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The Corona Crisis: Fighting the Authoritarian Response

The Corona Crisis: Fighting the Authoritarian Response

At least 20 thousand people (some say many more) marched in Berlin on August 1st 2020 to protest against the restrictions imposed by governments against the Covid-19 epidemic. Unanimously branded as “criminals,” “neo-nazis,” and “idiots” by the Western media, their presence is nevertheless an indication of a growing movement of resistance against the authoritarian crackdown in Europe.

As I am writing, the Covid epidemics has been over for at least two months in Europe. In the US, instead, the epidemic is over only in the large cities while it is still ongoing in the central states, only recently showing signs of abating. The result is a different perception of the situation. In the US, the progressive movement is still trying to use the epidemic as an anti-Trump weapon, accusing the president of not having been authoritarian enough and not having imposed even more draconian measures. In Europe, instead, the public is starting to perceive that nobody is dying of Covid-19 anymore and that their governments are terrorizing them about a threat that has ceased to exist. It is still an embryonic movement, routinely demonized and criminalized by the government propaganda machine, but it is clearly rising. The recent manifestation in Berlin of tens of thousands of people (perhaps many more) is a clear indication of this trend. Earlier on, we had seen something similar in Italy.

You will be probably baffled by this interpretation of the Berlin demonstration, especially if you live in the US, or if you routinely watch TV or read newspapers in a Western country. But there is a logic in everything that happens and the general perception of the coronavirus is rapidly changing. As an example of this growing interpretation of the situation, let me report, below, a few paragraphs from the book “The End of the Megamachine” by Fabian Scheidler, at present in press in the English version.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

The Cultural Preparation for Crisis

Coronavirus is a foretaste of the future challenges to come. We have been offered a wake-up call with supermarkets having empty shelves and being forced to change the routine. We will need more resourcefulness, capacity for divergent thinking, and self-initiative in future events related to climate change and economic slowdown.

As it is too late to sign insurance once you had an accident, similarly, culture is something that we need to hone well in advance before we realize that we need it urgently.

What is culture? It is this invisible force in our heads. We do not see it but we see the results of it. And people from outside see it more clearly then the ones inhabited by it. The culture makes us interpret events in certain way and choose certain solutions. It makes us prioritize some activities over others. It influences our ideas about what to pursue to be happy even though it may lure us into wrong directions. It decides how we shape human relations. It makes us more prone to have certain ideas rather than others. For example, the focus on progress and technology rather than preventive health is part of the current culture.

We are shaped by the economic system we are part of. It generates and reinforces a culture that is adapted to its functioning.

In the times of new challenges, we need to develop a new culture to be able to survive. This is what Rebecca Solnit has observed about catastrophes such as a hurricane. Their way of being adapts spontaneously to the situation. We have it in our instincts.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As coronavirus surges in Hong Kong, mysterious pneumonia hits Kazakhstan – is this a new pandemic?

As coronavirus surges in Hong Kong, mysterious pneumonia hits Kazakhstan – is this a new pandemic?

Image: As coronavirus surges in Hong Kong, mysterious pneumonia hits Kazakhstan – is this a new pandemic?

(Natural News) Even as one of Asia’s major financial hubs braces for a resurgence of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, a potential new threat looms as a deadly new pneumonia has broken out in the center of the continent.

In Hong Kong, authorities have closed schools and tightened social distancing requirements after a new surge of coronavirus cases struck the territory. According to education secretary Kevin Yeung, the decision was taken due to “the exponential growth of confirmed COVID-19 local cases over the past two days.”

While Hong Kong is grappling with its new surge, Chinese officials have also warned that a new, “unknown pneumonia,” has broken out in Kazakhstan – one that apparently has a higher death rate than COVID-19).

Hong Kong experiences its largest outbreak yet

Hong Kong’s latest outbreak of 147 new COVID-19 cases is small compared to outbreaks in the U.S. or Europe. For a territory that has largely kept its infection rate low, however, it represents one of the largest spikes since the pandemic began. (Related: Air travelers hiding coronavirus infections to get into Hong Kong highlight reopening risks.)

In response, Hong Kong’s Education Bureau has ordered the closure of secondary and primary schools as well as kindergartens, starting on Monday. Meanwhile, the Food and Health Bureau announced new social distancing measures for bars and restaurants. The new measures included limiting customers per table to eight and four, respectively.

