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Destroying the Economy is not a Social Policy

Destroying the Economy is not a Social Policy

The economy is the heart of the social body. If we shut down the heart of an organism to safeguard the hands and brain, the body dies. 

The data on deaths and infected from the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic is alarming. Let us remember the deceased, the infected and their families, and applaud the response of civil society, businesses, and citizens. 

A pandemic crisis is addressed by providing safety protocols and sanitary equipment for businesses to continue to run and keep employment, not shutting down everything, which may create a larger social and health problem in the long term regardless of the massive liquidity and fiscal policies. Why? Because demand-side policies never work in a forced shutdown of all sectors. There is no demand to “incentivize” when the government orders the closing of all activities. And there is no supply to follow when the economic crisis creates a collapse in employment and consumption.

Many commentators are saying that shutting down the economy is an essential measure to gain time to control the virus.  This analysis comes from people who simply do not understand the ripple effects and massive ramifications of a complete shutdown. They perceive that it is small collateral damage because they also believe that everything can go back to normal in one month. They are wrong. The impact is severe, widespread and exponential.

The decision to shut down the economy may cause long-lasting damages to job creation and businesses that cannot be unwound in a few months. Yes, it is essential to contain the virus spread and drastic measures are warranted, but we cannot forget that each month means millions of unemployed and thousands of business closures.

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Global Pandemic Response Handing Governments Sweeping Powers They May Never Relinquish

Global Pandemic Response Handing Governments Sweeping Powers They May Never Relinquish

While the response to the coronavirus pandemic have ranged from mocking the disease (such has Brazil’s Bolsonaro) to physically sealing people inside of apartment buildings in China, governments are deploying an array of legislative and technical measures to track and control citizens during the outbreak which has killed over 21,000 in roughly three months.

As the situation deteriorates, many fear that the current efforts to control the virus will have dire consequences for individual freedoms long after the danger of COVID-19 has passed, according to Bloomberg‘s Ian Marlow – who notes “In desperate times like these, leaders on all levels are going to extraordinary lengths to do whatever possible to contain the virus.”

Like the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic is a crisis of such magnitude that it threatens to change the world in which we live, with ramifications for how leaders govern. Governments are locking down cities with the help of the army, mapping population flows via smartphones and jailing or sequestering quarantine breakers using banks of CCTV and facial recognition cameras backed by artificial intelligence.

The restrictions are unprecedented in peacetime and made possible only by rapid advances in technology. And while citizens across the globe may be willing to sacrifice civil liberties temporarily, history shows that emergency powers can be hard to relinquish. –Bloomberg

“A primary concern is that if the public gives governments new surveillance powers to contain Covid-19, then governments will keep these powers after the public health crisis ends,” says Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation based in San Francisco. “Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government still uses many of the surveillance technologies it developed in the immediate wake.

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You Will Sacrifice and It Will Hurt

You Will Sacrifice and It Will Hurt

Many people have likened the battle against coronavirus to a war and invoked imagery of the US fighting World War II. President Trump has even deemed himself a “wartime president.”

The president told reporters at a White House briefing that fighting the virus would require a sacrificial national effort just like it took to defeat the Axis in the Second World War.

Every generation of Americans has been called to make shared sacrifices for the good of the nation. To this day, nobody has ever seen like it, what they were able to do during World War II. Now it’s our time. We must sacrifice together, because we are all in this together, and we will come through together. It’s the invisible enemy. That’s always the toughest enemy, the invisible enemy.”

But listening to all the rhetoric coming from politicians and pundits, one has to ask, where exactly is the sacrifice?

The government is promising bailouts for everybody. We’re just weeks into the crisis and there is already an expectation that the government will be sending everybody checks. Peter Schiff called it “bailout nation.”

Apparently, the government wants “sacrifice” with no pain.

Unfortunately, that’s not a thing.

Americans didn’t get checks from the government in World War II. They got higher taxes. Schiff summed it up in a tweet.

