, and those are not the same thing.

McKinsey Predicts Near Doubling Of Unemployment In Europe (R.)

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.

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This is all so backward looking it’s depressing.

Earnings Set For Biggest Dive Since Late 2009 – And It Gets Worse (MW)

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%.

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Until the next 45, that is.

Next 45 Days Are The ‘Most Critical Period In US Financial History’ (MW)

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.

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$15 a barrel.

US Oil Falls More Than 10% To Lows Not Seen Since 1999 (R.)

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 [..]

Read more …

 

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Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)
Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)
Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)
102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)
New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)
America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)
China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)
Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)
After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)
Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)
Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)
Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

 

 

I must admit I’m getting fed up with the stories and narratives. People may have short attention spans, but how is that a reason to just go and invent narratives about something as serious as a pandemic? The disgusting morally hollow Brits celebrating the recovery of Boris Johnson as he’s thanking the same NHS he actively helped defund, at the same time that he’s murdering Julian Assange, get a life.

From Dr. Fauci I don’t expect anything else anymore than putting the blame on anyone but himself. “We got the wrong infomation!” If you were an investor, that would be your fault, not someone else’s. See, the WHO will make the same argument: the Chinese gave us false info, don’t blame us. But if you’re in positions like that, it’s your own responsibility to get your info right. And if you fail at that, to be open and honest about it.

The pedestal upon which New Zealand PM Jacintha Ardern is placed -“a masterclass in crisis management!- while one look at a timeline shows that she, too, like all the rest, was way too late in her reaction. The WHO was criminally slow in declaring a pandemic, they finally did so on March 11, and STILL New Zealand didn’t lock down. Ardern closed the borders only on March 19 and locked down the country on the 26th. She’s just lucky New Zealand has the geographical advantages it has, far away from anyone else.

 

 

The next narrative has already started: what are we going to do after it’s all over. But how are you going to do the right thing today when all you think about is tomorrow? Moreover, the virus hasn’t even started for the next 5 billion people, who often live in the most vulnerable places. And we’re going to forget about that just because the West, China, Japan, can’t keep focused for more than 2 weeks?

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

If this is why the US gets hits so hard, watch out for Mexico. Chronic inflammation sounds like a credible factor.

Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)

For months, scientists have been poring over data about cases and deaths to understand why it is that COVID-19 manifests itself in different ways around the world, with certain factors such as the age of the population repeatedly popping up as among the most significant determinants. Now, one of the largest studies conducted of COVID-19 infection in the United States has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor in whether those with COVID-19 had to be admitted to a hospital. “The chronic condition with the strongest association with critical illness was obesity, with a substantially higher odds ratio than any cardiovascular or pulmonary disease,” write lead author Christopher M. Petrilli of the NYU Grossman School and colleagues in a paper “Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with Covid-19 disease in New York City..”


Among other things, the presence of obesity in the study points to a potentially important role of heightened inflammation in patients, a phenomenon that has been a topic of much speculation in numerous studies of the disease. Petrilli and colleagues at the Grossman School, and doctors at the NYU Langone Health center, studied the electronic patient records of 4,103 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the New York City healthcare system between March 1st and April 2nd. It is “the largest case series from the United States to date,” write Petrilli and colleagues. The motivation of the work, they write, was that “Understanding which patients are most at risk for hospitalization is crucial for many reasons,” such as how to triage patients and how to anticipate medical needs.


click to enlarge in new tab

Half of those patients were admitted to a hospital. What the researchers found is that “In the decision tree for admission, the most important features were age >65 and obesity.” Obesity, in this case, was measured as weight relative to a person’s height. The authors use a metric scale, so a body mass index of 30 kilograms of weight and higher is considered obese. The “decision tree” in this case refers to the statistical method they used to analyze the patient data. A decision tree is a way to group members of a sample based on their shared characteristics. “For a given population, the decision tree classification method splits the population into two groups using one feature at a time, starting with the feature that maximizes the split between groups relative to the outcome in question.” They keep splitting groups into smaller and smaller groups until they arrive at groups that “[have] similar characteristics and outcomes.”

https://twitter.com/StephanieKelton/status/1249465834029932545

Read more …

Twitter: “Which is right? CDC officially says 6’ for #SocialDistancing . But a new CDC report, says #COVID19 can travel through the air at least 13 feet. Meanwhile, WHO says 3’ should be enough. And Dr Fauci rejects recent research, wherein virus could travel up to 27 feet.”

Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)

The coronavirus can travel through the air at least 13 feet — more than twice as far as social distancing guidelines, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research published in the federal agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal shows the contagion spreading far further than previous official suggestions — and also getting spread on people’s shoes. “The aerosol distribution characteristics … indicate that the transmission distance of [COVID-19] might be 4 m,” the report says, translating as more than 13 feet. “Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the researchers wrote of samples taken at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.” The report, based on research by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, appears to reaffirm fears that the current social distancing guidelines of 6 feet may not be enough. It also suggests people — especially medical staff on the frontlines — could inadvertently be spreading the bug away from its source, recommending stringent disinfecting measures.

High levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces like computer mice, trashcans and bed rails. The CDC recommends 6 feet for social distancing, while the World Health Organization claims just 3 feet should be enough, less than a quarter of the distance the current study suggests it spreads. Research last month said the virus could travel up to 27 feet. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, however called that “terribly misleading,” saying it would require a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” to travel that far and the scenario was “not practical.”