“As society needs to resume some economic and social activities to a limited extent, it is inevitable that new local cases will appear,” Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Avalanche

Avalanche

How bad could it get? For the United States, it seems there is no bottom.

Back in March, I wrote that the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic would likely shape its economic, political, and geopolitical fortunes for years or decades to come. Four months later, it’s time for a check-in. How’s that pandemic response going?

Not so well, it seems. The US has the world’s highest number of cases and deaths overall. And of the world’s 25 worst hotspots for transmission, in terms of new cases per day per million of population, 15 are US states.

Early success at “flattening the curve” of the graph of new cases reported daily was followed by a re-opening of the economy that was premature (i.e., before sufficient capacity for testing and contact tracing had been put in place), resulting in a surge of new cases.

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

The only good news the Trump administration can point to is a fairly stable and low death rate as compared to the number of new cases. This “low” death rate (hundreds are still dying each day) is attributable to improving treatment methods for patients who have been infected, a lower average age of those infected, and an understandable lag between the infection trend and the deaths trend. If the last of these factors is significant, then the number of daily deaths will start climbing soon—as the last few days’ numbers already seem to indicate.

In addition, the United States is one of the countries hardest hit economically by the pandemic. Its latest unemployment rate stands at 11.1 percent (which doesn’t include discouraged workers), as compared to Germany’s 5.5 percent, Japan’s 2.6 percent, and the UK’s 4 percent.

As bad as they are, these statistics don’t fully capture the situation. If the US federal government had a long-range plan for weathering the pandemic, perhaps the death and suffering would be justifiable. But evidently there is no realistic plan.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The epidemic in the US: a comment by the virologist Guido Silvestri

The epidemic in the US: a comment by the virologist Guido Silvestri

Many have noted the spike in the number of coronavirus cases observed in the United States. The fear is, obviously, that this increase will result in a corresponding spike in the number of deaths after some delay. The virologist Guido Silvestri wrote a comment in Italian on Facebook about the situation and I thought it was interesting to translate it in its entirety and post it here. This translation is made by smoothing a Google-translated text and it remains rough, but I verified that it maintains the meaning of the original. This text was written a few days ago and, so far, we saw no large changes in the trends of cases and deaths in the US. But, as Dr. Silvestri himself says, we need to wait a few more days in order to see if the spike will continue and result in an increase in the number of victims. On this subject, see also this post by Chuck Pezhensky.

COVID-19: SITUATION IN AMERICABy Guido Silvestri
June 28 at 7:51 AM

Many ask me to talk about the situation of the COVID-19 epidemic in the US. I try in these lines to start from the data, without making political considerations. Science, always science, and very strongly science, as you and I like it 🙂

First of all, I would start from the curve that you see in the graph, above. Today (28 June), it was the second-highest day in terms of number of cases (yesterday was the highest ever). So it is clear that we are in full pandemic with many new cases diagnosed, especially in the large southern states (CA, TX, AR, FL, GA etc). Not that it is a subject not discussed at length, but it is good to start from these data.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Waste Due to the Coronavirus Is Hurting Our Oceans

How Waste Due to the Coronavirus Is Hurting Our Oceans

In an attempt to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus, millions of people are donning plastic masks, gloves and other types of personal protective equipment. From restaurant staff to medical personnel, workers and the general public are using and discarding thousands of single-use plastic PPE every day. Often, these items end up in parks and parking lots and on front lawns and sidewalks. They’re also making their way into our oceans.

Whether the wind blows them into waterways or beachgoers carelessly toss them in the sand, masks, gloves, empty hand sanitizer bottles and other plastics are beginning to appear on the water’s surface, beaches and along the ocean floor. Conservationists have even found hundreds of masks on the uninhabited Soko Islands off the coast of Hong Kong. This new addition to the waste already littering our seas spells even more trouble for marine life and the health of ocean ecosystems.

Waste Management Dilemmas

On top of public carelessness, the vulnerable state of many waste-management systems is also adding to the dilemma. In the informal economy, waste pickers collect millions of tonnes of plastic waste each year. However, since many don’t have job security or health benefits, they’re beginning to succumb to the virus or refraining from work altogether. Subsequently, more plastic PPE is remaining in garbage dumps, increasing the likelihood of them blowing away and ending up in waterways or oceans.

