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Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 11 2020 – Who Pulled the Plug?

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 11 2020 – Who Pulled the Plug?

“Unnervingly coherent and laughably mindless”

This morning’s opening quote isn’t an independent assessment of the Morning Porridge – but is lifted from a newspaper article on Artificial Intelligence.  It ends on a very scary tag: the AI is asked if it is conscious and responds: “To be clear, I am not a person.  I am not self-aware.  I am not conscious.  I can’t feel pain.  I don’t enjoy anything.  I am a cold, calculating machine designed to simulate human response and to predict the probability of certain outcomes.  The only reason I am responding is to defend my honour.”  This is not from some dystopian novel or a reboot of the Terminator series… but from the this morning’s FT

Should we pull the plug or ask it some more questions? 

Back in the real world…

We are now in the depths of the summer doldrums – and markets are showing even less correlation to global events than usual.  Stock and Bond Markets remain chronically distorted by the effects of Central Bank liquidity. China markets have shrugged off the new Trump US sanctions – and Xi has stepped up the arrest of protest figureheads in HK.  Ten-cent has taken a tumble on the back of Trump banning Tik Tok and WeChat – confirming the degree to which individual stocks are vulnerable to shifts in the narrative. Watch for case-by-case wobbles as the China-US rift opens wider – when will China decide to make trouble for Tesla to boost its copy-cars? 

But even the China/US tiff is likely to be something of a sideshow. My first question to the AI machine would be – just how deep is the coming global recession going to be?  Despite some recent strong economic releases, the trend shows the recession is underway.

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

Europeans Are Waking Up to Government Covid Tyranny. Why Are We Still Asleep?

Europeans Are Waking Up to Government Covid Tyranny. Why Are We Still Asleep?

Tens of thousands of Germans marched through Berlin on Saturday, proclaiming a “Day of Freedom” and demanding an end to government-mandated face masks and “social distancing.” The UK and Netherlands also saw large protests against their governments’ tyrannical actions in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to media accounts, the Berlin protesters held signs reading “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination,” and “We are making noise because you are stealing our freedom!”

Good for them!

The New York Times Tweeted that the masses of Berlin demonstrators were all “Nazis” and “conspiracy theorists.” Does the “paper of record” really want us to believe there were perhaps a million Nazis active in the streets of Berlin? Wouldn’t that be alarming?

The fact is, Europeans are realizing that their government-mandated lockdowns did little or nothing to protect them from the virus, while causing economic catastrophe and untold human suffering.

They likely looked around and noticed that Sweden, which never locked down its economy, rejected face masks, and kept its restaurants and other places of business open, did not fare any worse than the countries that have been turned into open air prisons for much of the year. In fact, Sweden had a lower death rate from the virus than strict lockdown states like the UK and France. No wonder people are starting to get angry.

Unfortunately, while the Europeans are waking up, Americans are still asleep as our freedoms continue to be trampled. While Europeans demand an end to government tyranny, here we see states with minuscule new deaths returning to lockdown. It is as if all the wannabe tyrants from mayors to governors are finally realizing their secret dreams of ruling by decree. Their dreams are our nightmares!

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

SELCO: Pay Attention Because Your “New Normal” Should Be Survival Mode

SELCO: Pay Attention Because Your “New Normal” Should Be Survival Mode

In one of the articles a few weeks ago I mentioned stuff about adapting, and I used “boiling the frog” story as an example of how situations that slowly deteriorate can make us lose our sharpness.

We get accustomed to situations, things, or actions, and we have a tendency to portray it over time as normal.

Here are a few more thoughts.

“Nah, it is OK”

In a country where the economic situation was horrible even before this whole coronavirus thing, you do not need some large event to push things in a bad direction, and COVID hit us pretty hard.

Medical staff members have worked in bad conditions from the start of this, in double shifts, without proper equipment, and with the perspective of even more salary cuts because of the worsening economic situation.

At the beginning of all this, if a medical worker got into contact with a positive patient without PPE, he or she would go into self-isolation at home and be tested. As the situation deteriorates more (more medical workers getting sick, fewer tests and equipment) it got to the point where the medical worker (if in contact, without PPE)) does not get tested and does not go into isolation until symptoms show up. So in reality, until getting symptoms he would freely spread the disease to coworkers, family, and patients until he was actually sick.

Now the situation looks like this: If a medical worker gets sick, tested positive, and only has mild symptoms-he should work normally, with a mask. If masks are available. Usually, they are not.

One more thing is that now medical officials are instructing workers, “Nah, it is nothing, you just continue to work.” In other words, you work or lose the job.

