Oct 192021
 


René Magritte The song of love 1948

 

 

Just this morning, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechia, UK and New Zealand announced record or near-record numbers of positive Covid numbers and/or deaths. Yes, here we go again. Sadly, all of it is completely preventable, and all of us choose to not prevent it, because most have never been told this. Once again, an overview.

 

 

In the UK, a report came out last week about the country’s Covid approach, written by politicians, from the government’s own party nonetheless. It’s titled “Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date”, which is kind of ironic, because the one thing WE learn, at least from the press coverage of it, is that not a single lesson has been learned. BBC:

Covid: UK’s Early Response Worst Public Health Failure Ever

The 150-page document, “Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date”, is from the Health and Social Care Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, and MPs from all parties.


[..] Conservative MPs Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark, who chair the committees, said the nature of the pandemic meant it was “impossible to get everything right”. “The UK has combined some big achievements with some big mistakes. It is vital to learn from both,” they said. Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay said scientific advice had been followed and the government had made “difficult judgements” to protect the NHS. He said the government took responsibility for everything that happened – saying the government would not shy away from any lessons to be learned at the full statutory public inquiry, expected next year.

What were those big mistakes, according to those 150 pages? These:

[..] the UK was not as open to different approaches on earlier lockdowns, border controls and test and trace as it should have been.

And the “big achievements”?

But their report highlighted successes too, including the vaccination rollout. It described the approach to vaccination – from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs – as “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”.

I kid you not, the biggest mistakes these politicians could come up with was that the UK should have locked down, shut its borders and start testing and tracing healthy people earlier. That’s it. But none of those come close to being the biggest mistakes. And that after 20 months they all still don’t appear to understand that is a sad, saddening and deadly “mistake” all by itself.

The real biggest mistake is the complete denial, and ignoring, of the crucial role prophylactics and early treatment could and should have played. And since neither plays such a role even today, yes, it will continue to be very deadly. The pharmaceutical industry prevents the use of -most- pharmaceuticals, and allows only the use of some of the newest and -therefore- most profitable ones. The promised “full statutory public inquiry” won’t change that.

 

But first, let’s look at the “big achievements”. Vaccination, “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”, has resulted in the following picture:

 

“Cases” are, let’s say, “stubbornly high” again (they average about 45,000 recently, and on Monday reached almost 50,000):

 

Hospitalizations are high too, compared to other countries. Which is odd, since the vaccines were supposed to stop severe cases in every country, we were told. After the claims that they stop infection and transmission became untenable:

 

Deaths appear to have normalized a little more in the UK, but what’s worrisome in this graph is the “Other excess deaths”. What are they? Are they vaccine deaths? Hard not to think they may very well be. But also hard to know because information on this is so scarce. In any case, they appear to outnumber Covid deaths. Which is no surprise, but still “good” to see in a graph:

 

 

 

The UK is presently about 65% vaccinated, according to Our World In Data, after “one of the most effective initiatives in UK history”. 65%? How effective have other “initiatives” been? On the bright side, the unvaccinated 35% may well turn out to be the lucky ones.

 

But why were (and are) the “big mistakes” made? A clue is that lockdowns, closed borders, test and trace, and facemasks, are all non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI’s). Any and all things pharmaceutical have been ignored from the get go. And not just ignored: there have even been – and still are- extensive coordinated campaigns against ivermectin (IVM), hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and recently even aspirin.

Never has there been any advice for people to boost their vit. C and D levels, or zinc and quercetin. Aspirin and melatonin are never mentioned. Still, it’s widely known that these substances can provide protection from Covid in their various ways. So how can it be that all those highly paid medical experts and scientists that advise their governments never seem to talk about them?

Perhaps you need to look at how the field is laid out. The pharmaceutical industry has the by far largest lobbying departments in the world (and you thought it was Big Oil). In Washington alone there are hundreds of lobbyists working for Big Pharma. Who not only support the politicians’ election campaigns, they also pay huge amounts to the same medical experts that advise the same politicians. Moreover, lobbyists often even write the laws for the politicians, who are not experts. Sort of a symbiotic relationship, if you will.

 

The problem that I have with this, and these people apparently don’t, is that this has cost enormous amounts of suffering and deaths. For no apparent reason at all. The UK, and any other -western- country, could have promoted vitamin D -and C-, plus zinc and quercetin, and added on ivermectin and/or HCQ, perhaps doxycycline, and only a fraction of the present victims would have died and/or been incapacitated.

And this is not a story about the past either: it continues to this day. There are no protocols for protecting people, and none for early treatment. It’s still: go home and wait till you get so sick you need a ventilator. What doctor signs up for that? Well, most of them do. Screw Hippocrates. 95% of the deaths and misery could have been prevented with cheap, available, run-of-the-mill pharmaceuticals. And your doctors refused to provide them for you.

We’ve all seen the horse dewormer campaign against ivermectin that especially outlets like CNN, and even Rolling Stone, have put so much energy in recently. But the real story of IVM is completely different. Here are a few countries and states, and their experiences with it.

 

 

 

Puerto Rico:

 

Uttar Pradesh:

 

Tokyo:

 

And Indonesia:


Indonesia ramped up ivermectin production and the government assured national distribution and fair prices. IVM is considered by the government a COVID medicine.

 

 

Good thing we didn’t take that horse dewormer. We were smart, we listened to “The Science”, and spend billions on vaccines. It’s too early to oversee the harm these substances have done and will do, and there’s a lot of pressure not to make it public, but we can get an idea from two countries that were initially spared much of what we experienced. They were genuine Covid success stories, like New Zealand was. Until they started vaccinating. Here’s Taiwan and Singapore.

 

Taiwan:

 

And here is Singapore, bit of a strange graph because the timeline is split in two, but obvious enough:

 

And now we’re sitting here without ivermectin, because it’s been banned in many places, but with increasing pressure to get jabbed with substances that look very suspect. And increasingly without the freedom to choose what we think is best for us and our families.

But you can still choose to boost your immune system with vitamin D, without which it can’t properly function, and vitamin C. Be careful with zinc, but do consider it; it keeps the virus out of your cells. And it works better with quercetin. And do tell your doctor that you would like a prescription for ivermectin -if only to see the reaction- or HCQ. Ask about melatonin. Get some low dose aspirin. Inform yourself.

Since I am not a doctor (I just listen to them a lot), let me close with an old favorite I haven’t used in a long time: This information is for entertainment purposes only.

PS: Oh, and no, these things are not mistakes. Mistakes are not deliberate.

 

 

 

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Oct 152021
 


Paul Gauguin Christ in the garden of olives 1889

 

For the Right to Try (Hope)
Deaths Following Vaccination in Taiwan Exceed COVID Death Total (BA)
Go Ahead, Keep Being Stupid (Denninger)
FDA Panel Recommends Half-dose Boosters For Moderna Vaccine (JT)
Navy Announces Plans To Expel Those Refusing Vaccine, Revoke Benefits (ZH)
Workers At Los Alamos Nuclear Lab Sue Over Vaccine Mandate (JTN)
The 2020 Election Wasn’t Stolen, It Was Bought By Mark Zuckerberg (Fed.)
Blackwell: Republicans Should Have Poll Workers At Every Precinct In 2022 (JTN)
#EmptyShelvesJoe Hits Number 1 Trend On Twitter (PM)
Joe Biden Could Get Drawn Into The FBI Probe Into His Son Hunter (Fox)
Americans’ Heating Bills To Soar Up To 50% This Winter (ZH)

 

 

Hessen becomes the first federal state in Germany to allow supermarkets to bar unvaccinated persons from entry (BILD).

 

 

Highly effective

 

 

Vermont is the most vaccinated US state

 

 

 

 

Murder by judge.

For the Right to Try (Hope)

“A Fairfield Township man with COVID-19 whose wife sued to force West Chester Hospital to treat him with Ivermectin has died, according to his attorney. Jeffrey Smith died Saturday, September 25, said his attorney, Jonathan Davidson of Hamilton. Smith, 51, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in July and was in the intensive care unit at West Chester Hospital.” According to a news report published October 4, 2021, “Jeffrey Smith tested positive for COVID-19 July 9, was hospitalized, and was admitted to the intensive care unit July 15. He was put on the hospital’s COVID-19 protocol of the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, along with plasma and steroids. On July 27, after a period of relative stability, Jeffrey Smith’s condition began to decline. He was sedated and intubated, and placed on a ventilator on August 1.

Smith was in a medically-induced coma on August 20, according to an affidavit his wife filed with her lawsuit. ‘My husband is on death’s doorstep; he has no other options,’ she wrote, adding at another point that her husband’s chances of survival had dropped to less than 30%.” In August, Judge Gregory Howard ordered the hospital, West Chester, to honor the family’s request to treat him with Ivermectin. Judge Howard approved Dr. Fred Wagshul’s prescription of Ivermectin 30 mg daily for three weeks. Dr. Wagshul is a renowned Pulmonary Specialist who reports having treated over 2,000 patients with Ivermectin with 100% success. He heads the Lung Center of America in Dayton, Ohio.

In addition, he is a founding member of the World-Renowned Front-Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a non-profit group of highly-published physicians dedicated to saving lives. By the grace of God and Judge Howard, Jeffrey Smith won the court order to receive the life-saving Ivermectin for which attorney Ralph Lorigo and his team had fought at his wife’s plea. It appeared that Jeffrey Smith would be another in the string of Lorigo’s cases that received court-ordered Ivermectin and went on to enjoy a full recovery. Lorigo’s ICU cases who win court-ordered Ivermectin have more than a 90% recovery rate, unlike their chances with standard care, which is well below 50%, and in this case, less than 30%.

[..] Over thirteen days, Smith faithfully got the Ivermectin, and began to improve, said Dr. Wagshul. It looked like Ralph Lorigo had worked another miracle. And then the unthinkable occurred. A new judge ordered the Ivermectin stopped against the wishes of his wife, his family, and Dr. Wagshul. And soon after that, 51-year-old Jeffrey Smith’s life ended. Judge Michael Oster reversed the ruling before Smith could receive the entire three weeks of court-ordered Ivermectin. As a result, he only received 13 doses out of the 21 mandated by the previous order. According to Ralph Lorigo, lead attorney, “they were planning to begin weaning off the ventilator.”

Read more …

Taiwan was doing fine. And then the vaccines came.

Deaths Following Vaccination in Taiwan Exceed COVID Death Total (BA)

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, few nations have been lauded as much for their management of the disease as Taiwan has. Since the first cases of COVID-19 in the country were reported in February 2020, only 16,313 infections and 846 deaths have been recorded. Despite how successfully the nation had managed the outbreak, it still enrolled itself in the World Health Organization-led COVAX exchange program and began its first wave of vaccinations on March 22, 2021. While the nation hadn’t had even a dozen deaths attributed to COVID-19 by the time the first vaccine was administered, 836 of the 846 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred since the vaccination program began. In an even more dubious display concerning the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines administered in Taiwan, the nation’s Central Epidemic Command Center (“CECC”) has stated that 850 deaths have been reported as adverse events following vaccinations. That total eclipses the number of fatalities attributed to the virus itself.


Taiwan’s vaccination campaign began much later than many other nations, a lag which many blame on political interference from China which was best illustrated by the island nation’s difficulties procuring orders of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines. Despite these hurdles, the country was able to first able to procure 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines. Additional deliveries of 200,000 and 400,000 doses from the same manufacturer arrived the following two months before another 150,000 vaccines from Moderna were delivered in May 2021. It gave emergency approval to a domestically engineered alternative made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation with shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson soon following. As of October 11, 4.48 million Taiwanese, about 19% of the population, have been fully vaccinated and 13.7 million, or about 59% of population, have received on dose. The country has stated that it seeks to have 70% of its population fully vaccinated.

Yet, by the time Taiwan had approved those five vaccines for emergency use, an alarming trend began appearing. The highest seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 observed in Taiwan before its first vaccines were deployed was just 3. By May 28, 2021, that seven-day average exploded to 597. As the rest of the world grappled with an increase in cases despite the global advancement of vaccination efforts, most those countries had record their all-time highs for new cases and deaths before any vaccines were available. One exception to that rule was seen in Israel, where the record for a highest single-day case count was recorded following the beginning of the nation’s campaign to administer third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in the wake of concerns of the delta variant’s impact of the efficacy of vaccines. Yet, even though Israel did surpass its previous one-day high, the amount by which it exceeded that paled in comparison to Taiwan. The seven-day average in Taiwan would not fall under 10 new cases again until September 2021. Since then, despite the increase in vaccinations, that national average has never managed to reach its pre-vaccination levels. The lowest seven-day average Taiwan has seen since it began vaccinating its citizens was recorded at 5 on September 5, 2021.

Read more …

“If your particular “circle of friends and acquaintances” hasn’t seen a spike of severe injuries, disability and mortality yet — I’ll make a prediction: It will.”

Go Ahead, Keep Being Stupid (Denninger)

Two days of FDA murderfest are on deck with the agenda items being Moderna and J&J “booster” shots. As with the Fraudzer jabs there will be no data deck submitted, no side effect profile, no disclosure of the data the manufacturers have that is not in VAERS, no reconciliation of the VAERS data with clinical experience and zero accountability for any of the people already wounded, including those mortally wounded who don’t know it yet all the way up to those already dead. The screamfest about how Covid-19 infection produces “worse” myocarditis and other cardiac complications than the vaccines will, of course, be maintained. Never mind the clinical study data that says that’s a lie:

“To analyse the impact of COVID-19 pandemics on CVD outcomes in Belo Horizonte (BH), the 6th greater capital city in Brazil, including: mortality, mortality at home, hospitalizations, intensive care unit utilization, and in-hospital mortality; and the differential effect according to sex, age range, social vulnerability, and pandemics phase.” Oh, you mean someone’s done the work? Why yes, yes they have. Oh look, we have a formal study here in Brazil. They have fat people, thin people, old people, young people, you know, humans. And like everywhere else they get cardiovascular disease. Like everywhere else they also have gotten hammered with Covid-19; indeed, they’ve been hammered worse than many other places, largely because they have an extraordinarily-stratified population and a large part of it has jack for medical care, routine or otherwise.

So if Covid-19 was killing people a few weeks to months later via heart attack it would show up in the numbers. This study ran through November of 2020, that is, all through the worst of the first wave, with months of time for those adverse impacts to show up and kill people. By the claims all those who got Covid-19 and recovered contributed massively to CVD deaths, right? The rate was much higher than it would otherwise be. Why, after you got Covid-19 you were much more likely to have a heart attack and die! THIS IS THE CLAIM SO WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? “Results: We found no changes in CVD mortality rates (RiR 1.01, 95%CI 0.96-1.06). However, CVD deaths occurred more at homes (RiR 1.32, 95%CI 1.20-1.46) than in hospitals (RiR 0.89, 95%CI 0.79-0.99), as a result of a substantial decline in hospitalization rates, even though proportional in-hospital deaths increased.”

Oh. What did they find related to this? That people avoided the hospital when in cardiac distress and thus the percentage of such deaths that occurred at home went up. But wait….. is this one indictment or two indictments in one study? You see, if going to the doctor or hospital saves your ass when in such a condition then the death rate from CVD should have gone up. That it was difficult to figure out why it went up is still an open question, but it should have increased, assuming said hospitals and doctors actually improved outcomes. But…. they don’t improve outcomes, do they? Need to read it again? Results: We found no changes in CVD mortality rates So said doctors and hospitals don’t help. That’s a bummer.

What’s a bigger bummer is that the jabs are killing and severely-injuring people, and not a few of them either. If your particular “circle of friends and acquaintances” hasn’t seen a spike of severe injuries, disability and mortality yet — I’ll make a prediction: It will.

Read more …

Protection for 6 weeks? Or do we have to subtract the first two here as well?

Oh, and your booster can be another vaccine too, I hear, so nobody will have any idea anymore about a specific vaccine’s efficacy.

FDA Panel Recommends Half-dose Boosters For Moderna Vaccine (JT)

The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel unanimously approved Thursday a booster shot of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for select groups of people. According to the Associated Press, the panel of outside experts recommended booster shots be administered to people over the age of 65, people ages 16 and older who have underlying conditions causing them to be at risk of severe illness, and those whose profession puts them at risk of contracting COVID. The final category of people includes frontline workers, such as supermarket employees, healthcare professionals, and first responders.


The panel recommended booster shots at half the dosage of the original shots, advising that they can be administered six months after a person was fully vaccinated. According to NPR, some experts pointed out that the FDA has set a precedent by granting emergency use to Pfizer for its booster shots. “I support this [emergency use authorization] because we’ve already approved it for Pfizer, and I don’t see how we can possibly not approve it for Moderna and not have most U.S. folks completely confused,” said Dr. Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa. “I think it’s a pragmatic issue.” The panel is expected to discuss booster shots for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on Friday.

Read more …

We’re going to lose a lot of doctors, nurses, policemen, soldiers.

Navy Announces Plans To Expel Those Refusing Vaccine, Revoke Benefits (ZH)

At the end of August the Pentagon initially announced a mandate for military personnel across all armed service branches, ordering them to “immediately begin” Covid vaccination. A memo issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the time directed the Secretaries of the Military Departments to “immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” However, when the mandate went out it remained unclear precisely what repercussions military members would face if they don’t comply – this also as a number of lawsuits have since been filed against the DoD by troops arguing that the order violates individual medical freedom. On Thursday the US Navy made it clear to their personnel: receive the jab by November 28 for be expelled from the service.

“With Covid-19 vaccines now mandatory for all military members, the Navy has announced plans to start processing for discharge those who refuse vaccination without a pending or approved exemption,” the US Navy said in the statement. The Pentagon had so far remained ambiguous over whether servicemembers would actually be booted after the mandate cut-off date. With Thursday’s Navy announcement, other branches are expected to soon follow suit. The AFP notes that “The navy said that 98 percent of its 350,000 active duty members had begun or completed the vaccination process.” The rate among all branches combined is about equal – or just under this, but Pentagon officials worry about lagging vaccination rates in the reserves, given recent reports indicate just 80% of the reserves have had at least one dose.

The AFP report underscores that if official Pentagon policy becomes to expel troops across the board for refusing the shot, this could create a significant problem for US defense readiness, given it would inevitably involve a mass exit of troops. “If all the services take the same hard line that the navy is taking, it risks losing as many as 46,000 troops, though presumably more will accept vaccinations before the deadline,” the report underscores. What remains is the question of the terms under which they would be discharged at the end of November. The Navy said in the Thursday announcement those kicked out for not taking the vaccine “will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions.” However, there could be penalties like being forced to pay back certain training and education costs – or more significantly the loss of post military service benefits, as the official Navy guidance spells out: “This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.”

Read more …

“Workers at the lab face potential termination if they are unable to provide proof of vaccination by Friday.”

Workers At Los Alamos Nuclear Lab Sue Over Vaccine Mandate (JTN)

Workers at a nuclear laboratory in New Mexico filed a lawsuit Thursday attempting to stop a vaccine mandate from taking effect. According to The Hill, more than 100 workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are alleging that the laboratory’s vaccine exemption policy is too strict and that their exemptions were wrongfully denied. The New Mexico laboratory is best known for creating the atomic bomb and is one of the largest employers within the state. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have some of the highest security clearances in the nation, and their jobs range from nuclear engineers to research technicians.


According to the Associated Press, the workers allege that the company that manages the lab, Triad National Security LLC., created a hostile work environment, as well as violated their constitutional rights by implementing a strict COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In an anecdote reported to The Hill, one worker claimed they were scolded publicly for not being vaccinated and told that his “family deserved to die.” According to the Associated Press, the management company says 96% of its workforce is vaccinated, while the plaintiffs claim this number is actually much lower. Workers at the lab face potential termination if they are unable to provide proof of vaccination by Friday.

Read more …

“..passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices..”

The 2020 Election Wasn’t Stolen, It Was Bought By Mark Zuckerberg (Fed.)

During the 2020 election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars to turn out likely Democratic voters. But this wasn’t traditional political spending. He funded a targeted, private takeover of government election operations by nominally non-partisan — but demonstrably ideological — non-profit organizations. Analysis conducted by our team demonstrates this money significantly increased Joe Biden’s vote margin in key swing states. This unprecedented merger of public election offices with private resources and personnel is an acute threat to our republic, and should be the focus of electoral reform efforts moving forward.

The 2020 election wasn’t stolen — it was likely bought by one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men pouring his money through legal loopholes. The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices, and it came with strings attached. Every CTCL and CEIR grant spelled out in great detail the conditions under which the grant money was to be used. This is not a matter of Democrats outspending Republicans. Private funding of election administration was virtually unknown in the American political system before the 2020 election.

Big CTCL and CEIR money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, lobbying, or other expenses that are related to increasingly expensive modern elections. It had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by left-wing activists, and using those offices as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, voting methods, and data-sharing agreements, as well as to launch intensive outreach campaigns in areas heavy with Democratic voters. For instance, CTCL/CEIR funded self-described “vote navigators” in Wisconsin to “assist voters, potentially at their front doors, to answer questions, assist in ballot curing … and witness absentee ballot signatures,” and a temporary staffing agency affiliated with Stacey Abrams called “Happy Faces” counting the votes amidst the election night chaos in Fulton County, Georgia.

Read more …

“..training ex-military to be poll workers on Election Day..”

Blackwell: Republicans Should Have Poll Workers At Every Precinct In 2022 (JTN)

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is urging that all Republican candidates should follow the lead of GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who is training ex-military to be poll workers on Election Day. Youngkin’s campaign is ensuring they have poll workers — not just observers — at every precinct for the the state’s gubernatorial election in November, Blackwell explained on the John Solomon Reports podcast Wednesday. With this strategy, “any attempt to hide in the dark corners of a process and snatch this election from the voters of Virginia will be stopped dead in its tracks,” said Ohio’s former top election official. “[S]afeguarding the integrity of our elections is paramount to preserving our republic,” he continued.


“And any attempts of individual cheaters, or any attempt by the federal government to concentrate control of our elections back in one party in Washington, D.C. must be resist[ed].” Blackwell added that Virginia is the first test case “to build a strong team on the field — you know, not sideline sitters, but folks who are on the frontline.” Blackwell was asked if the Republican Party should train poll workers, like Youngkin is doing with ex-military, and have them cover every precinct in America during the 2022 midterm elections. “I’m encouraging … that battle plan to be carried out in every state,” he replied. In a country of over 3,000 counties, there are hundreds of thousands of precincts, he noted. “[W]e cannot allow what happened in 2020 to happen again,” Blackwell stressed, when “we had tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of precincts left uncovered.”

Read more …

They’re sweating by now.

#EmptyShelvesJoe Hits Number 1 Trend On Twitter (PM)

On Wednesday afternoon, #EmptyShelvesJoe became the number one trending hashtag on Twitter in the US as the country experiences shortages stemming from a supply chain crisis. Despite President Joe Biden calling himself a “Supply Commander” during his run for president, the US has been hit hard with supply chain snarls. At one point, there were 62 boats backed up at the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles. In a Wednesday speech, Biden addressed the supply chain issues, saying he signed an executive order in February regarding the issue. Conditions have gradualy deteriorated since then.

“I know you’re hearing a lot about something called supply chains, and how hard it is to get a range of things from a toaster to sneakers to bicycles bedroom furniture. And that’s why, back in February. I signed a piece of legislation on supply chain — Executive Order on supply chains, and what we had to move on. And with the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time,” said Biden. He continued: “Well, let me explain. Supply chains, essentially mean, how we make things, and how the material and parts get delivered to factory a factory, so we can manufacture things, and manufacturing here, how we move things, how a finished product moves from a factory to a store to your home.”

Biden assured residents in June that after a dismal jobs report, saying “There are going to be ups and down in jobs and economic reports, but there are going to be supply chain issues and price pressures on the way back to stability and steady growth.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the issue would get better before it got worse, but she refused to make a prediction on the matter. “I’m not going to make a prediction of that from here. We know there are a number of issues that impact the supply chain and I don’t want to make a prediction because it’s not just one issue. Certainly, increasing the capacity at… ports and increasing the number of hours will have a positive impact, there’s no question about that,” said Psaki on Wednesday.

Read more …

“With these disclosures, we have accounts being used to pay both Hunter and Joe Biden..”

Joe Biden Could Get Drawn Into The FBI Probe Into His Son Hunter (Fox)

A report published Tuesday contends that President Joe Biden could get tied up in the ongoing FBI investigation into his son Hunter Biden’s finances due to the sharing of bank accounts and payment of each other’s bills. Emails obtained by DailyMail.com from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop show that his business partner, Eric Schwerin, was working on Joe Biden’s tax returns and discussing the father and son paying each other’s bills. Additionally, the emails show that Schwerin fielded book deal requests for Joe Biden, who was vice-president at the time, and also managed the donation of Biden’s Senate papers to the University of Delaware.

Hunter Biden has claimed that he and his father shared a bank account and admitted last year that he was under federal investigation over his taxes. Emails show that on April 9, 2010, Schwerin wrote to Hunter: “I was dealing all afternoon with JRB’s taxes (but solved a big issue – so it was all worth it).” On June 10 of the same year, Schwerin wrote, “Your Dad’s Delaware tax refund check came today. I am depositing it in his account and writing a check in that amount back to you since he owes it to you. Don’t think I need to run it by him, but if you want to go ahead. If not, I will deposit tomorrow.” It is unknown what specifically Joe Biden owed Hunter money for.

An expert on money laundering and criminal tax law told DailyMail.com that those entanglements could drag the current president into the FBI’s investigation. “Whatever transaction you’re looking at, if there’s a connection to a family member or a friend, sure the answer is yes [they would be investigated],” the expert, a former federal prosecutor who requested not to be named, told DailyMail.com. “Obviously, if you’re talking about the President of the United States, you’d better have a pretty damn good reason to talk to that person.”