Cynical Opportunism

Of course, the plastic industry isn’t helping the matter, either. Instead of encouraging people to protect themselves with washable masks and other reusable PPE, the industry has insisted that these are unsanitary. Although this statement has no medical evidence to support it, you might have listened to them out of fear for your own safety, opting to buy disposable PPE over making your own.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Nature’s antivirals: Top 5 antiviral agents that help boost immune health

Nature’s antivirals: Top 5 antiviral agents that help boost immune health

Image: Nature’s antivirals: Top 5 antiviral agents that help boost immune health

(Natural News) Scientists are scrambling to fast-track a cure for COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease that’s still currently spreading throughout the globe.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been conducting clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 drug since April, but to no effect.

Based on recent reports, the international clinical trial team tasked to develop an effective treatment for COVID-19 has stopped conducting tests on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug used to treat malaria. This development came about after scientists found that HCQ failed to reduce the mortality rate in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Natural antiviral agents

The infectious disease may still be at large, but according to recent reports from the online statistics portal Statistamore than 4.5 million people of the 8.58 million confirmed global cases had recovered from the disease as of June 19.

This astounding figure indicates that it’s possible to recover from the disease despite the lack of a specialized drug or vaccine. For the most part, recovery can be attributed to a strong immune response to infection and disease.

Studies suggest that immune health is largely influenced by diet. For instance, eating foods rich in essential nutrients and potent plant compounds can help enhance immune health. But some do a better job of boosting immune functions and fighting off pathogens than others.

Here are some of the most potent all-natural immune boosters that can help protect against infection and disease:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is hailed for its immune-boosting properties. Considered a potent antioxidant, this micronutrient has been found to strengthen cells and tissues against pathogens and to stimulate the production of disease-fighting antibodies and immune cells.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Weekly Commentary: Update COVID-19

Weekly Commentary: Update COVID-19

Can we even attempt a reasonable discussion? Someone’s got this wrong.

June 12 – Reuters (Judy Hua, Cate Cadell, Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith): “A Beijing district put itself on a ‘wartime’ footing and the capital banned tourism and sports events on Saturday after a cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred around a major wholesale market sparked fears of a new wave of COVID-19… ‘In accordance with the principle of putting the safety of the masses and health first, we have adopted lockdown measures for the Xinfadi market and surrounding neighbourhoods,’ Chu said.”

June 14 – Financial Times (Don Weinland): “Over the weekend, authorities closed the Xinfadi market, a sprawling complex that provides most of Beijing’s fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables. Several residential compounds on the west side of the city have been locked down and more than 100 people have been put in quarantine… China has adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ stance toward new cases. Areas that present any new cases have been quickly locked down, often trapping millions of people.”

June 19 – CNN (Nectar Gan): “Within a matter of days, the metropolis of more than 20 million people was placed under a partial lockdown. Authorities reintroduced restrictive measures used earlier to fight the initial wave of infections, sealing off residential neighborhoods, closing schools and barring hundreds of thousands of people deemed at risk of contracting the virus from leaving the city.”

China is said to have mobilized its 100,000-strong infection tracing force. More than 1.1 million tests were administered in Beijing over the past week. From the UK Guardian (Lily Kuo): “Officials have ordered all residents to avoid non-essential travel outside of the capital, and suspended hundreds of flights and all long-distance buses. Other cities and provinces have begun to impose quarantine measures on travellers from Beijing… ‘Everyone is scared. No one wanted this to happen,’ says Zhang, waiting in the queue near Chaoyang park.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Lies, Damned Lies and Covid19

Lies, Damned Lies and Covid19

Growing up as I did in the Cold War, I still experience a special kind of shudder whenever I come across an anecdote like that of Katya Soldak, whose Soviet nursery school teacher once showed her class a photograph clipped from a Western newspaper, “depicting skinny [Russian] children in striped robes walking in a straight line.”

The capitalists who printed that picture wanted people to think Soviet children were “treated like prisoners,” the teacher declared angrily, “when in reality the kids were on their way to a swimming pool in their bathrobes.”

Which was a nice story (thought little Katya) — except that “I had never even seen a pool…. [T]hey existed in my mind as does an exotic animal or an unvisited city.”

A time capsule from a remote dystopia? Think again.

Staring at me right now from the latest quarterly newsletter of my alma mater, the University of Virginia, is an identical piece of bad-is-good fakery: a photograph of an involuntarily isolated graduate student named Kalea Obermeyer, accompanied by a caption blandly informing the reader that the woman seated alone on a trunk in the confines of a cramped dormitory room, clumsily swathed in a surgical mask, “shelters in place” in “her most secure housing during the pandemic.”