During WWII middle-class Americas sacrificed to support the US government’s war effort. They paid much higher taxes, substantially reduced their consumption, and loaned their savings to the government. The people support the government. The government can’t support the people.”

Therein lies the ugly truth. There is no sacrifice without pain. The government can bail out the airlines. It can bail out the hotels. It can helicopter money in and drop it on your head. You’re still going to pay, either through higher taxes in the future or through inflation.

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Martial Law in the United States: How Likely is it, and What will happen under Martial law?

Martial Law in the United States: How Likely is it, and What will happen under Martial law?

The march towards martial law is something that is often ignored by the general public, often labeled as Quackery or something belonging on conspiracy websites. But what’s happening in this country is exactly what our founders warned us about, and martial law is something they took very, very seriously.

What is martial law?

If you’re looking for a definition, then Martial Law basically means using state or national military force to enforce the will of the government on the people.

Under a declaration of martial law, Constitutional freedoms and liberties are suspended, and civilians are no longer entitled to their civil rights. It basically allows the government, or a tyrannical politician, to shred the Constitution and impose its will through military force.

History of Martial Law in the United States of America

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”
Winston Churchill

In one way or another, there have always been tyrants who have used the power of government to suppress and control the public. But if we are looking for specific examples of Martial Law being used inside the United States, we don’t have to look very hard or far to find them.

Using the strictest definition of the term, we can see the roots of martial law in America take hold during the lead up to the Revolutionary war. Although there were many reasons for the war, including resistance to taxes imposed by the British parliament, the main catalyst was England’s decision to use military troops to enforce everyday law throughout the colonies.

The beginning of the end? The Civil War Ushers in a Strong Central Government through Martial Law Enforcement

Civil War Soldiers

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Covid-19 Shatters the Facade of European Union

Covid-19 Shatters the Facade of European Union 

The new coronavirus and its accompanying disease Covid-19 has stopped the globe in its tracks. Governments, markets and news cycles have become dominated by the pandemic. Europe is now the epicenter for the disease, with reportedly more fatal cases of infection than China where the virus first erupted in December.

Several European Union countries have declared themselves states of emergencies, including Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The 27-member bloc has sealed off external borders. Some states, such as Poland, have begun closing borders with other EU members. Brussels, the administrative center of the EU, is alarmed because the much-vaunted single market and its core principles of free movement of goods and people is at risk of collapsing.

The European entity which proclaims solidarity and supranational status is reverting to a collection of nation states, each desperately fighting for their own survival amid the Covid-19 pandemic. EU leaders have been criticized for showing lack of central leadership and solidarity. When Italy first reported a surge in infections a few weeks ago, the rest of Europe was slow to respond with the necessary prompt assistance. Now Italy is such a grip of the disease – with thousands dead – that in some parts of the country normal funeral services reportedly cannot even cope with the number of deceased.

In blistering remarks this week, the Serbian President Alexander Vucic  lamented that there was “no European solidarity”. Serbia is a prospective member of the EU along with several other Balkan states, but Vucic said his country has received little in the way of aid from the EU in face of the coronavirus threat. Indeed, by contrast, the Serb leader extolled the generosity of China which has sent large shipments of equipment to combat the disease. Beijing has also dispatched aid cargoes and medical teams to Italy and other EU members to help them cope with their outbreaks.

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Army Deploys To New York As NYC Reports 1 Coronavirus Death Per Hour On Friday: Live Updates

Army Deploys To New York As NYC Reports 1 Coronavirus Death Per Hour On Friday: Live Updates

For nearly a week now, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been begging the White House or the Pentagon to send in the Army Corp of Engineers to quickly transform existing businesses into coronavirus hospitals where patients from the impending surge can be isolated and treated.

If the state doesn’t quickly make up for its twin shortages of hospital beds and medical equipment, Cuomo warned, it could lead to thousands of preventable deaths.

Now, a few days after President Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper dispatched a Navy hospital ship to New York to help with the outbreak, President Donald Trump formally approved FEMA aid to the state late Friday night after declaring New York the nation’s first “major disaster area” since the start of the national outbreak.