[..] JONATHAN TURLEY: With these disclosures, we have accounts being used to pay both Hunter and Joe Biden and money being reimbursed to Hunter Biden from an individual associated with a company called Rosemont Seneca. Now that’s a company that has been tied to payments from China and Russia. And so this is getting more and more serious. The question is why the Justice Department hasn’t considered the appointment of a special counsel. We know there’s a criminal investigation into the tax issues, possible money laundering. But there are also serious questions about whether the Biden family conducted an extensive influence-peddling operation involving not just Hunter but his uncle and potentially the president of the United States.

Read more …

The pandemic cost us a lot of energy.

Americans’ Heating Bills To Soar Up To 50% This Winter (ZH)

So far, Americans have been watching the money-depleting energy crisis that hit Europe and Asia with detached bemusement: after all, while US energy prices are higher, they are nowhere near the hyperinflation observed in Europe. That is about to change because as the Energy Information Administration warned this week, much higher heating bills are coming this winter. According to the IEA’s October winter fuels outlook (pdf), nearly half of U.S. households that warm their homes with mainly natural gas can expect to spend an average of 30% more on their “multi-year high” bills compared with last year. The agency added that bills would be 50% higher if the winter is 10% colder than average and 22% higher if the winter is 10% warmer than average.


The forecast rise in costs, according to the report, will result in an average natural-gas home-heating bill of $746 from Oct. 1 to March 31, compared with about $573 during the same period last year. As the Epoch Times adds, propane costs are forecasted to rise by 54%, heating oil costs to rise by 43%, natural gas costs to rise by 30%, and electricity costs to rise by 6 percent. And with natural gas consumption projected to rise by 3% this winter, households are expected to spend $746 this winter, up from $573 last winter. The increase in natural gas heating costs varies by region with the Midwest U.S. leading the price hike at a 45% increase from last winter, and the Northeast expecting a hike of 14%.

Nearly half of all U.S. households use natural gas as the primary source of heating. Households relying on heating oil over winter will spend $1,734 over winter, relative to $1,212 last winter. Houses in Northeastern regions will be more affected by the price hike as nearly one in five homes in the region rely on heating oil as their primary source of space heating. The projection is based on the Brent crude oil price, which helps determine the prices of U.S. petroleum products. “The higher forecast Brent crude oil price this winter primarily reflects a decline in global oil inventories compared with last winter as a result of global oil demand that has risen amid restrained production levels from OPEC+ countries,” according to the EIA.


While most households commonly use electricity for heating, 41% rely on electric heat pumps or heaters as their primary source for space heating. These homes should expect to spend $1,268 this winter season, relative to $1196 last year. This projection accounts for 3 percent more residential electricity demand with more Americans working from home, a colder winter, as well as a rise in fuel costs for power generation. “During the first seven months of this year, the cost of natural gas delivered to U.S. electric generators averaged $4.97/MMBtu, which is more than double the average cost in 2020,” stated EIA.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 172021
 


Pablo Picasso Family of Saltimbanques 1905

 

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)
Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)
NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)
Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)
Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)
Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)
Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)
Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)
Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)
Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)
Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)
When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)
Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

 

 

Biden condensed

 

 

The CIA gets a large part of its off the books funding from poppies.

The Taliban banned poppy growing. The CIA moved its poppy farms to Colombia. Over the past years, much has been moved back.

Afghanistan GDP is $20 billion; the UNODC estimated the country’s overall illicit opiate economy in 2017 at $6.6 billion.

Will the CIA make a deal with the Taliban this time?

 

 

Shut you entire country down for one case, after 20 months, and people call you a success story.

New Zealand To Enter Nationwide Lockdown After 1 Local Covid Case (Axios)

New Zealand will enter a snap nationwide lockdown at its highest level on Tuesday night after a 58-year-old man from Auckland tested positive for COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced. This is the first coronavirus case detected in NZ’s community for 170 days and officials are concerned the man may have the highly contagious Delta variant. New Zealand has only experienced a level 4 nationwide lockdown once before. This is only the second lockdown for communities outside Auckland, NZ’s most populous city, since the pandemic began. Ardern noted at a news conference Tuesday that although it was unknown what strain of the virus the man had, most of the infections in managed hotel quarantine had the Delta variant.


The level 4 national lockdown will last for three days, from 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which the recently man visited, will likely experience this for seven days. New Zealand has largely contained COVID-19 cases to managed hotel quarantine facilities. Under alert level 4 restrictions, schools move to remote classes and non-essential businesses close — including food delivery services. Only essential travel is permitted, and water activities like swimming are banned. People must remain at home unless they’re exercising outdoors and locally and within their household “bubbles.” The country has paused vaccinations for the duration of the lockdown.

Read more …

This is the real success story.

Uttar Pradesh Logs Lowest Ever Daily Covid Figure at 17 (N18)

Uttar Pradesh on Monday witnessed the steepest decline in the number of fresh cases as the state limited the infections to just 17, making it the lowest ever daily-case count. Uttar Pradesh has restricted the daily-case count below 100 for over 5 weeks now. The downward trajectory of the virus has continued for the consecutive 14th week. In another significant achievement, the state registered a drop in the daily Covid test positivity rate (TPR) — the number of positive cases against the total tests done — to 0.01 percent. This rate was at its highest at 16.84 percent on April 24 and now remains even lower than the lowest post the first wave of Covid-19. The active caseload in the most populous state now stands at 419, from its peak at 3,10,783 cases on April 30.


On the contrary, sparsely populated states like Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu account for a heavy active caseload of 1,78,640, 64,219 and 20,458, respectively. In another major relief, none of the 75 districts reported fresh infections in double-digits, indicating signs that the pandemic is receding. Uttar Pradesh is rapidly moving towards being coronavirus-free as active and fresh cases in as many as 17 districts have declined to zero. In its bid to become self-reliant in terms of producing life-saving medication, as many as 317 of the 556 oxygen plants have already been established and are functional, while work on the remaining plants is going on in Uttar Pradesh.

Read more …

From inside the jail.

NSW Police Fine 600 People On First Day Of Covid Crackdown Blitz (AAP)

New South Wales police issued nearly 600 infringement notices to people flouting tough new health orders on the first day of a three-week crackdown designed to get the state’s escalating Covid crisis under control. The deputy commissioner, Mal Lanyon, said some people were still not complying even after a 5km travel rule came into effect for greater Sydney and the state reported a record 478 new local Covid-19 cases and eight deaths on Monday – the state’s worst day of the pandemic. “Yesterday we issued 579 infringement notices which is disappointing. It shows that people are still not complying. Thirty-four people received court attendant notices,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday. Police also conducted 3,800 welfare checks to see if people were following stay-at-home orders.

Seven weeks of lockdown in Sydney (NSW)

One Covid-positive man from the hotspot of Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west wasn’t home when police arrived and was later unable to provide an excuse for his actions, Lanyon said. The entire state is now locked down and a 21-day police blitz came into effect on Monday to enforce new regulations, with almost 18,000 police officers supported by 800 members of the Australian defence force. Tougher noncompliance fines of up to $5,000 are in place with people in greater Sydney confined to within 5km of their homes. Police commissioner Mick Fuller warned that officers have been told to adopt “a no-nonsense approach” to people deliberately flouting laws.

OzStudents

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“All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,”

Lockdowns Widen In China As Locals Doubt Official COVID-19 Data (ET)

A spokesperson for the Chinese National Health Commission Mi Feng said at a press conference on Friday: “As of now, the diagnosed local [COVID-19] cases have risen for 19 consecutive days, and involved 16 provinces.” On Saturday and Sunday, the regime announced more infections but many people interviewed by the Chinese-language Epoch Times said they didn’t believe the numbers because of the regime’s past underreporting on COVID-19. The regime has reported relatively small-scale local outbreaks this year until July 20, when Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu Province announced airport workers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Since then, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, has spread to dozens of cities across the country.

In its counting of COVID-19 cases the Chinese regime doesn’t include infected people not showing obvious symptoms. The regime also claims that anyone found to have COVID-19 who travelled overseas in the past month must have contracted the CCP virus when they were out of China, and count them as imported cases. Local cases end up being those who haven’t visited other countries in the past months and have symptoms. In Zhengyang County in central Henan Province, the regime only announced one person diagnosed with COVID-19 in recent weeks, but have locked down residential compounds and villages. The regime even planned to test all residents in the county again on Friday, although it didn’t report any infections in a first round of tests carried out two days earlier.

As of around midday Monday local time, Zhengyang County government had only announced that it had found one case that tested positive on Aug. 9 and another that was counted as an individual showing symptoms on Thursday. However, the county has strictly controlled people’s movements. On Saturday, local residents in the county said lockdown measures meant they couldn’t leave home and many believed the real infection figure must be larger than what the authorities are admitting. “All of us have been fully vaccinated (with two doses),” Wang, a staff member of Zhengyang train station, said in a phone interview on Saturday. “All of us have been tested for COVID this week. And all of us have to take the second test tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Wang said. “The outbreak is very severe here.”

The Zhengyang City government announced that no private or business vehicles were allowed on roads from Saturday. Only ambulances, garbage trucks, and other emergency vehicles were allowed to use the roads. A Zhengyang farmer told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on Saturday that even farmers aren’t allowed to leave their homes or work their fields. “If there’s only one infection [in Zhengyang], the regime shouldn’t be so nervous, and shouldn’t ask us to test at night. They said we will be tested again,” the farmer said. “They [the regime] don’t allow us to farm our lands, don’t allow us to visit the city, don’t allow us to visit our friends and relatives. All schools and after-school classes were closed,” she said.

Read more …

Berenson: “New @JAMA_current paper says @moderna_Tx caused 2.3x the number of “significant” symptoms compared to @pfizer in a sample of 950 people.


Moderna also produced more antibodies. Raising the question of what a third dose, which produces still MORE, will do.”

Association of Vaccine Type and Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection (JAMA)

In June 2020, HWs in the Johns Hopkins Health System provided oral informed consent to participate in a longitudinal study of S1 spike antibodies in which serum samples and survey responses were collected every 3 to 4 months. Ethical approval was obtained from the Johns Hopkins University Institutional Review Board. The HWs who participated for a study visit between March 10 and April 8, 2021, were included in this analysis if their serum sample was collected 14 or more days after receiving dose 2 of either mRNA vaccine. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Euroimmun), IgG antibody measurements were determined based on optical density ratios with an upper threshold of 11 based on assay saturation.

Prior SARS-CoV-2 infection was defined as having (1) a positive SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test result prior to 14 days after dose 2 or (2) S1 spike IgG measurement greater than 1.23 prior to vaccination.5 Participants self-reported symptoms following vaccination as none, mild (injection site pain, mild fatigue, headache), or clinically significant (fatigue, fever, chills). Logistic regression models were used to explore the association of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccine type with symptoms following each dose, adjusting for sex and age. A linear regression model was used to explore the association between magnitude of antibody response (log-transformed) and age, sex, prior infection, vaccine type, symptoms, and time after 2 doses of vaccine. Analyses were performed in R, version 4.0.2 (R Foundation).

Results
A questionnaire and serum sample were collected 14 or more days following dose 2 for 954 HWs. Clinically significant symptoms were reported by 52 of the 954 (5%) after dose 1 and 407 (43%) after dose 2. After adjusting for prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, age, and sex, the odds of clinically significant symptoms following either dose were higher among participants who received the Moderna vs the Pfizer vaccine (dose 1: odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% CI, 0.96-3.50; dose 2: OR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.73-3.40) (Table). Prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure was associated with increased odds of clinically significant symptoms following dose 1 (OR, 4.38; 95% CI, 2.25-8.55) but not dose 2 (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.36-0.99), after controlling for vaccine type, age, and sex.

Regardless of symptoms, the vast majority of participants (953 of 954, greater than 99.9%) developed spike IgG antibodies 14 or more days following dose 2; 1 participant who was taking immunosuppressant medication did not develop IgG antibodies. Reporting clinically significant symptoms, age younger than 60 years, female sex, receipt of Moderna vaccine, and prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure were independently associated with higher median IgG measurements, after adjusting for time after dose 2.

Read more …

Kulldorff is next.

Harvard Med Professor Censored For Contrarian Covid Posts (JTN)

Martin Kulldorff started relying on LinkedIn to share news and views on COVID-19 policy after Twitter suspended the Harvard Medical School professor for a month for questioning the protective power of masks. Now the Microsoft-owned professional social network is scrutinizing his posts, going so far as to remove two for violating its misinformation policy. It’s at least the second action LinkedIn has taken this summer against a vaccine scientist who questioned COVID-19 orthodoxy. It suspended Robert Malone, who credits himself as the inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, for alleging dangers from the “spike protein” in mRNA vaccines, citing heart-inflammation reports in some vaccinated young people and highlighting Big Tech censorship and conflicts of interest. A LinkedIn “senior executive” personally apologized to him for wrongful removal, Malone said.

Kulldorff made a similar cost-benefit argument against mandatory COVID vaccinations for young people in a June op-ed. He directed Twitter followers to find the op-ed on his LinkedIn page because “Twitter does not allow vaccine scientists to freely discuss vaccines.” Now he’s directing Linkedin followers to find him on Twitter, though the scientist confirmed to Just the News that he is concerned about further censorship there, “so I self-censor on Twitter.” One of Kulldorff’s Harvard Med colleagues spoke against LinkedIn for the censorship. “The point is not whether a minority viewpoint is right,” bioethics professor Jonathan Darrow, who cowrote a journal article with Kulldorff last year, wrote in an email. If such views are silenced, “public health options may be closed off prematurely, matters may be erroneously believed to be settled, and needed research may never be conducted.”


[..] COVID-19 orthodoxy has “unjustifiably tarnished” the reputations of scientists such as Stanford University’s John Ioannidis, “one of the most well-respected luminaries” in evidence-based medicine, Darrow said. Ioannidis lost that respect “because he publicly presented data about COVID’s infection fatality rate that were politically unpopular.” Censorship is also “communicable,” according to Darrow, “potentially tipping the scales of public judgment one way or the other and leading to a downward spiral of intolerance in which minority views are increasingly suppressed.”

Read more …

When one insanity meets the other.

Afghans Fleeing Taliban Need Negative PCR Test For Now-suspended Flights (RT)

The suspension of flights leaving Kabul has left countless civilians at the mercy of the Taliban. But even if flights resume, Afghans fleeing the country will still need to test negative for Covid, according to a baffling report. Soon after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital on Sunday, hundreds of civilians began to pour into Kabul’s international airport in hopes of being airlifted to safety. But by Monday morning, commercial airlines had halted operations in the Afghan capital due to gunfire around the air hub – caused at least in part by US soldiers firing warning shots at civilians gathering on the tarmac. But the suspension of regular outbound flights is just one of several hurdles facing Afghans seeking a one-way ticket out of the country: airlines operating in the Afghan capital ask for passengers to provide a negative coronavirus test.


The arguably ill-timed flight requirement was spotted at the end of an Atlantic article chronicling the frustrating story of an Afghan interpreter, Khan, and his family as they try to secure safe passage out of the country. “Today, Sunday, the Taliban are in Kabul… The neighborhood where Khan was renting a room has become dangerous, and he and his family have fled, walking six miles to another hiding place. He needs to find a facility that will administer the Covid-19 tests required by the airlines. He needs to get his family to the airport. He needs two more days,” reads the last paragraph of the article.

Read more …

Bubbles.

Tsitsipas Refuses To Take Vaccine Unless It Becomes Mandatory On Tour (R.)

World number three Stefanos Tsitsipas said he would only get the Covid-19 vaccine if it became mandatory to compete in tennis. While the men’s ATP Tour has publicly encouraged players to get vaccinated, the 23-year-old Greek is among those who still have reservations. “No one has told me anything. No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated,” he told reporters, when asked if he would seek a vaccine while competing in the US. “At some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn’t been mandatory to compete, so I haven’t done it, no,” added Tsitsipas, who received a first-round bye in the Masters 1000 tournament in Cincinnati.

He reached the French Open final in June but suffered a shock, first-round exit at Wimbledon, where he told reporters he found it challenging to live and compete in the Covid-19 “bubble.” The Covid-19 vaccine has divided opinion within tennis. World number one Novak Djokovic said in April he hoped the Covid-19 vaccine would not become mandatory for players to compete and has declined to answer questions regarding his own vaccination status. However, fellow 20-time Grand Slam winners Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal feel athletes need to play their part to get life back to some form of normality.


Federer said in May that he received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Nadal said: “The only way out of this nightmare is vaccination. Our responsibility as human beings is to accept it. “I know there is a percentage of people who will suffer from side effects, but the effects of the virus are worse.” Spectators will not be allowed to attend qualifying rounds at this month’s U.S. Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said last week. The USTA previously said it would allow full fan capacity for the main part of the tournament.

Read more …

China knows.

Afghan Abandonment A Lesson For Taiwan (Global Times)

The geopolitical value of Afghanistan is no less than that of Taiwan island. Around Afghanistan, there are the US’ three biggest geopolitical rivals – China, Russia and Iran. In addition, Afghanistan is a bastion of anti-US ideology. The withdrawal of US troops from there is not because Afghanistan is unimportant. It’s because it has become too costly for Washington to have a presence in the country. Now the US wants to find a better way to use its resources to maintain its hegemony in the world. Taiwan is probably the US’ most cost-effective ally in East Asia. There is no US military presence on the island of Taiwan. The way the US maintains the alliance with Taiwan is simple: It sells arms to Taiwan while encouraging the DPP authorities to implement anti-mainland policies through political support and manipulation.

As a result, it has caused a certain degree of depletion between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. And what Washington has to do is only to send warships and aircraft near the Straits from time to time. In general, the US does not have to spend a penny on Taiwan. Instead, it makes money through arms sales and forced pork and beef sales to the island. This is totally a profitable geopolitical deal for Washington. Once a cross-Straits war breaks out while the mainland seizes the island with forces, the US would have to have a much greater determination than it had for Afghanistan, Syria, and Vietnam if it wants to interfere. A military intervention of the US will be a move to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, and this will make Washington pay a huge price rather than earn profit.


Some people on the island of Taiwan hype that the island is different from Afghanistan, and that the US wouldn’t leave them alone. Indeed, the island is different from Afghanistan. But the difference is the deeper hopelessness of a US victory if it gets itself involved in a cross-Straits war. Such a war would mean unthinkable costs for the US, in front of which the so-called special importance of Taiwan is nothing but wishful thinking of the DPP authorities and secessionist forces on the island.

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“Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke.”

Kabul Has Fallen – But Don’t Blame Joe Biden (Ron Paul)

This weekend the US experienced another “Saigon moment,” this time in Afghanistan. After a 20 year war that drained trillions from Americans’ pockets, the capital of Afghanistan fell without a fight. The corrupt Potemkin regime that the US had been propping up for two decades and the Afghan military that we had spent billions training just melted away. The rush is on now to find somebody to blame for the chaos in Afghanistan. Many of the “experts” doing the finger-pointing are the ones most to blame. Politicians and pundits who played cheerleader for this war for two decades are now rushing to blame President Biden for finally getting the US out. Where were they when succeeding presidents continued to add troops and expand the mission in Afghanistan?

The US war on Afghanistan was not lost yesterday in Kabul. It was lost the moment it shifted from a limited mission to apprehend those who planned the attack on 9/11 to an exercise in regime change and nation-building. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks I proposed that we issue letters of marque and reprisal to bring those responsible to justice. But such a limited and targeted response to the attack was ridiculed at the time. How could the US war machine and all its allied profiteers make their billions if we didn’t put on a massive war? So who is to blame for the scenes from Afghanistan this weekend? There is plenty to go around. Congress has kicked the can down the road for 20 years, continuing to fund the Afghan war long after even they understood that there was no point to the US occupation.

There were some efforts by some Members to end the war, but most, on a bipartisan basis, just went along to get along. The generals and other high-ranking military officers lied to their commander-in-chief and to the American people for years about progress in Afghanistan. The same is true for the US intelligence agencies. Unless there is a major purge of those who lied and misled, we can count on these disasters to continue until the last US dollar goes up in smoke. The military industrial complex spent 20 years on the gravy train with the Afghanistan war. They built missiles, they built tanks, they built aircraft and helicopters. They hired armies of lobbyists and think tank writers to continue the lie that was making them rich. They wrapped their graft up in the American flag, but they are the opposite of patriots.

[..] Political control in Afghanistan has returned to the people who fought against those they viewed as occupiers and for what they viewed as their homeland. That is the real lesson, but don’t expect it to be understood in Washington. War is too profitable and political leaders are too cowardly to go against the tide. But the lesson is clear for anyone wishing to see it: the US global military empire is a grave threat to the United States and its future.

Vet

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Well, we have to make some money, c’mon!

Afghanistan: We Never Learn (Taibbi)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, when asked months ago about the possibility that there might be a “significant deterioration” of the security picture in Afghanistan once the United States withdrew its forces, said, “I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.” Blinken’s Nostradamus moment was somehow one-upped by that of his boss, Joe Biden, who on July 8th had the following exchange with press: “Q: Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse. BIDEN: That is not true, they did not reach that conclusion… There is going to be no circumstance where you see people lifted off the roof of an embassy… The likelihood that you’re going to see the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

[..] The pattern is always the same. We go to places we’re not welcome, tell the public a confounding political problem can be solved militarily, and lie about our motives in occupying the country to boot. Then we pick a local civilian political authority to back that inevitably proves to be corrupt and repressive, increasing local antagonism toward the American presence. In response to those increasing levels of antagonism, we then ramp up our financial, political, and military commitment to the mission, which in turn heightens the level of resistance, leading to greater losses in lives and treasure. As the cycle worsens, the government systematically accelerates the lies to the public about our level of “progress.”

Throughout, we make false assurances of security that are believed by significant numbers of local civilians, guaranteeing they will later either become refugees or targets for retribution as collaborators. Meanwhile, financial incentives for contractors, along with political disincentives to admission of failure, prolong the mission. This all goes on for so long that the lies become institutionalized, believed not only by press contracted to deliver the propaganda (CBS’s David Martin this weekend saying with a straight face, “Everybody is surprised by the speed of this collapse” was typical), but even by the bureaucrats who concocted the deceptions in the first place.

The look of genuine shock on the face of Tony Blinken this weekend as he jousted with Jake Tapper about Biden’s comments from July should tell people around the world something important about the United States: in addition to all the other things about us that are dangerous, we lack self-knowledge. Even deep inside the machine of American power, where everyone paying even a modicum of attention over the last twenty years should have known Kabul would fall in a heartbeat, they still believe their own legends. Which means this will happen again, and probably sooner rather than later.

Read more …

“..if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA.”

When The Penny Drops It’s You And Your Portfolio On That Kabul Tarmac (Every)

The US Beltway experts who six weeks ago said the Taliban could not establish an Islamic Emirate for at least a year, and then suddenly revised that down to six weeks, and then to 72 hours, still got it wrong: it happened on Sunday evening. The Afghan president has fled, along with his artificial $88bn “army”, but the actual weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban. Crowds of desperate Afghans are flooding the runway of Kabul airport –requisitioned by the US Army because it surrendered Bagram airbase without warning weeks ago, and the Taliban now control it– in scenes that look like Saigon in 1975. Or, tragically, like the Khmer Rouge entering Phnom Penh in ‘The Killing Fields’ (in Cambodia, a few years later); and there seems a very real risk the comparison won’t stop there.

Yes, markets will try to brush this geopolitical earthquake off: It’s just Afghanistan; It’s a long way away; We never wanted to go on holiday there anyway; They don’t even buy much cheese. There will probably be attempts to talk of a ‘New Taliban’, as we did with New Labour in the UK, brushing over the fact that the latter ‘New’ was vs. 1970’s socialism, and the former is vs. 7th century fundamentalism. Indeed, the Taliban seem to now realize which Western memes make it look more palatable, and are promising to be “inclusive”. They may only need to throw in “diverse”, “equity”, “green”, and “sustainability” for Wall Street to perk up and ask “Are you in favour of free trade and QE?”, and for EU foreign policy representatives to sit next to them.

But what to do? Michael Bloomberg has already penned an editorial that says “The US Can’t Walk Away From Afghanistan”, which is correct: the US *ran* away in the eyes of Afghans. He then Bloombergs that: “Words are easy. Solutions are hard,” and suggests the US continue to fund the Afghan government and army as long as viable (too late!), help people to flee (where?), and use airstrikes and special forces to keep terrorism at bay, which will involve “Cajoling neighbouring countries for intelligence support and basing rights.” (Neighbours like China; Turkmenistan; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan; Iran; and Pakistan.) Hey, words *are* easy! And solutions hard. Yet Bloomberg is right in that this geopolitical nightmare is almost certainly only just beginning.

As noted here on Friday, if you don’t see this US policy debacle increases the risks of ‘red-line’ incidents in the Asia/Indo-Pacific, perhaps you should look for a desk job at the CIA. The US now looks like it is flailing around like a social-media influencer discovering not just a micro-aggression, or that life contains people who don’t agree with you, but that there are people who aren’t even on Twitter that can punch you in the face and break your nose and teeth (and far, far worse). Geopolitically, opportunists of all stripes may now be considering if they may not be able to earn theirs, so to speak, by kicking the US while it is down. And yet the US is clearly swinging most of what is still the world’s most formidable military muscle squarely towards the Asia/Indo-Pacific region, and will almost certainly not want to be seen to ‘do a Kabul’ in that jurisdiction too. Or a Nord-Stream 2. Or an Iran.

Read more …

“Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken!”

Strange Days Ahead (Kunstler)

Well, we’ve become an ossified, administrative nomenklatura of Deep State flunkies as the Soviets were, and lately we’re just as lawless as they used to be, constitution-wise — e.g., the abolition of property rights via the CDC’s rent moratorium… the prolonged jailing in solitary confinement of January 6 political prisoners… the introduction of internal “passports.” The USA is running on fumes economically as the Soviets were. Our dominant party leadership has aged into an embarrassing gerontocracy. Is it our turn to collapse? Kind of looks like it. The days ahead are liable to be a rough ride. Surely China has taken the measure of our Woke military and is weighing the seizure of Taiwan in our moment of signal weakness.

