As Pandemic Rages, NATO Shows Itself To Be As Irrelevant As Ever

zerohedge News pandemic rages nato shows itself irrelevant ever All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
As Pandemic Rages, NATO Shows Itself To Be As Irrelevant As Ever

Authored by Brian Cloughley via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

In 2015 Bill Gates gave a talk titled “We’re Not Ready for the Next Epidemic” in which, in a remarkable exhibition of understated and uncannily accurate prescience, he reflected on the outbreak of Ebola virus and forecast worse to come. This amazing man told us that “As awful as this epidemi

Read More
c has been, the next one could be much worse. The world is simply not prepared to deal with a disease — an especially virulent flu, for example — that infects large numbers of people very quickly. Of all the things that could kill 10 million people or more, by far the most likely is an epidemic. But I believe we can prevent such a catastrophe by building a global warning and response system for epidemics. It would apply the kind of planning that goes into national defence — systems for recruiting, training, and equipping health workers; investments in new tools; etc — to the effort to prevent and contain outbreaks.”

The world did nothing, with Trump, for example, claiming on March 20 that “nobody could have ever seen something like this coming,” and we are now suffering the ravages of a terrifying virus that threatens to kill countless millions of people if such heads of state as the criminally dithering Trump continue to wield influence on our destiny.

It is likely, however, that logic and science will overcome ignorance and political point-scoring, and that Trump and his ilk will fade away while the world limps to normality after a price in lives and suffering that nobody can estimate.

But there could be positive spin-offs that could make the world a better place, and one of them is movement towards rapprochement between the US and Russia and China, both of which Washington’s finest insist are “a greater threat than terrorism”, so that the world will be spared the debilitating effects of continuing confrontation.

One of the things that should be examined is refocusing of the Nato military alliance. Bill Gates had some good ideas about what could be done to prepare for the Covid-19 pandemic, and in his talk about likely future developments went so far as to say that the best lessons from the Ebola years were to get prepared as “we do for war” and expanded on this by noting that:

“We have reserves that can scale us up to large numbers. NATO has a mobile unit that can deploy very rapidly. NATO does a lot of war games to check, are people well trained? Do they understand about fuel and logistics and the same radio frequencies? So they are absolutely ready to go. So those are the kinds of things we need to deal with an epidemic.”

Nato is indeed well-prepared for medical emergencies and has a logistics system ideally suited to cope with the problems now facing European and other communities. According to Nato Headquarters its medical support embraces “medical general practice, force health protection before and during deployments, medical logistics and supply, medical intelligence and the medical dimension of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare. Civilian-military cooperation in the medical area is very important during disaster relief, mass casualty situations and population movements, [and] military medical support may be involved in these missions too.”

Unfortunately, Nato is taking no action whatever on the medical front, but continues to concentrate on expansion, with its latest addition being North Macedonia, a country of two million people with armed forces of 8,000 whose contribution to international security — and combating Covid-19 — is trivial. But it seems that it’s the gesture, the symbolism, that counts with Nato, while practicalities — and international medical catastrophes — mean nothing when there’s an opportunity to show the world that yet another tiny country has joined the military alliance that has been expanded specifically to menace Russia. On 27 March Nato announced that “As Allied armed forces help save lives in the battle against the virus, NATO’s ability to conduct operations has not been undermined. Our forces remain ready, and our crucial work goes on, in the air, at sea, and in all other domains”.

While individual countries of Nato have committed their armed forces nationally and most effectively in their fight against Covid-19, Nato itself has not lifted a finger and concentrates on confronting Russia whenever and wherever it can. The latest charade involved Royal Navy warships which had supposedly been “shadowing seven Russian warships in the English Channel and North Sea [for] over a week.” The fact is that the Russian ships (two frigates, three corvettes and two landing ships) had grouped in the North Sea before sailing perfectly normally through the English Channel. This non-event was covered by some of the UK media in terms verging on the hysterical. The Daily Mail reported that “The Navy said ‘every movement’ of the Russian vessels was monitored, amid fears Vladimir Putin could try to exploit the turmoil over the spread of the killer virus. Concerns have also been raised that Russia is behind a wave of disinformation about the disease seemingly designed to foster panic among the public.”

The connection between the pandemic virus, President Putin, the Russian navy and the supposed “wave of disinformation” and “turmoil” are creatures of the West’s trash media.

Nato itself announced that “NATO navies shadowed seven Russian warships in the North Sea. While Russian navy ships generally transit through the English Channel on their way between the High North and the Mediterranean Sea, on this occasion they remained in the North Sea for several days.” Britain’s Ministry of Defence declared that “The Navy has completed a concentrated operation to shadow the Russian warships after unusually high levels of activity in the English Channel and North Sea.”

This was a nothing event. Nobody explained what the “high levels of activity” involved. The entire affair was a publicity fandango by Nato and its supporters.

Nato is desperate to justify its existence and it seems that Brussels will go to extraordinary lengths to maximise its profile, aided by media outlets such as the tabloid Mail, which is owned by the billionaire Lord Rothermere, who lives in France and “saves a fortune in tax each year on account of his ‘non-dom’ status.” Trash papers/websites like the Mail have enormous readerships, thus exercising great influence on the public, and the propaganda effect is enormous. So it is not surprising that Nato has achieved much support in the UK.

But this does not alter the fact that Nato is completely irrelevant, not only in the pandemic crisis, but in much wider terms. If Brussels, in essence the sub-office in Europe of the all-embracing Pentagon, had paid attention to the brilliant Mr Gates and heeded his advice to prepare for “the next epidemic” then the world would have been grateful beyond words for Nato’s foresight, expertise and assistance. As it stands, the Nato posturing about a few Russian ships in the North Sea and the addition of a totally unnecessary and valueless thirtieth member simply demonstrates its irrelevance in this virus-stricken world.

On March 27, as international efforts continued to counter the foul pandemic, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together.” He declared that “a flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on March 30.”

And so Nato wobbles from irrelevance to absurd triviality. It would be amusing were it not so tragic.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 06:10

BT providing free meals to coax its healthy customer support staff back into office as calls rocket amid pandemic

logicfish Business providing free meals coax healthy customer support staff back into office calls rocket amid pandemic All https://go.theregister.co.uk   Discuss    Share
We need to get people's nans on WhatsApp

BT has begun asking contact centre employees to return to work as it grapples with an increasing number of customer calls resulting from the UK-wide lockdown.…


Leaving Las Vegas... for good? IT industry conference circuit won't look the same on other side of COVID-19 pandemic

logicfish Business leaving vegas good industry conference circuit wont look same other side covid-19 pandemic All https://go.theregister.co.uk   Discuss    Share
O'Reilly has quit the events game, and it might not be the only one

Comment  You've been there, done that and you quite literally have the T-shirt. Love them or loathe them, IT conferences are a feature of industry life. My first was CA World in New Orleans in 1998. In front of an audience of thousands, then Computer Associates CEO Charles Wang wandered across the stage pontificating as a chorus of children danced about him (no, really) and I knew I had indeed entered a whole new world of weird.…


Pentagon Orders Essential Staff To Deep Underground Mountain Bunker As Pandemic Prep Escalates

zerohedge News pentagon orders essential staff deep underground mountain bunker pandemic prep escalates All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Pentagon Orders Essential Staff To Deep Underground Mountain Bunker As Pandemic Prep Escalates

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) & the US' Northern Command (NORTHCOM) held a Facebook Live town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 24, informing the public how their essential teams in charge of homeland security are isolating at the Cheyenne Mountain bunker in Colorado amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Air Force General Terr

Read More
ence O'Shaughnessy, who commands NORAD and NORTHCOM, told reporters on Facebook Live last Tuesday that essential staff is being moved from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado to the underground bunker complex that is 24 miles away in Cheyenne Mountain. The facility is more than 2,000 feet underground and can survive a 30 megaton nuclear explosion.

"To ensure that we can defend the homeland despite this pandemic, our command and control watch teams here in the headquarters split into multiple shifts and portions of our watch team began working from Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, creating a third team at an alternate location as well," O'Shaughnessy said. 

"Our dedicated professionals of the NORAD and NORTHCOM command and control watch have left their homes, said goodbye to their families and are isolated from everyone to ensure that they can stand the watch each and every day to defend our homeland.

"It's certainly not optimal, but it's absolutely necessary and appropriate given the situation."

NORAD and NORTHCOM have already used up about 30% of the underground facility, according to The Drive. O'Shaughnessy said with the increased personnel, his "primary concern was … are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I'm not at liberty to discuss who's moving in there."

If the staff at Cheyenne are infected, there is a third team of higher-ranking military officials operating at another facility that can remotely assume command. 

With the virus crisis deepening in the US, confirmed cases have now surged over 124,000, with 2,191 deaths (as of Sunday morning). President Trump signed an executive order Friday, allowing the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to activate National Guard and reservists to battle the COVID-19 outbreak across the US. 

We noted last week that the US is in the "acceleration phase" of the outbreak, which means the health crisis could get much worse in the coming weeks. 

How much worse?

Well, the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has just warned that social unrest in major Western cities could develop in the coming weeks. 

The evolution of the virus crisis could be social destabilization, hence why the military is preparing. 

Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 23:30

West Faces "Social Bomb" As Pandemic Sparks Unrest Among Poorest

zerohedge News west faces social bomb pandemic sparks unrest among poorest All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
West Faces "Social Bomb" As Pandemic Sparks Unrest Among Poorest

The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be a flare-up of social unrest across major Western cities as millions have lost their jobs, economies have crashed into depressions, and the military is being called up to maintain order.

The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that riots could be imminent in low-income neighborhoods as extreme wealth inequ

Read More
ality has left households unprepared and without a cash buffer to weather the economic downturn.

As we've noted before, many Western households were already stretched thin before the shutdowns began, with little savings, insurmountable debts, and the lack of access to proper healthcare. Now, these folks, which many have been laid off from gig-economy and service sector jobs, have zero income and could be emotionally motivated to hit the streets and protest.

IFRC president Francesco Rocca warned on Friday during a press conference that social unrest could be imminent in Italy, reported Reuters.

"We have a lot of people who are living very marginalized, in the so-called black hole of society... In the most difficult neighborhoods of the biggest cities, I am afraid that in a few weeks, we will have social problems," Rocca said.

"This is a social bomb that can explode at any moment, because they don't have any way to have an income," he said, whose agency deploys volunteers across Europe, including in Italy, Spain, and France.

He warned that the largest Western cities have only a 'few weeks' before social unrest is seen.

As for the US, President Trump has been deploying National Guard units across the country to fight the virus, or a perfect cover to prepare for Martial law-style shutdowns across some areas where the virus is hard-hitting.

President Trump, on Saturday afternoon, said he is considering a quarantine in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area, which would likely be enforced by the military to some degree.

We have noted that National Guard armored vehicles have already been spotted across the country and have suggested that troops are being positioned around major US metros to maintain order if social unrest was seen in low-income neighborhoods.

The Western world is on the brink of turmoil. The dominos are already falling with crashing economies in Europe and the US, triggering massive job losses that could soon lead to the unraveling of social fabric.

Governments offering universal basic income as a solution to keep their citizens content won't work this time. The West is headed for a period of instability, not just economically, but socially.

And now it all makes sense why Americans are rushing to gun stores…

Tyler Durden

Sun, 03/29/2020 - 08:45

Global Pandemic Preparedness - Which Country Is The Most (And Least) Ready For COVID-19?

zerohedge News global pandemic preparedness which country most least ready covid-19 All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Global Pandemic Preparedness - Which Country Is The Most (And Least) Ready For COVID-19?

The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.

However, as Visual Capitalist's Nichaolas LePan notes, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the glo

Read More
be. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.

Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak - and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.

Pathways for Commerce and Disease

Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.

A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.

While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.

Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.

The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:

  1. Prevention

    Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens

  2. Detection and Reporting

    Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern

  3. Rapid Response

    Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic

  4. Health System

    Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers

  5. Compliance with Global Norms

    Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps

  6. Risk Environment

    Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats

Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Country Overall Rankings

Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.

The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.

Here are the 10 highest-ranking countries in the index:

You can view the complete rankings of all 195 countries on the GHS Index website.

Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score

Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.

Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.

Takeaways: A World Unprepared

While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.”

 – The Global Health Security Index, 2019

The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.

  1. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.

  2. Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.

  3. There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.

  4. Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.

  5. More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.

  6. Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.

  7. Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.

  8. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.

A Stark Reality

The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 22:30

This Pandemic Is Exposing The Futility Of The National Security State

zerohedge News this pandemic exposing futility national security state All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
This Pandemic Is Exposing The Futility Of The National Security State

Authored by Andrew Bacevich via TomDispatch.com,

Americans are facing “A Spring Unlike Any Before.” So warned a front-page headline in the March 13th New York Times.