Welcome to Pravda, COVID19 style.

Being an honest sort, I have considered whether I ought to write to the editors of my old university’s magazine, accusing them of playing toady to democracy-destroying propagandists.

Should I remind these so-called educators of the young that the term “shelter in place” is properly applied to air raids, not to “pandemics,” and is a cruel hoax when pressed into service to describe what is actually an illegal quarantine?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Americans Have Already Skipped Payments On More Than 100 Million Loans, And Job Losses Continue To Escalate

Americans Have Already Skipped Payments On More Than 100 Million Loans, And Job Losses Continue To Escalate

Those that have been hoping for some sort of a “V-shaped recovery” have had their hopes completely dashed.  U.S. workers continue to lose jobs at a staggering rate, and economic activity continues to remain at deeply suppressed levels all over the nation.  Of course this wasn’t supposed to happen now that states have been “reopening” their economies.  We were told that things would soon be getting back to normal and that the economic numbers would rebound dramatically.  But that is not happening.  In fact, the number of Americans that filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week was much higher than expected

Weekly jobless claims stayed above 1 million for the 13th consecutive week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer the U.S. economy.

First-time claims totaled 1.5 million last week, higher than the 1.3 million that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting. The government report’s total was 58,000 lower than the previous week’s 1.566 million, which was revised up by 24,000.

To put this in perspective, let me once again remind my readers that prior to this year the all-time record for a single week was just 695,000.  So even though more than 44 million Americans had already filed initial claims for unemployment benefits before this latest report, there were still enough new people losing jobs to more than double that old record from 1982.

That is just astounding.  We were told that the economy would be regaining huge amounts of jobs by now, but instead job losses remain at a catastrophic level that is unlike anything that we have ever seen before in all of U.S. history.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India Reports Record Jump In COVID-19 Deaths As China Struggles With “Textbook Second Wave”: Live Updates

India Reports Record Jump In COVID-19 Deaths As China Struggles With “Textbook Second Wave”: Live Updates

Nuclear-armed neighbors China and India may be enmeshed in a deadly border dispute with potentially serious ramifications for the global community, both countries are struggling with an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 cases, according to media reports.

Yesterday, Chinese officials ratcheted up restrictions in Beijing as nearly 150 new coronavirus cases have been identified in the city over the past week. More residential compounds were placed under ‘partial lockdown’ conditions on Tuesday. Beijing has already tested more than 350k people since Saturday, with a goal of testing a large chunk of the city’s population of ~20 million people.

According to Al Jazeera English, one of the few English-language news organizations with reporters still on the ground in Beijing, many locals were taken by surprise as the local government raised the emergency alert level to ‘II’, closed schools and markets and began imposing movement restrictions, particularly on those who live in “high risk” areas (ie areas near the Xinfadi wholesale food market where officials believe the outbreak originated).

Some Beijingers didn’t realize that their residential community had been placed on ‘partial lockdown’ with nobody allowed in or out until all residents have been tested. AJ says there are currently at least 27 communities under these conditions.

Nelson Quan had no idea he had been locked into his compound in the Yuquan district of Beijing until he arrived at the front gate and saw the barricade.

Four days earlier, on June 11, Beijing had reported its first COVID-19 case in almost two months. Now, Quan’s community and at least 27 others are forced to stay at home while they await the results of their nucleic acid virus tests. No one is allowed in, or out.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Insanity? Markets continue disconnect from economy and society

Insanity? Markets continue disconnect from economy and society

It’s hard to ignore the protests on the streets of the world’s cities of late. Those protests are coming from a populace who knows that the system they live under long ago stopped benefiting them. While the focus has been the senseless killing by police of an African-American man—all of which was caught on video—there are many other grievances: legalized financial theft by the one percent from the rest of us comes to mind, something that has resulted in growing and egregious inequality across the world.

It’s also hard to overestimate the hardship visited on the world’s people as many have been deprived of income and daily life by up to three months of pandemic-inspired stay-at-home orders and retail shutdowns. As I mentioned in my previous piece, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta does a frequently updated estimate of U.S. GDP which as of this writing is minus 53.8 percent for the second quarter. (That’s annualized and seasonally adjusted.) The estimate for the current quarter started at minus 12.1 percent and has been dropping like a stone with each new piece of information. For comparison, U.S. GDP during the 2008-2009 financial crises shrank by only 4.2 percent.