No more computer chips for you, Uncle Sam! Do we come to Taiwan’s defense with guns blazing, or perhaps nukes? And what if that doesn’t work out so well? I’ll tell you what: a major geopolitical reordering of things, leaving us… where? Unable to enforce our will around the world as has been the case for eighty years. Floundering. Friendless. Broke. Broken! Of course, the domestic situation in our land has not been so fraught and overwrought since 1861. Everything is politicized, which is to say: used as a truncheon to beat-up adversaries and, let’s face it, mostly in the sense of Left against Right. This is especially true for the Covid-19 soap opera, which more and more pits the sanctimoniously vaccinated “progressives” against the recalcitrant conservative no-vax free-choicers — that is, coercive government trying to force supposedly free citizens to accept a pretty dubious experimental medical treatment.


Since when did the American Left become so pro-tyranny, and how’d that even happen? I have friends and relatives — I’m sure you do, too — who knocked themselves out in the 1960s protesting against the war, the government, the FBI, and the CIA… who fought in the streets for free speech and raged against official propaganda — and today they can’t get enough of coercing, punishing, brain-washing, and cancelling their fellow citizens. They’re going so far now as to engineer their vicious narrative to brand their opponents as “domestic terrorists.” Think that’s going to work?

Read more …

 

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Jul 182021
 
 July 18, 2021  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  83 Responses »


Pablo Picasso The blue room 1901

 

Infections in Vaccinated Overtake Those in Unvaccinated For the First Time (LDS)
British Ministers Decide Against Mass Vaccination For Teens (R.)
The CDC Owes Parents Better Messaging on the Vaccine for Kids (Wired)
Fauci: US Might ‘Still Have Polio’ If Media Back Then Opposed Vaccine (Y!)
Biden Denounces Big Tech as “Killing People” By Not Censoring Speech (Turley)
Sheriff In California Won’t Enforce Mask Mandate: ‘Not Backed By Science’ (RT)
Game Postponed After 6 New York Yankees Test Positive For Covid-19 (CNN)
Kamala’s Husband Spreads Misinformation (ZH)
US-Backed Tech Restores Internet To More Than 1 Million Cubans (ZH)
Does Japan Control The Trigger For US Nuclear War On China? (Ritter)

 

 

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There is never a single source of truth. Other than in dictatorships.

 

 

 

 

At what point can this no longer be ignored?

Infections in Vaccinated Overtake Those in Unvaccinated For the First Time (LDS)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, despite being vaccinated – and he is far from alone. The latest ZOE data shows that, as of July 12th, infections in the vaccinated (with at least one dose) in the U.K. now outnumber those in the unvaccinated for the first time, as the former continue to surge while the latter plummet (see above). (Note that 68% of the population has had at least one vaccine dose, so there are still at this stage disproportionately more new infections in the unvaccinated, though on current trends that may soon change.) At what point will the Government accept that these vaccines have limited efficacy in preventing infection and transmission, and thus the whole rationale of being vaccinated to protect others – vaccine passports, compulsory vaccination, and so on – is suspect?

The above graph was in yesterday’s report, so I downloaded today’s report (you can get it by signing up to the app and reporting your symptoms) to get the new update. I was dismayed to find the graph was gone. At the bottom, a note explains: Removed incidence graph by vaccination status from the report as there are very few unvaccinated users in the infection survey, the Confidence Intervals are very wide and the trend for unvaccinated people is no longer representative. Which I would say is very convenient, just as infections in the vaccinated became the majority. Perhaps ZOE should try to recruit some more unvaccinated people for its survey, so it can continue to report on this as well as have a control group for its vaccine data? That would seem the scientific thing to do, rather than just stop reporting it because it is suddenly “no longer representative”.

It’s doubly odd because Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE app, made the decline among the unvaccinated a feature of his video this week. So the realisation that the trend is “no longer representative” appears to have been rather sudden, even invalidating the contents of a ZOE ‘data release‘ two days earlier.

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Rare light.

British Ministers Decide Against Mass Vaccination For Teens (R.)

Britain has opted against mass COVID-19 vaccinations for all children and teenagers, with ministers instead preparing to offer doses to vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds and those about to turn 18, the Telegraph newspaper reported late on Saturday. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is believed to have advised ministers against the rollout of vaccines to all children until further evidence on the risks is available, the report added. Under guidance the newspaper said are due to be issued on Monday, vaccine doses will be offered to children between 12 and 15 who are deemed vulnerable to COVID-19 or who live with adults who are immunosuppressed or otherwise vulnerable to the virus.


They will also now be offered to all 17-year-olds within three months of their 18th birthday, according to The Telegraph, which reported that the committee would keep the possibility of vaccinating all children “under review.” In response to the report, Britain’s Health Department said that “no decisions have been made by ministers on whether people aged 12 to 17 should be routinely offered COVID-19 vaccines.” Britain on Saturday reported 54,674 new COVID-19 cases, a rise on the 51,870 new cases reported on the previous day to post a fresh highest daily total in six months.

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Yeah: Don’t!

The CDC Owes Parents Better Messaging on the Vaccine for Kids (Wired)

On June 23, an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met to discuss, among other topics, vaccine-related cases of myocarditis, which have hospitalized hundreds of adolescents. Evidence of a correlation between the condition, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and the vaccines had been mounting for months. Numerous countries had altered or withheld recommendations for pediatric vaccination, with some citing an ambiguous risk-benefit. One day after the committee meeting, however, CDC director Rochelle Walensky went on TV and calmly reassured viewers that there was nothing to worry about: Vaccinating kids age 12 and up, at the full dosage and same schedule as adults, should continue with alacrity.

Walensky cited a string of statistics that showed “the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm.” But some epidemiologists, public health experts, pediatricians, cardiologists, and other scientists dispute the CDC’s numbers, characterizations, and conclusion. The agency, they variously contend, is both exaggerating the risks of Covid-19 to young people and underplaying the potential risks of the vaccine to them. Much data that would support the CDC’s declarations are either unknown, unrevealed, or far messier than the agency and its director portray. And the data that are known and clear have been projected through a specific lens with blunt certainty. The absolute risk of the vaccine still appears to be extremely small for young people but, on balance, when the data are seen through a different frame, the relative individual risk from vaccination, particularly for healthy young males, may be higher than it is to not be vaccinated at this time.

There is no debate among most experts critical of the CDC about the value of vaccines on a societal level to help usher in the end of the pandemic, which is the ultimate goal of the vaccine. Rather, the matter at hand is the CDC’s messaging, which fails to help parents and children make properly informed decisions about the vaccines on an individual level. As Stefan Baral, an epidemiologist and physician at Johns Hopkins, recently tweeted, “One can be both very pro-Covid-19 vaccination and also be worried about the individual risk:benefit profile of Covid-19 vaccines in <16 yo.”

First, the link between the mRNA vaccines and myocarditis, particularly in young males, is sufficiently clear that the FDA revised its vaccine fact sheets to include a warning about it. As of June 11 (the latest date most data were collected for the meeting), 128 cases within seven days of the second dose had been reported in boys aged 12 to 17, when the CDC’s expected number for that same population was zero to four cases. VAERS, the reporting database for vaccine-related adverse events that these statistics are drawn from, has limitations. Some portion of the events reported may be unrelated to the vaccines. But the differential between expected and observed cases within certain cohorts is the statistical equivalent of a blaring siren. (A detailed analysis in Israel estimated the incidence of myocarditis following vaccination in young males to be around one in 5,000, equating to 200 cases per million.)

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It took Salk 7 years to get a real vaccine, which you still don’t have, and maybe never will. Nuff said. How did this crazed loose cannon become the most trusted voice, and what does that tell us about America?

Fauci: US Might ‘Still Have Polio’ If Media Back Then Opposed Vaccine (Y!)

Top US scientist Anthony Fauci on Saturday blasted commentators who sound an anti-vaccination theme, saying America might still be battling smallpox and polio if today’s kind of misinformation existed back then. The comments from the country’s leading infectious disease expert reflected mounting frustration over the sharp slowdown in the Covid-19 vaccination rate in the United States, even as the disease has been surging in states with low rates. It also came days after President Joe Biden expressed his own visible frustration, saying social media that carry widely heard misinformation about vaccines are “killing people.”


Fauci was responding to a CNN interviewer who asked if he thought “we could have defeated the measles or eradicated polio if you had Fox News, night after night, warning people about these vaccine issues that are just bunk.” Fauci said: “We probably would still have smallpox and we probably would still have polio … if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread.” Initial vaccine skepticism in many areas has increasingly evolved into outright hostility, a message magnified by baseless conspiracy theories regularly aired on Fox and other conservative networks. “Maybe it doesn’t work and they’re simply not telling you that,” Tucker Carlson, one of Fox’s most popular commentators, said recently.

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“Biden is accusing these companies of actually killing people for refusing even more extensive censorship of speech. The statement equates free speech with death itself.”

Biden Denounces Big Tech as “Killing People” By Not Censoring Speech (Turley)

President Joe Biden slammed Big Tech companies this week for “killing people” by failing to engage in even greater censorship of free speech on issues related to the pandemic. It was a surprising condemnation of companies who have been loyal allies of Biden, including killing stories embarrassing to his family like the Hunter Biden laptop scandal before the election. It also has censored stories questioning his victory in 2020. Nevertheless, Biden denounced the range of uncensored free speech as the cause of death for many — the ultimate anti-free speech trope for those seeking to convince people to embrace their own censorship. Biden was asked by a reporter what his message was to “platforms like Facebook” on the subject of “COVID misinformation.”

He responded “They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing people.” This comes as these companies have been criticized for censoring debates over the origin or treatment of Covid-19. For a year, Big Tech has been censoring those who wanted to discuss the origins of pandemic. It was not until Biden admitted that the virus may have originated in the Wuhan lab that social media suddenly changed its position. Facebook only recently announced that people on its platform will be able to discuss the origins of Covid-19 after censoring any such discussion. The White House recently admitted that it was flagging “misinformation” for censorship by companies like Facebook. Moreover, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has called for people to be banned from all social media if any one company bans them.

Biden is accusing these companies of actually killing people for refusing even more extensive censorship of speech. The statement equates free speech with death itself. We have seen this type of reckless rhetoric in other areas where disagreement with a policy or proposal is treated as de facto racism or hate speech. That was the case recently with the NAACP official who denounced those of opposing what is commonly referred to as critical race theory lessons as haters of a long litany of groups from the disabled to children to “help people.” This was followed by the chilling words “Let them die.”

Rather than seek to convince the skeptical, Biden wants to silence them and use these companies to control what is read and discussed about the pandemic. What is chilling is the degree to which reporters and academics have supported the massive censorship system in the United States. However, that system is clearly not (to use Sen. Blumenthal’s words) “robust enough” for Biden who wants these companies to carry out a more complete censorship of opposing views.

Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH about censorship

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A sheriff who can read. They didn’t count on that. How much did John Wayne ever read when he played one?

Sheriff In California Won’t Enforce Mask Mandate: ‘Not Backed By Science’ (RT)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has made waves and caused outrage by refusing to enforce the city’s reinstated mask policy, saying the decision is “not backed by science.” Los Angeles County health officials shocked many this week when they announced that their mask mandate would be returning. Similar to the restriction in place before the county began reopening last month, residents have been told to wear masks in indoor settings and large gatherings, regardless of one’s vaccination status. County officials reinstated the mask mandate due to new Covid-19 daily cases reaching over 1,000 every day for a week. Health officials also cited the Delta variant as a reason why people “need to reduce our risk of infection and our risk for potentially infecting others.”


Villanueva, who is up for reelection next year, was quick to respond to the mandate, and made it clear that he and his officers would have no part in helping the county enforce the new rule. “Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” he said in a statement. The “underfunded” department, the sheriff added, will not be using their “limited resources” to make sure people are in compliance, though he made sure to say they “have the authority” to enforce if they wanted to. The sheriff is asking for “voluntary compliance” from residents instead.

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All fully vaccinated.

Game Postponed After 6 New York Yankees Test Positive For Covid-19 (CNN)

Six players on the New York Yankees have tested positive for Covid-19, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Thursday, in the second instance this year of breakthrough cases occurring among some members of the baseball team. “We have three positives, and we have three pending that we’ve had rapid tests on,” Cashman said, saying the three positive rapid tests are being confirmed with additional lab work. The players with confirmed positive tests are pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta, according to the team. The three unnamed players have results pending.


The three named players were all vaccinated, according to the team. Two of the players received Johnson & Johnson vaccines and the other was from either Pfizer or Moderna, Cashman says. The pitchers are “doing well thus far,” Cashman said, while he declined to comment on the unnamed players until final confirmation of their positive tests are received by the team. Earlier this season, eight positive tests were recorded among coaching and travel staff, all of whom had previously taken the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of the team members who tested positive, only one showed mild symptoms and his condition improved, the Yankees said.

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He’s as crazy as she is.

Kamala’s Husband Spreads Misinformation (ZH)

Emhoff spoke to the 44-year-old man as if he was a toddler at the doctor’s office. “Don’t be nervous. It won’t hurt. I’ve had it. I can take it. So don’t be scared,” Emhoff told Posadas. The immigrant then stood off to the side while Emhoff shook hands with doctors and medical staff from Ochsner Health. After posing for photos, Emhoff turns back to Posadas. “Gustava, thank you so much. Muy importante,” Emhoff said in English-accented Spanish. “What do you have to say to people? And you’re going to tell a bunch of people…?” “I tell everybody,” Posadas said in Spanish-accented English. “I don’t want this before. But now I think this is real…” “This is real,” Emhoff says, completing his sentence. “And it’s the only thing that is going to prevent you, your family and others from dying or getting really sick.”

Say what? A vaccine is the only thing that is going to prevent people from dying from COVID? Is this what the Biden administration’s door knockers are telling people in private? The recovery rate for COVID is 98 to 99 percent. Almost all the deaths are due to age or underlying conditions. Johns Hopkins currently has the rate at 98.2 percent in America. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress that the survival rate is actually 99 percent because asymptomatic cases are under counted. Emhoff seemingly doesn’t care to give the facts to Posadas and put the success of the media stunt at risk. “I’m so grateful you’re doing this in front of the cameras so you can tell everyone it’s okay,” said Emhoff. Posadas nods his head. “Everything – my people – I thinks, we want the shot. This is real. I not believe you before, but I feel it now.”

No reporter asks questions. But the obvious one is: How long ago did Posadas not “believe” Emhoff? Who convinced him to take the vaccine? What was told to him in English or Spanish? Emhoff wastes no time with Posadas’s hesitancy. “Well let’s do it!” said the Second Gentleman while the medical staff and clergy applaud. Posadas is put in a white, folding chair. He keeps on the mirrored sunglasses. A woman in scrubs tells him to pull the mask over his nose. He rolls up his sleeve as the woman comes in with the needle. Posadas looks in the opposite direction. “Look at me! Look at me!” Emhoff tells him, while the shot is administered. The crowd applauds. Emhoff holds out his fist, and Posadas bumps him after he stands.

“Thank you for doing this,” Emhoff says, while Posadas rubs his arm and says something in Spanish. “Thank you for telling everyone to do this.” Emhoff walks away to do media interviews while a woman is heard off camera saying, “Gustava, did you get your card with your vaccination on it?” The Second Gentleman tells reporters that, “On the Covid piece, on the vaccinations, I’m not going to stop. This administration is not going to stop until we continue to get the word out here.” Emhoff continues but seems to not remember Posadas’s name. “You heard what he said – it’s real. He didn’t believe it. He believes it now….” Harris’s husband does a hard sell of the vaccines and adds, “We’re going to go door to door, bring the vaccines out to the people until we get this done.”

Biden/Kamala vaccines

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Ha ha ha! Think they installed a “misinformation” filter?

US-Backed Tech Restores Internet To More Than 1 Million Cubans (ZH)

With summer uprisings in Cuba, the communist government has discovered ways to cut the internet off to millions of residents, so organized protesting on social media is near impossible. Let’s take a step back to early last week when reports of the Cuban regime used China-made technology systems to block internet and cell phone service to prevent pictures and videos of what was happening on the ground published online near impossible for the outside world to see. The regime also blocked popular social media channels that would make organized protesting impossible. Remember, a decade ago, during Arab Spring, Facebook and Twitter were critical for organizers to orchestrate uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain.

The Biden administration is finding ways to provide anti-censorship tools to Cubans to access social media during the blackouts. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government supports a censorship circumvention tool designed to unblock content in Cuba and is powered by a company called Psiphon Inc. As of Thursday, Psiphon tweeted, “1.389 Million daily unique users accessed the open web from Cuba through the Psiphon network. Internet is ON; circumvention tools ARE working.” Psiphon uses proxy servers that disguise internet traffic so Cuban authorities cannot tell if people are accessing social media platforms. The Toronto-based nonprofit has received money from the U.S. government. Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted Saturday that the proxy service is working well:

The Biden administration has been strategizing on other ways to provide the people of Cuba with internet access. “They have cut off access to the internet. We are considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access,” President Biden said on Friday. Biden commented after Florida Governor Ron Desantis told the president the federal government should restore internet on the island located in the northern Caribbean Sea. Desantis said there’s a technology that would allow the U.S. to broadcast internet access into Cuba remotely. “Technology exists to provide Internet access into Cuba remotely, using the innovation of American enterprise and the diverse industries here,” the governor wrote. He said this reminds him of the Cold War when the U.S. funded radio stations to broadcast information into the Soviet Union.

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A bunch of tiny islands and a dispute that no-one ever bothered to resolve. But now if the US wants to stand with Japan, it must stand against Taiwan. And the Chinese are thinking: let’s have that fun.

Does Japan Control The Trigger For US Nuclear War On China? (Ritter)

Statements made by Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister about his country’s need to defend Taiwan have raised the specter of a “Japan exception” to China’s no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. In April this year, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide became the first foreign leader to visit the White House after the swearing in of Joe Biden as America’s 46th President. After private discussions, Yoshihide and Biden issued a joint statement entitled “US-Japan Global Partnership for a New Era.” What made it stand out from similar joint releases over the past decades of US-Japanese relations was the fact that, for the first time in over 50 years, the Japanese and American leaders made mention of Taiwan, declaring “we underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

While the statement was, on the surface, rather innocuous, the Chinese Embassy in the US immediately reacted, declaring Beijing’s resolute opposition to what it deemed to be interference in China’s internal affairs, and noting that the talks had gone beyond the scope of normal bilateral relations, harming third-party interests and threatening peace and stability in the region. While most observers might think the Chinese objection was centered on its long-standing claim on Taiwan proper, the trigger point was, more likely, the specific reference made in the statement to a tiny cluster of uninhabited rocky islands situated some 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Taiwan and around 400 kilometers (248 miles) due west of Okinawa.

These islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands and in China as the Diaoyu Dao Islands, are located not only in rich fishing waters, but also on top of economically viable underwater oil and gas deposits. While their ownership is a matter of ongoing legal dispute, with China viewing them as constituting part of Taiwan, and Japan as part of the Okinawa prefecture, at the present time the islands are administered by Japan. The US-Japanese joint statement reiterated Washington’s “unwavering support for Japan’s defense under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, using its full range of capabilities, including nuclear.” It then went on to reaffirm “the fact that Article V of the Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands,” adding that both the US and Japan “oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands.”

Left to its own devices, the Sino-Japanese dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Dao Islands should have remained low-key. But on July 6, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Taro Aso, reportedly stated that “If a major problem took place in Taiwan, it would not be too much to say that it could relate to a survival-threatening situation [for Japan],” citing language which specifically triggers Japan’s Constitutionally-mandated right of collective self-defense, where it would be permitted to deploy its armed forces in support of an ally who had been attacked. A “survival-threatening situation” occurs when an armed attack against a foreign country allied with Japan poses a clear risk of threatening Japan’s survival.

“We need to think hard that Okinawa could be the next,” Aso was quoted as saying, indicating the specific nature of the “survival-threatening situation” he spoke of. While China has never expressed any territorial interest in either Okinawa or the other populated islands contained in the Okinawa prefecture, the fact that Japan views the Senkaku Islands as part of Okinawa, and China views the Diaoyu Dao Islands as part of Taiwan, means that any Chinese move on Taiwan would, as a matter of course, include asserting its claim over the disputed islands. This, in turn, would trigger Article V of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation, which is backed by the nuclear arsenal of the United States.

Read more …

 

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Feb 022021
 
 February 2, 2021  Posted by at 1:21 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


Roy Lichtenstein Woman With Flowered Hat 1963

 

 

Well, Dr. D is back again. You might want to sit down for this one.

 

 

Dr. D: In my last article I wrote about cows and hay and unrealistic estimates of production of the land. But surely that is all academic. What could possibly force Americans to once again eat by the sweat of their brow?

Insider military think tank Deagel.com. The think tank that in 2015 estimated the death of 200M Americans by 2025.

Deagel – Forecast 2025

The Great Reset; like the climate change, extinction rebellion, planetary crisis, green revolution, shale oil (…) hoaxes promoted by the system; is another attempt to slow down dramatically the consumption of natural resources and therefore extend the lifetime of the current system. It can be effective for awhile but finally won’t address the bottom-line problem and will only delay the inevitable. The core ruling elites hope to stay in power which is in effect the only thing that really worries them.


The collapse of the Western financial system – and ultimately the Western civilization – has been the major driver in the forecast along with a confluence of crisis with a devastating outcome. As COVID has proven Western societies embracing multiculturalism and extreme liberalism are unable to deal with any real hardship. The Spanish flu one century ago represented the death of 40-50 million people.

Today the world’s population is four times greater with air travel in full swing which is by definition a super spreader. The death casualties in today’s World would represent 160 to 200 million in relative terms but more likely 300-400 million taking into consideration the air travel factor that did not exist one century ago. So far, COVID death toll is roughly 1 million people. It is quite likely that the economic crisis due to the lockdowns will cause more deaths than the virus worldwide.

The Soviet system was less able to deliver goodies to the people than the Western one. Nevertheless Soviet society was more compact and resilient under an authoritarian regime. That in mind, the collapse of the Soviet system wiped out 10 percent of the population. The stark reality of diverse and multicultural Western societies is that a collapse will have a toll of 50 to 80 percent depending on several factors but in general terms the most diverse, multicultural, indebted and wealthy (highest standard of living) will suffer the highest toll.

The only glue that keeps united such aberrant collage from falling apart is overconsumption with heavy doses of bottomless degeneracy disguised as virtue. Nevertheless the widespread censorship, hate laws and contradictory signals mean that even that glue is not working any more. Not everybody has to die migration can also play a positive role in this.


We expected this situation to unfold and actually is unfolding right now with the November election triggering a major bomb if Trump is re-elected. If Biden is elected there will very bad consequences as well. There is a lot of bad blood in the Western societies and the protests, demonstrations, rioting and looting are only the first symptoms of what is coming. However a new trend is taking place overshadowing this one…

Six years ago the likelihood of a major war was tiny. Since then it has grown steadily and dramatically and today is by far the most likely major event in the 2020s. The ultimate conflict can come from two ways. A conventional conflict involving at least two major powers that escalates into an open nuclear war. …

If there is not a dramatic change of course the world is going to witness the first nuclear war. The Western block collapse may come before, during or after the war. It does not matter. A nuclear war is a game with billions of casualties and the collapse plays in the hundreds of millions.” – Deagel, September 25, 2020

Now clearly this is ridiculous. Even these new, revised estimates have population drop in the U.S. to 99 Million in 4 years.

 

 

So what do we see here? A catastrophic event that hurts only very specific nations, leaving nearby neighbors untouched or even improved. That is, not a climate event or asteroid strike. It hurts a few nations most specifically, that is, Britain, U.S., Germany, Israel, France, Australia, Italy, S. Korea, Saudi Arabia.

What do these nations all have in common? They are the Western Allies, and under the Western fiat central banking system. While India and Asia prosper most, conspicuous in the list is China and Russia, presumably the Axis in any new war. China takes a massive numbers hit, but a unimportant percentage hit. Russia is unmoved. That would seem to rule out wars of food, wars of money, and wars with Russia or in Europe.

What type of singular event can kill several billion people in just 4 years, leaving some nations erased and some nations untouched? Not economic wars. Not conventional wars.

That leaves nuclear and biological war, almost certainly a first-strike surprise war. Clearly this will not be with Russia, which would take more injury in a counter attack, so a first strike surprise war from China, perhaps via close proxy North Korea, as they are the only two Axis countries that (presumably) take any damage. They are counter-attacked, but weakly. Their own allies, in SE Asia, are unharmed. Australia is depopulated and easy to conquer. As is the United States, but not Canada or Mexico. Note if they attacked India they would be nuked again and open second front in a land war in Asia against an equal power, and China leaves them alone for this round, the presumed Deagel scenario.

Now what did I just tell you a few weeks ago?

If China doesn’t conquer and colonize the United States, they die.

That seems true for Australia, or at least corollary. Here’s the same phrase: If China DOES conquer and colonize the United States, WE die.

Now why would they do that? Their people are rioting with dissent, of increased expectations that have been capped. There are more riots and protests in China than anywhere on earth, both in percentage, and sheer numbers, and riot of 250,000 is rightfully identified as a mortal threat. There are no longer any food exports worldwide. The U.S. and to some extent Australia are the only ones. China is the net food importer, having everything else. If they do not solve their food and space problem, they – or rather the CCP – are overthrown and die. If the CCP can solve the food and space problem, they are heroes, stay in power, and prosper for a generation.

Is there any reason to believe China would undertake such a unprecedented, violent act? Well, when we ask if they would murder 70% of all Americans, they are presently erasing 70% of all Uighers who are their own citizens, and in the most brutal, appalling, and mercantile ways. Taking their property. Selling their slave labor. Harvesting their live organs. Selling their women to a man-heavy population thanks to an earlier wave of murder and genocide. So if they are happy to kill 70% of their own people – who they consider inferior, not being Han, and are proud to the world about the fact – how much easier is it to kill 70% of your major rival and solve all your problems for 100 years?