That headline, however hyperbolic, was all too apt. The coming of spring has always promised relief from the discomforts of winter. Ye

Read More
t, far too often, it also brings its own calamities and afflictions.

According to the poet T.S. Eliot, “April is the cruelest month.” Yet while April has certainly delivered its share of cataclysms, March and May haven’t lagged far behind. In fact, cruelty has seldom been a respecter of seasons. The infamous influenza epidemic of 1918, frequently cited as a possible analogue to our current crisis, began in the spring of that year, but lasted well into 1919.

That said, something about the coronavirus pandemic does seem to set this particular spring apart. At one level, that something is the collective panic now sweeping virtually the entire country. President Trump’s grotesque ineptitude and tone-deafness have only fed that panic. And in their eagerness to hold Trump himself responsible for the pandemic, as if he were the bat that first transmitted the disease to a human being, his critics magnify further a growing sense of events spinning out of control.

Yet to heap the blame for this crisis on Trump alone (though he certainly deserves plenty of blame) is to miss its deeper significance. Deferred for far too long, Judgment Day may at long last have arrived for the national security state.


That state within a state’s origins date from the early days of the Cold War. Its ostensible purpose has been to keep Americans safe and so, by extension, to guarantee our freedoms. From the 1950s through the 1980s, keeping us safe provided a seemingly adequate justification for maintaining a sprawling military establishment along with a panoply of “intelligence” agencies—the CIA, the DIA, the NRO, the NSA—all engaged in secret activities hidden from public view. From time to time, the scope, prerogatives, and actions of that conglomeration of agencies attracted brief critical attention—the Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, the Vietnam War of the 1960s and early 1970s, and the Iran-Contra affair during the presidency of Ronald Reagan being prime examples. Yet at no time did such failures come anywhere close to jeopardizing its existence.

Indeed, even when the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War removed the original justification for its creation, the entire apparatus persisted. With the Soviet Empire gone, Russia in a state of disarray, and communism having lost its appeal as an alternative to democratic capitalism, the managers of the national security state wasted no time in identifying new threats and new missions.

The new threats included autocrats like Panama’s Manuel Noriega and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, once deemed valuable American assets, but now, their usefulness gone, classified as dangers to be eliminated. Prominent among the new missions was a sudden urge to repair broken places like the Balkans, Haiti, and Somalia, with American power deployed under the aegis of “humanitarian intervention” and pursuant to a “responsibility to protect.” In this way, in the first decade of the post-Cold War era, the national security state kept itself busy. While the results achieved, to put it politely, were mixed at best, the costs incurred appeared tolerable. In sum, the entire apparatus remained impervious to serious scrutiny.

During that decade, however, both the organs of national security and the American public began taking increased notice of what was called “anti-American terrorism”—and not without reason. In 1993, Islamic fundamentalists detonated a bomb in a parking garage of New York’s World Trade Center. In 1996, terrorists obliterated an apartment building used to house US military personnel in Saudi Arabia. Two years later, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were blown up and, in 2000, suicide bombers nearly sank the USS Cole, a Navy destroyer making a port call in Aden at the tip of the Arabian peninsula. To each of these increasingly brazen attacks, all occurring during the administration of President Bill Clinton, the national security state responded ineffectually.

Then, of course, came September 11, 2001. Orchestrated by Osama bin Laden and carried out by 19 suicidal al-Qaeda operatives, this act of mass murder inflicted incalculable harm on the United States. In its wake, it became common to say that “9/11 changed everything.”

In fact, however, remarkably little changed. Despite its 17 intelligence agencies, the national security state failed utterly to anticipate and thwart that devastating attack on the nation’s political and financial capitals. Yet apart from minor adjustments—primarily expanding surveillance efforts at home and abroad—those outfits mostly kept doing what they had been doing, even as their leaders evaded accountability. After Pearl Harbor, at least, one admiral and one general were fired. After 9/11, no one lost his or her job. At the upper echelons of the national security state, the wagons were circled and a consensus quickly formed: No one had screwed up.

Once President George W. Bush identified an “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea), three nations that had had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks, as the primary target for his administration’s “Global War on Terrorism,” it became clear that no wholesale reevaluation of national security policy was going to occur. The Pentagon and the Intelligence Community, along with their sprawling support network of profit-minded contractors, could breathe easy. All of them would get ever more money. That went without saying. Meanwhile, the underlying premise of US policy since the immediate aftermath of World War II—that projecting hard power globally would keep Americans safe—remained sacrosanct.

Viewed from this perspective, the sequence of events that followed was probably overdetermined. In late 2001, US forces invaded Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban regime, and set out to install a political order more agreeable to Washington. In early 2003, with the mission in Afghanistan still anything but complete, US forces set out to do the same in Iraq. Both of those undertakings have dragged on, in one fashion or another, without coming remotely close to success. Today, the military undertaking launched in 2001 continues, even if it no longer has a name or an agreed-upon purpose.

Nonetheless, at the upper echelons of the national security state, the consensus forged after 9/11 remains firmly in place: No one screws up. In Washington, the conviction that projecting hard power keeps Americans safe likewise remains sacrosanct.

In the nearly two decades since 9/11, willingness to challenge this paradigm has rarely extended beyond non-conforming publications like TomDispatch. Until Donald Trump came along, rare was the ambitious politician of either political party who dared say aloud what Trump himself has repeatedly said—that, as he calls them, the “ridiculous endless wars” launched in response to 9/11 represent the height of folly.

Astonishingly enough, within the political establishment that point has still not sunk in. So, in 2020, as in 2016, the likely Democratic nominee for president will be someone who vigorously supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Imagine, if you will, Democrats in 1880 nominating not a former union general (as they did) but a former confederate who, 20 years before, had advocated secession. Back then, some sins were unforgivable. Today, politicians of both parties practice self-absolution and get away with it.


Note, however, the parallel narrative that has unfolded alongside those post-9/11 wars. Taken seriously, that narrative exposes the utter irrelevance of the national security state as currently constituted. The coronavirus pandemic will doubtless prove to be a significant learning experience. Here is one lesson that Americans cannot afford to overlook.

Presidents now routinely request and Congress routinely appropriates more than a trillion dollars annually to satisfy the national security state’s supposed needs. Even so, Americans today do not feel safe and, to a degree without precedent, they are being denied the exercise of basic everyday freedoms. Judged by this standard, the apparatus created to keep them safe and free has failed. In the face of a pandemic, nature’s version of an act of true terror, that failure, the consequences of which Americans will suffer through for months to come, should be seen as definitive.

But wait, some will object: Don’t we find ourselves in uncharted waters? Is this really the moment to rush to judgment? In fact, judgment is long overdue.

While the menace posed by the coronavirus may differ in scope, it does not differ substantively from the myriad other perils that Americans have endured since the national security state wandered off on its quixotic quest to pacify Afghanistan and Iraq and purge the planet of terrorists. Since 9/11, a partial roster of those perils would include: Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Sandy (2012), Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (2017), and massive wildfires that have devastated vast stretches of the West Coast on virtually an annual basis. The cumulative cost of such events exceeds a half-trillion dollars. Together, they have taken the lives of several thousand more people than were lost in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Earlier generations might have written all of these off as acts of God. Today, we know better. As with blaming Trump, blaming God won’t do. Human activities, ranging from the hubristic reengineering of rivers like the Mississippi to the effects of climate change stemming from the use of fossil fuels, have substantially exacerbated such “natural” catastrophes.

And unlike faraway autocrats or terrorist organizations, such phenomena, from extreme-weather events to pandemics, directly and immediately threaten the safety and wellbeing of the American people. Don’t tell the Central Intelligence Agency or the Joint Chiefs of Staff but the principal threats to our collective wellbeing are right here where we live.

Apart from modest belated efforts at mitigation, the existing national security state is about as pertinent to addressing such threats as President Trump’s cheery expectations that the coronavirus will simply evaporate once warmer weather appears. Terror has indeed arrived on our shores and it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda or ISIS or Iranian-backed militias. Americans are terrorized because it has now become apparent that our government, whether out of negligence or stupidity, has left them exposed to dangers that truly put life and liberty at risk. As it happens, all these years in which the national security state has been preoccupied with projecting hard power abroad have left us naked and vulnerable right here at home.

Protecting Americans where they live ought to be the national security priority of our time. The existing national security state is incapable of fulfilling that imperative, while its leaders, fixated on waging distant wars, have yet to even accept that they have a responsibility to do so.

Worst of all, even in this election year, no one on the national political scene appears to recognize the danger now fully at hand.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 22:45

Google warns against disabling websites during Coronavirus pandemic

logicfish Business google warns against disabling websites during coronavirus pandemic All https://go.theregister.co.uk   Discuss    Share
Your search ranking will suffer less if you just make it a bit rubbish instead

As companies shut their doors against the coronavirus outbreak, Google has released a set of guidelines to website owners on how to minimise the long-terms effects on their business's search ranking.…


"I Would Rather Be Dead": Calls To Suicide Hotlines Spike Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

zerohedge News would rather dead calls suicide hotlines spike amid covid-19 pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
"I Would Rather Be Dead": Calls To Suicide Hotlines Spike Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline have spiked 300% amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to KVLY, while the Sacramento Bee reports that other suicide prevention services  have similarly risen for the same reasons.

"It’s so scary, it’s almost like ... I would rather be dead," said suicidal writer

Read More
Danielle Sinay, who lives in New York City. "I mean, I wouldn’t be, but sometimes I get so scared it feels like that."

President Donald Trump, who has been pressing to lift restrictions on most people as soon as possible, has warned of “suicides by the thousands” if people remain isolated, Forbes reported.

More than 487,000 cases of the  COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 22,000 deaths as of March 26, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 69,000 confirmed cases with more than 1,000 deaths. -Sacramento Bee

(That figure topped 523,000 infected and 23,639 deaths as of this writing just hours later, according to the same source).

"There are ramifications, sometimes fatal, with events like these that are not just related to getting infected or dying from infection or consequences of infection," said Eric Caine, co-director of the Center for the Study of Prevention of Suicide at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in a statement to USA Today.

"Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger," said the CDC in a statement.

Meanwhile, the national crisis text line, they handled 6,000 text conversations last week - approximately twice the normal volume according to spokeswoman Ashley Womble.

In Portland, Oregon, suicide-related 911 calls rose 23 percent in the past 10 days, compared to the 10 days before the city declared an emergency, The Oregonian reported. All 911 calls in the city dropped 10 percent in the same period.

Other suicide prevention efforts in Portland report rising calls from people who feel anxious, depressed or frightened, but not in calls from those feeling acutely suicidal, according to the publication. Officials fear that may change. -Sacramento Bee

"If this nears a large disaster like Hurricane Katrina, there is a flood coming," said Chris Bouneff, who heads up the Oregon chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, according to The Oregonian.

And at the largest suicide prevention hotline in Massachusetts, the Samaritans, they received 350 calls per day last week, up from 250 - 275 calls they normally receive according to the Boston Globe. Text messages in March are on pace to reach a record high of more than 1,000.

Tips to fight anxiety (via the Sacramento Bee)

"Isolation is a big trigger for a lot of people," according to California social worker Norine VanderHooven. "People are becoming so anxious because they don’t know what to expect. Anxiety is fear of the unexpected or unknown."

Experts suggest that people keep to a routine schedule, exercise, eat a healthy diet, meditate and take walks to quell anxiety, The Boston Globe reported.

Avoid information overload if it increases your fear and stave off feelings of isolation by staying in touch with friends or family by phone or online, according to the publication.

“None of us are immune to this feeling of anxiety and stress,” said Leticia Sainz, interim deputy director of Multnomah County’s behavioral health division, The Oregonian reported. “I think we’re still really seeing the beginnings of the effects of this.” -Sacramento Bee

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800 273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 19:45

The Pandemic In My Neighborhood: Michael Lewis Laments The End Of Human Interaction

zerohedge News pandemic neighborhood michael lewis laments human interaction All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
The Pandemic In My Neighborhood: Michael Lewis Laments The End Of Human Interaction

Authored by Michael Lewis, op-ed via Bloomberg.com,

We have so little data for how we’re supposed to live in this social-distancing world...

At the same time much of Northern California was ordered to shelter in place, it was granted lots of exceptions to the order.

Read More

You could go out for groceries and prescription drugs and dog walking. You could go out if you performed an “essential service.” You could go out for a walk or a run or a bike ride so long as you kept 6 feet between you and other human beings. Instantly many more people than usual in Berkeley took to the streets and, instantly, you could see that no one was quite sure how to behave. No one had ever tried to estimate 6 feet every time they passed another person, and people had different ideas of how much it was. Basically everyone avoided eye contact and small talk — as if any human interaction, no matter how remote, might cause a coronavirus infection.