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First WHO warning was December 31.

Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)

The U.S. was given inaccurate information about the coronavirus at the beginning of the crisis Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday. When Fox News host Jesse Watters asked Fauci if he believes China or the World Health Organization “misled” him or if the WHO leader himself could have been “deceived,” Fauci noted that while he does not know the details behind the inaccurate information, it was disseminated from the start of the crisis. “You know I don’t know where the missteps went, the only thing I know what the end result was, that early on we did not get correct information,” Fauci said.


“And the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning because you know when the first cases came out, that were identified I think on December 31st in China and we became aware of this, they said this was just animal to human period.” “Now we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then,” he said. Fauci said once the illness hit the U.S. it became evident “that was misinformation right from the beginning.” He added that “whosever fault that was, you know, we’re gonna go back and take a look at that when this is all over, but clearly it was not the right information that was given to us.”

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She’s Greek, and those guys are all doing well. It’s the olive oil.

102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)

A 102-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the coronavirus defied the odds and is now recovering. At 102 years old, Sophie Avouris, of Yonkers, has seen a lot in her life, entering this world in 1918 at the start of the Spanish flu. “She survived it, thank goodness,” her daughter, Effie Strouthides, said. Strouthides says back in March, doctors at a Manhattan nursing home and rehab facility called to tell her Avouris, who was recovering at the facility from hip surgery, tested positive for COVID-19. “And we were thinking at 102 years old, at high risk, she might not make it,” Strouthides said. Because the facility was on lockdown, Strouthides called her mom to have a conversation that she thought would be the last.


“Once or twice I managed to let her know how much I loved her and she told me how much she loved me,” she said. According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults who are 65 and older. Dr. Taimur Mirza oversaw Avouris’ care and says her prognosis initially was not good. “Her course in the beginning, it was a little bit rough. For a while there, she required some oxygen, then we started her on the combination of the hydroxychloroquine and the azithromycin,” Mirza said. After a week of treatment, Avouris started showing signs of improvement. By week three, she no longer had the virus. “She didn’t have the cough anymore, and, you know, it was just miraculous to see a woman of her age recover from this,” Mirza said.

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Waaaay too late.

New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country is ‘turning a corner’ in the battle against coronavirus after recording the lowest number of new cases in three weeks. She praised residents for mounting a ‘wall of defence’ which is ‘breaking the chain of transmission’ following the swift implementation of lockdown measures. The country has recorded 992 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with just one death so far. Health officials said there were 29 new cases on Thursday, the fourth successive daily drop since 89 were recorded on Sunday and the latest sign of a flattening of the curve. Ms Ardern suggested the four-week lockdown could be softened in just over a weeks’ time, allowing some to return to work if social distancing rules can be maintained.

The PM said New Zealanders’ strict adherence to the rules during the four-week lockdown had ‘saved lives’. She added: ‘At the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. ‘In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence. ‘You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.’ But she cautioned against taking a foot off the pedal, adding: ‘We have what we need to win this marathon. You have stayed calm, you’ve been strong, you’ve saved lives, and now we need to keep going.’ Ms Ardern said the government will decide on April 20 whether to relax or extend lockdown measures, which are currently due to expire on April 22.

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But don’t worry about Kashkari, he’ll be fine. No matter how many trillions he wastes.

America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)

‘This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine. It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.’ That’s Neel Kashkari, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, painting a rather gloomy picture in a CBS interview on Sunday morning of what lies ahead for the U.S. economy as the country continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak. Kashkari, while acknowledging the downside of what a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy, said the U.S., ‘barring some health-care miracle,’ is looking at an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns based on what has happened in other countries.


“We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk back to work and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future.” Looking ahead, Kashkari doesn’t envision a quick rebound for the U.S. economy, which has already endured more than 16 million job losses in the past three weeks. “This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.”

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This started back in December.

China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)

The Chinese government appears to be censoring research on the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic by requiring scientists to run their studies by the Ministry of Science and Technology, a since-deleted page on a university website shows. According to a cached version of that page from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan that Newsweek reviewed, requirements were updated so that scientists would need to have their study approved by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology before publication: “1. Academic papers on the traceability of the new coronavirus must be reviewed by the academic committee of the school before publication, focusing on the authenticity of the paper and whether it is suitable for publication.

After the review is passed, the school reports to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which can only be published after the review by the Ministry of Science and Technology.” China has faced repeated internal and external accusations of censorship surrounding research into COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Local Chinese officials in Wuhan also are known to have suppressed information about the initial outbreak, even detaining whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang. Wenliang later died from COVID-19, and Chinese authorities offered a “solemn apology” to the medical practitioner’s family for how he had been treated. Back in February, The New York Times shared videos of Chinese citizens warning that research into coronavirus was being censored and removed from the internet.

“My purpose is to make sure that all this information is not lost or deleted,” one of the unidentified Chinese nationals said with her face covered in the clip. “We don’t know what information and when the authorities will censor,” another unidentified person said. “So we are trying to be faster than the authorities.” U.S. government officials, and other international leaders, have criticized China for not being transparent about the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto-based cyber research group Citizen Lab reported in early March that Chinese social media had begun censoring keywords associated with the coronavirus as well as criticism of the government’s response to the crisis, according to Reuters.