It’s your Lebensraum for a Socialist State-Corporate entity, totalitarian, race-based, using the fascio of combining government, industrial, and corporate power into one. There could hardly be any difference, and are along the same timeline as 1938. They are imprisoning their own people by ethnic origin and social-credit cooperation scores, then killing them for efficiency, while the West denies this is happening and refuses to prepare or respond, or in fact gleefully cooperates with open concentration camps, buying and selling cheap misery.

Surely this is slander, from a military-complex site selling military hardware and predictions. There is nothing from the Chinese to substantiate such an attack.

“A senior Chinese general has warned that his country could destroy hundreds of American cities if the two nations clash over Taiwan.” –The Guardian This week clashing over Taiwan as China has escalated buzzing Taiwanese and American ships and airspace.

In 2005 “Major General Zhu Shin Hu, Dean of the National Defense University, Speaking at a lecture, he said “War logic dictates that a weaker power needs to use maximum effort to defeat a stronger rival. If the Americans draw their missiles and position guided ammunition on to the target zone on Chinese territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons.” And goes on to describe destroying hundreds of American cities in a nuclear war over Taiwan. 15 years ago.

=
Deputy Chief PLA Juang Won Kai, “ Americans should worry more about Los Angeles than Taipei. They will be using nuclear weapons in the Taiwan conflict.” Kai later was diplomat to the United States.

“20 years of the idyllic theme of ‘peace and development’ have come to an end, and concluded that modernization under the saber is the only option for China’s next phase. I also mention we have a vital stake overseas.”

More alarmingly, General Chi Houtian in a speech to the CCP before 2003, said, “in an online survey asking if Chinese would shoot at women, children, and prisoners of war, more than 80% answered in the affirmative. …The purpose of the survey is to…If China’s development will necessitate massive deaths in enemy countries, will our people endorse that scenario [and] be for…it?”

After highlighting the similar youth propaganda departments he says,

China is alarmingly similar to Germany back then. Both of them regard themselves as the most superior races; both of them have a history of being exploited by foreign powers and are therefore vindictive; both of them have the tradition of worshiping their own authorities; both of them feel they have seriously insufficient living space; both of them raise high the two banners of nationalism and socialism and label themselves as ‘national socialists’; both of them worship ‘one party, one state, one leader, one doctrine.’”


“We don’t have to worry about the labels of ‘totalitarianism’ or ‘dictatorship’. Whether we [the CCP] can forever represent the Chinese people depends on whether we can succeed in leading the Chinese people out of China. …Whether we can lead the Chinese people out of China is the most important determinant of the CCP”.

Lebensraum. Living space. Down the Silk Road. Expansion, conquest that – according to their own party and generals – is the only way the CCP leadership survives. Nationalist, hypermilitary expansion is the last hallmark of fascist regimes, a most grave one, as other nations therefore cannot entirely respect national boundaries and sovereignty.

How will they lead the Chinese out and conquer new lands?

“Once we open our doors, the profit-seeking western capitalists will invest capital and technology in China to assist our development so they can occupy the largest market in the world. …the most favorable environment for foreign capital, foreign technology, and advanced experience in China. …China’s economic expansion will inevitably come with significant development in our military forces, creating conditions for our expansion overseas. …China…is advancing into the world and has become unstoppable.”

“Solving the issue of America is key to solving all other issues. This makes it possible for us to have many people migrate there and establish another China under the CCP. …America was discovered by the yellow race [and] we are entitled to the possession of the land.

…The residents of the yellow race have a very low social status in the United States. We need to liberate them. After solving the ‘issue of America’, the western countries of Europe will bow to us , not to mention Japan, Taiwan…” – General Chi Haotain

Lebensraum. The master race. Liberating nations as a duty to their racial brothers. At the expense of inferior races.

“We must transcend conventions and restrictions. In history, [one] could not kill all the people in the conquered land because you could not kill people effectively [enough]. …Only by using special means to ‘clean up’ America will we be able to lead people there. This is the only choice left to us. It is not a matter of whether we are willing.


…What kind of special methods do we have to ‘clean up’ America? …We are not as foolish as to want to perish together with America by using nuclear weapons… There has been a rapid development in modern biological technology, and new bio-weapons have been developed one after the other. …We are capable of ‘cleaning up’ America all of a sudden. Lethal weapons that can eliminate mass populations of the enemy country.”

But it’s not all bad:

“From a humanitarian perspective, we should issue a warning to the American people and persuade them to leave America and leave the land to the Chinese people. Or they should at least leave half of America to be China’s colony…but if this strategy does not work, there is only one choice left…”

“That is, use decisive means to ‘clean up’ America in a moment. …Historical experience has been that as long as we make it happen, nobody in the world can do anything about us. Furthermore, if the United States as leader is gone, then our other enemies have to surrender to us.”

If the Americans do not die, then the Chinese have to die. If the Chinese are strapped to the land, a total societal collapse is bound to take place. …[Then] more than half the Chinese people will die, and that figure will be 800 million. …The Great Collapse will occur at any time and more than half the population will have to go. …The population can be reproduced. But if the Party falls, everything is gone, and forever gone.”

How very like our own Western leaders.

Cool story bro. I feel for your position. Now let me ask you a question: If you knew you were running out of food and space, why did you pave every rice paddy and poison every river? Wouldn’t you rather take 6 time zones of Russian lands which are lush, actually empty, and on your own border? And how ARE you out of space when the entire Gobi desert, or indeed much of north and western China, are as empty as the United States?

You might not have heard, but most of the United States was also considered a desert, a wasteland from Iowa to San Diego that would never be occupied by humankind, yet through hard work and imagination we created the innovation that has made our prosperity and our population possible. It only seems easy now, in hindsight, like some automatic miracle we didn’t deserve. Yet, in the most high-tech era ever recorded, I think no less of the power of men on the Silk Road or Mongolia.

So perhaps I’m asking: are you really sure you NEED to do this? Or is it just that America is big, rich, and shiny and you WANT to do this? You WANT to do to Americans what you do to the Uighurs. Because I strongly suspect the latter.

The specifics of their plan was revealed elsewhere, the “1, 3, 5, 7, 9 Plan”
1 Create a bioweapon
3 Make it available in three years (from 2017)
5 Insure effectiveness for 5 years.
7 Paralyze the 7 Western countries including Japan and India.
9 Release vaccines 9 months later to blackmail the world.

Now, is that the plan that was just attempted in 2019? Or was that a beta test for a real, upcoming attack? Was this genocide deflected, the payload of the “China Virus”, hollowed out, only narrowly missed? Or is that mere slander? Do we know? Can we tell?

The West of course would fight such an attack. In 1994, in a world conference in San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel including H. Bush and M. Thatcher, Xin He reported, “The outstanding people of the world attendance thought that in the 21st century a mere 20% of the world’s population would be adequate to maintain the world’s economy and prosperity. The other 80% will be human garbage, unable to produce…high-tech means should be used to eliminate them gradually .”

That also sounds like our Western leaders.

Remember “Event 201”, promoted by these very same ‘outstanding people’? “ In the simulation, the virus infected the globe within six months, and killed 65 million people, triggering a global financial crisis. All of this took place just months before COVID-19 emerged.” Gee that sounds familiar. Good timing too. So good it almost defies credulity.

This goes along with the long-held rumor that the U.S. was planned and positioned to be in a war and to lose it. Many aspects, from causing unnecessary and unusual internal strife, to the complete erasure of our manufacturing and production – except for food – as well as our sale or loss of most military secrets to China, support such a hypothesis. Then there is the open exposure of Chinese agents with Feinstein for 20 years, and Swalwell, both of whom were on high-level committees.

Worse, when this was exposed, nothing was done, hinting at a much deeper level of capture, where some agents and proxies appear to be clearly covering and supporting other Chinese proxies against the interests of the people of the United States. They do not explain how they thought it remotely possible that with 20% of the population they could defend a rich, empty, unproductive West from complete, inevitable Chinese conquest. Perhaps China did not remind them.

The problem could be, it probably is, far deeper, harder, graver, and wider than we on the outside can contemplate. While I disagree – for in a democracy the people must be informed to make hard, informed decisions – we can see that many times the attempt has been made to inform people, and the facts are widely and regularly rebuffed and rejected. If you started here, where I have, the general population would say you were simply being political, ginning up for more war profits, or are simply lying and making it up simply because they haven’t heard it before. The truth has been intentionally withheld in favor of colored trinkets for 40 years. All attempts to prevent it have been shot down. That isn’t reversed in a day.

Now I’m not saying Deagel is right. Already they’ve had to update their 2015 prediction. However, we can infer from this that the present situation is far more complicated than cartoon. Far deeper and more grave than Twitter. It transcends one man, one party, or even one generation. And can help illuminate why certain positions, certain actions, certain reactions, and certain IN-actions, may have happened right now.

While I don’t personally feel this is our future, I do believe the situation as described is entirely true. There are such opinions and such plans and such weapons. Therefore it should be dealt with in our own lives, and in the actions of our country, in the firm, defensive preparations that Americans are known for. Regardless of such a war, which should naturally be avoided, a number of other responses are indicated:

1) Remove as much reliance on China as possible without crippling them either. We already learned we do not have medicines, masks, rare earths, or semiconductors here, as well as learning their steel and raw materials may be intentionally substandard and undermining. This especially includes communications infrastructure.

2) Our own nation needs much attention and support with the re-opening of our own parallel manufacturing that must also be dispersed so as not to be a single target for destruction or capture.

3) The U.S. Dollar and financial system is wholly established on financeering and imports. This comes from the too-high dollar and world reserve currency that necessitates the destruction of internal production and complete hollowing of business, culture, politics, psychology, society, and morality. Yet its reversal and replacement will be extremely disruptive, and the loss of the reserve currency will quite suddenly drop us from emperor to peer. Nevertheless, this can not be delayed or avoided.

4) The U.S. Military, with the loss of the reserve currency, must retreat home, and therefore needs to re-tool and re-position rapidly to a defensive role, while still maintaining the overwhelming deterrent effect on China, and helping allies – thus preventing China from taking over the world nation-by-nation. Defense is enormously cheaper and easier, and as an ally, not an empire, our position would be far easier and more supported. This published reality may cause other nations to take more action than we could alone. While at home we may follow the Swiss model of having every man capable of arms and the materials secretly cached and available in each town.

5) While we may not have to come back to God to have the internal sense of equality, justice, morality, and enthusiasm for self-denial and hardship this will require, historically nothing else has sufficed for the righting of the ship and return to a forgiving, cohesive unity, and not weakening, atomized discord.

6) Along with our own ports, canals, rivers, grids, and mines, we need to maintain our own food production and distribution, and counter-intuitively sell it to our own rival or enemy. First, cutting off food must cause a certain war just as the embargo of Japanese oil did in 1940. Second, and not innocently, food is a major export we already have when we are no longer an importer of exorbitant privilege. Not less, as equals, we can always promote ourselves as being a friend and thereby encourage our rivals to pass through where they are or what plans they may have in favor of a stable peace that advantages all. Or else, like Switzerland, we must be certain to communicate we will most assuredly make them wish they had for their plans will not succeed.

7) We must recognize that such weapons are a reality now that cannot be reversed but must be accounted for and avoided with new strategies and new consciousness that does not require gain at the expense of others. The experience of the U.S. in making deserts bloom with the simplest tools is a good example.

Now these are easily supported by all Americans, all except the very few who are profiting by the existing system. So should there be a war or no war, with China or no China, all these responses are good for the country, the individual, and the world.

They are also workable in our own lives. As we’ve seen recently with massive, unpredictable, and longstanding supply disruptions that are only cured with more local production, smaller businesses, and local food. We see how having far more preparation, far more resiliency, far more local support, are important, both in hardship, but in our daily lives as well. Producing more, with more meaning, and consuming less, but better, are the only ways we can exit both this peril, and our own national failings at home.

 

 

 

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May 292020
 


Edward Hopper Railroad crossing 1923

 

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)
Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)
Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)
7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)
Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)
The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)
EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)
Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)
China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)
Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)
Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)
US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)
Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)
Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)
Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)
Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

 

 

First Debt Rattle in a very long time without a direct virus article. Unfortunately that’s not going to last. New global cases set a new record at 119,000.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,618
• Brazil + 26,417
• Russia + 8,572
• UK 4,938
• India + 7,466
• Peru + 5,874
• Chile + 4,654

New deaths past 24 hours in:

• US + 1,230
• Brazil + 1,294
• Mexico + 447
• UK + 446
• Peru + 3,984(?!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 5,932,180 (+ 118,941 from yesterday’s 5,813,239)

Deaths 362,614 (+ 4,721 from yesterday’s 357,893)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

You start a piece with a headline that says everyone’s broke, and then list all the billions in extra savings. Why?

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)

When was the last time you filled up the car? Bought a train ticket? Paid an air fare? Ordered a new sofa? Or even just bought a latte or booked the cinema? Days now go by when I do not spend one pence. And I know I’m far from alone. Figures emerging across Europe reveal that forced saving is happening on an unprecedented scale. French savers put aside nearly €20bn (£16.2bn) in March, compared with the monthly average before coronavirus of €3.8bn. The Italians were much the same, adding €16.8bn to savings accounts, or five times the monthly average of €3.4bn. In the UK, the Bank of England says bank deposits soared by £13.1bn in March, a record monthly rise.

Unorthodox spending patterns abound. GoCompare reckons UK drivers spent £267m less on petrol during the strictest phase of the lockdown. Retail data company Kantar says we are spending a lot more on online groceries but £1bn less on the likes of those £3 sandwich, crisps and juice lunch deals popular in Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. Nationwide says four out of 10 of its customers have more disposable income than before the crisis. The better off are almost wallowing in spare cash. Even after assuming we are spending 20% more on food and alcohol, stockbroker Peel Hunt reckons upper-middle-class households in the UK (those in the ninth decile of income distribution) have cut their disposable spending by just over half.

It estimates that across the entire economy, households in 2020 will save £120.8bn, compared with £38.2bn in 2019, a gigantic increase. That’s a cool £82bn extra kicking around in savings and current accounts. [..] The stockbroking firm at least has the good grace to note we’re not all in this together. “The beneficiaries are skewed towards the top end of the income distribution. Lower-income earners are more likely to work in sectors most affected by job losses and reduced working hours. They also spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials,” it says. So what’s going to happen with all this money? These involuntary savings are entirely the product of the pandemic rather than frugality so we might expect them to go back down to normal levels when the crisis is over and pent-up demand is satisfied.

Read more …

@Jack is in trouble.

Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, a marked escalation of his lengthy feud with Silicon Valley over allegations of anti-conservative bias. The brunt of the order is focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms. Trump’s order directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from the two Democratic members of the five-person commission.

Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising. Trump, joined by Attorney General William Barr, addressed reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon before signing the executive order. “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly, and you know what’s going on as well as anybody. It’s not good,” Trump told reporters. The president accused social media companies of having “unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.” He also said that if he were able to shut Twitter down, he would.

Trump and Barr indicated that legislation on Section 230 could be coming soon in Congress. Barr did not provide further details, while Trump suggested they could just “remove or totally change 230.” When asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to the order, Trump said, “I guess it’s going to be challenged in court, but what isn’t?”

Read more …

The victim and the killer had worked together as bouncers in a bar for 17 years.

Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)

Peaceful rallies gave way to a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minneapolis on Thursday as protesters vented their rage over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck. The latest spasm of unrest in Minnesota’s largest city went largely unchecked, despite Governor Tim Walz ordering the National Guard activated to help restore order following the first two days of disturbances sparked by Monday night’s fatal arrest of George Floyd, 46. In contrast with Wednesday night, when rock-throwing demonstrators clashed repeatedly with police in riot gear, law enforcement kept a low profile around the epicenter of the unrest, outside the city’s Third Precinct police station.

Protesters massing outside the building briefly retreated under volleys of police tear gas and rubber bullets fired at them from the roof, only to reassemble and eventually attack the building head on, setting fire to the structure as police seemed to withdraw. Protesters were later observed on the roof. The city authority warned about ‘unconfirmed’ reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct police station were cut and that there were other explosives in the building. It appealed to people to retreat from the building.A car and at least two other buildings in the vicinity were also set ablaze, and looters returned for a second night to a nearby Target discount store, left boarded up and vacant from the previous night, to make off with whatever remained inside. Fire officials said 16 buildings were torched on Wednesday night.

President Donald Trump on Twitter said that he will send the National Guard troops and “get the job done right” if Mayor Jacob Frey failed to bring the city under control. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote in tweets posted late midnight.

Read more …

Louisville, Dallas, New York.

7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)

Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, one of whom was in critical condition, during protests that turned violent Thursday night, police said. Circumstances of the shootings were not immediately clear, and a police spokesman called the situation downtown fluid early Friday. Officers were not involved in the shootings, Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said. No other details were immediately available from police. Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video statement early Friday that seven people were shot “from within the crowd” and no police officers fired their weapons. Five were in good condition, two were sent to surgery, he said, adding “my prayers are with all of them.”


The violence happened as hundreds had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police this spring. “What we are seeing tonight in this community is the obvious frustration of the tension between police and residents,” police special adviser Jessie Halladay said earlier in a video call. “What started out as a peaceful protest earlier this evening is now escalating into property damage, more aggressive action, and we’ve just heard reports of shots fired in the crowd,” she said at the time. She said that in addition to property damage bottles had been thrown at officers.

Read more …

If confused about the logic, see next article.

Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)

Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. “Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn’t mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,” said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company’s assets before plundering.


“I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn’t just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It’s disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this.” At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

Read more …

The looters should copy Carl Icahn.

The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)

On June 30, 2016, Carl Icahn led a restructuring of “Old Hertz”, where the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation (HERC) was split off from the car rental operations (Hertz Global Holdings). Each became a separate publicly-traded company (Icahn with 39% equity stake in Hertz and a 15% stake in HERC), each installed an Icahn-controlled board (not “controlled” in a legal sense, but controlled sure enough), and each started taking on massive amounts of debt. How much debt? Well, HERC has about $2.1 billion in long-term debt, against an equity market cap of only $830 million (and that’s more than twice what it was at the March lows). The equity position is what we might call a stub … a small piece of the enterprise value of the overall corporation (debt + equity – cash). If you want to understand HERC as an equity investment, you better focus your analysis on that debt position and how the company can support that kind of leverage!


As for the debt levels at Hertz … LOL. Hertz has more than $19 billion in long-term debt, against a market cap that was (at its 2019 peak!) about $2.1 billion. Now there’s a stub for you. It’s hard for me to adequately convey the playground that an insanely levered rental company – whether it rents cars or construction equipment – provides for a financialization genius like Carl Icahn. Between asset depreciation assumptions, cost of capital assumptions, and the ability to securitize or otherwise move assets off your balance sheet … the accounting cookie jar that a rental company gives Icahn is otherworldly. Keep in mind, too, that in 2017 – more than a year after Icahn took control – Hertz was forced to report that management had “identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

Read more …

Well, actually, the UE has no mechanism with which to rapidly agree on this.

EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)

European leaders are in no mood to follow the United States in threatening trade sanctions against China as it moves to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, although foreign ministers will meet on Friday to try to hack out a common position. China’s top legislature on Thursday voted to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, sparking concerns that Beijing will limit the autonomy granted by the “one country, two systems” principle that followed the end of British rule in 1997. The US, Canada, Australia and Britain condemned Beijing’s step, hailing Hong Kong as a “bastion of freedom,” while Britain held open the prospect of citizenship for more Hongkongers if Beijing presses ahead.

But despite growing tensions over the former British colony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician, insisted she still wants the European Union to reach a landmark investment agreement with China this year. And while US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the US would be announcing new US policies on Friday as “we are not happy with China” after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already cast doubt on Hong Kong’s continued preferential trading status, the EU stuck to traditional diplomatic expressions of concern. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had “deep concern” about Thursday’s move.

He has previously insisted Brussels “attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” but said this week he did not think “sanctions against China are going to be a solution for our problems”. Merkel also said the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, needed to maintain a “critical and constructive” dialogue, with trade retaliation not on the agenda when European foreign ministers meet on Friday. “Sanctions are not on the table, our relations with the Chinese are simply too important,” one senior EU diplomat said. The senior EU diplomat added that Hong Kong could be “a game changer” as questions increase about the rule of law in a city of 7 million people that is the base for many European investors in the region.

But the key issue is whether China’s power grab in Hong Kong will weigh on the EU’s investment agreement with China. Germany wants the deal to be concluded at an EU-China summit in the German city of Leipzig in September, although the agreement was already in trouble even before the latest flare-up in Hong Kong. Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the EU and a former ambassador to China, admitted earlier this month that talks were stuck over market access rights for European companies.

Read more …

Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations likes a hard line.

Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)

Both international and Chinese companies have long benefitted from the framework of ‘one country, two systems’. It has allowed business to take place outside the direct access of Beijing’s tight authoritarian control of people and capital on the mainland. For decades Hong Kong has enjoyed special privileges in international trade and has thus been one of Asia’s most vibrant economic and financial hubs. Beijing’s alteration of the status quo will likely provoke a US response in the form of sanctions against China or the cancellation of Hong Kong’s special economic privileges. The attempt to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city will no doubt hurt Chinese businesses and elites, but it will likely hurt Western companies even more, as they have long relied on Hong Kong’s excellent business conditions as an invaluable gateway to the Chinese market.


Amid the global pandemic and rising US-China tensions, the push on Hong Kong was foreseeable, but still somewhat unexpected. The Chinese government has likely judged that now is the perfect time to complete some unfinished business. China is intensifying its patrols and creating new administrative structures in the South China Sea. It has increased sabre-rattling towards Taiwan. And Chinese military forces have reportedly entered into Indian territory along the Sino-Indian border, where stand-offs and limited skirmishes have lately occurred on a more regular basis. While the coronavirus has effectively pressed the pause button on the world economy, China’s policymakers have hit fast-forward on restoring ‘territorial integrity’ and dominance in Asia. For Europe, this comes at the worst possible moment.

Read more …

If need be under grave threat.

China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)

The head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Friday that “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification” is the best way to bring China and Taiwan together. Outside attempts by foreign forces to interfere in “reunification” will fail, Liu Jieyi told an event at the Great Hall of the People marking 15 years since China signed into law its Anti-Secession Law. Beijing passed the law in 2005 which authorises the use of force against Taiwan if China judges it to have seceded.

Read more …

Two different voices saying the same thing. Agenda much?

Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)

China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country’s most senior generals said on Friday, in a rhetorical escalation from China aimed at the democratic island Beijing claims as its own. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law gives the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to, making the narrow Taiwan Strait a potential military flashpoint.


“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said. “We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” he added. Although China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is rare for a top, serving military officer to so explicitly make the threat in a public setting. The comments are especially striking amid international opprobrium over China passing new national security legislation for Chinese-run Hong Kong.

Read more …

Five Eyes alliance. They should ban 5G until it’s been properly researched.

Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)

Britain is seeking an international alliance to supply Brits with 5G internet and break China’s monopoly over the network. The Government is driving forward plans for 10 democratic countries to work together and find a new provider for the superfast internet. Ministers want the UK to form a club of nations, dubbed the ‘D10’, to fund technology companies and find a 5G supplier to replace Huawei. The PM approved plans for the Chinese company to build part of the UK’s new internet network in January, despite pressure from MPs and the US government. The D10 club would see G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – join forces with Australia, South Korea and India to find another company to build the 5G network.


The UK has already approached Washington with the plan, the Times has reported. A source told the newspaper: “We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time.” It comes amid rising tensions between the UK and China, with the Government accusing the Communist state of covering up coronavirus. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said in March that China “was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this disease.” Nokia and Ericsson are the only two companies in Europe that are currently supplying 5G infrastructure, but it is believed they could not build the network as quickly as Huawei.

Read more …

Feels like Vito Corleone taking the Tattaglia family to court.

US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)

A U.S. judge on Thursday said institutional investors, including BlackRock and PIMCO, can pursue much of their lawsuit accusing 15 major banks of rigging prices in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan said the nearly 1,300 plaintiffs, including many mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, plausibly alleged that the banks conspired to rig currency benchmarks from 2003 to 2013 and profit at their expense. “This is an injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent,” Schofield wrote in a 40-page decision.


The banks, which sometimes controlled more than 90% of the market, included Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and UBS or various affiliates. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accused the banks of improperly sharing confidential orders and trading positions, and using chat rooms with such names as “The Cartel,” “The Mafia” and “The Bandits’ Club.” Banks were also accused of using deceptive trading tactics such as “front running,” “banging the close” and “taking out the filth.” [..] The litigation began in November 2018, after the plaintiffs “opted out” of similar nationwide litigation that had resulted in $2.31 billion of settlements with most of the banks.

Read more …

Sorry to see this. Finish what you start.

Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)

Former presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard dropped her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election are more important than her legal claims. In court papers filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, Gabbard wrote that, while her claims have merit, it’s better to “focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here.” Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, sued Clinton in January, claiming the former first lady defamed her by calling her a “Russian asset” during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.


“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” Gabbard’s Manhattan federal lawsuit read. “In October 2019 — whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated — Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent,” it added. Clinton had refused to walk back comments she made during a 2019 appearance on a podcast, in which she referred to Gabbard as a “favorite of the Russians.” “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton told “Campaign HQ” host and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

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Where the real danger resides.

Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)

Congress has been embroiled in debate over the potential renewal of three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 spying bill that has been harshly criticized by civil liberties advocates for almost two decades. At issue in Congress is the fact that Section 215 of the Patriot Act (the provision once secretly reinterpreted by the FISA court to authorize the NSA’s mass phone surveillance program) allows the Trump administration to gather the internet browsing and search histories of Americans without a warrant. Sen. Ron Wyden had proposed an amendment that would require federal authorities to get a probable cause warrant before ever accessing this data.

It seemed like a popular no-brainer: Web browsing and search history is some of the most sensitive content online, and internet privacy has never been a bigger concern to the public. But in a dramatic vote two weeks ago, the Senate roll call on Wyden’s amendment fell just one vote short of the 60-member threshold from passing. With two Democratic caucus members — Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray — missing the vote, the final tally was 59 for and 37 against. The outrage was swift. Even in the Covid-saturated media environment, dozens of news outlets covered the controversy, and the reaction from constituents across the country then came pouring in. Civil liberties organizations immediately mobilized their supporters to contact members of the House, which still must vote on the final bill before it goes to Trump’s desk for a signature.