Billions of dollars in emergency funding are now available to help combat the outbreak in the state, FEMA said in a statement.

“Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures,” FEMA said in a statement.

President Trump’s national emergency declaration earlier this month activated FEMA, and made a pot of $42 billion in disaster-relief funds available.

The decision comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that his city has become the epicenter of the national outbreak, as public health authorities in the city counted at least one coronavirus-linked death per hour on Friday.

Between just 10 am and 6 pm, 14 people in NYC died from the virus, raising the death toll in America’s largest city to 43. It was the first time NYC’s daily death toll hit double-digits.

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“Unparalleled Challenge” – Inside America’s First Locked-Down Major City, “Everything’s Out Of Our Control”

“Unparalleled Challenge” – Inside America’s First Locked-Down Major City, “Everything’s Out Of Our Control”

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US has more than doubled in the last several days. California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a state-wide “stay at home” order amid the virus outbreak – the strongest and most restrictive measure passed by a governor yet.

On Tuesday, there were about 5,700 confirmed cases in the US. But by Thursday the number exploded to 11,500. Now, on Friday morning, confirmed cases stand at 14,000.

The announcement comes after San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area issued ‘shelter in place’ orders after a surge of deaths and confirmations in the state. As of Friday morning, there are 18 virus-related deaths.

Several days into one of the most extreme lockdowns, Bay Area residents have been forced to stay at home, only allowed to leave for essential travel, such as shopping for groceries, medications, fuel, caring for others, and exercise. 

NBC News spoke with one resident, Trish Tracey, who had to shutter her restaurant on Tuesday in the Mission district. She laid off her entire kitchen staff of 17 employees and has tried to renegotiate her lease. 

“Everything is out of our control,” Tracey said.

The uncertainty of where the city is in the pandemic curve has left everyone confused. Strict social distancing rules have been enforced to slowdown infections to prevent local hospitals from becoming overburden with virus patients.

“The goal is to get up and running again and put all my employees back to work,” Tracey said. “I wish I could say with certainty that would happen, and I’m very determined, and I lasted five years because of that, but everything is on pretty shaky ground right now.”

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The Covid-19 Economic Crisis Will Change Everything: Short Term and Long Term Effects

The Covid-19 Economic Crisis Will Change Everything: Short Term and Long Term Effects

Whether you think the global pandemic is “just the flu” or you realize it’s the real deal, one thing is difficult to debate – many Americans are already feeling the economic pain being caused by the outbreak and the measures taken to stop it.

Unemployment claims skyrocketed this week as businesses laid-off employees in an attempt to weather the storm. More than 281,000 people filed for unemployment and those numbers would have been even higher if the influx of claims had not crashed the systems in several states.

In a news release, the Department of Labor said:

During the week ending March 14, the increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus. A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not. (source)

At the same time as employees are filing claims, businesses are trying to figure out how to stay afloat. Restaurants are switching to carry-out only. Bars are closed. Retail sales are down unless the business happens to be selling vital supplies like medications, food, and the new gold standard, toilet paper and Lysol wipes.

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing an economic crisis that will have both short-term and long-term effects. This will challenge your adaptability skills, but I want to stress something: life will be different, but that doesn’t mean life is over.  Here’s what you need to know.

Recession or Depression?

This is just the beginning of the economic crisis bearing down on us. As social distancing measures become more widespread, less and less money will be in play – both earned and spent.

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Coronavirus Cases Near 200k After Record Jump In Confirmations As China, South Korea Report Sudden Resurgence: Live Updates

Coronavirus Cases Near 200k After Record Jump In Confirmations As China, South Korea Report Sudden Resurgence: Live Updates

With US equity futures limit-down again overnight, the novel coronavirus outbreak is beginning to feel like ‘Groundhog Day’.