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Since there is such a link between pollution and literally everything else on the planet, feel free to consider this a piece of empty fluff.

Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)

Advocates and Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns over new research that suggests air pollution, water access and other environmental conditions are exacerbating the effects of the coronavirus on low-income and minority communities. A recent Harvard study found that people who live in areas with more exposure to air pollution are more likely to die from the pandemic, while other research shows that black and Latino communities people are disproportionately affected by the disease. “In public health, it’s often said that your ZIP code is more indicative of your health outcomes than your genetic code,” Lubna Ahmed, the director of environmental health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, told The Hill.


Polluting industries are frequently located near low-income and minority communities. One assessment published by the American Public Health Association in 2018 showed that nonwhite and low-income communities are harder hit by pollution. Authors of the more recent Harvard study on the coronavirus said their results “suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes.” That study added to a growing body of research on the overall health risks to communities exposed to high pollution levels, neighborhoods that are often occupied by people of color and low-income residents.

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“But first they need to actually work.”

After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)

Across Europe there are signs that observance of stringent social distancing measures by the vast majority of the public – better compliance than many experts had expected – has led to a big decline in viral transmission. The key figure is the “reproduction number” R, measuring the average number of new cases generated by an infected individual. If R is above 1, an outbreak spreads; if it is below 1, it contracts. For COVID-19, R was between 2.5 and 3 in most places before any measures were introduced. According to a leading scientist in the UK’s fight against the disease, the latest evidence shows a steep fall in the R rate to around 0.6 now, which would quickly suppress the pandemic. However, deaths are still rising fast because of the delay between infection and when serious symptoms develop.

[..] If the UK can achieve its target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and ramp up capacity further over the following months, it will be possible to test individuals in the community who report COVID-19 symptoms. In theory, this would then be followed by the tracing, testing and isolating of people who have been in contact with them if they are infected. This type of contact tracing, which involves questioning patients directly, took place when the first UK cases were reported but soon stopped when the pandemic swamped the country’s extremely limited testing capacity. “Evidence suggests that countries that are able to do very high levels of testing have many more options to allow people greater social mobility,” says Steven Riley at Imperial College London. “Some really innovative solutions will play a part. Contact tracing based on a mobile phone app is being looked at.”

[..] For many scientists, the key to ending the lockdowns is mass testing for COVID-19 infection, which detects the presence of the virus. Paul Romer, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has outlined a plan for mass testing in the US that he believes would allow for much of the economy to reopen. However, this requires each person being tested every 14 days – or 22 million tests a day – a mammoth undertaking in terms of labs, chemicals, health workers and data analysis, even if such tests are constitutionally acceptable. In the UK, the epidemiologist Julian Peto has made a similar proposal – weekly tests, running to 10 million a day. Large-scale antibody testing, to show whether individuals have been infected in the past and still have some immunity, is a more tantalising prospect because they would only need to be conducted occasionally and could potentially be bought at a pharmacy.

But first they need to actually work. Specialised labs are carrying out studies to determine antibody levels in samples of the population but no one has yet developed an antibody kit reliable enough for widespread use in homes. Kits evaluated by the UK government have failure rates of 30 to 50 per cent. Eventually antibody tests could give individuals “immunity passports” to show that they are safe from infection, Professor Riley says, “but there’s some very important science to do first”. The key questions that have still to be answered are how different antibody levels relate to resistance to infection and how long any immune protection is likely to last.

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Demand is down 20%, production maybe 10%. You do the math.

Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)

Muted oil price gains on Monday show record output cuts by giant producers will still leave them with a mountain to climb to restore market balance, industry watchers said, with the coronavirus pandemic decimating demand just as stocks swell. The morning after OPEC and allies led by Russia agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June – equal to nearly 10% of global supply – prices gained less than 5% and are still 50-60% down for the year so far. That headline cut by the grouping known as OPEC+ may be more than four times deeper than the previous record set in 2008, and may provide a floor for prices according to some analysts, but the reduction still dwarfed by the near 30 million bpd drop in demand in April already anticipated by forecasters like Goldman Sachs.

What’s more, governments in countries around the globe are considering extending travel and social lockdown measures that have sapped fuel use in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. “Even if these cuts provide a floor to prices they will not be able to boost prices given the scale of inventory builds we are still staring at,” Energy Aspects analyst Virendra Chauhan said, referring to storage tanks and ships around the world the are filling up fast amid the slide in demand from end-users. “The absence of hard commitments from the United States or other G20 members is (a) shortcoming of the deal.” G20 nations have been urged to help reduce the supply glut, but there was little detail on the outcome of Friday talks between energy ministers from the group and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile analysts said that while the core number in the deal suggests a near 10 million bpd cut, Middle East producers like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will likely have to reduce by more than the 23% cut to which they signed up, as they had begun to ramp up output in April amid a price war before the agreement was struck. “This 9.7 million b/d ‘headline’ deal represents a 12.4 million bpd cut from claimed April OPEC+ production (given the Saudi, UAE, Kuwait ongoing surge) but an only 7.2 million bpd cut from 1Q20 average production levels,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.

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It’s not just Texas where various religious sects feel exempt from society at large. Remember the one that started the epidemic in South Korea? Nice thing in Greece is the government actually pays the salaries of the priests.

Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)

The government has asked for a prosecutor to press charges against two priests who provided communion to the faithful Sunday despite a ban on church attendance. One of the priests, in the Athens neighborhood of Koukaki, was photographed from a nearby building secretly giving communion to people through the back door. The other incident happened in St. Spyridon Church in the city of Corfu. “What happened today in churches in Koukaki and Corfu is a violation of the law and of the Holy Synod’s orders and put the lives of citizens and public health in great danger. I contacted the Minister of Justice so that he can ask the prosecuting authorities to intervene,” said Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister of Civil Protection.


Authorities’ main concern remains attempts to flout strict quarantine measures during the week up to Orthodox Easter, which is celebrated next Sunday, by attending church and engage in the customary exodus from the cities to the countryside. From 6 am to 3 pm Sunday, 38 people were stopped trying to leave cities and fined 300 euros each.

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The mortally lost British nation cheer their PM’s health as he’s slow-murdering Julian Assange and letting people starve.

Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

Last week, I spoke to Anna Rogers, a Polish-born Londoner who lives in Brixton. She works for a charity called Money A+E, which operates across the south of the capital. It offers advice about debt, benefits and other financial issues to people who are often facing extreme hardship. It is a small set-up, with only four dedicated advisers. Since the coronavirus crisis began, the number of people getting in touch has tripled and is rising all the time. Rogers spoke matter-of-factly about the defining feature of many who now need her help. “They are people without any income,” she said. Many are migrant workers who have been sacked by small businesses or had cash-in-hand work – in, say, the building trade – suddenly withdrawn. In desperation, some say they would like to return to their countries of origin to be with their families, but that option is cut off right now.

A lot of them have no experience of the British benefits system, and few of the language skills and insider knowledge needed to navigate it. “The universal credit system never worked terribly well,” Rogers said. “But now people are saying that the system crashes, or they can’t upload documents.” Not everyone has internet access, and the sudden closure of public libraries has meant that even fewer people can get online. Even if they manage to do so, there is now an ominous sense that with the system under such pressure, the standard five-week wait for universal credit is bound to increase.

So, for now, Rogers and her colleagues have to introduce people to the most basic kinds of help. One fairly reliable source of food assistance, she said, was the array of new mutual aid groups that have sprung up at the most local level: “Fingers crossed, they can get people some food parcels.” When she spoke about the details of her work, her words had a palpable sense not just of sadness, but of urgency and a clear sense that things were only going to get worse, and quickly. The fact that we now rarely leave our homes means few people are aware of what is actually going on all over the country. Our field of vision is replete with statistics, and broad-brush warnings about the near future: from the daily death toll to the warnings from big banks of $5.5 trillion in lost global output, to the million or so people said to have newly applied for benefits in the UK. A very human crisis caused by Covid-19 is already here, beyond the illness itself, and it demands our attention.

Read more …

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‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)
Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)
Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)
Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)
Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)
More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)
Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)
Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)
NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)
A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)
Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)
Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)
Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

 

 

As I wrote yesterday in The Virus is a Time Machine, it’s not about the number of deaths or cases, it’s about the disruption. Today, stock markets are down 7-8%, and oil plummeted 30% to $30. At your service. “Fake Wealth” is popping, say some.

Italy has an oversized role today so far, but there are a number of countries that could take off at any time now. As I said in that article, US, Germany, France, Spain appear to be in a phase where for instance Italy was about a week ago.

Something odd about the numbers today is that COVID2019.app puts South Korea at 8,100 cases, while the other two have it at around 7,400. It must be hard getting the numbers right, and on time.

 

Cases 110,607 (+ 4,120 from yesterday’s 106,487)

Deaths 3,831 (+ 231 from yesterday’s 3,600)

 

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

 

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID2019.app:

 

 

 

 

Smart cookie.

‘Fake Wealth’ Set To Pop (ABR)

Sharemarket and property investors are about to experience a reckoning that sweeps away the pretence of “fake wealth and artificial economy”, Lucerne Investment Partners portfolio manager Jerome Lander says. In a note to clients issued on Monday, Mr Lander said investors were “reacting in horror to the reality of the coronavirus as it begins its exponential growth around the world”. His note came as the Australian sharemarket was experiencing its biggest one-day fall since the global financial crisis, with the S&P/ASX 200 plunging 6 per cent to a 14-month low of 5840.90 amid a collapse in oil prices. “This is a truly frightening pandemic with significant ramifications which much of the developed world is unlikely to cope with well,” Mr Lander said.

“The reality is ICUs [intensive care units] are likely to be overrun around the world and people will increasingly seek to avoid social contact and hide at home in order to avoid contracting the deadly virus.” Mr Lander said a 10 per cent ICU admission rate for Italy’s 1492 cases of coronavirus was a “truly horrifying statistic”. Underlying economic weaknesses was being expose, he said. “One bubble after another is at risk of popping, as the fake wealth and artificial economy of the last few years explodes in the face of a devastating global recession.” With sharemarkets now “crashing, with delusional housing prices likely to follow”, he predicted central banks would shortly attempt to restore order to financial markets through so-called quantitative easing.

“Unlimited QE is likely but won’t help alter the destruction from the pandemic,” Mr Lander said. “These are truly dangerous times for all investors, but particularly for those holding large amounts of overvalued equity and property assets at fake economy prices.”