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

GDP & Consumer Confidence in Crash Mode

GDP & Consumer Confidence in Crash Mode

The impact of Coronavirus is far worse than most can imagine. GDP dropped 32% during the 2nd-quarter which is a new historical record surpassing every recession and the Great Depression of both the 19th and 20th centuries. The epidemiologists cannot be this stupid. The people who have died because of a lack of healthcare during this trumped-up pandemic is serious. Many have been denied healthcare and others have been afraid to even go to the hospital. I myself went to the ER and ended up in a COVID wing for two days and it took two negative tests to get out. Everything has become COVID. In Florida, a young man killed in a motorcycle accident ended up on the death list of COVID. The numbers are being manipulated and the fraud is massive.

As wave two appears with the next flu season, the media has beaten this into such an insane pandemic you would think it was the Black Plague with a 50% mortality rate. The last half of 2020 will get worse. They are using this for political objectives. Any doctor who stands up against this manipulation is attacked and then they roll out a fake study to claim they are wrong. When I was called in as an “expert” to be exploited to create the G5 back in 1985, I saw this was all a joke and so I wrote to President Regan. I was told that I would never be called again because I went out of the committee. I was told to be a good boy, produce studies they tell you the conclusion, and I would make a few million a year. Studies are worthless! Try to find a real one is next to impossible. They all have been paid for to achieve a political objective.

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

Chevron Shares Slide After Recording Historic Quarterly Loss

Chevron Shares Slide After Recording Historic Quarterly Loss

Chevron Corporation reported a loss of $8.3 billion for the second-quarter 2020, the worst quarterly decline in a generation, and warned: “COVID-19 significantly reduced demand for our products and lowered commodity prices.” 

Chevron lost $1.59 per share on an adjusted basis while recording revenues around $13.49 billion. In the same quarter last year, the oil giant earned $2.27 per share on $36.32 billion. 

The earnings bloodbath was mostly due to a collapse in demand for the company’s energy products and a 60% YoY plunge in its average price per barrel of oil and natural gas liquids. h/t Bloomberg 

The quarterly loss was also due to a massive write-down of $1.8 billion in energy assets. The company fully impaired its $2.6 billion Venezuela operations from its books following U.S. sanctions. 

Chevron shares slid 3% on the earnings announcement. 

“The past few months have presented unique challenges,” said Michael Wirth, Chevron CEO, in a statement.

 “The economic impact of the response to COVID-19 significantly reduced demand for our products and lower commodity prices. Given the uncertainties associated with economic recovery and ample oil and gas supplies, we made a downward revision to our commodity price outlook, which resulted in asset impairments and other charges,” said Wirth. 

Chevron warned, “demand and commodity prices have shown signs of recovery, they are not back to pre-pandemic levels, and financial results may continue to be depressed into the third quarter of 2020.” 

Despite the considerable loss, Wirth claimed the company would “protect the dividend, invest for long term value, and maintain a strong balance sheet.”

But, it is hard to believe Chevron can justify maintaining its dividend at such a high cost with the economy now reversing and demand for energy products likely to falter in the back half of the year. 

We Are On Our Own In The Post-Covid World

We Are On Our Own In The Post-Covid World

It’s time to be our own heroes, because those in charge sure won’t be

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Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, things weren’t all that great for the bottom 90% of households.

The median household was barely scraping by with ultra-low financial reserves, meager retirement savings and high levels of debt. All while being relentlessly crushed by cost of living inflation running far higher than the blatantly fraudulent government statistics offered up by the BLS.

Even more infuriating, the economic pie was preferentially handed to the top 10% — well, more specifically, to the top 1%. And even more dramatically to the top 0.1%.  Don’t even get me started on the 0.001%…

(Source)

While often presented in the media as a puzzling thing without any root cause, both the income and wealth gaps are the direct result of Federal Reserve policies and actions Helped, of course, by lobbyists for the elites influencing Congressional tax legislation.

So it’s no accident that over time, tax rates on the rich have been substantially cut:

This chart says that the very highest income earners have a lower effective tax rate than anybody else in the nation.  Billionaire Warren Buffett famously pays a lower rate than his secretary. Goldman Sachs bankers are taxed more favorably than their Uber drivers. Again, this isn’t happening by accident.

And it reveals that, despite the fiction of fairness and freedom, America’s true values and priorities are aimed at funneling more and more of its wealth to in the pockets of an elite few.

Said another way: The final looting operation has begun.

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

More Than Half of Business Closures are Permanent

More Than Half of Business Closures are Permanent

A Yelp study finds that 55% of business closures are closed for good.