If you ranked all American towns and cities by the likelihood that passing strangers would acknowledge each other’s existence, Berkeley would fall some place in the middle. Ahead of New York City, behind any place in Mississippi. (New Orleans would rank first.)

The first day of the lockdown, people on the streets of Berkeley became New Yorkers. But it felt less like indifference than some combination of guilt and uncertainty. Here was a new social situation for which the etiquette manual had yet to be written.

By the second day, behavior on our streets changed, radically. People kept their physical distance but now made more of an effort with each other than I’d ever seen here. Everywhere you turned you saw total strangers not only saying hello but also stopping to chat. All of a sudden we all had something in common! (Aside from our left-wing views.) We were all in lockdown! And we were all outside! The streets of Berkeley for a moment felt almost like the streets of New Orleans.

Within a few days the novelty mostly wore off, and people went back to treating each other with the same old indifference. Except the old people. The old people are still making eye contact.

There’d been only a couple of reported Covid-19 cases in town, both contracted someplace else. So far as anyone could tell, no one in Berkeley had caught the virus from someone else in Berkeley. And so we’re still waiting, for an answer to a question. Italy or Germany: Which will we be? Italy has only twice as many cases as Germany but almost 50 times the deaths. Maybe the Italians are especially old or vulnerable, but it’s more likely the Germans have tested huge numbers of people and the Italians have tested only people with serious symptoms. That is, some vast number of Italians have had the virus but were never tested, either because their symptoms never sent them running to the hospital or they never even knew they had it. We in the U.S. have tested far fewer people than the Italians. We’ve tested fewer people than basically every advanced country — which raises another question? Are we still one?

The nation that led the data revolution, that invented the job title of “data scientist,” that has held up better data analysis as the key to smartening up everything from political campaigns to baseball teams is now, at its moment of greatest peril, without data.

This is a problem.

If you don’t know who has the virus, you can’t see where it is and where it isn’t. If you can’t see where it is, you don’t know how to fight it, except by shutting everything down and telling people to stay away from each other. On the one hand, there are probably a lot of data geeks here who don’t mind being told they can’t go out; on the other, it’s a little odd that the corner of California that gave birth to the data geek was the first in the country to be told it had to take extreme measures to prevent people from killing each other — because there is no data.

* * * * *

It seemed like a good time to call Bill James. James is in some ways the father of the data revolution - or at least the idea that people who have good data, and know how to use it, have a huge advantage over people who don’t. In the early 1970s, he began to marshal data about baseball players, and to argue that Major League Baseball teams didn’t understand the value of their own players, or the wisdom of their strategies. His ideas reached the Oakland A’s, who used them to win lots more games than they should have, given how little money they had to spend on baseball players. I wound up writing a book about this, called “Moneyball,” and James wound up being hired by the Boston Red Sox - who in short order won their first World Series in nearly a century. Now James’s idea has infected every corner of American life, except, oddly, the corner in which this virus is meant to be fought. A kind way to view President Donald Trump’s administration is to think of it as being run about as well as the 1970 Cleveland Indians.

It’s interesting how people are spending the pandemic. James, 70, is staying more or less locked inside his home in Lawrence, Kansas.

“There’s nobody on the streets here,” he said.

“Nobody. The only time I go out is to walk the dog in the morning.”

He’d recently left his job with the Red Sox but thought he might join another team. The virus put a hold on that ambition. Instead he’s using the time he now has on his hands to rethink how to measure the value of a baseball player’s defense, as he thinks the baseball establishment has it wrong. Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame and that fact alone troubles James. Jones was more famous for his defense than James thinks he should have been, because the data on baseball defense, and the ability to analyze it, is inadequate. James is busy building a new metric that will reveal more truth. Thus one consequence of the pandemic is to make it a bit more difficult for Andruw Jones to enter the Hall of Fame.

I asked James a question I’ve been asking lots of people: What are the three things that he’s saddest to have lost?

“The NCAA tournament,” he said, without missing a beat.

“My Jayhawks were the consensus No. 1 team.”

After that he mourned the delay to the start of the baseball season. “That’s going to tear a huge hole in my daily life.”

He rattled off the years that MLB’s season was shortened, by war or strike: 1918, 1919, 1972, 1981, 1994, 1995. A few days earlier he’d put a poll up on Twitter, asking people to predict this year’s Opening Day. He had his own prediction: May 15. More than a thousand people took his poll. All but one thought he was being wildly optimistic.

James has no privileged information about the virus. He reads the news like everyone else.

“It’s hard to distinguish between what is being said responsibly and what’s just being said,” he told me.

But he also has a history of looking at data and deciding to think one thing, even when everyone else is thinking another, and being proved right.

“I have four reasons for thinking what I think,” he said.

First, warm weather might deaden the virus’s spread.

Second, the global medical research community might prove surprisingly resourceful.

“I believe we will find medicine that will combat this more quickly than most people seem to believe,” he said.

I think most people have the sense not to pay attention to the rules that don’t make sense to pay attention to, and so doctors will be doing more freelancing and we’re going to start hearing people say, ‘I’ve got a medicine that works.’”

Third, he thought that the country with the best testing data had the most accurate view of the disease. And that it was possible that a huge number of Americans have it now, or have had it, without really knowing it.

“If 30% of the population has already been exposed to this then that number will go to 70% in two weeks,” James said.

Assuming that having the disease left you with immunity to it, the crisis would then be as good as over, and baseball could begin.

“What’s the fourth reason to your argument?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “There’s another reason, but being an old person I can’t remember what it was.”

“What’s the third thing you are saddest about having lost?” I asked.

“I had a goal of going to lunch with a friend 100 times this year. That’s not going to happen.”

I said goodbye to Bill James and checked our local news site. Berkeleyside, it is called, and it is suddenly the go-to place for the news that matters most. An hour earlier, the site reported, an 80-year-old Berkeley man had tested positive for the virus. His girlfriend (!) said that the man hadn’t gone anywhere for a long time. But he had, a few days earlier, shopped for his groceries at our local Safeway. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 17:00

Pandemic: The Invention Of A Disease Called Fear

zerohedge News pandemic invention disease called fear All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Pandemic: The Invention Of A Disease Called Fear

Authored by Julain Rose via Counterpunch.org,

The word ‘pandemic’ bears a similarity to the word ‘panic’ and indeed ‘pandemonium’. In fact ‘pandemic’ evokes an almost instant flush of fear in those easily manipulated by mass media, before any details have even touched the surface or context in which the word is being used.

Those who plan the major moves

Read More
on the chess-board of covert human control know that by leading with the word ‘pandemic’ they have an instantly effective weapon at their disposal to psychologically weaken the resistance of individuals vulnerable to irrational and impressionistic mindsets.

So, in a world heavily conditioned by the proclamations of the mass media, the fear weapon has huge psychological power.

As we have all witnessed over the past months, the Coronavirus story has been unleashed with barely contained lascivious delight by news media under orders from the purveyors of malevolent missions against mankind. Pumped-up to maximum volume and dispersed globally, the deliberately designed fear message has the instant effect of making the majority of people feel powerless. The Big problem is at large – and we the people feel small. This is the beginning of entrapment which colors every aspect of daily life.

Most of humanity has undergone a process of education which depends for its effectiveness on the perceived power of some ‘authority’ to exert an unquestioned controlling influence over the general direction of life. A source of influence that depends for its continuing effectiveness on never being subjected to rational scrutiny, or genuine examination of any kind. Such is the beguiling power of full-on indoctrination.

In the battle now raging for ‘who controls the world’, some of the largely hidden or disguised controlling agents of planetary life – are now appearing on the surface. And that’s why chaos and fear are very much ‘flavor of the month’. The Corona Contagion is chock full of idiosyncrasies; in fact, there are so many nonsensical factors associated with media attempts to report on what’s going on, that one can only feel dazed and confused should one try and follow the script in real-time.

However, what has become all too clear is the fact that large numbers of people are being herded – and are not resisting. The scare tactics being employed are more dangerous than the virus that is the excuse for deploying them. Under this induced state of psychosis, all manner of tricks can be perpetrated on mankind – and that is precisely what we are witnessing at this time.

Many reading this will already be familiar with the ambitions of the controlling deep state ‘elite’ and will know that a pre-planned phase of social and economic chaos is a key factor in their attempted roll-out of totalitarian New World Order. We are now in this phase. Its success depends upon a large body of people following the instructions passed down by the political puppets of the deep state and by the cowardly repetition of these instructions by the mainstream media.

Once again, the fear card plays a key role. This time, in keeping a constant level of anxiety and hysteria on the boil, while working to ensure that those able to recognize the true nature of the scam are coerced into not stepping out of line, thereby risking their job, security or status within the rigidly enforced master/slave relationship of the status quo.

The whole sick edifice maintains its momentum based upon pure top-down deception and exploitation. Yet those at the receiving end largely choose to remain oblivious of the fact that they are being used and abused for the benefit of a fascist ideal. By not rebelling in the face of such treatment – but instead by complying with it – a mute populace establishes the basis of its own debasement and slavery.

These methods have been practiced over and over again in the history of the world, and each time hind-sight reveals the motivation to have been an obsession with power and control, and the perpetrators to be a small number of psychopathic despots. Whether taking the form of military might, religious dogma or modern-day corporate and banking control freaks, provided the drama has been well stage-managed and the ‘might has produced fright’, the hegemons get their way.

How well is the roll-out being stage-managed on this occasion – and what is the plan?

Owing to the trans-planetary link-ups that take place today, the ‘master plan’ is no longer a regional or national affair, but a global one. The main players have hatched the plot long before any of us get to know about it and gatherings like the Davos Economic Summit and Bildergerger meetings are used to gain consensus on the timing and methods to be deployed.

In the case of Covid-19, its appearance on the scene – or at least the spreading of the story about something nasty going under this name – is timed to divert attention from the speeding-up of the installation of what are deemed to be important spokes in the creation of a totalitarian New World Order. For example, the roll-out of 5G microwave modulated WiFi; a digitalised smart grid and ‘internet of things’; a robotic transport system; facial recognition population surveillance programmes; new strains of genetically modified organisms and vaccines, and so forth. However, the predominant game plan is to ‘re-set’ global finance so as to appear to be supporting the euphemistically named Green New Deal with its holy grail ‘Zero Carbon’.

The fact that China has likely been the initial bio-weapon target, does not detract from a more widespread aim to disrupt the world economy as a whole.

The effectiveness of this disruption depends upon the greater part of the populus being swept along in a bubble of blind belief in the authenticity of the ‘virtual’ story line. A line which disguises the very actual imposition of a fascist state.

I would say that the stage-management is pretty poor this time around. The plethora of contradictory and irrational clamp-down actions being imposed in the name of containing the bogey bug stretches the credibility of the operation to the braking point. In point of fact it’s a farce; but a farce which involves actual deaths and the support of a police state, cannot simply be laughed-off.

Instead, it can be put under the spotlight and be seen for what it is, a planned manipulation of the people and resources of this planet, whose main goading-tool consists of the well-rehearsed art of spreading fear and panic. And this, in turn, to undermine the rational and common sense based gift which we have all been blessed with from birth, and which – when in good order – can clearly see through the facade and hold the line of reason and truth.

Many have seen this ‘order out of chaos’ drama coming for years. The chaos bit is with us right now and very visible. The ‘order’ is to follow and consists in the emergence of a peacemaker – or peace plan – that involves the lead croupiers raking the chips off the roulette board and cashing them into their temporary satisfaction. Thus allowing for a little holiday period in which the weak-kneed can rejoice at their survival and bless the emergence of the ‘new order’, under the authority of no matter who or what, so long as they can believe that the world has been saved from anarchy and ruin.

Every one of us whose knees have not turned to jelly and whose brains have not turned to mind-controlled pulp must take this moment to declare ourselves, boldly and resolutely with these four words “We do not consent”.

There’s a surprise in store for the cowardly imposers of chaos – it is our time that’s coming and – not theirs. For ours is the True World Order which aligns with Universal Law, not the false laws of a manipulated status quo.

It is our re-emergent marriage with Universal Truth that is going to oust this scare loaded pandemic and all similar manifestations of dark-side deception that have gripped this planet for far too long. Our true-world-order is going to take on this obsessed and demonic dynasty, so that it stumbles, falls and fails to rise again.

Seize this auspicious moment – and let us be joined as one in an unwavering commitment to get off our knees and stand firm in the cause of defeating the ghosts of chaos and fear.