Read more …

Trillions upon trillions in fake wealth are going POOF. And the central banks that created the fake wealth will throw more fake money at the walls.

Global Markets Plunge 7-8%, Oil Falls 30% To $30 (G.)

Global stock markets have suffered their biggest falls since the 2008 financial crisis while the oil price crashed amid panic selling because of the double threat of a coronavirus-driven global recession and an oil price war. The FTSE 100 index in London plunged 8.5% to 5,911 points, losing 550 points, when trading began on Monday morning. Germany’s Dax tumbled 7.5% and Spain’s Ibex lost 7%. Asian markets also recorded huge losses as fears over the world economy were exacerbated by the shock decision by Saudi Arabia over the weekend to ramp up oil production in an attempt to drive rivals such as Russia and the US out of the market.

The price of Brent crude oil fell almost 30% to $31.14 on Monday, its biggest decline since the start of the Gulf war in 1991. Some experts expect it to fall further unless the Saudis and Russians return to the bargaining table. Turmoil spread on international markets as the coronavirus epidemic deepened around the world. Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, was plunged into chaos as government plans to quarantine more than 16m people – more than a quarter of its population – were leaked to the media. Italian bond yields jumped on Monday. The number of people infected by coronavirus worldwide has passed 110,000.

Stock markets in Asia Pacific experienced the worst wave of selling since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 heralded the onset of the global financial crisis. With fears growing of a recession in Australia because of the virus, the Australian share market closed down 7.4%. The Nikkei in Japan fell more than 5%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Sen lost 3.9% and the Shanghai stock exchange dropped just over 3%. US 10-year government bond yields fell to fresh record lows and the Japanese yen and gold soared as investors rushed into safe haven investments.

Read more …

Putin stopped supporting MbS. Isn’t that a good thing? How much do we like MbS?

Goldman Cuts Brent Forecasts To $30 On Price War, Virus (R.)

Goldman Sachs cut its second- and third-quarter Brent price forecasts to $30 per barrel, citing the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and a significant collapse in oil demand due to the coronavirus that has killed more than 3,500 globally. Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the virus outbreak. “The aggressive cut to Saudi’s Official Selling Prices and Russia’s reluctance to be pushed into a deal on Friday point to a low probability of an immediate (OPEC+) agreement,” Goldman said in a note dated March 8.

A three-year pact between OPEC and Russia ended in acrimony on Friday after Moscow refused to support deeper oil cuts and OPEC responded by removing all limits on its own production. “While we can’t rule out an OPEC+ deal in coming months, we also believe that this agreement was inherently imbalanced and its production cuts economically unfounded,” the bank said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Goldman’s base case is now for no such deal, it said. Lower oil prices will start creating acute financial stress and declining production from shale as well as other high cost producer, the bank said.

There will be a negligible response from U.S. shale producers in the second quarter, but output will fall in the third quarter by 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) and a further 250,000 bpd in the fourth quarter of 2020, the bank said. This will not prevent, however, a third-quarter supply surplus of 1.2 million bpd. “At that point, the fundamental rebalancing could require oil prices falling to operational stress levels for high-cost producers with well-head cash costs near $20/bbl,” it said.

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Home deliveries are set to double, but the people working the field don’t get paid anything. The future’s so bright…

Gig Economy Workers Can’t Afford To Be Ill (G.)

Shane Stephen, a Deliveroo rider, pulls a snood over his mouth and nose as he manoeuvres his mountain bike down a narrow side-street in central London. It is his makeshift defence against coronavirus. “If I catch something I’m screwed,” explains the 23-year-old. “Gig economy workers can’t afford to be ill. My bank balance is literally £4 something right now.” Stephen – like tens of thousands of other couriers and drivers in the UK – is classed as self-employed and therefore not entitled to any sick pay. He stands to gain nothing from Boris Johnson’s pledge last Wednesday to give coronavirus-hit workers statutory sick pay from the first day off work rather than the fourth. Yet Stephen and other gig economy couriers could be called on to deliver food and other essentials to self-isolating households when the virus reaches its peak.

Some industry analysts foresee the number of home deliveries doubling if people are told to work from home and avoid large gatherings under the government’s so-called social-distancing strategy, which will kick in if the virus continues to spread across the country. Unions representing gig economy workers, such as the GMB and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), fear couriers with coronavirus symptoms may keep working. “Many will carry on because they need to put food on the table and pay the rent. They will then come into contact with other people and spread the virus,” says Mick Rix from the GMB, which represents thousands of couriers. “This would be going against everything the government is trying to achieve at the moment.”

[..] Josh Lane (not his real name) jumps into his DPD Local van after making a delivery in Tottenham. He cleans his hands with hand sanitiser. “I’m in a rush, but I’m doing my bit,” he says through the rolled-down window. However, the 30-year-old cannot afford to stop work if he contracts the virus. “It’s like a flu and I’ve worked through flu before. If you’re self-employed you have to continue working,” he says. “It’s not about me. I’ve got three children. I’m not about to make them starve because of coronavirus. If I’m physically able to work, then isolation is not happening for me.”

Read more …

The kind of stuff that stumps me: “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip’..

These people have zero connection to reality.