Yelp reports Increased Consumer Interest in May correlates with more Covid outbreaks and closures in June and July.

Consumer Interest vs Outbreaks

Yelp July  2020 A - consumer interest increased

Business Closures Fluctuate Across the Nation

  • There were 140,000 total businesses closures on Yelp from March 1 to June 15. This increased to more than 147,000 total business closures on June 29 and then dropped again to just more than 132,500 total business closures as of July 10. 
  • In April, there were more than 175,000 business closures indicating that only 24% of businesses that were closed in April have reopened.
  • Even as total closures fall, permanent closures increase with 72,842 businesses permanently closed, out of the 132,580 total closed businesses, an increase of 15,742 permanent closures since June 15. 
  • This also means that the percentage of permanent to temporary business closures is rising, with permanent closures now accounting for 55% of all closed businesses since March 1, an increase of 14% from June when we reported 41% of closures as permanent. 
  • Overall, permanent closures have steadily increased since the peak of the pandemic with minor spikes in March, followed by May and June.

Total Businesses Closures

Yelp July  2020 - Where are most Businessses Closed

States with the largest populations have the most closures. 

Total Business Closures Per 1,000

Yelp July  2020 - Where are most Businessses Closed per 1,000

On a metro level, Las Vegas, NV, is suffering from the highest rate of permanently closed businesses with 861 businesses permanently closed, as the city reacts to a decrease in tourism. Meanwhile, Los Angeles, CA, has the most closures with 11,342 total temporary and permanent business closures.

Restaurants Struggle

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

People want a greener, happier world now. But our politicians have other ideas

People want a greener, happier world now. But our politicians have other ideas

Boris Johnson’s ‘return to normality’ will only mean more consumerism at the expense of the planet – we must resist it

A helicopter battles a wildfire in Khanty-Mansi, Siberia, July 2020.
A helicopter battles a wildfire in Khanty-Mansi, Siberia, July 2020. Photograph: Denis Bushkovsky/TASS

Out there somewhere, marked on no map but tantalisingly near, is a promised land called Normal, to which one day we can return. This is the magical geography we are taught by politicians, such as Boris Johnson with his “significant return to normality”. It is the story we tell ourselves, even if we contradict it with the very next thought.

There are practical reasons to believe that Normal is a fairyland to which we can never return. The virus has not gone away, and is likely to keep recurring in waves. But let’s focus on another question: if such a land existed, would we want to live there?

The polls consistently suggest we would not. A survey by BritainThinks a fortnight ago found that only 12% of people want life to be “exactly as it was before”. A poll at the end of June, commissioned by the nursery provider Bright Horizons, suggested that just 13% of people want to return to working as they did before the lockdown. A YouGov study in the same week revealed that only 6% of us want the same type of economy as we had before the pandemic. Another survey by the same pollsters in April showed only 9% of respondents wanted a return to “normal”. It’s rare to see such strong and consistent results on any major issue.

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

“Demand to Remain Suppressed” till Vaccine/Treatment Widely Available: United Airlines. May Not Happen till Late 2021 “or Even Later”: Health Care Leaders

“Demand to Remain Suppressed” till Vaccine/Treatment Widely Available: United Airlines. May Not Happen till Late 2021 “or Even Later”: Health Care Leaders

Flattened-out fish-hook-shaped recovery of demand?

Passenger revenues collapsed by 94% to just $681 million, United Airlines disclosed in its Q2 earnings report today. Other operating revenues plunged by 37% to $392 million, but cargo was hot, rising 36% to $402 million “by serving strategic international cargo-only missions and optimizing aircraft capacity with low passenger demand.” All combined, revenues collapsed by 87%.

This has now become the serenade by airlines to investors. United follows Delta in it: Revenues have totally collapsed, and we’re in an existential crisis, and we’re cutting costs and capacity like maniacs, and we need to shed tens of thousands of employees, to reduce our cash burn, but we’ve raised many billions of dollars from you all (thank you) and from taxpayers, and we will duly burn this cash during this crisis.

United burned $40 million a day in Q2. It expects to reduce this cash burn to $25 million a day in Q3 – about $2.3 billion in the quarter – and reduce it further in Q4.

United said today it has slashed operating costs by 54%” compared to Q2 last year; this includes expenses for fuel, which were down 90%, aircraft maintenance down 74%, landing fees down 35%, and its largest line item, salaries down 29%.

Those are huge cuts. Earlier in July, in a dreary assessment of the airline industry and traffic, including a renewed decline in ticket sales starting in late June, United announced 36,000 “involuntary furloughs” on or after October 1 if it can’t entice those employees to leave voluntarily beforehand.