And if the market’s performance isn’t enough to get readers doubting their own sanity, some of the novel coronavirus headlines hitting in the early morning and overnight just might do the trick. One day after Chinese health officials reported just a single case of Covid-19 that was transmitted domestically, President Xi has warned that “inbound” cases of the virus – ie foreigners traveling to China who are already infected – are placing China at risk for reinfection. So, after China infected the world, President Xi is warning that the world might soon reinfect China.

Overnight, Hong Kong reported 14 new confirmed cases – its largest single-day jump – after new cases slowed to a trickle in recent weeks. According to the SCMP, all except one of those cases was a foreigner bringing the virus back to HK.

Singapore and Taiwan, which were widely praised for acting swiftly to stamp out the virus via mandatory closures, travel restrictions and – as the NYT explained in a story published Wednesday morning – swiftly tracing and isolating contacts of the recently diagnosed. In South Korea, a spate of new clusters around densely populated Seoul has raised fears about another runaway outbreak, per the SCMP.

The KCDC reported 93 new cases on Wednesday, up from 84 a day earlier and 74 on Monday. The new cases took the total infection caseload to 8,413.

As Republican “deficit-hawks” like Lindsey Graham pushed back against the Trump Administration’s latest ‘helicopter money’ stimulus plan yesterday that will inject $1 trillion into the economy (on top of $300 billion in deferred tax payments)…

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The Covid-19 Dominoes Fall: The World Is Insolvent

The Covid-19 Dominoes Fall: The World Is Insolvent

Subtract their immense debts and they have negative net worth, and therefore the market value of their stock is zero.

To understand why the financial dominoes toppled by the Covid-19 pandemic lead to global insolvency, let’s start with a household example. The point of this exercise is to distinguish between the market value of assets and net worth, which is what’s left after debts are subtracted from the market value of assets.

Let’s say the household has done very well for itself and owns assets worth $1 million: a home, a family business, 401K retirement accounts and a portfolio of stocks and other investments.

The household also has $500,000 in debts: home mortgage, auto loans, student loans and credit card balances.

The household net worth is thus $1,000,000 minus $500,000 = $500,000.Let’s say a typical financial crisis and recession occur, and the household’s assets fall 30%. 30% of $1 million is $300,000, so the the market value of the household’s assets falls to $700,000.

Deduct the $500,000 in debts and the household’s net worth has fallen to $200,000. The point here is debts remain regardless of what happens to the market value of assets owned by the household.

Then the speculative asset bubbles re-inflate, and the household takes on more debt in the euphoric expansion of confidence to buy a larger house, expand the family business and enjoy life more.

Now the household assets are worth $2 million, but debt has risen to $1.5 million. Net worth remains at $500,000, since debt has risen along with asset values.

Alas, all bubbles pop, and the market value of the household assets decline by 30%, or $600,000. Now the household assets are worth $2,000,000 minus $600,000 or $1,400,000. The household net worth is now $1,400,000 minus $1,500,000 or negative $100,000. the household is insolvent.

On top of that, the net income of the family business plummets to near-zero in the recession, leaving insufficient income to pay all the debts the household has taken on.

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CDC Employee Tests Positive For Covid-19, House Leaders ‘Indefinitely’ Postpone Return To Washington: Live Updates

CDC Employee Tests Positive For Covid-19, House Leaders ‘Indefinitely’ Postpone Return To Washington: Live Updates

Summary:

  • Australia prepares 2nd stimulus package
  • Canada closes borders to foreign travelers
  • Dutch PM says experts believe ‘most’ citizens will catch virus
  • House leaders postpone return to Washington ‘indefinitely’
  • New Jersey reports 80% jump in cases
  • Italy reports another 3,233 cases, 349 deaths
  • France orders people to stay home for 15 days
  • CDC says employee has tested positive
  • EU finance ministers announce ‘coordinated fiscal response’ worth 1% of GDP
  • White House releases new ‘national guidelines’ to stop virus
  • San Francisco earmarks $10M for those who miss work due to outbreak
  • SF mayor orders residents to shelter in place beginning at midnight
  • 6 Bay Area counties to issue ‘shelter in place’ order
  • Actor Idris Elba tests positive
  • WH conference set for 3:30pmET
  • G-7 releases communique about ‘coordinated’ virus response
  • Trump tells governors to try and get their own respirators
  • Washington State shuts down bars, restaurants for 2 weeks
  • First cases confirmed in Tanzania, Somalia
  • Ohio requests to delay primary until June 2
  • Russia ‘limits’ entry of foreigners
  • UK reports 18 new deaths, asks citizens to avoid all non-essential contact and travel, but avoids public closures
  • Chile tightens borders, bans foreigners from entry
  • Kudlow teases helicopter money; Romney pushes plan to hand every US adult $1,000
  • Cuomo warns US might not succeed in flattening the curve enough
  • Lombardy reports smallest jump in new cases since beginning of outbreak
  • Greenland reports first case
  • Google’s virus website booked up on first day of operation
  • Moscow bans all events with more than 50 people
  • Top Iranian cleric dies
  • Germany closes restaurants, bars, gyms and nightclubs until further notice.
  • EU Commission bars “non-EU citizens” from entering the area, but refuses to cave on internal controls
  • NY, NJ, Conn bar large gatherings
  • Israel mulls national lockdown

*  *  *

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NYC Closes Schools Until April 20, US Death Toll Hits 64: Live Updates

NYC Closes Schools Until April 20, US Death Toll Hits 64: Live Updates

Summary:

  • NYC Mayor says NYC schools will close for at least a month starting Monday 
  • NY Gov Cuomo says NYC schools will close “early this week”
  • Mayor reports 4 new deaths
  • Italy reports largest one-day jump in cases; France also reports highest daily jump
  • CDC recommends postponing all gatherings for 8 weeks
  • US death toll hits 64
  • Pentagon says sailor aboard Navy ship has tested positive
  • Germany reports 1,000+ new cases bringing total to 5,813
  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary says lines at O’Haire are “unacceptable”, says wait times have been fixed
  • Illinois Gov closes all bars & restaurants for dining in
  • US death toll hits 58, 1st death confirmed in Oregon
  • Google CEO says country-wide virus info site to launch Monday
  • LA Mayor orders bars to close, may also close dine-in restaurants
  • NFL season start likely won’t be postponed, ESPN says
  • California confirmed cases climb 14% to 335
  • US confirmed case total hits 2,952
  • Wal-Mart, Stop & Shop cut hours
  • Connecticut, Mass. close schools 
  • Case in Conn. double over night
  • Netherlands closes schools, restaurants
  • Germany closes borders to neighboring states
  • Poland bars foreigners
  • West Virginia last US state that’s virus-free
  • Iran reports largest daily jump in deaths
  • Ohio closes bars, restaurants at 9pm Sunday
  • Trump speaks with grocery chain CEOs
  • Pence says he won’t be tested
  • NYC Mayor says ‘every option on the table’ when asked if considering complete shutdown of city + schools
  • Washington DC mayor orders nightclubs to close and imposes new restrictions on bars and restaurants
  • Federal limits on trucker hours suspended to help hospitals and supermarkets alleviate shortages of critical items

*  *  *

Update (2000ET): After cutting off domestic travel for all military personnel, the Pentagon has just confirmed that a US sailor aboard a ship has tested positive, according to Reuters.

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Black Swans, Dead Cats, Live Bats, and Goodbye to All That

Black Swans, Dead Cats, Live Bats, and Goodbye to All That


Had enough excitement yet? At least the stock markets are following an established script: the bubble pops, the elevator drops, for a while it stops… and then investments sink to the deepest sub-basement, where they linger for a long, long time. Hello, next great depression…. We know how that story goes, even if it hurts.

This corona virus is something else. It engulfs whole populations in a fog of confounding narratives. Is it no worse than a bad common cold, except for old folks already half-gone with chronic illness? Or does it really slam people even in the midst of life? Well, Wuhan hospital director Liu Zhiming, 51, went down two weeks ago, and gastroenterologist Xia Sisi, 29, and Dr. Peng Yinhua, also 29, and some prominent Iranian politicians, and lots of very sick healthcare workers from Korea to Italy. Whatever corona virus is, I’m not persuaded that it’s a hoax.