Plummeting Oil Prices And Mortgage Rates Could Boost Consumers (CNBC)

As the deadly coronavirus spreads across the globe, oil prices are down 30% for the year and the average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen to an eight-year low. It’s positive news for consumers in the short term, even as some economists warn that the virus could tip the U.S economy into recession as the outbreak escalates. The drop in mortgage rates and oil prices could boost consumer confidence, which rose less than expected in February just one day after the stock market had one of its worst days amid virus concerns. A boost in consumer confidence, in turn, could ease those recession fears. “The U.S. economy is 70% consumer driven,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital.

“A drop in gasoline prices acts like a tax cut, freeing up money to spend in other sectors of the economy, especially discretionary sectors, such as travel and leisure and dining.” The relentless pace of headlines related to the coronavirus, however, could ultimately act as a psychological break on any boost in confidence that low oil prices and mortgage rates might deliver to the consumer. “The question is whether the fear factor attributable to the virus will overwhelm any positive impact from lower gasoline prices and lower mortgage rates,” said Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research. “That’s hard to answer, but it seems to me that fear is winning the tug of war currently as evidenced by the drop in stock prices and the panicky responses of governments, the media … and the public,” he added.

[..] Jeff Kilburg, founder and CEO of KKM Financial, said that the short-term reaction to lower oil prices will translate into lower prices at the pump for Americans, and that in combination with historically low mortgage rates will provide substantial strength for consumers in the second quarter. “This resiliency of the consumer will once again support equities and most likely show that this current market reaction is a ‘blip,’ not the end of this bull market … and certainly not the beginning of a recession,” Kilburg said.

Read more …

Absolutely right. Will I be able to get to Greece in time?

More Countries Will Adopt Italy’s Measures – Austria PM (G.)

Austria’s chancellor has said other European countries will be forced to adopt containment measures as drastic as Italy’s, after Rome placed a quarter of the population in lockdown in an effort to halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus. As the head of the World Health Organization praised Italy’s “genuine sacrifices”, Sebastian Kurz said the situation in Austria, which has reported 99 Covid-19 cases, was under control and the measures it had adopted were appropriate for the time being. He said EU leaders and health ministers were in close contact over their countries’ handling of the epidemic [..] “It will be important to decide which steps to take when,” Kurz said. “You can close schools for one or two weeks and this is urgently necessary in Italy. It will happen in other European countries. The decisive question is when to do it.”

The difficulty will be in balancing the need to head off a peak in infections that could paralyse public health systems against excessive economic damage, he said. “You have to consider carefully when to adopt these measures, because a national economy cannot handle this over too long a period.” Speaking to French radio, the EU commissioner for the single market, Thierry Breton, said European countries were “each acting according to the latest available data in their countries. The virus has spread faster in some places than in others, so naturally the measures in each differ”. In the US, Anthony Fauci, the head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, said Americans , and particularly those who are vulnerable, may have to stop attending big gatherings. Nor could large-scale quarantines be ruled out, he said.

The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, tweeted his appreciation for Rome’s efforts after the government published a decree barring people from entering or leaving vast areas of northern Italy without good reason until 3 April. The quarantine zones are home to about 16 million people and include the regions around Venice and the financial capital, Milan. Cinemas, theatres and museums will be closed nationwide and leave has been cancelled for health workers as the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said the country was facing a national emergency.

Read more …

You announce an upcoming travel ban, so what do people do? Travel.

Leaked Italy Quarantine Plans Create Chaos, Threaten To Spread Virus (ZH)

Italians have become inured to alarming news over the past month as the outbreak has spiraled out of control in Lombardy. But following a flurry of uncontrolled leaks warning about an imminent lockdown as part of the government’s planned emergency decree, restaurants and bars started emptying out and many fled to the train station, where they hopped trains to get out of the region, especially those who had plans to travel elsewhere that were being interrupted by the lockdown. According to an SCMP reporter in Padua, packed bars and restaurants quickly emptied out as news of a coming lockdown hit, as many people rushed to the railway station. Travellers with suitcases, wearing face masks, gloves and carrying bottles of sanitising gel shoved their way on to the local train.

This appears to have been a phenomenon across the North. The video shows passengers with large bags packed heading toward a cross-country train to take them out of the quarantine zone and into the Italian south, where the virus has penetrated, but infection numbers and deaths remain much lower than in the north. This could be terrible news for the impoverished south: experts have repeatedly warned that southern Italy – best known as an agricultural and fishing center rife with organized crime – doesn’t possess the medical infrastructure to handle a surge in life-threatening cases of pneumonia. While Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly insisted during his seemingly never-ending series of press conferences that the panic is worse than the virus itself, in Italy, the situation is rapidly deteriorating on both fronts.

One epidemiologist described the series of panic-provoking leaks as “pure madness.” Fortunately, Italian markets were closed during the panic, and now people have more or less accepted the new rules. But at this point, the horse is already out of the barn. Panicked Italians are now traveling around the country, potentially bringing the virus with them. “The draft of a very harsh decree is leaked, sparking panic and prompting people to try and flee the [then] theoretical red zone, carrying the virus with them,” wrote Italian virologist Roberto Burioni on Twitter. “In the end, the only effect is to help the virus to spread. I’m lost for words.”

Read more …

Even before the virus, Britain’s reality is devastating: ““or so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger..“

Charities Preparing To Feed Children If Schools Shut Over Coronavirus (G.)