Despite the cost cuts, United lost $2 billion in the quarter.

And it said that it expects its system capacity in Q3 to still be down by 65% compared to Q3 last year. And it will cancel flights and adjust capacity “until it sees signs of a recovery in demand.”

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

Optimistic for the Future

Optimistic for the Future

I had a professor who once said that two people were standing on top of the World Trade Center and a gust of wind blew them off the roof. The pessimist immediately starts praying to be forgiven for his sins. The optimism, as he is passing the 4th floor says, “So far so good!”

In these trying times, we have to be balanced. Yes, there will be a rise in civil unrest and anarchy particularly post-September 2020. Nevertheless, these times have been orchestrated by a sinister group. The entire reason for the lockdown was because of the forecast that 3 million would die from COVID-19, which meant that there would not be enough bed spaces in hospitals. This is the chart put out to justify the lockdown. Well, the hospitals were empty and the excuse for the lockdown was nonsense, particularly when applied nationwide. But ever since, these lockdowns no longer talk about a shortage of bed space to justify them. Now, it is just a prerogative of state governors and it has been abused for political purposes.

This virus has been drastically manipulated for political purposes and nobody involved will ever admit that they were wrong. The lockdowns will result in protests and civil unrest. We have the opportunity to make a difference. We cannot change the shift of the financial capital from the United States to China. Nevertheless, that does not mean we will starve to death and be reduced to eat bugs despite the fact that such a trend is promoted by the United Nations and this sinister consortium.

The British Empire collapsed but the British people survived. We will do the same.

Money Supply Growth in May Again Surges to an All-Time High

MONEY SUPPLY GROWTH IN MAY AGAIN SURGES TO AN ALL-TIME HIGH

Money supply growth surged to another all-time high in May, following April’s all-time high that came in the wake of unprecedented quantitative easing, central bank asset purchases, and various stimulus packages.

The growth rate has never been higher, with the 1970s the only period that comes close. It was expected that money supply growth would surge in recent months. This usually happens in the wake of the early months of a recession or financial crisis. The magnitude of the growth rate, however, was unexpected.

During May 2020, year-over-year (YOY) growth in the money supply was at 29.8 percent. That’s up from April’s rate of 21.3 percent, and up from May 2019’s rate of 2.15 percent. Historically, this is a very large surge in growth both month over month and year over year. It is also quite a reversal from the trend that only just ended in August of last year, when growth rates were nearly bottoming out around 2 percent. In August, the growth rate hit a 120-month low, falling to the lowest growth rates we’d seen since 2007.

tms1.png

tms

The money supply metric used here—the “true” or Rothbard-Salerno money supply measure (TMS)—is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure of money supply fluctuations than M2. The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth. This measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes Treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short-time deposits, traveler’s checks, and retail money funds).

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

2020 Is The Year The Unseen Becomes Seen

2020 Is The Year The Unseen Becomes Seen

2020 is the year of Julian Assange’s extradition trials, the Kafkaesque proceedings by which the US government is attempting to imprison the WikiLeaks founder for the rest of his life as punishment for exposing US war crimes. Assange started an innovative leak publishing outlet on the premise that corrupt power can be fought with truth, and corrupt power responded by silencing and jailing him. They’ve proved him right about everything, right in front of everyone.

2020 is the year people began protesting police brutality, and police responded with ferocious and widespread acts of brutality. The massive deluge of video footage from these brutal police responses went viral all over the world. The argument about police brutality culture in the US police state was won clearly and decisively, right in front of everyone.

2020 is the year the most powerful government on earth responded to a pandemic virus with the largest upward transfer of wealth in history, leaving massive global corporations with record-high stocks while killing small businesses and throwing the rank-and-file public to the wolves after handing some of them a paltry $1200, all while failing spectacularly to address the threat of the virus itself. This financial abuse is happening right out in the open, right in front of everyone.

2020 is the year this same government’s electoral process is being exposed in front of everyone for the sham it has always been, as two corrupt racist right-wing warmongering dementia patients who’ve both been accused of rape are placed head-to-head in what will inevitably be the single dumbest presidential race in the nation’s history. Neither of these two men are capable of forming a coherent sentence, and their presidential debates will make them a laughing stock of the whole world, right in front of everybody.

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

“Uneven” Freight Recovery after New Covid Outbreaks: Daily Truck Trips Already Fell 10% Since June 25

“Uneven” Freight Recovery after New Covid Outbreaks: Daily Truck Trips Already Fell 10% Since June 25

Was June as Good as It’s Going to Get in the Pandemic Era?