One monster banging around in that fog is the narrative that China started this thing simply to get rid of Mr. Trump. There’s a real baby-and-bathwater proposition. Would China, in effect, blow up its export economy for that, i.e. commit suicide? Because a lot of those prior arrangements will probably not come back — the manufacturing supply lines for this-and-that, the fabulous cornucopia of plastic goodies extruded from all those smoking factories and flushed out to the world, the whole glorious let’s-get-rich extravaganza that Deng Xiaoping kicked off forty years ago. It’s looking like the global economy is on the rocks, perhaps for good, as we knew it. Is China as plumb crazy as, for instance, America’s political Left?

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5 States Shutter Schools; Ivanka Trump, AG Barr Met With Infected Aussie Minister: Live Updates

5 States Shutter Schools; Ivanka Trump, AG Barr Met With Infected Aussie Minister: Live Updates

It’s been another crazy morning around the world as more sports leagues suspended play and governments – most notably Germany  – pledged to whip out their credit cards and spend whatever might be necessary to soften the economic blow, a chorus of reassurance that has helped to drive markets back to limit-up.

Following reports last night that Arsenal’s manager and a Chelsea player had both tested positive for the virus, the Premier League decided during an emergency meeting Friday morning that it would suspend play. Now, the Champions League, Premier League and Europa League have all been suspended because of the virus. 

Indian Public health authorities confirmed the first virus-related death in the world’s second-most populous country on Friday. Fewer than 100 cases have been confirmed across the country, and dozens who came into contact with the man have been quarantined. But the government’s inability to safely quarantine and treat the now-deceased patient was hardly encouraging.

After closing its border with Italy, Austria has cancelled international flights to/from Spain, France and Italy and is reportedly weighing a wider border closure. Nearby, the Czech Republic is planning to close its borders, and people won’t be allowed to leave the country. In the Balkans, Slovakia has closed its borders completely.

The FDA has launched a 24/7 hotline for patients worried about their infections status. In Washington, President Trump and VP Mike Pence have both decided not to be tested, in accordance with their physicians’ advice since neither are showing symptoms, despite both having come into contact with the infected or potentially infected.

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COVID-19, Brought to You by Globalization

COVID-19, Brought to You by Globalization

How the virus exploits traits of our economy extolled as modern triumphs.

Viking_Sky_colorful.jpg
A Viking cruise ship docked in France in 2017. Viking and Princess Lines have halted operations. Cruise ships combine urban-like crowding with world-wide mobility. Photo: Wikimedia

This pandemic, with an estimated mortality rate of one to two per cent, is not a world ender or something to be truly feared.

But it deserves our respect and it certainly has our attention.

Pandemics, which go off like improvised bombs, don’t have to be formidable killers to be bad. Even modest biological detonations can upend your day and alter your world. 

As SARS-CoV-2 — the respiratory virus that causes the disease COVID-19 — begins its explosive global journey, it has proven its ability to clog hospitals and freeze economies. 

It is worth remembering that SARS-CoV-2, unlike influenza, is a novel cold-like virus that Homo sapiens have never experienced before. We have no immunity and must acquire it either through exposure to the virus or a vaccine that most likely won’t be ready till the pandemic is over.  

SARS-CoV-2 will play with different populations differently, making use of the demographic material at hand along with human follies such as the criminal dearth of testing in the United States for the last month. 

And it won’t be the last. This particular biological invader springs from an ancient, large and diverse family of viruses hosted by a variety of wild animals including bats and birds. 

These species are particularly hard pressed by global economic forces now ruinously reducing biological diversity everywhere. As biological biodiversity declines, viruses will seek reliable hosts and jump from animals into people at any given opportunity. Peter Daszak, a pioneering disease ecologist, says we now live in Age of Pandemics. 

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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