Tyler Durden

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 22:05

It's time to track people's smartphones to ensure they self-isolate during this global pandemic, says WHO boffin

logicfish Security time track peoples smartphones ensure they self-isolate during this global pandemic says boffin All https://go.theregister.co.uk   Discuss    Share
Suspected carriers need to stay home – and we should use their phones to monitor them, we're told

Tracking the movements of suspected COVID-19 coronavirus carriers has proved an essential tool in controlling the pandemic, according to Professor Marylouise McLaws.…


A 'Made-In-China' Pandemic

zerohedge News made-in-china pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
A 'Made-In-China' Pandemic

Authored by Brahma Chellaney via Project Syndicate,

The new COVID-19 coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries – bringing social disruption, economic damage, sickness, and death – largely because authorities in China, where it emerged, initially suppressed information about it. And yet China is now acting as if its decision not to limit exports of active pharmaceutical ingred

Read More
ients (APIs) and medical supplies – of which it is the dominant global supplier – was a principled and generous act worthy of the world’s gratitude.

When the first clinical evidence of a deadly new virus emerged in Wuhan, Chinese authorities failed to warn the public for weeks and harassed, reprimanded, and detained those who did. This approach is no surprise: China has a long history of “killing” the messenger. Its leaders covered up severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus, for over a month after it emerged in 2002, and held the doctor who blew the whistle in military custody for 45 days. SARS ultimately affected more than 8,000 people in 26 countries.

This time around, the Communist Party of China’s proclivity for secrecy was reinforced by President Xi Jinping’s eagerness to be perceived as an in-control strongman, backed by a fortified CPC. But, as with the SARS epidemic, China’s leaders could keep it under wraps for only so long. Once Wuhan-linked COVID-19 cases were detected in Thailand and South Korea, they had little choice but to acknowledge the epidemic.

About two weeks after Xi rejected scientists’ recommendation to declare a state of emergency, the government announced heavy-handed containment measures, including putting millions on lockdown. But it was too late: many thousands of Chinese were already infected with COVID-19, and the virus was rapidly spreading internationally. US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has said that China’s initial cover-up “probably cost the world community two months to respond,” exacerbating the global outbreak.

Beyond the escalating global health emergency, which has already killed thousands, the pandemic has disrupted normal trade and travel, forced many school closures, roiled the international financial system, and sunk global stock markets. With oil prices plunging, a global recession appears imminent.

None of this would have happened had China responded quickly to evidence of the deadly new virus by warning the public and implementing containment measures. Indeed, Taiwan and Vietnam have shown the difference a proactive response can make.

Taiwan, learning from its experience with SARS, instituted preventive measures, including flight inspections, before China’s leaders had even acknowledged the outbreak. Likewise, Vietnam quickly halted flights from China and closed all schools. Both responses recognized the need for transparency, including updates on the number and location of infections and public advisories on how to guard against COVID-19.

Thanks to their governments’ policies, both Taiwan and Vietnam – which normally receive huge numbers of travelers from China daily – have kept total cases under 50. Neighbors that were slower to implement similar measures, such as Japan and South Korea, have been hit much harder.

If any other country had triggered such a far-reaching, deadly, and above all preventable crisis, it would now be a global pariah. But China, with its tremendous economic clout, has largely escaped censure. Nonetheless, it will take considerable effort for Xi’s regime to restore its standing at home and abroad.

Perhaps that is why China’s leaders are publicly congratulating themselves for not limiting exports of medical supplies and APIs used to make medicines, vitamins, and vaccines. If China decided to ban such exports to the United States, the state-run news agency Xinhua recently noted, the US would be “plunged into a mighty sea of coronavirus.” China, the article implies, would be justified in taking such a step. It would simply be retaliating against “unkind” US measures taken after COVID-19’s emergence, such as restricting entry to the US by Chinese and foreigners who had visited China. Isn’t the world lucky that China is not that petty?

Maybe so. But that is no reason to trust that China will not be petty in the future. After all, China’s leaders have a record of halting other strategic exports (such as rare-earth minerals) to punish countries that defied them.

Moreover, this is not the first time China has considered weaponizing its dominance in global medical supplies and APIs. Last year, Li Daokui, a prominent Chinese economist, suggested curtailing Chinese API exports to the US as a countermeasure in the trade war.

“Once the export is reduced,” Li noted, “the medical systems of some developed countries will not work.”

That is no exaggeration. A US Department of Commerce study found that 97% of all antibiotics sold in the US come from China.

“If you’re the Chinese and you want to really just destroy us,” Gary Cohn, former chief economic adviser to US President Donald Trump, observed last year, “just stop sending us antibiotics.”

If the specter of China exploiting its pharmaceutical clout for strategic ends were not enough to make the world rethink its cost-cutting outsourcing decisions, the unintended disruption of global supply chains by COVID-19 should be. In fact, China has had no choice but to fall behind in producing and exporting APIs since the outbreak – a development that has constrained global supply and driven up the prices of vital medicines.

That has already forced India, the world’s leading supplier of generic drugs, to restrict its own exports of some commonly used medicines. Almost 70% of the APIs for medicines made in India come from China. If China’s pharmaceutical plants do not return to full capacity soon, severe global medicine shortages will become likely.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the costs of Xi’s increasing authoritarianism. It should be a wake-up call for political and business leaders who have accepted China’s lengthening shadow over global supply chains for far too long. Only by loosening China’s grip on global supply networks – beginning with the pharmaceutical sector – can the world be kept safe from the country’s political pathologies.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 23:00

How The European Union Turned The Coronavirus Into A Pandemic

zerohedge News european union turned coronavirus into pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
How The European Union Turned The Coronavirus Into A Pandemic

Authored by Con Coughlin via The Gatestone Institute,

The emergence of Europe as the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic has as much to do with the European Union's inept handling of the crisis as it does with the resilience of the virus itself.

When the world first learned about the existence of coronavirus in China at the st

Read More
art of the year, the EU's response, like much of the rest of the world's, was to adopt a wait and see approach as to how it developed.

The problem for the EU, though, is that it has maintained this lackadaisical approach long after it became clear that the virus was going to develop into a global, rather than a specifically Chinese, issue. More pertinently, the EU's failure to raise its game, after the rapid spread of the virus resulted in much of Europe coming to a standstill, means that the EU is now trying to play catch-up in terms of asserting a leadership role.

After weeks of prevarication, the EU finally imposed measures to ban travellers from outside the bloc for 30 days. The measure is expected to apply to 26 EU states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The ban will not apply to citizens from the UK and Ireland.

"This is good," commented European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as she announced the new measures earlier on March 18.

"We have a unanimous and united approach [where] the external borders are concerned."

That it has taken until now for the EU to act, when so many major European countries such as France, Italy and Spain are already in lockdown, illustrates the inadequacy of the EU's response to the crisis. It also helps to explain why Europe has replaced Asia as the main epicentre of the pandemic.

By the time Mrs von der Leyen finally got around to announcing at the start of this week that the EU was planning to impose its travel ban, most member states had already taken matters into their own hands and made their own arrangements to restrict border access.

Moreover, by undertaking their own unilateral actions, the decision by some EU member states, such as Austria and the Czech Republic, to specifically ban citizens from other EU states, such as neighbouring Italy, represents a flagrant breach of one of the EU's key founding principles, namely the free movement of its citizens across the borders of other member states.

Consequently, the EU's failure to address the coronavirus issue earlier has resulted in the Schengen Agreement, which stipulates that the citizens of any EU state can travel freely throughout the union, becoming null and void.

The EU's commitment to Schengen was one of the key factors that persuaded U.S. President Donald Trump to impose his initial travel ban on continental Europe, claiming -- correctly -- that the EU was being far too complacent in its response to tackling the virus.

Now, thanks to the EU's ineptitude, the union has entered a new era in which the precedent has been established whereby it is the governments of the various constituent member states, and not Brussels, that decide who can, and who cannot, cross their borders.

The sudden imposition of new border controls in Europe is already having a serious impact on the trading arrangements between different EU member states. This week, for example, trucks trying to enter Poland from Germany have been subjected to a tailback dozens of kilometres long, as Polish border guards insisted on checking the temperatures, health and documentation of drivers seeking to enter the country.

Moreover, the EU's inability to provide effective leadership in terms of responding to the coronavirus challenge has led to an increase in tensions between key member states, tensions that could ultimately threaten the survival of the EU in its current manifestation.

Perhaps the most shameful episode concerning inter-EU relations since the start of the coronavirus outbreak was Germany's refusal to allow the export of much-needed face masks and ventilators to Italy after the Italian government made a direct appeal to the rest of the EU for help. Instead of demonstrating the so-called solidarity that is supposed to underpin the EU's founding ethos, the German government issued a ban on the export of the equipment to Italy.

It was left to the Chinese government to provide the Italians with 31 tons of urgent medical supplies.

The EU's handling of the coronavirus has not just been incompetent. It raises serious questions as to whether it is about to become yet another victim of the deadly pandemic.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 02:00

The U.S. Government Is Preparing For An 18 Month Pandemic And "Critical Shortages"

zerohedge News government preparing month pandemic critical shortages All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
The U.S. Government Is Preparing For An 18 Month Pandemic And "Critical Shortages"

Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com,

Are you prepared for the nationwide shutdown that is happening now to last for the next 18 months?  You may not believe that such a thing will happen, but the federal government apparently does.  A 100 page government plan marked “For Official Use Only // Not For Public Distribution or R

Read More
elease” was obtained by the New York Times, and it paints a very bleak picture of what is coming. 

If the projections in this document are anywhere close to accurate, large numbers of Americans will die, the U.S. economy will completely implode, and we will see widespread civil unrest.  So let us pray that the assessments in this government plan turn out to be dead wrong.

According to the document, this coronavirus pandemic “will last 18 months or longer”…

A federal government plan to combat the coronavirus warned policymakers last week that a pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that would strain consumers and the nation’s health care system.

The 100-page plan, dated Friday, the same day President Trump declared a national emergency, laid out a grim prognosis for the spread of the virus and outlined a response that would activate agencies across the government and potentially employ special presidential powers to mobilize the private sector.

I can’t even imagine what our country would look like if current conditions stretched into the middle of 2021.

As a nation, I don’t believe that we would be able to handle it.

The document also envisions that there will be “critical shortages”…

“Shortages of products may occur, impacting health care, emergency services, and other elements of critical infrastructure,” the plan warned. “This includes potentially critical shortages of diagnostics, medical supplies (including PPE and pharmaceuticals), and staffing in some locations.” P.P.E. refers to personal protective equipment.

Of course there are already shortages of some drugs and of many basic consumer products such as toilet paper.

Sadly, things could soon get much worse.

Meanwhile, the overall economy continues to collapse at a staggering pace.  A former economic adviser to President Trump is now warning us that the U.S. economy could lose up to a million jobs this month alone…

Kevin Hassett, who served as a top economic adviser to President Trump until last summer, said Monday that the United States economy could shed as many as one million jobs in March alone because of layoffs and hiring freezes related to the coronavirus.

“If you have normal job disruption, and hiring just stops,” Mr. Hassett said, “you’ll have the worst jobs number ever.”

But if this pandemic continues to escalate, a million jobs lost will just be a drop in the bucket.

In fact, the National Restaurant Association is now projecting that their industry will lose “between five and seven million jobs”…

The National Restaurant Association is predicting the unprecedented carnage is only just beginning, on Wednesday writing a letter to the White House and Congress detailing an estimated $225 billion in sales will be wiped out over the next three months, crucially prompting the loss of between five and seven million jobs.

Remember, that is just one industry.

The retail industry is also being completely devastated as well, and we just learned that the largest operator of shopping malls in the United States is shutting them all down…

Simon Property Group, the largest owner of shopping malls in the nation, is closing all of its malls and retail properties because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The closings start at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday and the malls are expected to end March 29, the Indianapolis-based company said in a news release.

Of course they won’t actually open back up on March 29th if this pandemic continues to get worse.

So far, COVID-19 has killed less than 200 Americans.

If our society is being this disrupted now, what will things be like if the death toll becomes 1,000 times larger?

For years, I have warned that our economy was extremely vulnerable, and now that is becoming exceedingly obvious to everyone.  It certainly didn’t take too much of a push to burst all the bubbles and send everyone into a severe panic, and now the economy is collapsing at a pace that is absolutely breathtaking.

According to NBC News, state unemployment websites all over the nation are crashing because so many people are suddenly applying for unemployment benefits…

Workers who have suddenly found themselves without a paycheck because of the growing coronavirus pandemic in the United States are now dealing with another frustration — state unemployment websites crashing because of high traffic.

From Oregon to New York and Washington, D.C., officials and Twitter users have highlighted the problem after the mass closing of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses as part of the effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Tomorrow morning most Americans will wake up assuming that their jobs are safe.  But right now an increasing number of people are being let go without any advance warning whatsoever.  Here is one example…

Eileen Hanley was wrapping up her weekend and getting ready for the week ahead on Sunday evening when an email popped up in her inbox with the subject line “COVID-19 uncertainty.” It was from her boss at the small Manhattan law firm where she worked part time as a receptionist.