Automakers have been reopening their assembly plants in the US, hobbled by setbacks, including supply chain issues. Other manufacturers too have reopened their plants. Housing construction is moving forward. Other construction segments are weaker. Oil-and-gas drilling – a vast industry in the US with big impact on equipment manufacturing, construction, real estate, technology, transportation, etc. – is melting down, with big bankruptcies happening now densely together. California Resources, the largest driller in California, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, following Chesapeake at the end of June. Ecommerce retail is booming, but brick-and-mortar retail in malls is in a death spiral. So in terms of the goods-based sectors, it’s a very mixed bag. And the freight industry tracks those sectors because all these goods must be shipped.

In June, shipment volume by truck, rail, and air in the US ticked up from April and May but was still down by 17.8% from June 2019, and by 22% from June 2018, according to the Cass Freight Index for Shipments. The year 2018 had been the Good Times for the industry. The year 2019 was crappy and got worse as it went on. In the year 2020, all heck broke loose when the Pandemic hit the industry that was already grappling with sagging demand. June was the 19th month in a row of year-over-year declines in shipment volume:

The Cass Freight Index tracks the shipment volume by all modes of transportation, but is more concentrated on trucking. It tracks shipments of products for consumers and industrial users, but not bulk commodities, such as grains, coal, or petroleum products.

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

We’re Dumb about Exponential Growth. That’s Proving Lethal

We’re Dumb about Exponential Growth. That’s Proving Lethal

And not just for COVID-19. The same ignorance accelerates the climate crisis.

ExponentialGrowthArrow.jpg
Exponential growth looks like a jet taking off. It is rapid and explosive and follows a geometric progression. It is often about doubling times. Image via Shutterstock.

Gradually, and then suddenly. That’s how exponential growth can ruin your day, undo your family, evaporate your economy, destroy your climate, crush an empire and destabilize a planet.

Consider the performance of COVID-19.

Last month a 30-year-old male attended a “COVID party” in San Antonio, Texas.

At a COVID party, the host has tested positive. He or she then does not sit down with a math primer to understand how many human dominoes they might cause to fall. Nor does the host watch this handy video which, in three short minutes, explains the deadly implications of exponential growth of infection.

WATCH: A mathematician explains the power of exponential growth to spread the coronavirus at increasing speed throughout a population if unchecked by social distancing and other measures.

No, at a COVID party the host invites others to come over and mingle, have a few drinks, test fate, laugh in the face of reality.

The 30-year-old male who came to the COVID party died several weeks later, but not before he made a brief confession to the nurse attending him. “I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”

That’s how exponential growth can ruin your day.

The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Texas has risen steeply in recent weeks. Up to 22 per cent of tests showed positive in the San Antonio area last week.

The exponential function is all about growth, and growth follows a logical curve. It can be linear or exponential. Linear is what children do as they grow in weight. Or what stalagmites do as they grow with dripping water.

But exponential growth looks like a jet taking off. It is rapid and explosive and follows a geometric progression. It is often about doubling times.

After China reported its first case of COVID-19 last January, it took 67 days to reach the first 100,000 global cases.

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

Redesigning the World – The Great Reset

Redesigning the World – The Great Reset

COMMENT: Melbourne is getting locked down again. 5 million people on lockdown for 6 weeks at least! ‎People will only be allowed to leave home to go to work (if they can’t work online), grocery shopping, or for medical reasons.
‎All because of 191 alleged virus cases.

Catalunya is now mandating obligatory masks even where there are no people. In all public places incl. if you’re the only person there (say in a deserted park or street at a time when there is no one else).
They’re also openly saying masks and “social distancing” will be part of life now for the long term, i.e. forever or until everyone is vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Spain has extended the moratorium on payment of mortgages and rents for another 3 months (until end of September). No doubt they’ll keep extending it much longer than that. So, since March people don’t need to make their monthly mortgage and/or rent payments. In theory, the unpaid mortgage debts are just accumulating and will need to be paid once the moratorium ends (yeah, good luck with that). Rents won’t be paid, obviously, because there is no realistic way landlords could get this accumulated unpaid money from tenants. At present (and likely at least until the end of the year) they can’t even evict any tenant.
So everything will keep getting extended….and everyone will still pretend that once the “virus” is gone (or everyone is vaccinated) things will just switch back on and everything will return to normal.

PG

QUESTION: What about the rest of the billionaires. Can’t they see what these people are up to? Why have they not come to you to try to promote Socrates worldwide?

GW

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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