And yet, the world’s stock markets are behaving as if the protests and the deprivation are inconsequential. After crashing in March in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, major stock market indices are at or near all-time highs. For example, the S&P 500 Index was last around its Friday closing price on February 24, before the coronavirus pandemic market panic. How can this be explained?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will We See A New Covid-19 Spike Soon?

Will We See A New Covid-19 Spike Soon?

Chris estimates we’ll know within the next 3-5 weeks

State lockdowns lifting across the US. businesses and public spaces opening back up. Mass protests bringing thousands together in close quarters.

Will we see a resurgence in covid-19 infections as a result? Unknown at this moment, but we shouldn’t have long to wait. Chris predicts we’ll know one way or the other within the next 3 to 5 weeks.

As the nation waits, we’ll undoubtedly see more symptoms of the social rifts that the pandemic has exacerbated. Trust in authority has been badly shaken: from the response from the Administration/CDC/WHO, to the “garbage science” tilting the scales towards Big Pharma’s interests, to the current protests against the police, to the deeply unfair repercussions of the Federal Reserve’s rescue of the rich — the populace is waking up to the fact that our “leaders’” actions are out of integrity with the public welfare.

Where will this growing unrest take us? Unknown at this point, but similar to covid-19, we may not have long to wait to find out.

No, The U.S. Economy Will Definitely Not Be Returning To “Normal”. In Fact, Things Will Soon Get Even Worse.

No, The U.S. Economy Will Definitely Not Be Returning To “Normal”. In Fact, Things Will Soon Get Even Worse.

2020 has been quite a year so far.  It has been one nightmare after another, and yet the economic optimists continue to insist that economic activity will soon snap back to normal levels somehow.  So the economic optimists aren’t really alarmed by the fact that the core areas of our major cities have been torched, gutted and looted by rioters, because they assume that all of this violence is just a temporary phenomenon and that any damage that has been done can be repaired.  And they aren’t really alarmed by the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to escalate again.  In fact, over the last seven days we have seen the number of newly confirmed cases around the globe hit levels that we have never seen before.  They just assume that “the worst is behind us” and that the vast majority of the businesses and jobs that have been lost during this pandemic will be quickly recovered.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were actually correct?

Sadly, the truth is that economic conditions will not be returning to normal.  Yes, some of the jobs that were lost will be recovered as states start to “reopen” their economies.  But more than 100,000 businesses have already permanently closed during this new economic downturn, and all of those jobs are lost forever.

And yes, the level of economic activity will rise as states end their lockdowns, but it will still be much lower than it was before COVID-19 started spreading like wildfire in the United States.

At this point, even the perpetually optimistic OECD is admitting that global economic activity as a whole will be way down in 2020

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Governments Have Crippled the World’s Economies. Revolution May Soon Follow.

GOVERNMENTS HAVE CRIPPLED THE WORLD’S ECONOMIES. REVOLUTION MAY SOON FOLLOW.

The world seems to be on fire. A couple of months ago, the economic upswing was still firmly established, production expanded, and unemployment was declining. It all changed with the advent of the coronavirus or, to be precise: things turned really sour with the politically dictated lockdowns. As a reaction to the spread of the virus, governments in many countries ordered shops and firms to shut down and people to stay home. The inevitable result was a close to complete breakdown of the economic system. Hundreds of millions of people were thrown into outright despair; in India alone 120 million workers lost their jobs in April 2020.

The economic collapse sent the unbacked paper money system into a tailspin. Borrowers were unable to service their debt, and banks unwilling to roll over maturing loans, let alone extend new funds to struggling debtors. The entire credit pyramid was about to come crashing down. To prevent this from happening, governments and their central banks went “all in,” providing huge amounts of money to pay for people’s lost incomes and firms’ evaporating profits. Of course, governments do not have the money that they have promised to spend.

Central banks have started running the electronic printing presses, issuing great amounts of newly created money into the banking and financial sector and also injecting new balances into people’s accounts held with banks. In other words: as production contracts heavily, the quantity of money is rising strongly. This is, no doubt, an inflationary policy, for, if anything, inflation must be understood as an increase in the quantity of money. One possible outcome of a policy of increasing the quantity of money is price inflation: the increase in the money prices of goods and services.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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