“We hope you are feeling well during this time,” the email began. Then it cut to the chase: The firm was losing revenue because of the outbreak, and it would have to eliminate “a number of positions,” including hers, “effective immediately.”

We have never seen anything like this before.

Things were tough during World War II, but it was actually a time when the country geared up and worked extremely hard to defeat the enemy.

But now economic activity all over America is being brought to a screeching halt.  In fact, we just learned that the three largest automakers have shut down all of their U.S. factories…

Detroit’s Big Three automakers plan to temporarily close all U.S. factories as the coronavirus sweeps across the country.

The companies bowed to pressure from union leaders and employees who called for protection from the pandemic that’s spread to more than 212,000 people in nearly every country across the globe.

As a nation, we would survive a 30 day shutdown.

But if life doesn’t get back to normal for “18 months”, we are going to witness a societal meltdown of epic proportions.

This week, investor Bill Ackman told CNBC that “hell is coming”, and he warned that unless the entire country is shut down simultaneously for an extended period of time “America will end as we know it”…

“What’s scaring the American people and corporate America now is the gradual rollout,” Ackman told Scott Wapner on “Halftime Report” on Wednesday. “We need to shut it down now. … This is the only answer.”

“America will end as we know it. I’m sorry to say so, unless we take this option,” he said. Ackman added that if Trump saves the country from the coronavirus, he will get reelected in November.

I believe that he makes an excellent point, but I would take it one step further.

If the entire world shut down for 30 days, this pandemic would quickly be brought under control.  If only the U.S. shuts down, it is inevitable that the virus would keep coming back into the country as the pandemic continues raging elsewhere on the globe.

Of course we aren’t going to get the entire globe to agree to shut down simultaneously for 30 days.

So this outbreak will continue to spread and the case numbers will continue to grow.

For a long time I have been warning that something would come along that would burst all the bubbles and trigger a horrifying economic meltdown.

Now it is upon us, but now is not a time for fear.

With God’s help, we will get through this.

But life is not going to go back to the way it was before.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 14:10

US Army Halts Deployment Of Troops And Tanks To NATO's War Game Due To Pandemic Threat 

zerohedge News army halts deployment troops tanks natos game pandemic threat All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
US Army Halts Deployment Of Troops And Tanks To NATO's War Game Due To Pandemic Threat 

 NATO was on the cusp of initiating a massive war drill called Defender-Europe 20. The 40,000 solider war game would have included 20,000 US troops and accompanied by heavy weaponry but was called off on Monday amid the Covid-19 outbreak across Europe.

"As of March 13, all movement of personnel and equipment from the United States

Read More
to Europe has ceased. The health, safety, and readiness of our military, civilians, and family members is our primary concern," US Army European Command said in a press release.

The exercise would've been the most massive deployment of US troops to Europe since the 1983 Operation Re-forger exercise at the height of the Cold War.

US Army European Command said, "many details still being worked and discussed with our Allies and partners." With a scaled-down exercise, the Army still "anticipates the armored brigade combat team already deployed to Europe will conduct gunnery and other combined training events with Allies as part of a modified Allied Spirit exercise."

The release said, "forces already deployed to Europe for other linked exercises will return to the United States."

We noted at the initial stages of Defender 20 at the Strategic Command Centre in Nebraska, with participation from US Defense Sect. Esper last month, conducted computer simulations of nuclear war between the US and Russia.

The biggest war drill in decades was set to take place after the nuclear war simulation against Russia. Simultaneously, a Covid-19 pandemic is sweeping across Europe and crashing the global economy. Talk about unprecedented times… 

So why did NATO pull the plug on the full-scale drill at the very last minute?

The reason could be due to large troop movements across Europe that would've led to a further spread of the virus. 

NATO could've been on the verge of an armed conflict with Russia, positioning troops and armored vehicles, under the guise of an exercise. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 03/18/2020 - 02:45
0 View

zerohedge News Editorial   Discuss    Share

Panic & The Pandemic: Is There A Better Approach?

zerohedge News panic pandemic there better approach All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Panic & The Pandemic: Is There A Better Approach?

Via Cliff Mass Weather blog,

Our society is now transitioning into panic about the coronavirus.

Universities and schools are being shuttered, sports activities and public gatherings are being cancelled, individuals are hoarding toilet paper and supplies, travel is being severely constrained, the stock market has crashed, and business activity is nose-di

Read More
ving.  Major businesses are forcing their employees to work at home.

This blog will try to summarize the coronavirus threat, suggest that some of the panic-driven actions may not be well-founded, and that there may be a far better, more effective approach to deal with the virus.

Before I begin, let me note two things.   I am not a medical doctor, epidemiologist,  or viral expert. But I am a scientist with some facility with statistics and data, and my specialty, weather prediction, is all about helping people react appropriately to estimates of risk.  And I have talked to a number of doctors about this issue.  But don't read any more if my background bothers you.

How Bad is the Situation Today?

If one steps back and looks at the actual numbers, particularly against other threats we face, the situation is far less apocalyptic than some are suggesting.   As of today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes 1215 cases and 36 deaths in the U.S. since January 1.  This is a very, very small percentage of the U.S.  population of 331 million.   The number of U.S. cases no longer appears to be going up rapidly, as noted by the latest CDC graphic (see below).  Note the drop after the peak in early March.

In China, where the problem started, the number of cases is rapidly declining (see below).

According to Washington State's Department of Health, the state has had 457 coronavirus cases and 31 deaths.  Most (23) of the death's in Washington have been limited to one nursing facility in Kirkland with a large number of elderly, chronically ill patients.  In fact, according to the NY Times, this facility would typically lose 5 patients a month.

This facility also represents about 50 of the coronavirus cases in Washington, since several first responders and staff were sickened (with no fatalities) due to exposure at this site.    In many ways, the Kirkland facility represented an unfortunate random event--the random exposure of a group of extremely vulnerable patients.    If this random exposure had not happened, Washington State would probably not be getting headlines as a center for this virus outbreak.

An extremely important element of this coronavirus outbreak is that it hardly sickens young people, and healthy individuals of middle age or younger generally do not face a life-threatening illness.  To illustrate, here is the age distribution of cases in King County.   Few folks under 40 are sickened and none of them died.  The problem is with the sick and elderly.  This age distribution is going to be very, very important.  Similar statistics are found in China.

There are undoubtedly many, many cases of coronavirus infection in the younger, healthier members of society, many of which are not aware of their infection.  But without testing, we don't really know other than by indirect statistical approaches.  Thus, the "death rates" are clearly far too high, and highly deceptive.

Comparison to the Flu

It is important to note that the coronavirus numbers are extraordinarily smaller than those of the flu.

Below is a flu graphic I got from CDC and added the coronavirus cases (see the gray dot).  In fact, the gray dot should be much smaller.   For example, we had 36 coronavirus deaths nationally so far compared to 61,000 flu deaths in 2017-2018.  45 million cases that year compared to 1200 coronavirus cases so far this year.  In WA state, 75 have died of flu through the end of February and several years have brought 200- 300 deaths from influenza.

Coronavirus is not even in the same league as flu, which also kills the youngest among us. We did not close down universities, businesses, and more for flu.

Interestingly, many who are panicking about the coronavirus today, refused to get a flu shot in past years, or to practice reasonable hygiene when flu is around  (e.g., washing hands carefully).  Coronavirus is also not in the same league as auto accidents, which kill 1.25 millions a year (3287 deaths a day), with 25-50 million injured or disabled for the worldwide statistics, while about 38,000 die in the U.S. each year from auto wrecks.

Are our political leaders shutting down society for the flu or stopping auto travel because of deaths on the roadway? The answer is no.  So why are they willing to close down society to deal with the coronavirus, which has represented only a small smaller risk to the general population?  Life is full of risks that must be considered, mitigated, and dealt with.  But society must continue to function.

Poor Response and Lack of Testing

As the virus began to spread in China, the U.S. needed to develop a coherent plan for understanding and dealing with the crisis.  This did not happen.   President Trump probably made the right call about cutting off travel to China, but the lack of coherent planning beyond that is apparent.  The lack of testing is a major failure of his administration and others.

A key capability is to develop sufficient testing resources to determine the progression of the disease in the U.S.  This was sorely lacking, and the flawed testing developed by the CDC was one example of it.  Other countries have tested vastly greater numbers of individuals.  Importantly, the U.S. has not begun randomly test the general population to determine the extent of spread among U.S. residents.

The Extreme Cost of the Current "Social Distancing" Approach

Currently, the "social distancing" approach is being stressed by politicians and others.   The idea is that by canceling schools and large public gatherings, coupled with workers working online from home, there will be a reduction of coronavirus community spread, reducing the peak in the number of cases and put less stress on the limited resources of the medical community.  This is illustrated by the figures below.  You notice the number of cases doesn't change (the area under the curve).  And it has another issue:  it greatly extends the period in which society is affected by the disease.

The cost of social distancing is immense, something many politicians do not seem to have thought through.  The stock market is in free fall, the economy is tanking, colleges are poorly educating their students through questionable online learning, K-12 students aren't being taught, business is contracting, and workers are losing salaries and being laid off.  The lowest income folks are hurt worst, making "social distancing" highly regressive.   I have read estimates that that the world economy could lose trillions of dollars and that recession is now becoming more likely in the U.S.  

Social distancing may be attractive for  a short period to slow the virus, but in the end it is not sustainable.  It is also inefficient.  In an attempt to prevent the virus from getting to elderly people with health problems, a huge population that does not have the disease or unlikely to get very sick from it is restrained from normal activity.  Something more effective is needed, something I would call "smart quarantine."  More on that later.

A number of the local politicians and others have been motivated to try massive social distancing based on a modeling study completed by several local researchers, suggesting only extreme social distancing can prevent a massive increase in cases and up to 400 deaths in our region.  This is a relatively simple model approach, which from my reading does not consider the variation of death rate with age, or the varying social interactions with age.  It assumes a uniform death rate of 1.6 %.   I think it would be useful to test an alternative strategy, based mainly on testing those that are not ill, and removing those people from social interaction.

Media, Politicians, and the Web:  How and why they can promote panic

The tendency for stampeding the population into panic and promoting actions that are in the end counterproductive is a real risk of the current political and media landscape.

For politicians, there is the potential for endless attention, with opportunities to give sober pronouncements and promote increasingly harsh measures.  Resources become freely available from a worried citizenry.  And the situation provides fuel to attack political foes, as is apparent with the attacks on Trump for virtually every action he takes (and some have been reasonable, like the China ban).  That said, President Trump is certainly guilty of underplaying the seriousness of the situation and providing inaccurate information.  The lack of testing is a massive failure.  There is, however, plenty of bipartisan blame to go around for ineffective responses.

For the media, the situation is a bonanza, with huge increases in attention, which promotes more "clicks" and revenue. An increasingly isolated and home-bound populace is glued to the constant media barrage, promoting fear and anxiety.

A highly connected population, unlike any population before, is unable to escape the incessant coronavirus coverage that is constantly featuring the latest death and shut-down.

Another Way

So it there another way to deal with the coronavirus epidemic that could be more effective and far less cost to society?  I suspect there is.   This approach would take advantage of several unique and new aspects of the current situation:

  • The fact that young and healthy people, the bulwark of our nation's productive capacity, are only minimally affected by the coronavirus.

  • That most of the mortality is among the sick and elderly.

  • That the technology to test millions of individuals quickly is available.

Perhaps these facts allow us to deal with the situation in a dramatically new way.  If a rational actor was running the response, perhaps they would:

1.   Protect the most vulnerable with all available resources.  All nursing facilities, retirement homes, and the like would be essentially quarantined, with all patients and staff tested for the virus, with those testing positive isolated from the remainder.  All visitors would have to be tested.  All individuals who are over 60 and possessing serious health problems would be asked to self-quarantine, with food and other assistance provided to allow them to reduce contact with the outside community.

2.  Extensive random testing of the general population would be initiated, with millions of tests available for this purpose.  Such general testing would allow a determination of the extent of COVID-19 spread and the isolation of affected individuals and their close associates.  This is what I call "smart quarantine"-- the use of massive testing to identify the carriers and currently sick and to take them out of circulation.

3.  A fund to provide salaries for quarantined individuals would be initiated.  This would encourage all individuals to be tested and encourage financially marginal individuals to isolate themselves.

4.  Social distancing would end and all schools reopened within a month..   It is poor public policy to cripple education and the productive capacity of individuals that are the bulwark of the U.S. economy, particularly since most of them are not at risk for serious impacts of the coronavirus.  Sustained social distancing is not a long term solution.