The pressure worked. Later that same day, Senators voted to pass another amendment that has the potential to reform the secretive FISA court in a significant way. And the House’s privacy advocates felt emboldened to push House leadership to hold a vote on the Wyden amendment during its debate of the Patriot Act bill this week. At the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan team of House representatives — led by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson — negotiated for three days with Schiff on the exact language of the amendment. Lofgren and Davidson wanted an up and down vote on Wyden’s version that failed in the Senate by one vote, but Schiff reportedly resisted. The sides reached a compromise late Tuesday afternoon.

Schiff pushed for a change to the amendment so that warrant protections would only cover “U.S. persons,” a definition that would exclude millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, including the thousands of DACA recipients, who are at particular risk of surveillance under the Trump administration. Even with the weakened language, Wyden supported the bill, while emphasizing in a statement that the bill’s language meant that if there was any possibility of Trump collecting U.S. persons’ data, then the administration had to get a warrant.

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The judge will get roasted. Nobody agrees with the move.

Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)

More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges and active trial lawyers filed a brief backing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to dismiss the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The bipartisan group of former government attorneys are asking U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for them to formally file an amicus brief on the case. The group includes former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “The issue presented in this case is whether the court has discretion to deny a motion to dismiss to which the defendant consents, as Gen. Flynn has done here. The answer is no,” the attorneys wrote.


Attorney General William Barr requested that the Justice Department drop the charges against Flynn of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before Trump took office. The attorneys argue that Sullivan does not have the legal right to override the decision from the prosecutor — in this case the DOJ — to dismiss a case they are prosecuting. “There is simply no basis upon which this Court can review and deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, to which the defense has consented,” they wrote. Earlier this month, 16 former Watergate prosecutors also asked Sullivan for permission to weigh in on the case. The attorneys argued that given the DOJ’s decision to dismiss Flynn’s criminal prosecution — despite his 2017 guilty pleas — the department cannot be counted on to give the court a fair and complete presentation of the issues raised by the move.

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History lessons are always good.

Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

You’re living in a pandemic. Public health officials recommend new measures every few days: avoid crowds, open windows, wear a mask. Schools close, theaters go dark, even churches shut their doors. But at least the restaurants are open! The year is 1918—maybe not so much like 2020 after all. For years, centuries even, we took restaurants for granted; it is news to most people that they had to be invented (I write about this history in my book The Invention of the Restaurant). As a child, it made sense to me that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone—as we learned in school, “progress” meant currently familiar technologies had all started at some point in the past. Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine. These people were all famous because they invented a new thing. But that social and cultural forms had a history, that not just individual eateries but the entire category of restaurants might be new at one point and non-existent at another? Go figure.

Now it appears that restaurants may not only have a start date, but an end date as well. Born of Enlightenment medical sensibility (the first restaurateurs sold restorative broths and marketed their products especially to people with “weak and delicate chests”), restaurants as we knew them just six months ago may well be a thing of the past—killed off, or at least radically altered, by the current pandemic. For more than 200 years, restaurants have been public places where people go to be private: to sit at their own tables, have their own conversations, eat their own meals. But even that limited degree of interaction violates the social distancing guidelines widely in place today.

Operating in most cases with small profit margins—this month’s customers pay next month’s rent—few restaurants can afford two weeks (much less months) of forced closure. Estimates are that 75 percent of independently owned restaurants may never re-open. Without them, bakeries, specialty farmers, and wine distributors are likely to be in serious trouble as well. While most authorities in the United States today agreed on restaurants closures as a vital public-health measure, their counterparts during the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic saw things differently. A hundred years ago, it seemed obvious that crowds would form along parade routes, in public parks, at revival or club meetings—but not in restaurants.

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 282020
 


Edward Hopper Railroad crossing 1926

 

Questions Raised Over HCQ Study Which Caused WHO To Halt Trials (G.)
India Invites Scepticism As It Sticks By Hydroxychloroquine (SCMP)
South Korea Could Face Return To Restrictions After Spike In New Cases (G.)
Hong Kong Is No Longer Autonomous From China, US Determines (SCMP)
China Approves Hong Kong Draft Security Law (NBC)
Hong Kong’s ‘Significance Is Eroding’, As Trump Considers Next Move (SCMP)
US And China Fight At United Nations Over Hong Kong (R.)
What To Expect Now US Deems Hong Kong No Longer ‘Autonomous’ (SCMP)
Taiwan Will Help Relocate Fleeing Hongkongers – President Tsai (SCMP)
Suddenly Everything is Too Big to Fail – John Rubino (USAW)
Flightless Kiwi Economy To Land With A Thud (Austr.)
The General Election Scenario That Democrats Are Dreading (Pol.)
AG Barr Launches New ‘Unmasking’ Investigation Around 2016 Election (CNN)
Former Flynn Lawyers “Find” 6,800 Documents They Failed To Produce (Solomon)
Rosenstein First Witness In Senate Judiciary’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ Probe (JTN)
New Book Claims Bill Clinton Had Affair With Ghislaine Maxwell (NYP)
Minneapolis Ablaze Amid Looting (ZH)

 

 

The coronavirus death toll in Europe crossed 175,000

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 20,103
• Brazil + 20,154
• Russia + 8,371
• UK 4,938
• India + 7,540
• Peru + 6,154

New deaths past 24 hours in:

• US + 1,529
• Brazil + 1,104
• Mexico 462
• UK 343

 

 

 

Cases 5,813,239 (+ 103,721 from yesterday’s 5,709,518)

Deaths 357,893 (+ 5,143 from yesterday’s 352,750)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

One single report in the Lancet, based on data from a company nobody seems to know, has had the desired effect. France, the WHO, and now Italy and Belgium have all turned their backs on HCQ.

Questions Raised Over HCQ Study Which Caused WHO To Halt Trials (G.)

Questions have been raised by Australian infectious disease researchers about a study published in the Lancet which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. The study published on Friday found Covid-19 patients who received the malaria drug were dying at higher rates and experiencing more heart-related complications than other virus patients. The large observational study analysed data from nearly 15,000 patients with Covid-19 who received the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics, comparing this data with 81,000 controls who did not receive the drug.

[..] The study, led by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston, examined patients in hospitals around the world, including in Australia. It said researchers gained access to data from five hospitals recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of 21 April. But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April. The data relied upon by researchers to draw their conclusions in the Lancet is not readily available in Australian clinical databases, leading many to ask where it came from.

[..] The Lancet told Guardian Australia: “We have asked the authors for clarifications, we know that they are investigating urgently, and we await their reply.” The lead author of the study, Dr Mehra Mandeep, said he had contacted Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, to reconcile the discrepancies with “the utmost urgency”. Surgisphere is described as a healthcare data analytics and medical education company. [..] Dr Allen Cheng, an epidemiologist and infectious disease doctor with Alfred Health in Melbourne, said the Australian hospitals involved in the study should be named. He said he had never heard of Surgisphere, and no one from his hospital, The Alfred, had provided Surgisphere with data.

“Usually to submit to a database like Surgisphere you need ethics approval, and someone from the hospital will be involved in that process to get it to a database,” he said. He said the dataset should be made public, or at least open to an independent statistical reviewer. “If they got this wrong, what else could be wrong?” Cheng said. It was also a “red flag” to him that the paper listed only four authors. “Usually with studies that report on findings from thousands of patients, you would see a large list of authors on the paper,” he said. “Multiple sources are needed to collect and analyse the data for large studies and you usually see that acknowledged in the list of authors.”

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This is about health care workers on the front lines, who have nothing else to protect themselves.

India Invites Scepticism As It Sticks By Hydroxychloroquine (SCMP)

The Indian government is courting controversy by continuing to give the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine to health care workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus, despite safety concerns that have prompted the World Health Organisation to pause a large-scale trial of the drug. Scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the body leading the coronavirus battle in India, say their studies have shown definitively that the drug – also known as HCQ – helps to prevent infections among health care workers exposed to Covid-19. The ICMR has conducted three studies, involving control groups of between 330 and 1,300 people, in which frontline health care staff have taken the drug as a preventive measure.

Dr Suman Kanungo, ICMR’s senior epidemiologist, told This Week in Asia that further research was being carried out on a control group of 1,500 health care workers and that the results of the studies would be released within a month. He stressed the ICMR recommended the drug as a preventive measure, indirectly implying that it was not recommended as a cure for Covid-19. His comments came after the ICMR’s director general Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday that the group’s studies had shown that HCQ, when used as a preventive measure, had no side-affects. However, some experts are sceptical of the ICMR’s claims, pointing out that India is the world’s largest manufacturer of the drug and that only very limited details of the studies have been made public.

Dr Sapan Desai, CEO of the Surgisphere Corporation and a co-author of the Lancet study, said the study was based on a “specific group” of hospitalised Covid-19 patients. “[We] have clearly stated that the results of our analyses should not be over-interpreted to those that have yet to develop the disease or those that have not been hospitalised. It is in recognition of these limitations of our observational study that we recommended that RCTs [randomly controlled trials] be urgently completed,” he said.

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Every government’s nightmare.

South Korea Could Face Return To Restrictions After Spike In New Cases (G.)

South Korea has reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases in 53 days, triggering warnings it may have to revert to stricter social distancing measures after appearing to have brought the outbreak under control. The Korean Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 79 new infections on Thursday with 67 of them from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to about half of the country’s population of 51 million. Officials said health authorities were finding it increasingly difficult to track the transmission routes for new infections and urged people to remain vigilant amid fears of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

The health minister, Park Neung-hoo, pleaded with residents in and around the capital to avoid unnecessary gatherings and urged companies to allow sick employees to take time off work. “Infection routes are being diversified in workplaces, crammed schools and karaoke rooms in the metropolitan area,” Park said. The recent spike in infections has underlined the risks that come with relaxing social distancing rules, as countries seek to breathe life into their struggling economies. More than 250 new infections were traced to clubs and bars in the Itaewon district of Seoul in early May, while the latest cluster has been linked to a distribution centre in Bucheon, near Seoul, owned by the e-commerce firm Coupang.

The recent rise in cases is affecting the phased reopening of schools, only recently held up as evidence that South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected, had contained the outbreak. More than 500 schools have delayed the resumption of classes over virus concerns, the education ministry said this week. Thursday’s figures followed reports of 40 new cases on Wednesday – the highest figure in seven weeks. South Korea has reported a total of 11,344 cases and 269 deaths from Covid-19.

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Pompeo is a pompous fool, but how could one claim he’s mistaken here?

Hong Kong is pivotal for the banking sector that underlies trade between China and the west, between the renminbi and the USD. But because nobody wants the renminbi, it’s that much more pivotal for China.

Hong Kong is interesting for the west only when it’s independent. Once it’s part of China, why stay there?

Hong Kong as it is today, is the culmination of 200 years of development, negotiations, trust building. It will take a very long time for China to establish that somewhere else. Hong Kong has a “special trading status” with the US. Those are not handed out with every box of detergent.

Hong Kong Is No Longer Autonomous From China, US Determines (SCMP)

In a huge blow to Hong Kong, the Trump administration informed the US Congress on Wednesday that the city is no longer suitably autonomous from China. The assessment is a crucial step in deciding whether Hong Kong will continue to receive preferential economic and trade treatment from the United States. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “This decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality.” The State Department’s certification is a recommendation and does not necessarily lead to an immediate next step. US officials, including President Donald Trump, now must decide to what extent sanctions or other policy measures should be levelled on the city.

“While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself,” Pompeo said. Under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed by the US Congress in November, the administration must decide annually whether governance of Hong Kong is suitably distinct from China. Options available to the administration – which may in part depend on Beijing’s reaction, analysts said – include higher trade tariffs, tougher investment rules, asset freezes and more onerous visa rules. The move sent shock waves through China and Hong Kong policy circles. “Wow,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

“I fully expect the US to proceed with sanctions on individuals and entities deemed to be undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy,” she continued. “Secondary sanctions are possible on banks that do business with entities found in violation of law guaranteeing Hong Kong’s autonomy.” Analysts noted a long-standing dilemma faced by successive US administrations: if Washington imposes sanctions on Hong Kong, it risks hurting residents of the city at least as much as it penalises Beijing. Following through on threats to change Hong Kong’s status will have a hugely negative impact on US companies operating there as well as on Hongkongers while having a minuscule effect on China, said Nicholas Lardy, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “And I don’t know why we want to punish the citizens of Hong Kong for something that the government in Beijing is doing,” he added.

[..] Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the city’s government has leeway to make its own decisions, other than those involving defence and national security, where Beijing prevails. But at annual political meetings last week in Beijing, China unveiled a resolution that will initiate the legislative process for a new draft legislation banning “secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference”. The move will greatly expand the mainland’s power over the city and has elevated concerns that China is rapidly eliminating the “one country, two systems” principle.

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They’re going to pass it, because otherwise they would lose face.

China Approves Hong Kong Draft Security Law (NBC)

The Chinese parliament passed the first hurdle of enacting a draft security law for Hong Kong on Thursday, legislation that has prompted widespread concern about Beijing’s increasing influence on the semi-autonomous region. The annual National People People’s Congress approved the framework of the law by 2,878 votes to one, and it will now go to senior party officials in the Standing Committee of the NPC to be fleshed out. The draft law, which is set to tackle issues such as secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference, comes after a year of anti-government protests that at times brought Hong Kong to a standstill. It has already prompted widespread concern around the world. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it meant that Hong Kong no longer qualifies for its special status under U.S. law. “The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

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“Coming out and decertifying Hong Kong’s autonomy is not the hard decision, The hard work comes now, which is how you implement it.”

Hong Kong’s ‘Significance Is Eroding’, As Trump Considers Next Move (SCMP)

Economists, diplomats and business figures were scrambling on Thursday to quantify the effect of Washington’s decision to deem Hong Kong “no longer autonomous” from China, with many gaming out the “nuclear option”, in which the United States revokes the city’s special trading status. Former White House officials said that the most likely immediate scenario is that US President Donald Trump approves a “variety” of sanctions, potentially on both Chinese and Hong Kong officials, by the end of the week in response to China’s national security law for Hong Kong. However, “the nuclear option is certainly on the table”, said a former senior Trump administration official, which would see Hong Kong’s status as a region apart from the rest of China removed at a later date, leaving the city vulnerable to trade war tariffs, technological export controls, visa and travel restrictions and greater financial sector scrutiny.

“Coming out and decertifying Hong Kong’s autonomy is not the hard decision,” said Evan Medeiros, who served as former president Barack Obama’s top adviser on the Asia-Pacific and who confirmed that he would have done the same. “The hard work comes now, which is how you implement it.” Should Trump go gung-ho on China, there would be no direct change to Hong Kong’s international status. It would remain a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. The direct economic impact would be sharp, but short-term, analysts said. But in the long run it will be a huge blow to Hong Kong’s image as an international commercial centre – even as a gateway to China.

“I guess the significance of Hong Kong is eroding and when I go to see the members in Shenzhen and Guangzhou and listen to discussion about the Greater Bay Area, it is pretty much one story, as if Hong Kong is insignificant,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce for China in Beijing. “Hong Kong cannot be replicated, the unique density of professionals, the transparency of the system, the rule of law, the kind of debate possibilities, the openness. They’re definitely important for developing business in China, for many of us it’s being challenged right now,” Wuttke said.

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Like either gives a damn about the UN.

US And China Fight At United Nations Over Hong Kong (R.)

The United States and China clashed over Hong Kong at the United Nations on Wednesday after Beijing opposed a request by Washington for the Security Council to meet over China’s plan to impose new national security legislation on the territory. The U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a statement that the issue was “a matter of urgent global concern that implicates international peace and security” and therefore warranted the immediate attention of the 15-member council. China “categorically rejects the baseless request” because the national security legislation for Hong Kong was an internal matter and “has nothing to do with the mandate of the Security Council,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun posted on Twitter. The U.S. request coincides with rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic.


Washington has questioned China’s transparency about the outbreak, which first emerged in Wuhan, China late last year. China has said it was transparent about the virus. The U.S. said China’s opposition to a Security Council meeting on Hong Kong coupled with its “gross cover-up and mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis, its constant violations of its international human rights commitments, and its unlawful behavior in the South China Sea, should make obvious to all that Beijing is not behaving as a responsible U.N. member state.” Zhang responded: “Facts prove again and again that the U.S. is the trouble maker of the world. It is the U.S. who has violated its commitments under the international law. China urges the U.S. to immediately stop its power politics and bullying practices.”

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In the beginning, things will move with caution. But that may not last very long as parties realize the scope of what is happening.

What To Expect Now US Deems Hong Kong No Longer ‘Autonomous’ (SCMP)

US President Donald Trump has to decide what actions to take after the State Department informed Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer considered autonomous from China, an assessment that could threaten the city’s long-standing special trading status. “It’s a one-two action,” said David Stilwell, assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department on Wednesday evening. “One being the State Department making the assessment that Hong Kong no longer enjoys autonomy,” said Stilwell at a briefing to reporters, referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement earlier in the day. “And then, [the second action will be] the determination by the White House as to how we’re going to respond,” Stilwell said.

The State Department did not specify how fast that decision may be. “A lot of” options are being considered, including personnel and sanctions “as determined in the United States – Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and in the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act [of 2019],” he said. Under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed by the US Congress in November, the administration must decide every year whether governance of Hong Kong is suitably distinct from China, which is the prerequisite for the special status to continue. A revocation of Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US will put an end to the preferential economic and trade treatment the city has enjoyed and which has, at least partly, contributed to making it the financial and business hub in the region.

Some analysts and members of the business community, following the State Department’s assessment, have voiced concerns that a status change would inflict more pain on Hong Kong and its people than on Beijing. “Today’s action is best understood as another turn of the screw,” said Terry Haines, an independent political analyst and former Congressional staffer. “It is a strong signal of US government displeasure.” But, given that this is only the first step, and does not necessarily lead to US sanctions or other actions against Hong Kong, there is opportunity to lessen tension, he said. “Expect Congress to help Trump pressure China on Hong Kong autonomy, but not to force Trump’s hand or require sanctions or other actions,” he said.

In his statement earlier on Wednesday, Pompeo said “no reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.” Pompeo’s assessment came a day before Beijing could pass the national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong. The move aimed to thwart Beijing’s plan to move forward with the passage of the legislation, which is considered a violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the treaty that established the principle of “one country, two systems” and which stipulates the sovereign and administrative arrangement of Hong Kong after the 1997 handover.

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After being accused domestically of doing the opposite. Taiwan has always offered help.

Taiwan Will Help Relocate Fleeing Hongkongers – President Tsai (SCMP)

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has assured Hongkongers that her government would come up with special measures to help them relocate to the island, in an apparent effort to counter claims that she is giving up on Hong Kong. Tsai said her cabinet would form an ad hoc committee to work out a humanitarian action plan for Hong Kong people. Under the plan, the Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s top mainland policy planner, would establish concrete ways for the administration to help Hongkongers “live, relocate and work in Taiwan”, Tsai said. She said a special budget and resources would be set aside for the programme, which would launched as soon as possible to address the needs of Hongkongers wanting to move amid concerns about threats to freedoms posed by the introduction of a national security law.

After months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, the National People’s Congress is expected to pass on Thursday a resolution to set up and improve legal and enforcement mechanisms for national security in Hong Kong, a move that has been widely condemned overseas and in the city. The decision to form the committee comes after Tsai came under attack for suggesting in a Facebook post on Sunday that she might consider invoking Article 60 of the Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong and Macau Affairs by suspending the “application of all or part of the provisions of the act” if the NPC bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to approve the security law. That would mean an end to the preferential treatment given to people from Hong Kong and Macau, including to visit and invest in the self-ruled island.

Opposition lawmakers said the move would effectively suspend the city’s special status, essentially shutting the door to Hong Kong people doing business, studying or fleeing to Taiwan to avoid penalties for their protest actions in the city.
They criticised Tsai for trying to “dump” Hong Kong people after using them to win January’s presidential election. Tsai’s strong support for the mass protests in Hong Kong last year – triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill – helped her win a landslide in January’s presidential poll for which she secured a second four-year term. Tsai’s suggestion also attracted concerns from civic and human rights groups in Taiwan.

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More reason to bail out people, not companies.

Suddenly Everything is Too Big to Fail – John Rubino (USAW)

Everyone needs be looking past the Coronavirus crisis and at what governments are trying to do to counter the economic destruction and massive unemployment. Is the financial cure worse than the disease? Financial writer John Rubino says look at commercial real estate as an omen of what is to come. Rubino explains, “Sooner or later you’ve got to pay your bills, and if you don’t have anybody paying your bills to you, then you go bankrupt. Commercial real estate could just be a blood bath, which take us back to all the bailouts. You can’t let a big sector go bust in this world because suddenly everything is too big to fail. There is not a major sector out there that can be allowed to go bust. Not the airlines, not commercial real estate, certainly not the banks, you name it and it has to be bailed out. That’s where the really crazy stuff starts. When people figure out we are basically bailing out everybody from home owners to student loan holders, to car loan holders and right down the line, and then we get state and local governments with this gigantic multi-trillion dollar problem . . . and the amount of debt is off the charts to bail all of these guys out, that is when the real fun starts.”


How long will the bailouts go on? Rubino says, “We are heading into a Presidential election, which means we cannot let anything major fail. If you are the Trump Administration and Congress, you can’t let something big fail because it’s a crisis right before you need to get re-elected. So, you’ve got to bail people out. That’s what California, Illinois and Chicago, New York, Kentucky and all the bankrupt and badly run states have been hoping for all along. They have been hoping there would be a big crisis that would bail them out of their horrendous mismanagement of the past 20 or 30 years. There was no way that Illinois was not going to go bankrupt in normal times . . . or Chicago. . . . Now, they can go to the federal government and say we need a trillion dollars right now or we are going to lay off all the cops and all the teachers, and they think they have a pretty good chance of getting the bailout because the alternative is poison for the people running for office . . . . If you are the Trump Administration or Congress, I don’t see how you stop bailing people out before the election.”

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Not everyone in Australia wants a travel bubble, apparently.

Flightless Kiwi Economy To Land With A Thud (Austr.)

No national leader has been as feted as Jacinda Ardern during this pandemic. Young and progressive, New Zealand’s Prime Minister was popular before the crisis. Since she imposed the favoured pandemic solution of the left — a hard lockdown, shutting practically all business and no socialising with anyone outside your home — her star has only risen. “Laughing in the face of seismic shakes, she has calmly steered her country in the face of a massacre, an eruption and a pandemic,” The Guardian cooed on Tuesday. Steering it into an economic abyss, perhaps. New Zealand’s economy is in strife. Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline. Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.


“New Zealand is going backwards, falling behind the vast ≠majority of our OECD partners in virtually every social and economic measure that matters,” said Roger Douglas, a former New Zealand Labour treasurer and the famed architect of Rogernomics. New Zealand ranks fourth last in the OECD for labour productivity growth, and last for multi-factor productivity growth, according to economist Michael Reddell, based on OECD data. Health and education are gobbling up more of the budget as the population ages, with less and less to show for it.

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I think they fear other scenarios a lot more. Like the full exposure of Obamagate.

The General Election Scenario That Democrats Are Dreading (Pol.)

In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection. Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim. “We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.

[..] Furman’s case begins with the premise that the 2020 pandemic-triggered economic collapse is categorically different than the Great Depression or the Great Recession, which both had slow, grinding recoveries. Instead, he believes, the way to think about the current economic drop-off, at least in the first two phases, is more like what happens to a thriving economy during and after a natural disaster: a quick and steep decline in economic activity followed by a quick and steep rebound. The Covid-19 recession started with a sudden shuttering of many businesses, a nationwide decline in consumption and massive increase in unemployment. But starting around April 15, when economic reopening started to spread but the overall numbers still looked grim, Furman noticed some data that pointed to the kind of recovery that economists often see after a hurricane or industrywide catastrophe like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Consumption and hiring started to tick up “in gross terms, not in net terms,” Furman said, describing the phenomenon as a “partial rebound.” The bounce back “can be very very fast, because people go back to their original job, they get called back from furlough, you put the lights back on in your business. Given how many people were furloughed and how many businesses were closed you can get a big jump out of that. It will look like a V.”

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How many consecutive investigations is that now?

AG Barr Launches New ‘Unmasking’ Investigation Around 2016 Election (CNN)

Attorney General William Barr has tasked a US attorney with reviewing instances of “unmasking” done around the 2016 election, adding the weight of a senior federal prosecutor behind an issue that President Donald Trump has seized on in recent weeks to underpin unfounded allegations about his predecessor. John Bash, the US attorney in San Antonio, will be handling the review in support of the ongoing criminal investigation being led by John Durham, a Connecticut prosecutor, according to a Justice Department spokeswoman. “Unmasking inherently isn’t wrong but certainly the frequency, the motivation and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic.

“When you’re looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation, like John Durham’s investigation, looking specifically at who was unmasking whom can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events,” Kerri Kupec, the department spokeswoman, said in an interview with Fox News. Earlier this month, then-acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell declassified a list of names of former Obama administration officials who allegedly had requested the “unmasking” of the identify of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Senate Republicans later released the list, which named Obama administration officials who “may have received” Flynn’s identity in National Security Agency intelligence reports after requests to unmask Americans.

On Fox, Kupec said that Barr had “determined that certain aspects of unmasking needed to be reviewed separately as a support” to the Durham investigation. Bash will be looking “specifically at episodes both before and after the election,” Kupec said. Bash is the latest in a string of top prosecutors Barr has assigned to handle politically charged reviews. Durham, the longtime Connecticut prosecutor, was assigned to review the origins of the Russia investigation earlier this month. Jeff Jensen, the US attorney in St. Louis, had scrutinized the handling of the Flynn prosecution and recommended earlier this month that the Justice Department drop the charges. Barr has said that he has since tasked Jensen with examining other issues, but the department has not said what those issues are.