A charity led by the archbishop of Canterbury is preparing to help feed children if schools are closed by coronavirus, amid fears the withdrawal of free school dinners could leave up to 3 million children at risk of hunger. Feeding Britain, which runs food poverty schemes in 12 areas of England including Cornwall, Leicester, Barnsley and South Shields, is exploring how to set up emergency programmes similar to those used to feed the poorest children during the summer holidays. The Akshaya Patra Foundation, which serves thousands of hot meals to children every summer in London boroughs, is also “prepared to enter crisis mode”, while food projects in Bristol and Huddersfield said they were exploring how their schemes to feed hundreds of children in school holidays could be adapted to help cope with emergency closures.

“For so many families now, schools are the first line of defence against hunger,” said Andrew Forsey, the national director of Feeding Britain, whose president is the Most Rev Justin Welby. “In many cases it is breakfast as well as lunch, so if the schools close it’s two meals we have to find. There is early-stage planning going on around ensuring supplies of food and the extent of voluntary support that could be drawn upon if some schools do need to close.” Downing Street said on Tuesday that school closures would be among “distancing strategies” used if the virus became established in the UK. On Thursday, Italy closed all of its schools and colleges for a month.

[..] An immediate challenge is likely to be finding a way to deliver meals in a way that maintains the distance between people that school closures are meant to achieve. The Bristol project said it could involve delivering food parcels door-to-door. Forsey also said panic-buying that cleared supermarket shelves could hinder efforts as many free meal programmes relied on retailers’ donations.

Read more …

“106 people in New York have confirmed cases of Coronavirus. But- “As of Saturday only about 120 people in New York City had been tested..”

The dumbest advice ever. “Take the next train”.

NYC Asks Commuters to Stay Off Public Transit ‘If You Can’ (NBC)

City and state officials issued new travel suggestions amid growing novel coronavirus cases in the tri-state area. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked sick people to stay off public transit, especially subways and buses. Their warnings included a suggestion to avoid dense crowds on buses, subways and trains, or take alternate travel if possible. “If you take the subway and you are able to wait for a less packed train, please do. If you have the option of walking or biking, please do. Buses can be crowded too, but less than subways, so please use these if you can,” de Blasio said. “Move to a train car that is not as dense. If you see a packed train car, let it go by. Wait for the next train. Same if you’re taking a bus,” Cuomo said.


Avoiding public transit is not an option for most New Yorkers and they’re not afraid to let the mayor know. “Happy to ride a bike to work. Can you make it so people don’t die in Queens while biking? Vehicular deaths are a public health crisis too,” one Twitter user said in response to de Blasio’s announcement. In the city’s other effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, transit workers started to disinfect subway turnstiles, station handrails, MetroCard and ticket vending machines daily and other frequently used parts of the system, according to a statement from Transport Workers Union President Tony Utano. The deep clean extends to Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Access-A-Ride services as well. In addition to the daily cleaning, the MTA says its full fleet of subway trains and buses will undergo sanitization every 72 hours.

Read more …

I think Yanis is getting ahead of himself. What the situation will be once the pandemic is over is so murky right now we must all be very cautious about predicting anythig.

A Perfect Storm Of Nationalism And Financial Speculation (Varoufakis)

Nationalism and speculation have seldom had a better opportunity to combine forces as the one riding today on the coattails of Covid-19, known as the coronavirus. When Covid-19 leapfrogged from China to Italy, even ardent Europeanists normally appreciative of open borders joined the deafening calls to end freedom of movement across Europe’s national borders – a longstanding demand of nationalists. Meanwhile, the money men speculating on government debt are performing a classic flight from Italian to German government bonds, seeking the financial safety that only the continent’s hegemon can offer during any crisis. As if in a bid to remind us of the great contradiction of our times, Covid-19 is illuminating gloriously the freedom of money to transcend a borderless financial universe while humans remain as fenced in as ever.

Meanwhile in the United States, President Trump is combining his standard call for taller walls with a fresh instruction to moneymen to “buy the dip” in Wall Street, rather than to follow their natural instinct to seek refuge in the boring but safe bond markets. A great deal will depend on whether financiers believe Mr Trump or not, and not just because this is an election year. If speculators do believe the American president, Wall Street will recover swiftly even before the epidemic subsides. The forces of xenophobic financialisation will then have triumphed and America’s progressives will face an uphill struggle on every political front. As for the European Union, ruling elites will breathe a sigh of relief that a new depression was avoided and return to managing as best as they can the economic stagnation of recent times, tinged this time with a large dose of additional, coronavirus-reinforced, xenophobia.

Will Wall Street follow Mr Trump’s advice to “buy the dip”? For now, the large players are in two minds. The drop in the stock market does not worry them as such. Their concern is that the recent bull market was running on increasingly suspect debt and that Covid-19 may have pricked a bubble that was going to burst anyway. Similarly in Europe, the worst spectre hovering over investors’ heads is that large corporations, relying for too long on free money from the European Central Bank, may be downgraded from investment to junk-grade – especially so at a time of stagnant domestic demand and a collapsed Chinese import market.

Read more …

Maybe electric cars should run on electric tires?