5.  Federal grants will be initiated to support additional hospital costs, the acquisition of additional medical supplies and equipment, and the huge testing program.

This measures would help pull the nation back from the brink of economic disaster, effectively restrain the crisis, and restore normal life to most individuals.

The American people have a long history of panicking when they are threatened, at enormous financial and human cost.  After 9/11, the American people agreed to loss of privacy and civil liberties, and allowed a tragic invasion of Iraq.  And after the attack on Pearl Harbor, fears of a third column led to the internment and loss of liberty of over 100,000 Japanese Americans.   Hopefully, fears of coronavirus won't lead to the unnecessary destruction of our economy and the undermining of the prospects of many Americans.  A creative solution to this crisis may be possible, acting as  bridge to the situation a year from now when hopefully a vaccine will be available.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 22:05

Mayor Of Florence Encouraged Italians To "Hug A Chinese" Before Pandemic Hit

zerohedge News mayor florence encouraged italians chinese before pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Mayor Of Florence Encouraged Italians To "Hug A Chinese" Before Pandemic Hit

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

The Mayor of Florence is facing fresh criticism after he encouraged Italians to “Hug a Chinese” as a stand against racism before Italy was later forced to quarantine its entire country because of the coronavirus.

The story is yet another illustration of how political co

Read More
rrectness can actually sometimes be dangerous if not fatal.

Italy is now under a complete lockdown after the country was ravaged by coronavirus. Current figures show over 12,000 recorded infections with 827 deaths.

Many observers have criticized Italy’s left-wing government for not taking tougher measures earlier, but their reaction was significantly less embarrassing than how Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella responded to the outbreak.

Back in February, as the first cases of coronavirus were being recorded in Italy, Nardella launched an anti-racism hashtag campaign which translates as “hug a Chinese.”

“Half-empty Chinese restaurants, suspicious looks when you meet a Chinese on the street – maybe born and raised in Italy – psychosis when the bus neighbor sneezes, this is the effect of Coronavirus on the Italian population,” reported Newsly.it.

A video shows a Chinese man wearing a blindfold and a face mask in Florence asking for hugs. Numerous people embrace the man while some physically remove his blindfold and mask.

The Mayor even released a Twitter video of himself hugging an awkward-looking Chinese person to promote the campaign, which was launched to “stem the hatred” and “express solidarity with the Chinese community.”

Suffice to say Nardella is a member of the left-wing Democratic Party in Italy.

One wonders if he sees the empty streets in Florence and ponders whether his absurd campaign contributed to the current state of Italy.

*  *  *

My voice is being silenced by free speech-hating Silicon Valley behemoths who want me disappeared forever. It is CRUCIAL that you support me. Please sign up for the free newsletter here. Donate to me on SubscribeStar here. vSupport my sponsor – Emergency Survival Foods – delicious dishes & a 25 year shelf life!

Tyler Durden

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 09:05

Caterpillar Machine Sales Plunge Most In Three Years As Pandemic Paralyzes Heavy Industries

zerohedge News caterpillar machine sales plunge most three years pandemic paralyzes heavy industries All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Caterpillar Machine Sales Plunge Most In Three Years As Pandemic Paralyzes Heavy Industries

Just in case the world needed yet another confirmation the world's manufacturing industries, primarily construction and mining, are grinding to a halt, it got one late on Thursday when Caterpillar reported that in February its global machine sales suffered their biggest drop since December 2016.

The report, which covers

Read More
the first full month when the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed China's economy and was rapidly spreading across the rest of the world "underlines how the coronavirus outbreak is putting a drag on the industries that Caterpillar supplies" according to Bloomberg. While the North American region posted another double digit drop, declining from -11% in January to -12% in February, it was Asia that was hit the hardest, tumbling from a modest, -2% drop in January to a whopping -17% in February, the biggest decline in four years.

As Bloomberg further notes, the downbeat mood in the heavy manufacturing industry permeated ConExpo, the largest construction convention in North America. In remarks at the Las Vegas gathering this week, which surprisingly has not been canceled, Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said the coronavirus hasn’t yet caused major supply snags, and the company was focusing on executing the plan set in place when he first took over as CEO. In other words, the real fall in retail sales is yet to come, and may be why Umpleby didn’t offer much detail on how the worldwide move to stamp out the virus will change prospects for the business.

"Our guidance was based on the best information that we had at the time, and if we have any changes to that we’ll do it when we put out our first-quarter results," Umpleby told Bloomberg in an interview. Translation: expect CAT to pull its entire 2020 guidance in the coming days.

Fears about the virus’s impact on global growth have helped send shares of the economic bellwether down 38% this year, off to its worst start since 2009.

But the worst is yet to come, because the coronavirus is not even the company's biggest threat: the sudden Saudi oil price war is. CAT reported that oil and gas retail sales fell just 3% (a sixth straight month of declines in the segment), however with the industry now frozen with virtually no new exploration for the foreseeable future, we expect this CAT vertical to plummet to zero next month. Trying to put some lipstick on the pig, CFO Andrew Bonfield said Wednesday that oil-market tumult from the past week will impact the oil and gas business, but said that it’s still too early to tell how strong that may be.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 23:05

And Then Came The Lawsuits: Pandemic In A Litigious Society

zerohedge News then came lawsuits pandemic litigious society All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
And Then Came The Lawsuits: Pandemic In A Litigious Society

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

This is the upside of hyper-litigiousness: prevention is prioritized as the most effective means of limiting future liability.

Never mind prevention or vaccines; the big question is "who can we sue after this blows over to rake in millions of dollars?" Yes, this is pathetic, tragic,

Read More
perverse and evil, but that's reality in a hyper-litigious society like the U.S.

Many people are struck by the apparent over-reaction of Corporate America to the Covid-19 threat, but this is the only rational response in a hyper-litigious society: the number one priority in a hyper-litigious society is to limit liability. Everything--and yes, we mean everything--flows from this obsessive concern with limiting future liability.

Imagine the lawsuit brought by an employee of Corporate America who could have worked from home but was ordered by her employer to come to the workplace, and who was subsequently infected by the virus.

The corporation's defense team would naturally claim there was no evidence the employee caught the virus at work, but alas, one employee in the building was confirmed as a carrier of Covid-19, so that defense won't work: the employee could have been infected by this other employee in the workplace, and lacking any solid evidence to the contrary, it's clear the company failed to protect its employees from exposure to the virus by forcing employees to work in a virus-infected work place when they could have worked from home.

By forcing an employee who could have worked from home to come to the office, the company is liable for damages. Multiply this case by thousands, and it's easy to see why Corporate America has proactively moved so aggressively to a "work at home" policy and why corporate legal, HR and risk management teams are quickly issuing press releases and internal memos stressing all the measures the company is taking to lower the risks for employees and customers.

Future court cases will likely come down to basic tests, such as: did the corporation act promptly, prudently and in good faith? Did it pursue its preventative policies rigorously, or in a piecemeal, slapdash manner? Did the management quickly correct flawed execution, or did management fail to provide the necessary oversight, accountability and problem-solving to address the flawed execution of preventative measures? Did the company follow accepted industry protocols and standards? Did it make every available practical effort to reduce the risks to employees and customers?

If the measures are practical, coherent and applied consistently, this is a good thing. In prevention against a highly contagious virus, half-measures and window-dressing will not be effective: the execution of preventative measures must be 100%.

Thus it would be prudent to instruct all employees to wear masks, wash their hands often, conduct digital-online meetings, limit company gatherings, hire crews to regularly disinfect company facilities, etc. Companies that fail to impose and promote preventative policies and execute preventative measures uniformly will be opening Pandora's Door to lawsuits that could stretch on for years.

This is the upside of hyper-litigiousness: prevention is prioritized as the most effective means of limiting future liability. The downside--extortionist lawsuits seeking quick out-of-court settlements as the cheaper way out of costly litigation--is an ugly reality of conducting commerce in America. But the upside--practical preventative policies that impose "social distancing" and high standards of personal hygiene and the regular disinfecting of common areas--could have a profound impact in lowering the spread of the virus.

*  *  *

My recent books:

Audiobook edition now available:
Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World ($13)
(Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 20:45

On International Women's Day, Topless French Protesters Blast "Patriarchal Pandemic"

zerohedge News international womens topless french protesters blast patriarchal pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
On International Women's Day, Topless French Protesters Blast "Patriarchal Pandemic"

While most coronavirus-related headlines bring disappointing news about new infections and deaths, every once and a while, we get a respite from the constant gloom and doom.

On Monday, that brief reprieve came courtesy of Femen, the infamous international feminist group that has a very specific - and memorable - MO: Its members pose topless, often with their 'm

Read More
essage' scrawled sloppily painted across their chests.

As the coronavirus spreads across the world, it appears the 'Women’s Rights' campaigners - who have never set foot in Saudi Arabia, as far as we are aware, preferring to protest only in relatively open western countries - have tweaked their methods slightly: Armed with rubber gloves, purple smoke and exposed breasts, the 'Femen' went out to symbolically cleanse Paris streets of the "patriarchy virus", before being shooed away by the police.

The performance was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day on Sunday, which, as several twitter wits noted, happened to fall on the "shortest day of the year, the only day with 23 hours in it thanks to the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (which is now officially sexist)."

Some 40 protesters wearing plastic coveralls, rubber gloves and protective glasses – but nothing on their chests bar slogans in accordance with their whole schtick – mobbed the Paris’ Place de la Concorde.

Chanting feminist slogans, they fired purple smoke sticks and doused the ground using portable sprayers to wash away the patriarchy virus as they said they were more interested in fighting the "epidemic" of violence against women (for context: violent crimes against women across the world are at their lowest levels in history).

But we're glad to see the femen are finally doing their part to help inject a bit of levity into the unceasing torrent of misery.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 03/10/2020 - 02:45

"Pandemic Proportions": COVID-19 Is Starting To Spiral Out Of Control All Over The Globe

zerohedge News pandemic proportions covid-19 starting spiral control over globe All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
"Pandemic Proportions": COVID-19 Is Starting To Spiral Out Of Control All Over The Globe

Authored by Michael Snyder via TheMostImportantNews.com,

This is already the most frightening virus outbreak that we have seen in the past several decades, and it appears that it is just getting started. 

A week ago, there were about 3,000 confirmed cases outside of China and now there ar

Read More
e more than 10,000.  4,812 cases have been confirmed in South Korea, 2,036 cases have been confirmed in Italy, and 1,501 cases have been confirmed in Iran at this point.  Of course by the time you actually read this article those numbers are likely to be significantly higher.  It is like we are watching a really bad Hollywood disaster movie play out right in front of our eyes, and so far every effort to contain this virus has failed.  On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci stunned many people when he told NBC News that COVID-19 has likely reached “pandemic proportions”…

News of the additional deaths came after Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News on Monday that the disease had likely reached ‘pandemic proportions’ as 100 cases were confirmed across the U.S.

‘We’re dealing with an evolving situation. We’re dealing with clearly an emerging infectious disease that has now reached outbreak proportions and likely pandemic proportions,’ Dr Fauci said. ‘If you look at multiple definitions of what a pandemic is… multiple sustained transmissions of of a highly infectious agent in multiple regions of the globe.’

Dr. Fauci is definitely not an alarmist, and for him to use the word “pandemic” is a major red flag.

Last week a lot of people were pointing out that not a single American had died from this virus yet, but now six victims have died in the state of Washington alone…

Four more people have died of the coronavirus in Washington state, raising the death toll in the state and the nation to six, health officials said Monday.

Jeffrey Duchin, a health officer in King County and Seattle, said at a news conference Monday that five of the deaths were people from King County and one was from Snohomish County, north of Seattle.

If you live in the Seattle area, you need to understand that you are in the middle of a crisis zone.  As I discussed yesterday, it is likely that the virus has been circulating in that region for weeks, and each day the number of potential carriers will only get higher.

At this point, local officials are specifically warning everyone to “avoid crowded settings if possible”

“To increase your chances of staying healthy, avoid crowded settings if possible,” King County Public Health said on Twitter. “Especially if you are over 60, or have other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system.”

There’s particular concern about the spread of the virus in nursing homes. One such  facility, Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, said in a statement that one of its residents and one of its associates have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The center is banning visitors for now.

And this doesn’t mean that you will need to change your behavior for a few days or even a few weeks.

At a minimum, if you live in the Seattle area you are going to want to avoid crowded settings for the next several months.