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Openly lying to a court.

Former Flynn Lawyers “Find” 6,800 Documents They Failed To Produce (Solomon)

The surprises keep coming in former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s legal battle to overturn his conviction in the Russia probe. Just days after the FBI belatedly produced possible evidence of innocence to Flynn’s new legal team led by Attorney Sidney Powell, his old law firm on Tuesday informed the judge it had located 6,800 documents that it failed to turn over as required by a court order in 2019. Covington & Burling LLP told the court its search team failed to search all of the law firm’s records and missed the documents, mostly emails. The documents were produced to Powell on Tuesday.


“Covington determined that an unintentional miscommunication involving the firm’s information technology personnel had led them, in some instances, to run search terms on subsets of emails … rather than on the broader sets of emails that should have been searched,” Flynn’s former attorney Robert Kelner told the court in a motion. “We now have performed another search, using search terms and manual reviews, on a broader universe of material to correct the earlier error and to transfer additional documents that are part of the client file,” Kelner wrote, saying his firm was willing to assist Powell on any other matters and to address any questions the judge may have about the oversight.

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Graham wants Flynn, Obama and Trump to participate, but he doesn’t seek their testimony.

Rosenstein First Witness In Senate Judiciary’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ Probe (JTN)

Former acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will be the first witness to testify in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of its Russia collusion probe, the panel announced Wednesday. Rosenstein is set to testify the morning of June 3 before the committee led by Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina Republican called for a formal inquiry a few weeks ago, following the release of declassified information that showed officials in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe appeared to exceed authority, or at the very least break with protocol. Among the biggest revelations in the documents was that the FBI appeared to know that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had not colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election to influence the race’s outcome, but still interviewed him and pressed him into a guilty plea.

Graham, who is seeking subpoena authority in the probe, has said the committee will look into the appointment of retired FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel in the investigation. Rosenstein appointed Mueller and set the parameters of his authority. Graham said after the release of the documents — which was followed by the Justice Department asking a federal court to dismiss its Flynn case — that he would also seek testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

The first phase of the panel’s investigation “will deal with the government’s decision to dismiss” the case against Flynn, as well as “an in-depth analysis of the unmasking requests made by Obama Administration officials against Gen. Flynn,” Graham recently said. He has also invited Flynn, former President Obama and President Trump to participate.

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What the heck, let’s do some gossip.

New Book Claims Bill Clinton Had Affair With Ghislaine Maxwell (NYP)

Bill Clinton had an affair with British-born socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping recruit underage victims for notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, according to a blockbuster new book. The ex-president — who denies cheating on wife Hillary Clinton with Maxwell — reportedly engaged in the romps during overseas trips on Epstein’s private plane, a customized Boeing 727 that’s since become known as the “Lolita Express.” The nation’s 42nd head of state also repeatedly sneaked out to visit Maxwell at her Upper East Side townhouse, as detailed in this exclusive excerpt. Excerpt from “A Convenient Death: The Mysterious Demise of Jeffrey Epstein,” by Alana Goodman and Daniel Halper, out June 2:

“Clinton was allegedly carrying on an affair with at least one woman in Epstein’s orbit, but she was well over the age of consent. Ghislaine Maxwell, a constant presence at the ex- president’s side during these trips, was the primary reason Clinton let Epstein ferry him around the world. “[Bill] and Ghislaine were getting it on,” a source who witnessed the relationship said in an interview. “That’s why he was around Epstein—to be with her.” The source explained that reporters have been missing the point about the Clinton- Epstein relationship by focusing on Epstein’s sex crimes. “[Clinton’s] stupid but not an idiot,” the source says, dismissing the idea that the ex- president was sexually involved with children.

Clinton’s primary interest in Epstein was the woman he once dated and who allegedly helped procure her ex-boyfriend’s future victims. “You couldn’t hang out with her without being with him,” the source said of the Epstein-Clinton relationship. “Clinton just used him like everything else,” the source explains. In this case, Epstein was being used as an alibi while he hooked up with Maxwell.

[..] while attending the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, at the end of an Indian summer, in September 2009, a process server walked through the packed lobby of the Sheraton Hotel…and served Ghislaine Maxwell papers for a deposition,” the journalist Conchita Sarnoff recalls. “Maxwell…was huddled in a small group talking to other guests” as the server approached her. He “called out her name and…with so many people surrounding her, Maxwell was unsuspecting. She confirmed her identity and he served her notice. The deposition was in relation to Epstein’s sexual abuse case. The server left at once,” Sarnoff writes in her book, TrafficKing.

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I’m old enough to remember that Black Lives Matter only became a going concern under America’s first black president.

Minneapolis Ablaze Amid Looting (ZH)

High unemployment, crashed economy, and now social unrest rears its ugly head as America descends into chaos ahead of the summer months. Across social media, pictures and videos coming from the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday evening are absolutely stunning. Protests broke out following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody a day earlier. This reminds us of the 2014 Ferguson Riots and 2015 Baltimore Riots, in both incidents, the trigger for unrest was a young black man killed while in police custody. Unlike 2014/15, the economy has now plunged into a depression and tens of millions of people are unemployed, as some have to resort to food banks because they’ve fallen into instant poverty, which all suggests tensions are already running high as warmer weather entices people to step outside. With no work, why not riot?


Shown below, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters. The initial demonstrations started peacefully than quickly got out of hand. Some hurled blunt objects at law enforcement while damaging police cars. The early hours of the protest were peaceful, hundreds, and maybe even more than a thousand people, were seen marching across 38th Street. Some carried signs that read “Justice for George Floyd,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

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We try 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 interaction.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1265474120680181762

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Apr 102020
 


Edward Hopper Burly Cobb’s House, South Truro 1930-33

 

Doctors Alarmed After Some COVID19 Patients Test Positive After Recovering (RT)
Doctors Say Ventilators Are Overused For COVID19 (Stat)
Pay Cuts, Furloughs, Layoffs For Doctors, Nurses, Healthcare Workers (BI)
New York Has More Cases Than Any Country (BBC)
Trump: Widespread Testing ‘Would Never Happen’, Not Needed To Reopen US (NW)
UK Gov’t: Keep Economy Running, We Will All Get COVID-19 Anyway (Nafeez Ahmed)
Ex-IMF Head Economist: Western Economies Slow To React (BBC)
Americans In Lebanon Decline Repatriation Offer: ‘It’s Safer In Beirut’ (CNN)
US Shouldn’t Bail Out Hedge Funds, Billionaires – Chamath Palihapitiya (CNBC)
WHO Chief And Taiwan In Row Over ‘Racist’ Comments (BBC)
Japan Will Pay Its Firms to Leave China, Relocate Production (N18)
China Factory Gate Deflation Deepens (R.)
How Greece Flattened The Coronavirus Curve (AlJ)
Saudi Energy Minister Says OPEC+ Oil Pact Hinges On Mexico Joining (R.)
US Banks Prepare To Seize Energy Assets As Shale Boom Goes Bust (R.)
Chicago Jail Reports 450 Coronavirus Cases Among Staff, Inmates (R.)
Assange Not Infected But Says Many in Belmarsh Are (CN)

 

 

US records 1,783 virus deaths in past 24 hours: Johns Hopkins
April 7: 1,939, April 8: 1.973

 

 

Cases 1,615,049 (+ 85,971 from yesterday’s 1,529,078)

Deaths 96,791 (+ 7,380 from yesterday’s 89,411)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% ! NOTE 2: the number of active cases that are critical or severe is going down. 4% now.

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

We keep seeing articles that depict how poor our understanding of the virus is. Sometimes I even wonder how many people died from that, instead of the virus itself.

Doctors Alarmed After Some COVID19 Patients Test Positive After Recovering (RT)

Troublesome results from South Korea and China, showing some of the patients who recovered from the coronavirus test positive again, could throw off widely accepted strategies for battling the virus, from shutdowns to vaccines. After about 50 recovered patients in the city of Daegu tested positive for Covid-19 again, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) launched an investigation into whether they were somehow reinfected, or if the virus had made a comeback. “While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” said KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong, as quoted by Bloomberg.

While reinfection would be problematic, reactivation is a more troubling prospect. In addition to raising questions about post-recovery immunity to the virus, it would pose a major challenge to mitigation strategies adopted around the world. If there is a high risk of Covid-19 reactivating among the people considered cured, that would mean longer quarantines and delays in reopening businesses and public spaces. Other possibilities include false positives, if the tests pick up residue from the initial infection, or prolonged “shedding” of the virus load missed by the tests at discharge because the levels were just under the limit.

South Korea has often been cited as one of the success stories of the pandemic, keeping the total number of infections to 10,400 and the death toll to 204, through strict quarantine, widespread testing and contact tracing measures. Further troubling news comes from China, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in December last year. A team of scientists at Fudan University analyzed blood samples from 175 patients discharged from a hospital in Shanghai and found that almost a third had “unexpectedly low” levels of antibodies, and in at least ten cases, no antibodies at all.

“Whether these patients were at high risk of rebound or reinfection should be explored in further studies,” the team said in a preliminary research paper released on Monday. While it has not been peer-reviewed or evaluated, the authors say they did the world’s first systematic examination of antibody levels in recovered Covid-19 patients. All of the people examined had recovered from mild symptoms, and most of those with low antibody levels were young, in the 15-39 age group. By contrast, the 60-85 age group had three times the amount of antibodies, the scientists said. If some patients do not develop antibodies, this could have serious implications for both vaccinations and “herd immunity.”

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More poor understanding.

Doctors Say Ventilators Are Overused For COVID19 (Stat)

Even as hospitals and governors raise the alarm about a shortage of ventilators, some critical care physicians are questioning the widespread use of the breathing machines for Covid-19 patients, saying that large numbers of patients could instead be treated with less intensive respiratory support. If the iconoclasts are right, putting coronavirus patients on ventilators could be of little benefit to many and even harmful to some. What’s driving this reassessment is a baffling observation about Covid-19: Many patients have blood oxygen levels so low they should be dead. But they’re not gasping for air, their hearts aren’t racing, and their brains show no signs of blinking off from lack of oxygen.

That is making critical care physicians suspect that blood levels of oxygen, which for decades have driven decisions about breathing support for patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress, might be misleading them about how to care for those with Covid-19. In particular, more and more are concerned about the use of intubation and mechanical ventilators. They argue that more patients could receive simpler, noninvasive respiratory support, such as the breathing masks used in sleep apnea, at least to start with and maybe for the duration of the illness. “I think we may indeed be able to support a subset of these patients” with less invasive breathing support, said Sohan Japa, an internal medicine physician at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think we have to be more nuanced about who we intubate.”

That would help relieve a shortage of ventilators so critical that states are scrambling to procure them and some hospitals are taking the unprecedented (and largely untested) step of using a single ventilator for more than one patient. And it would mean fewer Covid-19 patients, particularly elderly ones, would be at risk of suffering the long-term cognitive and physical effects of sedation and intubation while being on a ventilator. None of this means that ventilators are not necessary in the Covid-19 crisis, or that hospitals are wrong to fear running out. But as doctors learn more about treating Covid-19, and question old dogma about blood oxygen and the need for ventilators, they might be able to substitute simpler and more widely available devices.

An oxygen saturation rate below 93% (normal is 95% to 100%) has long been taken as a sign of potential hypoxia and impending organ damage. Before Covid-19, when the oxygen level dropped below this threshold, physicians supported their patients’ breathing with noninvasive devices such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, the sleep apnea device) and bilevel positive airway pressure ventilators (BiPAP). Both work via a tube into a face mask. [..] because in some patients with Covid-19, blood-oxygen levels fall to hardly-ever-seen levels, into the 70s and even lower, physicians are intubating them sooner. “Data from China suggested that early intubation would keep Covid-19 patients’ heart, liver, and kidneys from failing due to hypoxia,” said a veteran emergency medicine physician. “This has been the whole thing driving decisions about breathing support: Knock them out and put them on a ventilator.”

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Obvious no. 1 for the government to prevent.

Pay Cuts, Furloughs, Layoffs For Doctors, Nurses, Healthcare Workers (BI)

Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston started temporarily laying off 900 workers this week, a move it expects will last through June. Salaried employees are facing a 15% cut, and hourly workers who don’t care for patients will be working fewer hours. The hospital confirmed that workers won’t face cuts if they are treating patients with COVID-19,. Though some hourly workers already had reduced hours due to lower volume, they won’t see more cuts if they’re moved onto the COVID-19 response team, said hospital spokeswoman Heather Woolwine. The cuts at MUSC came as the hospital saw a 75% drop in surgeries, 30% fewer patients arriving at the hospital, and 70% fewer patients arriving there by ambulance. Without staffing changes, it projected a $100 million loss through June 30.

In Oklahoma, Hillcrest HealthCare System announced it is putting about 600 employees on an estimated 90-day furlough, which is a temporary layoff without pay, though some might be called back sooner if they’re needed. The furloughs affect workers in administration, surgery, and outpatient care, where patient visits have gone down, said Rachel Weaver Smith, spokeswoman for Hillcrest. About 20% of staff are facing furloughs, reassignments, or reduced hours or pay, but the changes don’t extend to staff treating people with COVID-19, Weaver Smith said.

[..] There’s no central place where hospitals are reporting all of their layoffs or how much money they’re losing. The American Hospital Association, which represents more than 5,000 hospitals, has sounded the alarm about the industry’s financial difficulties and said that quickly distributing funding from the CARES Act would help facilities keep their doors open. About $30 billion will go out in the coming days, according to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but it’s not clear when or how the rest will be distributed.

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There are some 20 million people in NY State. Much less than in Spain, Italy etc.

New York Has More Cases Than Any Country (BBC)

New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any other country outside the US, according to latest figures. The state’s confirmed caseload of Covid-19 jumped by 10,000 on Thursday to 159,937, placing it ahead of Spain (153,000 cases) and Italy (143,000). China, where the virus emerged last year, has reported 82,000 cases. The US as a whole has recorded 462,000 cases and nearly 16,500 deaths. Globally there are 1.6 million cases and 95,000 deaths. While New York state leads the world in coronavirus cases, its death toll (7,000) lags behind Spain (15,500) and Italy (18,000), though it is more than double the official figure from China (3,300).


Photo: Reuters- Lucas Jackson

Photos have emerged of workers in hazmat outfits burying coffins in a mass grave in New York City. Drone footage showed workers using a ladder to descend into the huge pit where the caskets were stacked. The images were taken at Hart Island, off the Bronx, which has been used for more than 150 years by city officials as a mass burial site for those with no next-of-kin, or families who cannot afford funerals. Burial operations at the site have ramped up amid the pandemic from one day a week to five days a week, according to the Department of Corrections. Prisoners from Rikers Island usually do the job, but the rising workload has recently been taken over by contractors.

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Imagine you’re a country that has imposed a 2-3 month lockdown on its people, and you’re slowly getting out. Would you then invite mass numbers of untested Americans?

Trump: Widespread Testing ‘Would Never Happen’, Not Needed To Reopen US (NW)

President Donald Trump on Thursday said a widespread COVID-19 testing program to assess whether workers can safely return to their workplaces is “never going to happen” in the United States. As he addressed reporters during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump touted the fact that 2 million Americans had been tested for the virus as a “milestone” in the U.S. fight against the global pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2. The 2 million tests that have been administered so far represents a high water mark after weeks of problems in obtaining and administering tests caused by the Trump administration’s rejection of a test developed by the World Health Organization. However, that number means only .61 percent of the 330 million U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19.

That’s a paltry number compared to many other countries which have implemented testing programs. Italy, for example, has administered tests to approximately 1.4 percent of its population, and South Korea, which flattened its infection curve with widespread testing, has reached .9 percent of its population. Most public health experts have stressed the need for the U.S. to significantly expand its testing program, both with currently available tests to determine whether a given person is infected with SARS-Cov-2, and with so-called “antibody tests” to determine whether a person has successfully fought off the virus and is therefore immune to it.

Both varieties of test, experts say, must be administered in far greater quantities than currently being done in order to allow Americans to return to work without fear of infection, though Trump has repeatedly suggested that the U.S. could begin to emerge from social distancing measures within a few weeks. But when asked how his administration could discuss “reopening” the U.S. economy without an adequate testing program in place, Trump claimed that such a program was not just unnecessary, but was something that was simply not in the cards. “Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” Trump said.

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Long piece by Nafeez. I don’t know, when people spell Government with a capital G, I scratch my head.

UK Gov’t: Keep Economy Running, We Will All Get COVID-19 Anyway (Nafeez Ahmed)

Leaked recordings of a Home Office conference call on Tuesday, exclusively obtained by Byline Times, reveal that the Government has all but given up in its fight against the Coronavirus and is intent on simply finding “a method of managing it within the population”. The recordings show Home Office Deputy Science Advisor Rupert Shute stating repeatedly that the Government believes “we will all get” COVID-19 eventually. The call further implied that the Government now considers hundreds of thousands of deaths unavoidable over a long-term period consisting of multiple peaks of the disease. While urging the importance of reducing the burden on the NHS by staying at home, Shute downplayed the risk of people contracting the virus at work.

He said: “It’s perfectly okay to carry on around your business. And it’s vitally important that you do as there’s a whole bunch of supply chains and the economy that needs to continue running… So carrying on with your normal work is not putting you in harms way anymore so than staying at home or going out shopping. So I keep coming back to this point that we are all going to get this at some point. And it’s about making sure that we have a really strong NHS there to support us when we do get sick.” The policy being communicated by the Home Office privately among Government staffers is at odds with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement at a press conference three weeks ago that the next 12 weeks could “turn the tide of this disease”.


[..] A fuller analysis of leaked recordings obtained by Byline Times reveals that the Government remains committed to the idea that the vast majority of the UK population will contract COVID-19, making a minimum number of deaths inevitable, albeit over a longer period of time. Using the Government’s own lowest estimate of a fatality rate at around 0.5%, this confirms that it has resigned itself to the expectation that some 264,000 Britons will inevitably die in ensuing months and years from the disease. The recordings provide a sobering insight into how the scientific advice feeding into Government policy is evolving – without, however, being meaningfully communicated to the British public or being subjected to external scientific scrutiny.

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Western politicians focus on the economy, and only miles after that see anything else.

Ex-IMF Head Economist: Western Economies Slow To React (BBC)

The coronavirus was “taken a little more lightly” by western economies compared to those in Asia, says a former IMF chief economist. Raghuram Rajan said western economies are facing a drop in economic growth by as much as 6% this year. The widespread closure of businesses is having a huge financial impact as governments prevent the virus spread. His comments come as the IMF warns the global economy faces its worst crisis since the 1930s depression. “I think in the west, partly because there hadn’t been a direct experience of a serious epidemic, it was taken a little more lightly,” Mr Rajan told the BBC’s Asia Business Report on Friday. “This is something happening in faraway lands, it’s not going to be serious here.

“It’s all too easy to point fingers after the fact but what I’m saying is that the countries in East Asia that had the experience of previous pandemics, which didn’t quite rise to the level of pandemics I should say… but previous epidemics, they took this seriously right from the get-go.” Mr Rajan, a former governor of India’s central bank, praised South Korea and Singapore as two Asian economies that have handled the virus outbreak well. For his native India, he warned that it had “limited tools” given how densely populated the country is. “It’s hard to do social distancing anywhere in the normal course. Your markets are chock-full of people. Your dwellings are chock-full of people. And so I think the government is trying to attempt to reduce the pace of increase with this lockdown.”

His said it was necessary to send the message to people to take this pandemic seriously. “This is not fun and games, this is really about life and death, and if it really explodes in India, we really don’t have the resources to deal with that.” The economist, who is a finance professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, gave a bleak forecast for western economies as he expects them to shift from expansion to contraction. “At this point, we’re probably thinking of western countries seeing a shift in GDP growth from about 2 percentage to 3 percentage points, to negative 4 or 5 percentage points. “Each country is going to lose 5 to 6 percentage points of GDP at the very least over this year. So cumulate that, that’s significantly more than $2 trillion”.

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When Iran became a major case, there were fears for Lebanon as well. But so far it’s done well.

Americans In Lebanon Decline Repatriation Offer: ‘It’s Safer In Beirut’ (CNN)

Carly Fuglei was with a group of Danish friends in Beirut last month when she first considered moving back to the United States. They were preparing to leave Lebanon amid fears of a major coronavirus outbreak there, and tried to convince her to do the same. But the 28-year-old humanitarian consultant from Montana decided to stay. After Lebanon closed its borders on March 19 to stem the spread of the global pandemic, she began furnishing her rooftop terrace. Her time in Beirut, she realized, would be indefinite. “I made that decision for a combination of personal reasons and calculations about the virus that we’re all making,” says Fuglei. “I think that I am probably safer here.”

It’s a decision that several US citizens in Beirut who CNN spoke to have echoed, citing skyrocketing cases in the US. When the US government last week said it would fly its citizens and permanent residents to the US on a chartered flight for $2,500 per person, some Americans took to Twitter to publicly decline the offer. “And no, Mom, I’m not going,” Beirut-based freelance journalist Abby Sewell wrote in a tweet about the US embassy announcement. Responding to her tweet, a Lebanese journalist said: “For once I’m like no America is not safer than here.” Sewell’s mother, Meg Sewell, replied: “Actually, for the moment I might have to agree.” Sewell tells CNN she never considered taking the US embassy’s offer.

“From everything I’m reading, the situation is worse in the US, in terms of the number of cases, prevention measures or lack thereof, and how overburdened the health system is,” she says. “Also, since I’ve been living overseas for years, I don’t have health insurance in the US now, so if I did go back and then got sick, I would be looking at paying thousands of dollars out of pocket.” [..] Just under 12,000 tests for coronavirus have been carried out so far in Lebanon. That equates to around 0.1% of the population (by contrast, roughly 0.3% of the population in Britain, and 1.1% of the population of Germany have been tested). As a result, the ministry of public health believes it is underestimating the scale of its outbreak. It has urged more people to get tested. Lebanon’s ministry of public health has vowed to boost the number of screenings to as many as 2,000 a day. It says anyone with mild to severe symptoms is entitled to be tested.

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It will take pitchforks to change this.

US Shouldn’t Bail Out Hedge Funds, Billionaires – Chamath Palihapitiya (CNBC)

Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of investment firm Social Capital, told CNBC on Thursday that the U.S. shouldn’t be bailing out billionaires and hedge funds during the coronavirus pandemic. “On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out. Right now, rich CEOs are not, boards that have horrible governance are not. People are,” Palihapitiya, an early Facebook executive, said on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report.” “What we’ve done is disproportionately prop up poor-performing CEOs and boards, and you have to wash these people out.” “Just to be clear on who we are talking about. We’re talking about a hedge fund that serves a bunch of billionaire family offices, who cares? They don’t get the summer in the Hamptons?” he said.

“These are the people that purport to be the most sophisticated investors in the world.” Palihapitiya also said he was concerned that the Federal Reserve’s plans to support to economy during the COVID-19 crisis are going to have consequences. The Fed earlier in the day announced a slew of new moves aimed at getting another $2.3 trillion of financing into businesses and governments, including its Main Street business lending program and market interventions. The central bank said its loans will be geared toward businesses with up to 10,000 employees and less than $2.5 billion in revenues for 2019. Programs would total up to $2.3 trillion and include the Payroll Protection Program and other measures aimed at getting money to small businesses and bolstering municipal finances with a $500 billion lending program, it added.

But Palihapitiya said it would have been better to just give more money to Americans. “I’m not disagreeing with what the Fed has to do. What I’m saying is it’s creating a land mine, and it’s creating a bill that will have to come due,” he said. “It would be better for the Fed to have given half a million to every man, woman and child in the United States,” he added.

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“For years, we have been excluded from international organisations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated..”

WHO Chief And Taiwan In Row Over ‘Racist’ Comments (BBC)

A row has erupted after the chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) accused Taiwan’s leaders of spearheading personal attacks on him. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had been subjected to racist comments and death threats for months. But President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan opposed any form of discrimination, and invited Dr Tedros to visit the island. Taiwan said it had been denied access to vital information as the coronavirus spread. The WHO rejects this. Taiwan is excluded from the WHO, the United Nations health agency, because of China’s objections to its membership. The Chinese Communist Party regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and claims the right to take it by force if necessary. The WHO has also been criticised by US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to withdraw US funding to the agency.


Dr Tedros said he had been at the receiving end of racist comments for the past two to three months. “Giving me names, black or negro,” he said. “I’m proud of being black, or proud of being negro.” He then said he had received death threats, adding: “I don’t give a damn.” The WHO chief said the abuse had originated from Taiwan, “and the foreign ministry didn’t disassociate” itself from it. But Ms Tsai said Taiwan was opposed to discrimination. “For years, we have been excluded from international organisations, and we know better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated,” Reuters news agency quoted her as saying. “If Director-General Tedros could withstand pressure from China and come to Taiwan to see Taiwan’s efforts to fight Covid-19 for himself, he would be able to see that the Taiwanese people are the true victims of unfair treatment.”

Read more …

Many countries will follow. Big shift.

Japan Will Pay Its Firms to Leave China, Relocate Production (N18)

Japan is willing to fund its companies to shift manufacturing operations out of China, Bloomberg has reported as the disruptions caused to production by the coronavirus pandemic has forced a rethink of supply chains between the major trading partners. As part of its economic stimulus package, Japan has earmarked $2.2 billion to help its manufacturers shift production out of China. Of this amount, 220 billion yen ($2 billion)is for companies shifting production back to Japan and 23.5 billion yen for those seeking to move production to other countries. China is Japan’s biggest trading partner under normal circumstances, but imports from China have slumped by almost half in February due to lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus hitting manufacturing and the supply chain.