Tyre Wear Produces 1,000 Times More Harmful Pollution Than Car Exhausts (BW)

Car tyres could be doing more damage to our health than the fumes from exhaust pipes, according to the results from a new test. Measurements found that 5.8 grams per kilometre of harmful particles are emitted by tyres as they wear when a car is being driven. That compares to 4.5 milligrams per kilometer produced from exhaust pipes of the latest vehicles on sale today – meaning harmful tyre outputs are higher by a factor of over 1,000. Assessments were conducted by UK-based experts Emissions Analytics, which specialises in calculating the pollution produced by cars in real-world driving.


The type of emissions tyres have been found to produce is harmful particulate matter that is almost impossible to see with the naked eye. It’s made up of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – also known as PM2.5 – pose the greatest risk to our health. Exposure can affect both the lungs and heart, with numerous scientific studies linking them to a variety of problems. This includes premature death in people with heart or lung disease, nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function and wider respiratory symptoms.

Read more …

But there are videos of Turkish troops destroying Greek fences to let migants pass. Erdogan is in Brussels today.

Putin Saves Erdogan From Himself (Escobar)

At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century. Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts.” This is how a true world leader tells a regional leader, to his face, to please refrain from positioning his forces as jihadi supporters – incognito, in the middle of an explosive theater of war. The Putin-Erdogan face-to-face discussion, with only interpreters allowed in the room, lasted three hours, before another hour with the respective delegations.

In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.” Additionally, on March 15, joint Turkish-Russian patrolling will start along the M4 highway – implying endless mutating strands of al-Qaeda in Syria won’t be allowed to retake it. If this all looks like déjà vu, that’s because it is. Quite a few official photos of the Moscow meeting prominently feature Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu – the other two heavyweights in the room apart from both Presidents. In the wake of Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu must have read the riot act to Erdogan in no uncertain terms.

That’s enough: now behave, please – or else face dire consequences. A predictable feature of the new ceasefire is that both Moscow and Ankara – part of the Astana peace process, alongside Tehran – remain committed to maintaining the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Syria. Once again, there’s no guarantee that Erdogan will abide. It’s crucial to recap the basics. Turkey is deep in financial crisis. Ankara needs cash – badly. The lira is collapsing. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing elections. Former prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu – who conceptualized neo-Ottomanism – has left the party and is carving his own political niche. The AKP is mired in an internal crisis.

Erdogan’s response has been to go on the offensive. That’s how he re-establishes his aura. Combine Idlib with his maritime pretensions around Cyprus and blackmail pressure on the EU via the inundation of Lesbos in Greece with refugees, and we have Erdogan’s trademark modus operandi in full swing. In theory, the new ceasefire will force Erdogan to finally abandon all those myriad al Nusra/ISIS metastases – what the West calls “moderate rebels,” duly weaponized by Ankara. This is an absolute red line for Moscow – and also for Damascus. There will be no territory left behind for jihadis. Iraq is another story: ISIS is still lurking around Kirkuk and Mosul.

[..] No NATO fanatic will ever admit it, but once again it was Russia that just prevented the threatened “Muslim invasion” of Europe advertised by Erdogan. Yet there was never any invasion in the first place, only a few thousand economic migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel, not Syrians. There are no “one million” Syrian refugees on the verge of entering the EU. The EU, proverbially, will keep blabbering. Brussels and most capitals still have not understood that Bashar al-Assad has been fighting al Nusra/ISIS all along. They simply don’t understand the correlation of forces on the ground. Their fallback position is always the scratched CD of “European values.” No wonder the EU is a secondary actor in the whole Syrian tragedy.

Read more …

To think there were scores of people who said Hill made so much sense. Very simple questions that remain unanswered: what exactly do the Russians do according to her, and how exactly does that divide Americans? Never an answer, other than “US intelligence believes that…”

Fiona Hill Says Putin Has America ‘Exactly Where He Wants Us’ (CNN)

President Donald Trump’s former top Russia adviser is warning that President Vladimir Putin has America “exactly where he wants us.” “Putin, sadly, has got all of our political class, every single one of us, including the media, exactly where he wants us. He’s got us feeling vulnerable…on edge, and he’s got us questioning the legitimacy of our own systems,” Fiona Hill told CBS’ Lesley Stahl in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes” Sunday. The interview marks the former top White House official’s first since testifying in the impeachment inquiry into Trump. During congressional hearings in the inquiry, Hill warned that the Republican defense of the President — by peddling Ukraine conspiracy theories — was in danger of extending Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Hill, who left the Trump administration last summer, has studied Russia for decades and is a critical biographer of Putin, authoring or co-authoring a number of books on Russia, including two editions of a book titled “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. In the interview, Hill said Russia understands how to exploit American divisions. “The Russians didn’t invent partisan divides. The Russians haven’t invented racism in the United States,” Hill said. “But the Russians understand a lot of those divisions, and they understand how to exploit them.” Russian interference in the last presidential election — which the US intelligence community believes was aimed at boosting Trump’s candidacy and hurting his opponent, Hillary Clinton — led to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Part of the election interference included a Russian government-linked troll operation that sought to help Trump’s candidacy and undercut that of Clinton in part by posting messages in support of Sanders. Concerns over the Kremlin’s role in US politics have continued. The US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and has separately assessed that Russia views Trump as a leader they can work with. In February, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders also said his campaign was briefed about Russian efforts to help his operation. It was unclear how Russia was attempting to help the Vermont senator.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Today is International Women’s Day. So of course the DNC changes its rules yet again, this time to bar its only remaining female candidate from participating in the next debate.

 


 

 

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