Of course it is just a matter of time before other major cities are facing similar outbreaks.  In recent days the number of states with confirmed cases has grown quite a bit larger…

  • Arizona – 1

  • California – 20

  • Florida – 2

  • Illinois – 4

  • Massachusetts – 1

  • New York – 2

  • Oregon – 3

  • Rhode Island – 2

  • Washington state – 18 (includes 6 fatalities)

  • Wisconsin – 1

Unfortunately, this list probably only represents the very small tip of a very large iceberg.  Up until just recently, the CDC was mandating that the only people that should be tested are those that have traveled to China or those that have had close contact with a known victim.  By using such restrictive criteria, the number of Americans being tested was kept extremely low, and a lot of infected people slipped through the cracks.

Now this virus has escaped containment, and authorities are telling us that “community spread” is inevitable all over the United States.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to sweep across much of the rest of the planet like wildfire.

In Iran, the fact that a top adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei just died from the virus made headlines all over the globe…

AN adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died of coronavirus, state media reported today.

Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, died in hospital in Tehran as the pariah nation reels from a worsening outbreak that has left several senior officials in hospital.

But despite the fact that the number of confirmed cases in Iran is escalating at an exponential rate, and despite the fact that dozens of Iranians have already died, many Iranians continue to engage in the practice of “kissing and licking Shi’ite shrines throughout the country”…

Videos spreading on social media are showing Iranians kissing and licking Shi’ite shrines throughout the country as many call to close the shrines amid a severe coronavirus outbreak in the Islamic Republic.

The epicenter of the outbreak in Iran, Qom, is a religious city home to several shrines. The shrines remain open as some reports place the death toll in Iran in the hundreds.

Can you believe that?

We live at a time when it seems like much of the world has gone nuts.  Most people believe whatever they feel like believing, and most people do whatever they feel like doing.  But there are always consequences for our actions, and I have a feeling that this virus is going to spread particularly rapidly in the Middle East.

Here in the United States, it appears that this outbreak is far more extensive than we are being told.  As the U.S. starts to finally ramp up testing, it is inevitable that a lot more existing cases will be found.  In fact, in just a little while I will be posting an article on End Of The American Dream about an ER doctor in New York that is claiming that there is “going to be thousands” of confirmed cases inside this country by next week.

I don’t think that it is going to happen quite that rapidly, but it appears to be inevitable that the number of cases is going to be steadily rising.

This is not a drill.  This is an exceedingly dangerous virus that is killing people all over the planet, and we need to prepare for a scenario in which this crisis could extend for many months or even for several years.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 12:55

Is Wall Street Behind The Delay In Declaring The Covid-19 Outbreak A "Pandemic"?

zerohedge News wall street behind delay declaring covid-19 outbreak pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Is Wall Street Behind The Delay In Declaring The Covid-19 Outbreak A "Pandemic"?

Authored by Whitney Webb via MintPressNews.com,

A little known specialized bond created in 2017 by the World Bank may hold the answer as to why U.S. and global health authorities have declined to label the global spread of the novel coronavirus a “pandemic.”

Those bonds, now often referred to as “pandemic bonds,” were oste

Read More
nsibly intended to transfer the risk of potential pandemics in low-income nations to financial markets.

Yet, in light of the growing coronavirus outbreak, the investors who purchased those products could lose millions if global health authorities were to use that label in relation to the surge in global coronavirus cases.

On Tuesday, federal health officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that they are preparing for a “potential pandemic” of the novel coronavirus that first appeared in China late last year. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that an estimated 80,000 worldwide have contracted the disease, most of them in China, while more than 2,700 have died.

However, some have argued that the CDC’s concerns about a likely pandemic have come too late and that action should have been taken much earlier. For instance, in early February, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, had told the New York Times that the novel coronavirus is “very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” while former CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden had echoed those concerns at the time, stating that it is “increasingly unlikely that the virus can be contained.”

Despite those warnings, among many others, the CDC waited to announce its concerns that the virus could spread throughout the United States. Their Tuesday announcement riled markets, wiping out $1.7 trillion in stock market value in just two days. The CDC’s warning has reportedly angered President Trump, who accused the agency of needlessly spooking financial markets.

Notably, WHO officials have taken an even more cautious approach than the CDC in their recent comments, stating that it is still “too early” to declare the coronavirus outbreak a “pandemic” while also asserting that “it is time to do everything you would do in preparing for a pandemic.”

The refusal to label the outbreak a pandemic is odd, since it refers to an epidemic or actively spreading disease that affects two or more regions worldwide. This currently describes the geographical spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, which has now resulted in significant clusters of cases far from China, namely in Italy and Iran. Countries closer to China, like South Korea, have also recently experienced an explosion in novel coronavirus infections.

It is possible that concerns over using the word “pandemic” could upset global markets and lead to economic turmoil, similar to what happened to the U.S. stock market following the CDC announcement on Tuesday. Though such concerns are valid, there is also evidence that a particular class of bonds issued by the World Bank that are closely related to official declarations of pandemics may also be responsible for having steered WHO and CDC officials away from using this term, even though the consequences of doing so could negatively impact global public health.

Pandemic Bonds: a “scheme like no other”

In June 2017, the World Bank announced the creation of “specialized bonds” that would be used to fund the previously created Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) in the event of an officially-recognized (i.e. WHO-recognized) pandemic.

They were essentially sold under the premise that those who invested in the bonds would lose their money if any of six deadly pandemics hit, including coronavirus. Yet, if a pandemic did not occur before the bonds mature on July 15, 2020, investors would receive what they had originally paid for the bonds back in addition to interest and premium payments on those bonds that they recieve between the date of purchase and the bond’s maturation date.

The PEF, which these pandemic bonds fund, was created by the World Bank “to channel surge funding to developing countries facing the risk of a pandemic” and the creation of these so-called “pandemic bonds” was intended to transfer pandemic risk in low-income countries to global financial markets. According to a World Bank press release on the launch of the bonds, WHO backed the World Bank’s initiative.

However, there is much more to these “pandemic bonds” than meets the eye. For example, PEF has a “unique financing structure [that] combines funding from the bonds issued today with over-the-counter derivatives that transfer pandemic outbreak risk to derivative counterparties.” The World Bank asserted that this structure was used in order “to attract a wider, more diverse set of investors.”

Critics, however, have called the unnecessarily convoluted system “World-Bank-enabled looting” that enriches intermediaries and investors instead of the funds intended targets, in this case low-income countries struggling to fight a pandemic. These critics have asked why not merely give these funds to a body like the Contingency Fund for Emergencies at the World Health Organization (WHO), where the funds could go directly to affected countries in need.

Notably, WHO determines if a pandemic meets the criteria that would see investors’ money be funneled into PEF as opposed to their own pockets, which would take place if no pandemic is declared between now and when the bonds are set to mature this upcoming July.

In 2017, the news site Quartz described the mechanism of “pandemic bonds” as follows:

Investors buy the bonds and receive regular coupons payments in return. If there is an outbreak of disease, the investors don’t get their initial money back. There are two varieties of debt, both scheduled to mature in July 2020.

The first bond raised $225 million and features an interest rate of around 7%. Payout on the bond is suspended if there is an outbreak of new influenza viruses or coronaviridae (SARS, MERS). The second, riskier bond raised $95 million at an interest rate of more than 11%. This bond keeps investors’ money if there is an outbreak of Filovirus, Coronavirus, Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, and/or Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. The World Bank also issued $105 million in swap derivatives that work in a similar way. (emphasis added)”

In 2017, the World Bank issued $425 million in these “pandemic bonds” and the bond sale was reported to have been 200 percent oversubscribed, “with investors eager to get their hands on the high-yield returns on offer,” according to reports. The premiums bondholders have received thus far were largely funded by the governments of Japan and Germany, who are also the top nation-state funders of WHO behind the United States and United Kingdom. Reports have claimed that most of the bondholders are firms and individuals based in Europe.

Some analysts have argued that these pandemic bonds were never intended to aid low-income pandemic-stricken countries, but instead to enrich Wall Street investors. For instance, American economic forecaster Martin Armstrong has called the World Bank’s pandemic bonds “a giant gamble in the global financial casino” and a “scheme like no other,” recently arguing that these bonds could present a “a structured derivative time bomb” that could upend financial markets if a pandemic is declared by WHO. Armstrong went on to say that it is in WHO’s interest to declare the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, but noted that, in doing so, they would cause bondholders to take significant losses.

Even establishment economists like former World Bank chief economist and Secretary of Treasury Larry Summers have criticized the World Bank’s program, dismissing the PEF as “financial goofiness.” Bodo Ellmers, the director of the Global Policy Forum’s sustainable development finance program, has similarly called pandemic bonds “useless,” while Olga Jonas, who worked at the World Bank as an economist for over 30 years, said the program was “designed to fail” because the bonds were crafted in order “to reduce the probability of payout.”

Economic and business analyst and host of the podcast “Quoth the Raven” Chris Irons told MintPress News that, with respect to the pandemic bonds, “What’s important is to focus on who stands to benefit from this not being declared a pandemic,” a difficult task given that the identity of most bondholders are not currently publicly available.

Irons also noted that, in his opinion, “WHO and the CDC have been caught a little flat-footed here” and that some governments that fund WHO, particularly the Trump administration, appear “more concerned with the stock market than giving people information that may be necessary and vital.” He added that behind-closed-doors pressure on WHO by those who stand to lose financially from an official declaration of a pandemic would be “unsurprising.”

How to trigger a payout

As the coronavirus outbreak grows, concern has grown among those invested in pandemic bonds that payout to countries affected by coronavirus will be triggered, despite the clear delay by WHO in declaring the outbreak as a pandemic. While WHO could theoretically alter the criteria that would trigger payout and cause bondholders to lose big, some recent reports have claimed that bondholders are seeking to rid themselves of the bonds prior to their July maturation date.

German media outlet Deutsche-Welle noted that the trigger for the first class of pandemic bonds, valued at $225 million, would normally have already been met due to the criterion of more than 2,500 deaths in a “developing country.” However, WHO has said this does not meet said criterion because it does not consider China to be a developing country, even though the World Bank’s own criteria do consider China to be a developing country.

For the second and riskier category of pandemic bonds, those bonds are triggered when the disease in question crosses an international border and causes more than 20 deaths in the second country. At the time of publication of this article, Iran has recorded at least 50 deaths, which should have triggered this second category of pandemic bonds, valued at $95 million. Yet, WHO yet to comment on how this criterion for the second category bonds has been met.

The WHO’s decision to refuse to use the “p-word” may be the result of several factors, though the pandemic bonds loom large as a $425 million incentive for not doing so. While avoiding the use of the term may please pandemic bondholders, it is set to have major negative consequences for global public health, particularly given the fact that early action against epidemic and pandemic outbreaks is widely considered to be an imperative.

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/28/2020 - 23:05

"It's Crazy" - Pandemic Potential Crushes 'Chinatowns' Worldwide

zerohedge News crazy pandemic potential crushes chinatowns worldwide All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
"It's Crazy" - Pandemic Potential Crushes 'Chinatowns' Worldwide

Discrimination against China and Chinese people have erupted since the Covid-19 outbreak in January. Anxieties are high as many are avoiding Chinatowns across the world for fear, they might contract the deadly virus.

From Australia to New York City to Toronto to England to San Francisco, Chinatowns in many regions of the world have transformed into ghost towns. We noted this phenom

Read More
enon last week. 

Lily Zhou, 39, who owns a Shanghai-style restaurant in Australia's Chinatown, told Bloomberg her food sales had crashed 70% since late January, which is around the time the virus started making headlines. She said her operation can withstand another few months of low traffic, and then after that, she would have to close down. 

At 99 Favor Taste in Manhattan, store manager Echo Wu said traffic volume has plunged by a third since the virus started making headlines. Wu said depressed sales could begin impacting the long-term outlook for the restaurant. He believes people are irrational, and the media has drummed up Sinophobia.

"They may have a bias toward Chinese restaurants now," He said. "I hope people can be more reasonable. After all, there are no cases in town yet."

The Rol San Restaurant in Toronto's Chinatown has seen sales slump by at least 30% in the last month. Bloomberg asked the manager if the virus is driving Sinophobia, he replied: "Of course."

Other restaurants in Toronto's Chinatown have experienced a slowdown in patrons. Streets are bare, and a nearby supermarket to Rol San has seen traffic halved since the end of last month. 

Chinatown in Manchester, England, has seen a 40% decline in its customer base, many of which are Chinese students. "There are fewer visitors, fewer customers. They're really, really suffering -- at the moment we haven't come up with any solution yet," Raymond Chan of the local business association said. 

As for the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the US, which is in San Francisco, the streets are deserted as people avoid the area for fear of contracting the virus. Henry Chen, 56, owner of the AA Bakery & Cafe on Stockton Street, said his business fell 30% since the virus outbreak in China and confirmed US cases started to tick higher earlier this month. "There are fewer people on the street," he said. "Lunch, dinner, breakfast, there is no business."