Shinichi Seki, an economist at the Japan Research Institute, predicted that there would be a shift in the coming days as there already was renewed talk of Japanese firms reducing their reliance on China as a manufacturing base. “Having this in the budget will definitely provide an impetus,” he told Bloomberg. Companies, such as car makers, which are manufacturing for the Chinese domestic market, will likely stay put, he said. The Japanese government’s panel on future investment had last month discussed the need for manufacturing of high-added value products to be shifted back to Japan, and for production of other goods to be diversified across Southeast Asia. More than 37 per cent of the 2,600 companies surveyed by Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. in February had also said they were diversifying procurement to places other than China amid the coronavirus crisis.

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Someone mentions the D word!.

China Factory Gate Deflation Deepens (R.)

China’s factory gate prices fell the most in five months in March, with deflation deepening and set to worsen in coming months as the economic damage wrought by the coroanvirus outbreak at home and worldwide shuts down many countries. The world’s second-largest economy is trying to restart its engines after weeks of near paralysis to contain the pandemic that had severely restricted business activity, flow of goods and the daily life of people. Friday’s data from the National Bureau of Statistics suggested a durable recovery was some way off, with China’s producer price index (PPI) falling 1.5% from a year earlier, the biggest decline since October last year. It compared with a median forecast of a 1.1% fall tipped by a Reuters poll of analysts and a 0.4% drop in February.


Headline consumer inflation also eased somewhat last month, partly led by government control measures, while core prices remained benign, leaving more room for monetary easing, some analysts said. The overall decline in the factory gate gauge was exacerbated by a slump in global oil and commodities prices, which filtered through to crude oil, steel and non-ferrous metal industries, the statistics bureau said in a statement accompanying the data. “The issue of having more supply than demand, and persistently low oil prices, will intensify deflationary pressures,” said Yang Yewei, a Beijing-based analyst with Southwest Securities.

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3 different articles on “How Greece Did It” today, This one from Al Jazeera, others are the Independent and an op-ed at Bloomberg.

How Greece Flattened The Coronavirus Curve (AlJ)

When Greece cancelled carnival celebrations in late February, many people thought the measure excessive. In the western city of Patra, which hosts Greece’s most flamboyant carnival parade, thousands defied the ban and took to the streets. “The government has ordered an end to all municipal activities … but this is a private enterprise. No one can shut it down,” said a jubilant reporter for the local Ionian TV in front of a crew dressed up as 17th-century French courtiers. “They’re gathering here on St George’s Square, where the [Greek] revolution began in 1821, and that’s symbolic,” he said. Greeks quickly put their revolutionary spirit aside, however, and largely heeded government advice to remain indoors. The result has been a remarkably low number of deaths – 81 by Tuesday, compared to more than 17,000 in neighbouring Italy.

Even adjusted for population sizes, Italy’s fatality rate is almost 40 times greater. Compared with other European Union members, too, Greece has fared better. Its fatalities are far lower than in Belgium (2,035) or the Netherlands (1,867), which have similar populations, but a much higher GDP. “State sensitivity, co-ordination, resolve, swiftness, seem not to be matters of economic magnitude,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently told a pared-down session of parliament. “Our schools closed before we had the first fatality. Most countries followed a week or two later, after they had mourned the loss of dozens,” he said.

George Pagoulatos, a political economist who heads the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), a think-tank, agrees that the government displayed “a very professional, managerial approach early on”, albeit largely dictated by inherent national weaknesses. Greece had very shallow resources with which to tackle a large outbreak. A decade of austerity saw its national healthcare expenses cut by three-quarters. Its intensive care beds numbered just 560 last month, though the government has now raised that to 910, and hired more than 4,000 extra doctors and nurses. Another weakness is that at least a quarter of Greece’s population is over 60, and elderly patients have been deemed particularly at risk from coronavirus.

All this has meant that a forward line of defence was Greece’s only real defence – but it has paid off. Greece is using only a tenth of its ICU beds, and has plenty of capacity left over.

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Put pressure on Mexico but not the US. BAU.

Saudi Energy Minister Says OPEC+ Oil Pact Hinges On Mexico Joining (R.)

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Friday that a final OPEC+ oil supply pact to reduce 10 million barrels per day (bpd), which was agreed on Thursday, hinges on Mexico joining in the cuts. OPEC, Russia and other allies, a group known as OPEC+, outlined plans on Thursday to cut their oil output by more than a fifth, but said a final agreement was dependent on Mexico signing up to the pact after it balked at the production cuts it was asked to make. Discussions among top global energy ministers will resume on Friday. “I hope (Mexico) comes to see the benefit of this agreement not only for Mexico but for the whole world. This whole agreement is hinging on Mexico agreeing to it,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Reuters by telephone.


Global fuel demand has plunged by around 30 million bpd, or 30% of global supplies, as steps to fight the coronavirus have grounded planes, cut vehicle usage and curbed economic activity. The kingdom will host an extraordinary meeting by video conference at 12.00 GMT on Friday for energy ministers from the Group of 20 major economies. Asked about other countries such as the United States, Canada and Brazil joining the OPEC+ cut pact, Prince Abdulaziz said: “They will do it in their own way, using their own approaches, and it is not our job to dictate to others what they could do based on their national circumstances.” [..] The planned output curbs by OPEC+ amount to 10 million bpd, or 10% of global supplies, with another 5 million bpd expected to come from other nations, according to sources, to help deal with the deepest oil crisis in decades.

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Shale outdid subprime in sheer craziness.

US Banks Prepare To Seize Energy Assets As Shale Boom Goes Bust (R.)

Major U.S. lenders are preparing to become operators of oil and gas fields across the country for the first time in a generation to avoid losses on loans to energy companies that may go bankrupt, sources aware of the plans told Reuters. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup are each in the process of setting up independent companies to own oil and gas assets, said three people who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The banks are also looking to hire executives with relevant expertise to manage them, the sources said. The banks did not provide comment in time for publication. Energy companies are suffering through a plunge in oil prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a supply glut, with crude prices down more than 60% this year.

Although oil prices may gain support from a potential agreement Thursday between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production, few believe the curtailment can offset a 30% drop in global fuel demand, as the coronavirus has grounded aircraft, reduced vehicle use and curbed economic activity more broadly. Oil and gas companies working in shale basins from Texas to Wyoming are saddled with debt. The industry is estimated to owe more than $200 billion to lenders through loans backed by oil and gas reserves. As revenue has plummeted and assets have declined in value, some companies are saying they may be unable to repay.

Whiting Petroleum Corp became the first producer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 1. Others, including Chesapeake Energy Corp, Denbury Resources Inc and Callon Petroleum Co, have also hired debt advisers. If banks do not retain bankrupt assets, they might be forced to sell them for pennies on the dollar at current prices. The companies they are setting up could manage oil and gas assets until conditions improve enough to sell at a meaningful value.

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A whole bunch of scared people together in not very much space.

Chicago Jail Reports 450 Coronavirus Cases Among Staff, Inmates (R.)

Some 450 inmates and staff have tested positive for coronavirus at Chicago’s largest jail, county corrections officials said on Thursday, representing one of the nation’s largest outbreaks of the respiratory illness at a single site so far in the pandemic. The surge of cases at Cook County Jail marks the latest flare-up of COVID-19 at jails and prisons in major cities across the United States, where detainees often live in close quarters. The situation gained national attention earlier this week when inmates posted handmade signs pleading for help in the windows of their cells overlooking a public street. “Sheriff’s officers and county medical professionals are aggressively working round-the-clock to combat the unprecedented global coronavirus pandemic,” the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement on Thursday.


Those measures include opening an off-site 500-bed “quarantine and care facility” for prisoners, an effort to move as many inmates as possible from double to single cells, and the opening of a testing site at the jail. “Front line” staff members were being checked for fever at the start of each shift and issued protective equipment if they interact with inmates, according to the sheriff’s department.[..] In Monroe, Washington, inmates at a minimum-security prison vandalized the facility in a protest on Wednesday evening after officials announced that six prisoners had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Washington state’s Department of Corrections. State and local police and corrections officers quelled the disturbance at the prison 24 miles northeast of Seattle using pepper spray, sting balls and rubber pellets, the corrections department said.


Signs made by prisoners pleading for help in a window of Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., April 9, 2020 REUTERS/Jim Vondruska

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“More than 150 Belmarsh guards are in self-isolation and the prison is barely functioning..”

Assange Not Infected But Says Many in Belmarsh Are (CN)

Julian Assange has told a friend in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that he is living in a prison in which the coronavirus is “ripping through” the population. He told photojournalist Vaughan Smith, founder of London’s Frontline Club, that he is isolated 23 1/2 hours a day and spends 30 minutes in a prison yard packed with other inmates. More than 150 Belmarsh guards are in self-isolation and the prison is barely functioning, Smith said. Assange did not show up for a video link to his case management hearing at Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. A court official was overheard by three people present in the courtroom saying that Assange was “unwell.” He is not infected with Covid-19, but Vaughan says his life is threatened by it in prison.

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of the process.

Thanks everyone for your generous donations.

 

 

Sound on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Feb 172020
 


Jack Delano Discarded oil cans at truck service station on U.S. 1, New York Avenue, Washington, DC 1940

 

Japan Braces For Hundreds More Cases Onboard Cruise Ship (G.)
Taiwan Confirms First Coronavirus Death On Island, Cases At 20 (R.)
Pay Attention To Shanghai, Beijing, Japan Infection Rates (F.)
Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Fastest Rate Since 2014 (BBC)
Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China, Recession Looms In Japan, Singapore (R.)
Americans Disembark From Virus-Hit Cruise; China Says New Cases Slow (R.)
Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers After Virus Case Found (R.)
‘Animals Live For Man’: China’s Appetite For Wildlife To Survive Virus (R.)
Armed Robbers Steal Hundreds Of Toilet Rolls In Hong Kong (BBC)
Devin Nunes Says Trump ‘Has To Tweet’ To Combat ‘Hard Left’ Media (Fox)
1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign (NPR)
German Court Halts Work On New Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ (BBC)
Australia Broadcaster Loses Newsroom Raid Case (BBC)
Breakdown or Breakthrough? Degrowth and the Great Transition (NC)
US Peach Grower Awarded $265 Million From Bayer, BASF In Weedkiller Suit (R.)

 

 

Well, we do have some numbers:

 

• Cases 71,330, up 2,076 from yesterday

• Deaths 1,775, up 106 from yesterday

• 760 million Chinese under quarantine

 

We also have plenty confusion. For instance, Reuters has two headlines that say Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China and China Says New Cases Slow. That clears things up.

But the most dramatic event over the weekend must be the repatration of various nationalities to their homelands. About 400 Americans were evacuated from the Diamond Princess, with Australian Canadian, Italian, South Korean and Hong Kong passengers set to follow soon. 44 of these Americans are infected with the virus, and they won’t be going home. The rest will, though.

This is happening while “Japan is bracing for the possibility of hundreds of additional cases of the coronavirus onboard the stricken Princess Diamond”, says the Guardian. So the Americans that are flown home go into quarantine, right? Well… Some Diamond Princess passengers face another two weeks in isolation if they have shared a cabin with someone who tests positive.”

Remember, as of the start of the evacuation, there were 3,711 people on board. 1,219 had been tested of which 355 have been confirmed positive for the virus (among them the 44 Americans). Ergo, 2,492 people were not tested, among them the remaining 356 Americans. Who will only go into isolation if they shared a cabin with a positive case. The rest can do what they want.

We see the issue here, don’t we? How many of those 356 Americans may be infected? How many of the other nationalities which will fly home? There have been suggestions that the onboard air circulation system on the ship may have played a role in spreading the virus. If so, it could be everywhere. And yes, there could be “hundreds of additional cases”.

Then there’s the Werkendam cruise ship, from which hundreds were allowed to spread all over the world, taking off from Cambodia and/or Malaysia, before a positive case was found. Now it’s a “Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers”. Sort of like a modern version of the biblical “Go Forth and Multiply”. Where were these decisions made? Anyone ask the WHO, or China?

 

Meanwhile, China keeps trying. In Hubei province, Xiaogan city – with a population of nearly 5 million people, 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the second highest number in China, and 70 deaths, “all vehicles including motorcycles, electric bikes, bicycles and tricycles are prohibited from driving on the road”. Try that in NYC, LA, Paris, Moscow, name a major city.

And the economic effects get increased attention as well. “Barclays analysts estimate that real [Japan] GDP contracted 3.2% on a quarterly basis, a little better than market consensus of -3.8%. This is all pre-coronavirus…] Take it from there. At this point hearing from economists, bankers, investors is pretty useless, because they have little idea what goes on, and, like politicians, they won’t consider really bad scenarios until it’s too late.

But it’ll come trickling through. Served in a sauce of “we’ll be fine”.

UPDATE: 99 additional people tested positive aboard the Diamond Princess. 14 American evacuees who tested positive made the flight anyway, in a separate compartment

 

 

 

 

“Xiaogan, 70km from the city of Wuhan, has 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and has recorded 70 deaths.”

Japan Braces For Hundreds More Cases Onboard Cruise Ship (G.)

Japan is bracing for the possibility of hundreds of additional cases of the coronavirus onboard the stricken Princess Diamond, as experts warned the country was still in the “early stages” of the outbreak. The passengers evacuated from the ship face further uncertainty too, with the US and Australian citizens set for a further two weeks of quarantine after arriving homeHundreds of American passengers have flown back to the US and Australia said it would follow suit on Wednesday. Onboard the Diamond Princess, 355 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 out of an original total of about 3,600 passengers and crew, and after testing 1,219. Forty American passengers who were diagnosed with the virus have been transferred to hospitals in Japan.

Some Diamond Princess passengers face another two weeks in isolation if they have shared a cabin with someone who tests positive. The total number of people infected around the world climbed to more than 71,000 on Monday, including a further 2,048 confirmed cases in China, where the total number of deaths stands at 1,770. Five people have died outside China. Of the 105 deaths reported in China on Monday, 100 were in Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak. Cities in Hubei have stepped up measures to stop the virus’s spread.


Xiaogan city – which has a population of nearly 5 million people and the second highest number of confirmed cases in China – ordered residents to stay in their homes or face detention of up to 10 days. State media reported that “all vehicles including motorcycles, electric bikes, bicycles and tricycles are prohibited from driving on the road”. Xiaogan, 70km from the city of Wuhan, has 3,279 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and has recorded 70 deaths.

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Fifth location outside China.

Taiwan Confirms First Coronavirus Death On Island, Cases At 20 (R.)

A taxi driver has died from the coronavirus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island and the fifth fatality outside mainland China from an epidemic that has curbed travel and disrupted global supply chains. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said during a news conference on Sunday that the deceased person was a 61-year-old man who had diabetes and hepatitis B. Taiwan has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases. The deceased person had not traveled abroad recently and was a taxi driver whose clients were mainly from Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, the minister said. One of his family members was also confirmed to have the virus.

The pair constituted Taiwan’s first local transmission cases, the minister said, adding that authorities were trying to find out as soon as possible the source of contraction. “So far, we are not able to gather his contact history, so we are actively making investigations, hoping to find out the source of the contraction,” Chen said. The island will on Monday start testing all patients who show symptoms associated with coronavirus and had traveled abroad recently, the health ministry said.


The coronavirus, thought to have emerged at a wildlife market in the central Chinese province of Hubei, has killed 1,665 people in China with latest figures showing 68,500 cases of the illness. Taiwan has banned entry to Chinese visitors and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China and suspended most flights to its giant neighbor. Many schools have also extended their Lunar New Year holiday to late February to curb the spread of the virus. In a response to panic buying of masks on the island, the government scrambled to build several mask production lines and Premier Su Tseng-chang has vowed to more than double its daily mask production to 10 million by early March.

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Economic consequences. Japan was doing awful under Abenomics already.

Pay Attention To Shanghai, Beijing, Japan Infection Rates (F.)

Beijing and Shanghai have under 1,000 reported cases and only four deaths, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Their data is sourced from the World Health Organization, the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the European Center for Disease Control and two China health agencies. China is the main source of the numbers. There are many people outside of China who doubt Beijing and Shanghai’s low case load. Watch for those numbers to rise in the weeks ahead. [..]

Covid-19 remains a mystery pathogen. It can be deadly. It’s like a bad pneumonia. Scientists believe it came from a species of bat. There is also concern that it escaped a virology research lab in Wuhan. There is no vaccine for Covid-19 yet, so those who have it are being treated with a variety of anti-viral medications and have to wait for the virus to work its way out of the body. Markets are repricing everything China related. Barclays Capital analysts released a 20-page report on the coronavirus on Friday where they said they were pushing out the recovery period, and think Japan heads into a technical recession because of it. Japan will release its fourth quarter GDP numbers on Monday.

Barclays analysts led by Tetsufumi Yamakawa in Tokyo estimate that real GDP contracted 3.2% on a quarterly basis, a little better than market consensus of -3.8%. This is all pre-coronavirus and mostly due to domestic tax matters. Yamakawa does see an increasing risk in first quarter weakness due to the Covid-19 impacts, and if that leads to negative growth, and it could, Japan hits a technical recession with back to back contraction. Weaker China tourism and a decrease in trade with China is a huge headwind for Japan. For Barclays, the probability of a recession there has surged to 69%.


Barclays’ China view is basically Wall Street consensus: so long as the virus stays concentrated in Hubei, they are going to trust China keeps it that way. [..] Xi Jinping last week called for even tighter restrictions on Hubei, and put two new Party bosses in charge to make sure the clampdown is enforced. “We think these efforts showed the urgency and determination of the government to stabilize the epicenter as soon as possible,” says Eric Zhu, an economist with Barclays in Hong Kong. “We expect incremental improvements,” he says.

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How is Abe still the PM there?

Japan’s Economy Shrinks At Fastest Rate Since 2014 (BBC)

Japan’s economy shrank at the fastest rate in five years at the end of 2019 as it was hit by a sales tax rise, a major typhoon and weak global demand. Annualised GDP fell by a much steeper than expected 6.3% in October-December. There are also concerns the coronavirus outbreak will mean the slump continues this quarter. That has raised fears that the world’s third-biggest economy may fall into recession. During the period Japanese consumer spending fell 2.9% after the country’s sales tax was raised in October to 10% from 8%. In the same month Typhoon Hagibis hit large parts of the country.


Last quarter, capital spending dropped by 3.7% and exports slipped 0.1% amid the ongoing US-China trade war. Investors are now watching to see whether the economy will rebound after the coronavirus forced China to shut down factories and led to a big drop in Chinese tourists visiting Japan. In response to today’s data economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the Japanese government was ready to take all necessary steps to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy and tourism.

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Recession looms everywhere by now. We just don’t want to know it.

Coronavirus Cases Rise Again In China, Recession Looms In Japan, Singapore (R.)

Japan and Singapore appeared to be on the brink of recession on Monday as the coronavirus epidemic disrupted tourism and supply chains around the world, and as China imposed tougher restrictions to try and stop the virus spreading further. The number of reported new cases of coronavirus in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic, rose on Monday by more than 1,933, after two days of falls, and there were 100 deaths reported since Sunday. Across mainland China, officials said the total number of cases rose by 2,048 to 70,548, with 1,770 deaths. Nearly 90% of new cases were in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the virus is believed to have originated at a market illegally trading wildlife late last year.

The virus, which is believed to have a 14-day incubation period, has forced thousands of people to be quarantined around the world. In Cambodia, authorities were scrambling to track down hundreds of passengers who disembarked from the Holland America Line cruise ship Westerdam after an American woman left the ship and was tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia. More than 100 have already left the country, while some 300 are reportedly still in Cambodia. “I believe there’s 300 Americans here at this hotel plus a few hundred from other countries. We will all be tested for the coronavirus today and tomorrow by the Cambodian Ministry of Health,” said passenger Holley Rauen, a public health nurse and midwife from Fort Myers, Florida.


“We have no idea when we get to get home…” American passengers were taken off another cruise liner on Sunday to fly home after being quarantined for two weeks off Japan. Seventy new coronavirus cases were confirmed on board the Carnival Corp. Diamond Princess in Yokohama. The 3,700 passengers and crew have been held since Feb. 3. Some 355 people on board have tested positive for the disease, by far the largest cluster of cases outside China. Those with the disease have been taken to hospital in Japan and no one from the ship has died. Around half of the guests onboard are from Japan.

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It’s just a matter of waiting for new clusters to pop up now.

Americans Disembark From Virus-Hit Cruise; China Says New Cases Slow (R.)

American passengers were taken off a cruise liner on Sunday to fly home after being quarantined for two weeks off Japan, while China said the rate of new coronavirus cases had slowed, calling that proof its steps to fight the outbreak were working. An announcement aboard the Diamond Princess, where 3,700 passengers and crew have been held since Feb. 3, told Americans to get ready to disembark on Sunday evening for charter flights home. Passengers wearing masks could later be seen waving through the windows of buses parked near the ship. Of the roughly 400 Americans on the cruise, more than 40 are infected with the virus and will stay in Japan for treatment, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

“They are not going to go anywhere. They’re going to be in hospitals in Japan,” Fauci told the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” “People who have symptoms will not be able to get on the evacuation plane. Others are going to be evacuated starting imminently to air force bases in the United States.” Kyodo News Agency said the flights carrying U.S. passengers left Haneda Airport at around 1700 ET (2200 GMT). Canadian, Italian, South Korean and Hong Kong passengers were expected to follow soon, after their governments also announced plans to repatriate passengers. “Leaving in a few hours. No details. Might be going to Texas or Nebraska,” U.S. passenger Gay Courter told Reuters.


Seventy new coronavirus cases were confirmed on board, bringing the total on the ship to 355, by far the largest cluster of cases outside China. Fauci told the Washington Post there were 44 infected Americans. Within China, authorities reported 2,009 new cases on Sunday, noting that this was down from more than 2,600 the previous day. They said this showed their efforts to halt the spread of the virus were bearing fruit.

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Is anyone criminally responsible?

Scramble To Track Cambodia Cruise Ship Passengers After Virus Case Found (R.)

Holland America Line said it is working with governments and health experts to track passengers who disembarked from its Westerdam cruise ship docked in Cambodia after an American woman tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia. The cruise line, which is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp, said none of the other 1,454 passengers and 802 crew have reported any symptoms. “Guests who have already returned home will be contacted by their local health department and be provided further information,” a statement from the company said. Passengers had been cleared to travel by Cambodian authorities after health checks when the cruise ship docked on Thursday. It had spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand.


But on Saturday, Malaysia said an American woman who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Friday on a chartered flight had tested positive for the new coronavirus that has killed more than 1,700 people, the vast majority in China. The woman’s husband tested negative for the coronavirus. About 137 of the 145 passengers on the chartered flight had already left for other countries as of Sunday after showing no signs of illness, Malaysian authorities said. Dozens more of the Westerdam passengers had flown through Thailand and onward to other countries, Thai officials said. At least 236 passengers and 747 crew remain aboard the vessel off the Cambodian port city of Sihanoukville, Holland America said. Others were in hotels in Phnom Penh, the capital.

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Did you know the Chinese see the world the same way Christian religions do? G-d appointed man the master of the world! Must be the dumbest facet of religion: man declares himself G-d.

‘Animals Live For Man’: China’s Appetite For Wildlife To Survive Virus (R.)

For the past two weeks China’s police have been raiding houses, restaurants and makeshift markets across the country, arresting nearly 700 people for breaking the temporary ban on catching, selling or eating wild animals. The scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China’s taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the new coronavirus. Traders legally selling donkey, dog, deer, crocodile and other meat told Reuters they plan to get back to business as soon as the markets reopen. “I’d like to sell once the ban is lifted,” said Gong Jian, who runs a wildlife store online and operates shops in China’s autonomous Inner Mongolia region.

“People like buying wildlife. They buy for themselves to eat or give as presents because it is very presentable and gives you face.” Gong said he was storing crocodile and deer meat in large freezers but would have to kill all the quails he had been breeding as supermarkets were no longer buying his eggs and they cannot be eaten after freezing. Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from bats via pangolins, a small ant-eating mammal whose scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine. [..] “In many people’s eyes, animals are living for man, not sharing the earth with man,” said Wang Song, a retired researcher of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


[..] Much of the farming and sale of wildlife takes place in rural or poorer regions under the blessing of local authorities who see trading as a boost for the local economy. State-backed television programs regularly show people farming animals, including rats, for commercial sale and their own consumption. However, activists pushing for a ban describe the licensed farms as a cover for illegal wildlife trafficking, where animals are specifically bred to be consumed as food or medicine rather than released into the wild.

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Brace for much more of this.

Armed Robbers Steal Hundreds Of Toilet Rolls In Hong Kong (BBC)

Armed robbers in Hong Kong made off with hundreds of toilet rolls worth more than HKD1,000 ($130). Toilet rolls are currently in short supply in Hong Kong due to shortages caused by panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak. Knife wielding men robbed a delivery man outside a supermarket in the Mong Kok district, police said. Police have arrested two men and recovered some of the stolen loo rolls, local media reports said. The armed robbery took place in Mong Kok, a district of Hong Kong with a history of “triad” crime gangs, early on Monday.


According to local reports, the robbers had threatened a delivery worker who had unloaded rolls of toilet paper outside Wellcome Supermarket. An Apple Daily report said that 600 toilet paper rolls, valued at around HKD1,695 ($218), had been stolen. Stores across the city have seen supplies massively depleted with long queues when new stock arrives. Despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak, residents have been stocking up on toilet paper. Other household products have also seen panic-buying including rice, pasta and cleaning items.

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“What’s happening here with Barr, I think people need to understand that he’s cleaning up the mess from not only the Obama administration, but also the mess that was left with the whole Russia-gate fiasco…”

Devin Nunes Says Trump ‘Has To Tweet’ To Combat ‘Hard Left’ Media (Fox)

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., fired back at Democrats who criticized Attorney General William Barr for his role in former Trump associate Roger Stone’s sentencing and defended the president’s use of Twitter after he used the platform to comment about the ongoing criminal case. “What’s happening here with Barr, I think people need to understand that he’s cleaning up the mess from not only the Obama administration, but also the mess that was left with the whole Russia-gate fiasco,” Nunes told “Fox & Friends Weekend,” saying taxpayers paid tens of millions of dollars to fund then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team “that went chasing and trying to put us into a status of a permanent coup against the president of the United States.”

Nunes’ comments came days after Barr himself publicly swiped at Trump, declaring Thursday that the president’s tweets about Justice Department prosecutors and open cases “make it impossible for me to do my job.” [..] “I think what the attorney general said was very clear, that the president should be careful making comments about criminal investigations. One should not see that as anything other than but what it is,” Nunez said, adding that Barr “didn’t say to stop tweeting, because the fact of the matter is, with 90 percent of the media being hard left and really just working for the Democratic Party, the president has to be able to tweet.”


Earlier in the week, Trump applauded Barr on Twitter for the decision to reverse the sentencing recommendation, writing: “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.” “He’s built a powerful tool reaching millions of Americans, millions of people around the globe,” Nunes added, “so the president has to tweet. At the same time, the attorney general has to be able to do his job.” He also said, “It’s understandable that the president can be frustrated,” and called Stone’s dramatic early-morning arrest by federal agents in January 2019 “ridiculous.”

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It’s ilke the interagency debate in the House testimonies. The civil servants think they have the right to set policy. And don’t you dare question that. But wasn’t it perhaps high time someone did?

1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign (NPR)

More than 1,100 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign after his department lowered the prison sentence recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump, in a move that’s led to accusations of political interference. In a letter released Sunday, the former DOJ officials, who have worked across Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote that Barr’s intervention in the Stone case has tarnished the department’s reputation. “Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice,” the former officials wrote.

“In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.” On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington had recommended a prison sentence of up to nine years for Stone’s 2019 conviction on charges including making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. On Twitter, Trump said the sentencing recommendation amounted to “a horrible and very unfair situation.” But then on Tuesday, the Justice Department intervened, ordering a new sentencing memo and calling for lighter punishment. A senior DOJ official told NPR that officials were “shocked” at the original recommendation.


[..] To Julie Zebrak, who’s among the former DOJ officials who signed the letter, Barr’s behavior shatters a cardinal norm that has been in place for decades: that the Justice Department’s prosecutorial decisions should not be influenced by the White House. Zebrak told NPR that Barr’s move “sent shockwaves through the former DOJ alumni.” She added: “We are all watching in a really rapid and terrifying way the undermining of the department and the diminishment of the rule of law. We have to sort of speak up and speak out when we can.”

Read more …

“Clean cars” require cutting forests. This is where the environmental movement meets its Armageddon; there’s just not enough knowledge, they’ll believe anything that sounds good.

German Court Halts Work On New Tesla ‘Gigafactory’ (BBC)

Tesla has been ordered to temporarily halt preparations for a car factory in Germany after environmentalists won a court injunction on Sunday. The electric carmaker had been clearing forest land near the capital, Berlin, ahead of building its first European car and battery plant. The court emphasised the injunction was temporary and subject to further hearings, probably this week. Protesters say the factory is a threat to local wildlife and water supplies. To much fanfare, Tesla’s boss Elon Musk announced plans last November to build a European facility known as a “gigafactory” in Grünheide, in the eastern state of Brandenburg.


But the factory has become a flashpoint between environmentalists and Germany’s pro-business Christian Democrat and Free Democrat parties, who fear the issue could damage the country’s image as a place to do business. The dispute highlights the risks for the US carmaker, which has not been officially granted permission to build the factory. Tesla was, however, granted permission by Germany’s environment ministry to begin site preparations “at its own risk”. This has involved clearing about 91 hectares (225 acres) of forest and the felling of thousands of trees – something that outraged an alliance of environmentalists called the Green League. In a statement on Sunday, the court representing the Berlin and Brandenburg region cautioned: “It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of succeeding.”

Read more …

If the goverment can let its journalists rot in Belmarsh, this shouldn’t be a surprise. How loud has ABC been in its defense of Assannge?

Australia Broadcaster Loses Newsroom Raid Case (BBC)

Australia’s national broadcaster has lost its legal challenge to controversial police raids on its Sydney newsroom last year. In June, police searched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the home of a newspaper journalist over articles which relied on leaks from government whistleblowers. The raids sparked public outrage and protests across the nation’s media. However, the Federal Court of Australia has ruled the searches were legal. ABC’s managing director David Anderson said the decision was “disappointing”. He said the raids had been a high-profile “attempt to intimidate journalists for doing their job”. Australian Federal Police alleged the stories and reporters at the centre of its searches had breached national security laws.


In the raid last year, they seized thousands of documents over a 2017 ABC investigation which alleged Australian armed forces had committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Police also raided the home of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst. In 2018, she had reported an alleged attempt by a government agency to spy on Australian citizens. Australia’s conservative government tightened its security laws in 2018 to make it a criminal offence for journalists to receive classified information from military or intelligence sources. Canberra has previously said it backs press freedom but that “no one was above the law”.

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Never voluntarily.

Breakdown or Breakthrough? Degrowth and the Great Transition (NC)

When mainstream approaches to sustainability fail to challenge economic growth they provide limited, sometimes even false solutions to today’s crises. Technological and political interventions that reduce environmental impacts and enhance overall efficiency – though contributing to sustainability in a narrow sense – end up adding to global inequality and ecological overshoot, insofar as they accelerate growth. Growth is one of the chief drivers of social inequality and environmental degradation; it is also what sustains the global capitalist economy. Sustainability solutions that promote growth under the banner of “green growth” are the easiest to accept and implement, but they are the least able to address the roots of today’s crises.

Proponents of green growth believe that growth can be decoupled from environmental impacts, yet there is no empirical evidence that this is possible. Meanwhile, acting on such an unproven assumption obscures the real harm being done by sustaining extractive and exploitative capitalism. We have already surpassed the known limits to growth, so degrowth is our only option. Sustainability is an outcome of healthy metabolic relationships between an organism and its environment. When consumption depletes resources faster than their rate of regeneration – which is what we are currently doing – it is by definition unsustainable.

Although essential, today’s most progressive reforms, including the Green New Deal and the circular economy, will only be effective when combined with a more equitable distribution of resources and decreasing per capita consumption in advanced economies. For sustainability efforts to be effective, they must be part of a comprehensive degrowth agenda focused on systems change. Contrary to common misunderstandings, degrowth does not mean negative growth or imply sacrifices to one’s quality of life. Rather, it is focused on reducing a society’s material and energy throughput while actually enhancing quality of life. [..]


The next 30 years constitute what systems theorists call a ‘decision window.’ How societies decide to respond to mounting social and ecological pressures will determine whether the system evolves or collapses. Once the decision window ends and the global system passes the chaos point, the system irreversibly changes, and there are only two futures left – breakthrough or breakdown. There is no chance that a wildly optimistic techno-future can sustain growth beyond social and planetary boundaries. Civilization will either collapse or it will follow a path of managed descent and sustainable reorganization. The only breakthroughs remaining follow paths of degrowth.

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They’ll appeal. Check back in a decade.

US Peach Grower Awarded $265 Million From Bayer, BASF In Weedkiller Suit (R.)

A Missouri jury’s $265 million award to peach grower Bill Bader in his lawsuit against herbicide providers Bayer and BASF has raised the stakes for the two companies as at least 140 similar cases head to U.S. courts later this year. A jury in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, handed Bader, the state’s largest peach farmer, $15 million in actual and $250 million in punitive damages. He sued the companies saying his 1,000-acre orchard was irreparably harmed by herbicide that they produce, which drifted onto its trees from nearby farms. The three-week trial was the first case in the United States to rule on the use of dicamba-based herbicides alleged to have damaged tens of thousands of acres of U.S. cropland.

The herbicide can become a vapor and drift for miles when used in certain weather, farmers have claimed. Bayer said it was “disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” and plans to appeal. BASF also said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision and plans to appeal. Both companies said their dicamba-based herbicides are safe when used as directed. Bayer faces separate multi-billion-dollar litigation over the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto, the U.S. firm it took over for $63 billion in 2018. Monsanto made Roundup and dicamba, and Bayer is being sued over both products.


[..] Bayer and BASF face other dicamba lawsuits that could begin late his year before the same judge in Missouri, said attorney Billy Randles, whose firm represented Bader and also represents dozens of others with similar claims. “These are all the same” allegations, said Randles. “They claim negligent design, failure to warn and all allege a joint venture” between Bayer and BASF. The jury found the two equally liable for the damages.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Feb 102020
 


Arnold Genthe 17th century Iglesia el Carmen, Antigua, Guatemala 1915

 

Japan: 60 More Coronavirus Infections On Diamond Princess Cruise Ship (SCMP)
iPhones Will Display China’s Back-to-Work Power (R.)
Beijing Officially Declares Lockdown (GNews)
Taiwan’s Foxconn Gets OK To Restart Plant In Zhengzhou, China (R.)
Nikkei Denies Reuters Story That Foxconn Will Restart Production (ZH)
Shenzhen Denies Blocking Apple Supplier Foxconn From Resuming Production (R.)
Amazon Latest To Pull Out Of Major Barcelona Tech Show (BBC)
Millions Left Wuhan Before Quarantine. Where Did They Go? (AP)
The Mysterious Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus (ET)
Rick Gates Told Mueller The Black Ledger Was Fabricated (Solomon)

 

 

Lots of ‘China back to work’ articles today, because I was curious how that would go. Well, it’s not clear -what a surprise. Beijing put itself on lockdown today, maybe that’s a clear sign. They, too, must have seen that the cruise ship floating off Yokohama found an additional 60 infections. And factories, like trains etc., can be almost as bad as cruise ships in spreading viruses.

The best line on the topic is perhaps that Citi estimates that by Tuesday, only 30% of China’s total workforce will be able to return to work. Much less today. Reuters claims that Foxconn can open its Zhengzhou factories, only to have Nikkei deny it. Nikkei in turn says Shenzhen ordered Foxconn’s plants there shut, but Shenzhen denies that.

That Amazon, LG, Ericsson and NVIDIA have all withdrawn from a conference as far away as Barcelona should also tell you something about the overall mood. People say: how iPhones fare will tell you a lot. I say: look at the less iconic stuff.

 

• Deaths 910, up 97 from yesterday’s 813 – people say: Daily Record! I say: every day has been a record so far, or the same as the day before.

• New cases 2,973 from 2,652 yesterday – no more levelling off

• Global confirmed cases 40,614

Hubei

• 29,631 confirmed cases
• 871 deaths
• 1,795 discharged from hospitals
• 73,127 under medical observation

 

Note: the SCMP app where the numbers below come from appears to have some troubles. The detailed numbers are not there. At first, no numbers at all. Then they re-appeared, and then started counting backward. But they’re about right as official numbers go.

 

 

 

 

Petri dish. Newer studies suggest the virus can survive 9 days on surfaces. Good luck.

Japan: 60 More Coronavirus Infections On Diamond Princess Cruise Ship (SCMP)

Testing aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has found 60 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, national broadcaster NHK said on Monday. That brings total cases on the ship docked in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, to 130. Japanese authorities have so far tested about 280 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was placed on a two-week quarantine after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, was diagnosed with the coronavirus. About 3,700 people are on board the vessel, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670.


The Princess Cruise website describes the ship as “your home away from home” and it will remain so for most passengers at least until February 19. The quarantine period could be extended if necessary, a Japanese government official said. One of those found infected is in serious condition. Many on board are elderly and at greater risk of developing complications from the virus. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organisation’s top emergency expert, said new cases would push back the quarantine. “We need to find a way to break that vicious cycle and find a way of organising the patients on board in a way that we can get people off the ship in due course, Ryan said.

Read more …

Sure sounds strict.

Beijing Officially Declares Lockdown (GNews)

As the novel coronavirus spreads from Wuhan, China has been implementing “closed management” by putting 80 cities under lockdown. Today, Beijing authorities also issued a “Strict Closed Management of Residential Communities” in an epidemic prevention and control announcement. It is an official declaration that Beijing, the country’s capital city of China, is now under lockdown. According to the notice, Beijing will further enforce “community closed management” in a strict manner. Outside vehicles and personnel are not allowed to enter the city. People arriving in Beijing must also report their health status and complete the registration of personal information. Those who have left the epidemic area or have physical contact with persons in the epidemic area within 14 days of their arrival at Beijing, shall be inspected or quarantined at home in accordance with the regulations.


They should take the initiative to report their health conditions, and cooperate with relevant management services. They shall not go out. Anyone who refuses to accept epidemic prevention measures such as medical observation and home quarantine constitutes a violation of public security management and shall be severely punished by the public security bureau according to the law. In addition, all public places in the Beijing community that are not essential for people’s living are closed. All agencies and enterprises must strictly strengthen body temperature monitoring. Housing agencies and landlords in Beijing must provide local government with information on rental houses and tenants. This is a measure for epidemic prevention.

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I’m still not convinced. But I realize that Xi really really wants it.

China Slowly Gets Back To Work (R.)

Authorities told businesses to add up to 10 extra days onto Lunar New Year holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces remained closed and many people worked from home. Few commuters seen during the morning rush-hour on one of Beijing’s busiest subway lines. All were wearing masks. Jin Yang, who works in a department of China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, rode a bicycle to work instead of public transport. Staff were told to wear masks, avoid face-to-face meetings and the canteen was closed. Another employee surnamed Chen said the insurance company he worked for had barred people from taking public transport. “I usually take subways but this morning it cost me 200 yuan one way by cab,” he said.

Hubei, the province of 60 million people that is the hardest hit by the outbreak, remains in virtual lockdown, with its train stations and airports shut and its roads sealed off. The extended closure of factories in the world’s second-largest economy has raised concerns about disruptions cascading through global supply chains. China’s central bank has taken a raft of steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. From Monday, it will provide special funds for banks to re-lend to businesses combating the virus. Taiwan’s Foxconn has received Chinese government approval to resume production at a key plant in the north China city of Zhengzhou, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Monday.

But the southern city of Shenzhen rejected a company request to resume work at a plant there. Tesla, Daimler and Ford Motor are among carmakers that have said that they will restart production at their factories on Monday. Gaming giant Tencent Holdings said it had asked staff to continue working from home until Feb. 21. Samsung Electronics resumed production at its home appliance factory in China on Monday, while it continues to run its chip factory there, a spokeswoman said. It extended the suspension of work at a television factory to Feb. 17. Hyundai said its suppliers in China resumed production but volume was negligible. Kia Motors is suspending production at all three Korean plants due to a shortage of parts, although one of them will resume production on Tuesday.

Read more …

Beijinng can make iPhones a priority, knowing the west will watch them more than other products. So, bad barometer.

iPhones Will Display China’s Back-to-Work Power (R.)

The next iPhones will test China’s ability to restart its economy. Apple supplier Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, is re-opening a key Chinese plant as authorities ease curbs. But the handset-maker and other companies face labour shortages as workers struggle to travel with ongoing contagion fears around a coronavirus outbreak. It’s a reminder of the complexity of restarting supply chains. Foxconn has won permission to resume operations at its mega Zhengzhou facility in northern China. Production at the plant, which some analysts reckon account for the bulk of the iPhone’s assemblies, has been halted for over two weeks.

The company is still in talks with officials to restart two other major plants, according to Reuters. One, in the southern city of Shenzhen, is focused on new iPhone models slated for this year, local media reports. There are practical limitations, though. Barely 16,000 workers, less than 10% of the workforce, returned to the Zhengzhou factory, Reuters reported on Monday [..] Many employees of Chinese companies crisscrossed the country to go back to their hometowns for the Lunar New Year holiday, that was then extended. Citywide lockdowns make it hard for people to move around. Analysts at Citi estimate that by Tuesday, only 30% of China’s total workforce will be able to return to work.

And that doesn’t factor in the immense challenge of preventing fresh cases of infection on factory floors. Most companies may have to enforce additional quarantines for people returning from virus-hit areas, as well as implement daily temperature checks. Foxconn has even resorted to manufacturing its own surgical face masks – up to two million a day – for its hundreds of thousands of employees. Following China-U.S. trade tension, the current disruption will fuel debate about the merits of companies allowing supply chains to consolidate too much in a single country. China’s looming labour shortage, though, is even more pronounced because the virus outbreak coincided with the holidays.

Read more …

Or do they?

Taiwan’s Foxconn Gets OK To Restart Plant In Zhengzhou, China (R.)

Taiwan’s Foxconn has received approval to resume production at a plant in the northern Chinese city of Zhengzhou that had been shuttered due to a coronavirus outbreak, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday. About 16,000 people, or under 10% of Foxconn’s workforce in Zhengzhou, have returned to the plant, the person said, adding that company executives were “trying very hard” to negotiate with authorities to resume production in other parts of China. The development comes as the coronavirus outbreak – declared a global health emergency by the WHO – threatens to disrupt Chinese manufacturing and force policymakers to ready measures to stabilize the economy.


At Foxconn, the delayed resumption of operations could impact the global technology supply chain and shipments to customers including Apple Inc, a source with direct knowledge of the matter previously told Reuters. The contract manufacturer is in talks to resume production at key plants including in Shenzhen and Kunshan, said the person on Monday [..] Tens of thousands of Foxconn employees have returned to work following an extended Lunar New Year holiday. They have been told to wear masks, undergo temperature checks and adhere to a specified dining system, showed internal memos reviewed by Reuters. Most senior Taiwanese officials have been told to refrain from returning to China and those who needed to do so required approval from Chairman Liu Young-Way, the person said.

Read more …

Are these contradictory stories spread on purpose?

Nikkei Denies Reuters Story That Foxconn Will Restart Production (ZH)

[..] after futures sprinted into the green following a Reuters report that Foxconn had received Chinese government approval to resume production at a key plant in the northern China city of Zhengzhou, Nikkei now denies this, reporting that “Foxconn’s plan to resume production on Monday has been called off by the Chinese authorities due to worries surrounding the coronavirus outbreak” The Japanese publication adds that “the action further worsens the supply chain disruption for global electronics companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google and Huawei. Foxconn is the world’s biggest iPhone assembler, and it makes Huawei smartphones and Amazon Kindle tablets as well as echo speakers, while it also supplies HP, Dell and most the major electronics brands.”


Public health experts in Shenzhen informed Foxconn, which trades as Hon Hai Precision Industry, that its factories there face “high risks of coronavirus infection” after conducting on-site inspections and therefore are not suitable to restart work, four people familiar with the matter told Nikkei. “Violation of epidemic prevention and control could potentially face the death penalty,” the internal meeting memo seen by the Nikkei Asian Review said. More importantly, Foxconn’s Zhengzhou complex, which according to Reuters would reopen on Monday, also canceled plans to resume work on Monday, they said.

Read more …

Where politics meets business. Local officials feel the heat from all sides.

Shenzhen Denies Blocking Apple Supplier Foxconn From Resuming Production (R.)

Local Chinese authorities have not blocked Apple supplier Foxconn from resuming production amid a coronavirus outbreak, they said in a statement on Sunday, denying an earlier report in the Nikkei Business Daily. The Nikkei, citing four people familiar with the matter, said on Saturday that public health experts had carried out inspections at Foxconn’s factories and told the company that there was a “high risk of coronavirus infection” at the facilities, making them unsuitable for a production restart. Shenzhen’s Longhua district, where Foxconn’s largest factory is located, said in a statement on its official WeChat account on Sunday that those reports were untrue and that it was still conducting checks, adding that the company would restart production once inspections were completed.


It said it had received proposals from three Foxconn subsidiaries on Feb. 6 detailing how the Taipei-headquartered firm, which makes smartphones for Apple and other brands, planned to put in place epidemic prevention and control measures. The thousands of workers that work in Foxconn’s factories will need to wear masks, undergo temperature checks, and adhere to a dining system considered safe, it said in the statement.

Read more …

How far is that from Wuhan?

Amazon Latest To Pull Out Of Major Barcelona Tech Show (BBC)

Amazon is the latest major company to pull out of one of the world’s largest tech shows because of risks posed by coronavirus. Amazon said “due to the outbreak and continued concerns about novel coronavirus” it would no longer take part in Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The organiser said the event, which attracts 100,000 people, will go ahead. But it admitted other companies are considering whether to attend. South Korea’s LG Electronics, Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment-maker, and US chip company NVIDIA have already withdrawn from the conference which runs between 24-27 February.


The GSMA, which organises the show in the Spanish city, said that while it could “confirm some large exhibitors have decided not to come to the show this year with others still contemplating next steps, we remain more than 2,800 exhibitors strong”. However, it revealed that it had put in place additional measures to “reassure attendees and exhibitors that their health and safety are our paramount concern”. These include a ban on all travellers from China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, while people who have been in China must provide proof they have been outside the country for 14 days.

Read more …

Most stayed in China. That’s at least something.

Millions Left Wuhan Before Quarantine. Where Did They Go? (AP)

For weeks after the first reports of a mysterious new virus in Wuhan, millions of people poured out of the central Chinese city, cramming onto buses, trains and planes as the first wave of China’s great Lunar New Year migration broke across the nation. Some carried with them the new virus that has since claimed over 8 00 lives and sickened more than 37,000 people. Officials finally began to seal the borders on Jan. 23. But it was too late. Speaking to reporters a few days after the the city was put under quarantine, the mayor estimated that 5 million people had already left. Where did they go?

An Associated Press analysis of domestic travel patterns using map location data from Chinese tech giant Baidu shows that in the two weeks before Wuhan’s lockdown, nearly 70% of trips out of the central Chinese city were within Hubei province. Baidu has a map app that is similar to Google Maps, which is blocked in China. Another 14% of the trips went to the neighboring provinces of Henan, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi. Nearly 2% slipped down to Guangdong province, the coastal manufacturing powerhouse across from Hong Kong, and the rest fanned out across China. The cities outside Hubei province that were top destinations for trips from Wuhan between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 were Chongqing, a municipality next to Hubei province, Beijing and Shanghai.

The travel patterns broadly track with the early spread of the virus. The majority of confirmed cases and deaths have occurred in China, within Hubei province, followed by high numbers of cases in central China, with pockets of infections in Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing as well. “It’s definitely too late,” said Jin Dong-Yan, a molecular virologist at Hong Kong University’s School of Biomedical Sciences. “Five million out. That’s a big challenge. Many of them may not come back to Wuhan but hang around somewhere else. To control this outbreak, we have to deal with this. On one hand, we need to identify them. On the other hand, we need to address the issue of stigma and discrimination.”

Read more …

Too many theories to keep up.

The Mysterious Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus (ET)

Scientific studies based on phylogenetic analysis have researched the sequence of the novel coronavirus, compared it to other coronavirus sequences, and found it likely originated in bats. Researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology found the genome in the virus found in patients was 96 percent identical to that of an existing bat coronavirus, according to a study published in the journal Nature. But there have been other theories as well. One Chinese study suggested, for example, that snakes were the source of transmission to humans. However, many scientists believe that reptiles are a less likely source and that mammals like rats and pigs, and some birds, have been the primary reservoir for coronaviruses.

With this in mind, phylogenetic studies of viral genome sequences need to be supported by animal studies to confirm the origin of the infection, as well as to determine whether there is an intermediate host. It is not an easy task for a virus to establish zoonotic transmission, and coronaviruses rarely leap from animal to human infection with high transmissibility. There is even less chance to see a coronavirus leap directly from bats to humans. To infect new hosts, mutations need to occur with the viral surface proteins and/or envelope and structural genes, so that the mutated viruses can bind and enter the cells of new species, and efficiently complete the replication cycles in the new hosts. Some scientists have argued that coronaviruses can jump directly to humans, without mutating or passing through an intermediate species.

However, an intermediate host was clearly needed to establish zoonotic transmission to humans in the previous outbreaks of coronaviruses. Many studies suggested that the bat coronavirus jumped from its natural host bats to civets and then to humans during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and it jumped from bats to camels and then to humans for the MERS outbreak. So, civets and camels would serve as intermediate hosts for zoonotic transmission. Because bats were not sold at the Huanan market in Wuhan—the epicenter of the infection—at the time of the outbreak, this suggests the existence of another intermediate animal host that may have transferred the virus to humans. What is the most puzzling is that there have been no reports on the testing of animal samples collected in any epicenters in Wuhan, especially at the Huanan seafood market, to identify what animals might be the host or intermediate hosts of this novel Wuhan coronavirus.

Read more …

Both the Steele dossier and the black ledger are fabricated files.

Rick Gates Told Mueller The Black Ledger Was Fabricated (Solomon)

One of Robert Mueller’s pivotal trial witnesses told the special prosecutor’s team in spring 2018 that a key piece of Russia collusion evidence found in Ukraine known as the “black ledger” was fabricated, according to interviews and testimony. The ledger document, which suddenly appeared in Kiev during the 2016 U.S. election, showed alleged cash payments from Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine to ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “The ledger was completely made up,” cooperating witness and Manafort business partner Rick Gates told prosecutors and FBI agents, according to a written summary of an April 2018 special counsel’s interview. In a brief interview with Just the News, Gates confirmed the information in the summary. “The black ledger was a fabrication,” Gates said.

“It was never real, and this fact has since been proven true.” Gates’ account is backed by several Ukrainian officials who stated in interviews dating to 2018 that the ledger was of suspicious origins and could not be corroborated. If true, Gates’ account means the two key pieces of documentary evidence used by the media and FBI to drive the now-debunked Russia collusion narrative — the Steele dossier and the black ledger — were at best uncorroborated and at worst disinformation. His account also raises the possibility that someone fabricated the document in Ukraine in an effort to restart investigative efforts on Manafort’s consulting work or to meddle in the U.S. presidential election.

Much mystery has surrounded the black ledger, which was publicized by the New York Times and other U.S. news outlets in the summer of 2016 and forced Manafort out as one of Trump’s top campaign officials. After gaining wide attention as purported evidence of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, the ledger was never introduced as evidence at Manafort’s 2018 trial or significantly analyzed in Mueller’s final 2019 report, which concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election. No FBI 302 interview reports have been released either showing what the FBI concluded about the ledger. Gates’ interview with the Mueller team now provides a potential clue as to why.

Read more …

 

 

 

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