The plunge in traffic to Western Chinatowns is nothing compared to paralysis that has developed in China's economy. More than 700 million people are in lockdown in dozens of towns, manufacturing hubs are shuttered, and retail stores remain closed. 

However, in Sydney's Lower North Shore, and Eastwood in the north-west, which has a sizeable Chinese population, stores are thriving and selling out of face masks. 

"It is crazy!" the Phoenix health and beauty store assistant manager Ruby Han told Bloomberg, referring to the demand for virus masks, hand sanitizers, and alcohol swabs.

"It's like every 10 minutes people will come to check -- 'Do you have some masks? Do you have some masks?'" she said. "To be honest, we can't handle it because the demand is just too high."

We noted last month that worldwide searches for 'virus mask' erupted. Then detailed how a global run on masks was starting. 

AuMake International Ltd. said online sales for masks have exploded: "This is a once in a decade, or two decades, event," said Executive Chairman Keong Chan. "We know with Chinese New Year, we anticipate a fairly decent amount of sales, and it is way more than that. I can only conclude that the virus is a huge part of that."

The same is being said at a pharmacy inside the Dragon City Mall in Toronto: "We probably used to sell about 100 masks a week, now we sell north of 700" despite lower foot traffic, said pharmacist Timothy Tran, 57.

With the virus not yet under control, restaurant owners in many Chinatowns across the world could soon shutter their doors as Sinophobia fears have resulted in plunging sales. 

Tyler Durden

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 01:00

Here Are The 2 Trillion Reasons Why Stock Markets Are Soaring In The Face Of A Global Pandemic

zerohedge News here trillion reasons stock markets soaring face global pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Here Are The 2 Trillion Reasons Why Stock Markets Are Soaring In The Face Of A Global Pandemic

After having extended its Lunar New Year break, and with yet more cities and firms still shutting down than doing any re-opening, Rabobank notes that Beijing is starting to become cognizant of just how deep and serious the economic damage is going to be if this goes on much longer. We are, after all, talking about 80% of the economy, and 90% of exporters, simply

Read More
not functioning.

But one look at global stocks and you wouldn't know anything had happened...

Source: Bloomberg

So the question is - why? Why are stocks shrugging off the biggest global pandemic killer in a century? Why are global stocks ignoring the world's second largest economy being shutdown? Why are traders bidding the cyclical stocks to the moon alice when this global supply chain shock is an unknown unknown?

The answer, it turns out, is the same as it always is - or has been for the last decade or more... LIQUIDITY!

Typically, China's central bank (PBOC) floods the system with liquidity ahead of the lunar new year holiday to ensure banks can fund themselves for the week off and window-dress/support asset-values to ensure optimism and consumption continue. Also, typically, that repo-provided liquidity is rolled off shortly after the holiday is over...

Source: Bloomberg

However, this year, as the lunar new year liquidity provision began, the ominous signs of a deadly virus were building and PBOC decided that instead of unwinding the large liquidity provision, they would double-down on it... and that they did in size.

The last four weeks have seen China supply over CNY2 trillion (net!) into its financial system - something we have never seen anything like before...

And that unprecedented wave of $300 billion liquidity injection lifted every boat in every storm, sending China's ChiNext (small-cap-tech stocks) soaring back to highs but at the same time, Chinese bond yields collapsed...

Source: Bloomberg

This is a decoupling that has been going on for weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year and long before coronavirus shutdown the economy...

Source: Bloomberg

Of course, media are all too happy to blindly cheer the surge in stocks in the face of global pandemic and as Rabobank mocks, Bloomberg was even trying to sell the fact that Chinese government bond yields are dropping (-33bp this year) as a good news story.

It isn’t, even if that single trade is one I have long supported if one simply has to be in Chinese markets.

If China is seeing its yields plummet, what does that say about global growth prospects? What does that say about global reflation? It’s a long bonds story – full stop. Of course, lower yields mathematically means higher P/E ratios for equities too (“so buy stocks!”).

Until yields have gone as low as they ever can, real activity has ground to a halt, and we have a world where bonds can’t go any higher, equities can’t go any higher, central banks and governments can’t afford to let either collapse, and only FX markets have any pricing function.

We are already seeing supply-chain knock-on effects for a swathe of global firms and this, very much like the virus itself, will snowball as time passes if nothing changes. For a country that was already seeing foreign firms talk about shifting production to other locations this is a problem. Thus, perhaps, some of the urgency in trying to stress that everything is returning to normal soon, and that the WHO advice is worth following - this time.

But, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated unequivocally this morning that China will defeat the epidemic:

"We have the ability to minimize the impact of the epidemic and maintain the sustained and stable growth of the Chinese economy."

Indeed you have Mr.Wang... it just takes CNY2 trillion a month to keep the delusion alive!!

Tyler Durden

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 15:10

It Ain't Over Yet... Projecting "Wave 2" And "Wave 3" Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

zerohedge News aint over projecting wave coronavirus pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
It Ain't Over Yet... Projecting "Wave 2" And "Wave 3" Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

It's too early to declare victory and too early to assume the virus can be completely eradicated in a few weeks on the SARS model.

Many people are already anticipating the end of the coronavirus pandemic and a quick return to "normal life" and renewed global growth.

Read More
ong> But if we examine the history of previous pandemics and the spread of this contagious virus, we reach a much different conclusion: "Wave 2" and "Wave 3" arising after the initial wave recedes are distinct possibilities.

The corporate media and conventional economists in the U.S. and China's PR machine share a common goal: reassure consumers in the U.S., China and the rest of the world that everything will return to normal soon and they should continue buying stuff they don't need (5G phones, etc.) with borrowed money.

Meanwhile, authorities in China are tracking down everyone with a Wuhan residency ID card in the hopes that quarantining every one of the tens of thousands of Wuhan residents who traveled before the citywide quarantine took effect will stop the pandemic.

There are two problems with this official assumption that house-arresting everyone from Wuhan will end the pandemic:

1. Given that Wuhan residents traveled freely around China for the month before the citywide quarantine, infecting people in other cities, there is now a pool of carriers who did not come from Wuhan, so quarantining everyone from Wuhan won't stop these people from infecting others.

2. Much of the dirty, poorly paid work in China's cities is done by "illegal migrants" from rural areas who don't have official residency in the city. These people may have lived and worked in Wuhan but do not have Wuhan ID cards. They make up another reservoir of virus carriers who it will be difficult to track down and quarantine via residency permits and ID.

As mentioned previously, many of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese with overseas jobs returned home for New Years and are now anxious to get back to their jobs in other countries. Those without symptoms who are outside locked-down cities are free to find "work-arounds" to exit China by whatever means are available. Some consequential percentage of these people might be asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

As the city-wide quarantines limit the spread of the virus, victory will be declared and the quarantines will be lifted. But since the reservoirs of the virus have not been eliminated, the virus will start spreading again once the quarantines are lifted. This is "Wave 2."

Pandemics tend to decline in summer and then re-emerge in Fall. These renewed pandemics may be even more consequential than the first wave.

If an effective vaccine is developed and billions of doses are made and distributed globally by Fall, then a re-emergence will have been thwarted. But that's a tall order, and there may be areas where the vaccine (assuming one is developed) is not universally distributed.

A re-emergence in Fall would be "Wave 3." Perhaps this wave will be limited to impoverished nations without adequate healthcare systems; perhaps the virus mutates in some unexpected way. It's too early to declare victory and too early to assume the virus can be completely eradicated in a few weeks on the SARS model.

*  *  *

My recent books:

Audiobook edition now available:
Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World ($13)
(Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).

*  *  *

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Tyler Durden

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 13:05

WHO Declares Coronavirus Outbreak A 'Global Pandemic'

zerohedge News declares coronavirus outbreak global pandemic All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
WHO Declares Coronavirus Outbreak A 'Global Pandemic'

Update ( 1500ET): Dr. Tedros's effusive praise for China has continued, and stocks are loving it. The Director-General said the global-pandemic label doesn't suggest China isn't doing enough to combat the virus. In fact, China is "setting a new standard" for outbreak response, he said.

"It's actually doing more than China is required to do," he added.


Read More
de China, the WHO has only confirmed 98 cases. He added that he has every confidence in China's ability to control the virus.

And during Tedros's conversation with senior Chinese officials, he said the government offered to even help with containment if the virus spreads to poorer, more vulnerable countries.

When it comes to the WHO's refusal to recommend cutting off passenger travel and trade in goods with China, Tedros said that airlines' decision to suspend service to China is a question of falling demand, not a reflection on the outbreak. Meanwhile, Israel has just become the latest country to bar all flights from China.

Of course, plenty of reporting on the ground suggests that Wuhan has been transformed into a nightmarish dystopia where extremely ill patients are being turned away from hospitals, and millions of terrified residents have been trapped in their own homes. Hospitals in the city are still struggling with supply shortages, including a shortage of facemasks, beds and testing kits.

But yes, sure - it's a new gold standard for outbreak suppression. Questions from the press were appropriately incredulous, as reporters wheedled Dr. Tedros about his China rhetoric.

The takeaway: The WHO's account of the situation is somewhat less than credible.

Note: A source just reminded us of this story from before Dr. Tedros's time leading the WHO.

* * *

Update (1445ET): After WHO Director Dr. Tedros didn't say the words 'global emergency' in the first two minutes of the WHO's Thursday press conference, stocks jumped, but were quickly stymied when he finally got around to the announce after a lengthy preamble: The WHO has officially declared the coronavirus a ' Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).'

Once again, the director emphasized the fact that there haven't been any recorded deaths outside China, while praising Beijing's response, an obvious attempt to soften the blow.

Now that the label has been invoked, the WHO can begin coordinating a multi-government response.

WHO doesn't recommend any travel or trade restrictions.

And there goes stocks...

Once again, Dr. Tedros stopped to emphasize: This is not a reflection on Beijing's efforts to suppress the virus. It's not a time for judgment, Dr. Tedros insisted. It is a time for action. "This is a time for solidarity, not stigma."

Once again, it sounds like Dr. Tedros really enjoyed his trip to Beijing.

Meanwhile, in China, thousands of villages are setting up check points to stop any outsiders from carrying disease into their town.

* * *

After a brief delay, the WHO is finally ready to hold a press conference to discuss the outcome of its third straight emergency session.

A few hours ago, the CDC confirmed the first case of human-to-human transmission in the US, bringing the total number of countries that have recorded human-to-human cases to four (Germany, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the US).

The WHO is now widely expected to label the nCoV breakout a global pandemic, potentially triggering another leg lower in stocks.

The press conference which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, where the organization is based, will be led by Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. Many suspect that he will finally acquiesce to labeling the nCoV outbreak a ' Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).'

WHO twice decided against embracing the label last week.

Tyler Durden

Thu, 01/30/2020 - 14:47

Martenson: The Risk Of A True Pandemic Is Higher Than We're Being Told

zerohedge News martenson risk true pandemic higher than were being told All https://www.zerohedge.com   Discuss    Share
Martenson: The Risk Of A True Pandemic Is Higher Than We're Being Told

Via PeakProsperity.com,

OK, there’s a LOT of uncertainty and confusing/conflicting information currently circulating right now about the new coronavirus outbreak that has suddenly erupted out of Wuhan, China.

What’s really going on? What exactly is the ‘coronavirus’?


Read More
most important: How worried do we need to be?

Given the poor communication so far by government health organizations and the media, the severity of the situation and the risk to public health, Chris Martenson filmed this important explanatory video hours ago.

Dr. Martenson’s PhD is in the field of pathogenic biology, so he understands the nature of this virus more than your average scientist.

In the video below, Chris explains the virus in layman’s terms, why the contagion we’re seeing is likely to spread substantially from here, and why the actions being taken so far by public health officials to contain the threat are woefully insufficient.

It’s important, maybe soon critical, to be well-informed on this outbreak. The ten minutes you spend watching this video may be the most important thing you do today:

After viewing, be sure to take prudent steps to secure the safety of your family’s health. Most measures are straightforward and inexpensive — there’s a huge upside to preparing now and a huge downside to delaying, so get busy.

Those interested can continue to follow our updated coverage on the coronavirus here.

Hopefully, authorities manage to contain this outbreak faster than it currently appears they will. But don’t bet your life on it.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 21:00


Social Issues
Health Medical Pharma

Sign up for our newsletter

Unsubscribe at Anytime | Privacy Policy
Welcome, DisDroidians

Send a donation to get your link on the front page - send 0.5mBTC - Or your RSS feed - send 4mBTC.

Please Donate
Send a donation to get your link on the front page - send 0.2mBTC - Or your RSS feed - send 2mBTC here:



Most Viewed Stories
Latest Comments
Disdroid.co.uk - ranking and value