Thursday, April 30, 2020

Controlavirus Immunity Doesn't Last...,

technologyreview |  Starting in the fall of 2016 and continuing into 2018, researchers at Columbia University in Manhattan began collecting nasal swabs from 191 children, teachers, and emergency workers, asking them to record when they sneezed or had sore throats. The point was to create a map of common respiratory viruses and their symptoms, and how long people who recovered stayed immune to each one.

The research included four coronaviruses, HKU1, NL63, OC42, and C229E, which circulate widely every year but don’t get much attention because they only cause common colds. But now that a new coronavirus in the same broad family, SARS-CoV-2, has the world on lockdown, information about the mild viruses is among our clues to how the pandemic might unfold.

What the Columbia researchers now describe in a preliminary report is cause for concern. They found that people frequently got reinfected with the same coronavirus, even in the same year, and sometimes more than once. Over a year and a half, a dozen of the volunteers tested positive two or three times for the same virus, in one case with just four weeks between positive results.

That’s a stark difference from the pattern with infections like measles or chicken pox, where people who recover can expect to be immune for life.

For the coronaviruses “immunity seems to wane quickly,” says Jeffrey Shaman, who carried out the research with Marta Galanti, a postdoctoral researcher.

Whether covid-19 will follow the same pattern is unknown, but the Columbia results suggest one way that much of the public discussion about the pandemic could be misleading. There is talk of getting “past the peak” and “immunity passports” for those who’ve recovered. At the same time, some hope the infection is more widespread than generally known, and that only a tolerable death total stands between us and high enough levels of population immunity for the virus to stop spreading.

All that presumes immunity is long-lived, but what if it is fleeting instead?

Our Legal System Is Poorly Suited For Discrimination Based On Antigens

jonathanturley |  Below is a longer version of my column that ran in the Los Angeles Times on the danger of using antibody testing as a basis for discrimination.  The concept of a pandemic passport of course will only be plausible if such antibodies truly yield a form of immunity.  The WHO has declared that there is no evidence to support that claim.  Yet, plasma treatments are reportedly successful.

Here is the column:
With the coronavirus antibody tests being rolled out, the country is about to be flooded with millions of tests to determine if individuals have already been exposed to the virus and presumably have immunity from it. The development is key for researchers to understand both the scope and spread of the virus as well as how close we may be to a type of “herd immunity.” That public health breakthrough however could trigger some difficult legal questions. First and foremost, what if you are not part of the herd? The country may soon have to deal with a new concept of bias: antibody or immuno discrimination.

There is a growing and urgent need to get this economy rolling as the virus outbreak subsides. President Donald Trump is correct that destroying this economy will ruin the lives and dreams (and yes health) of tens of millions of citizens. It could reduce the horizon for an entire generation saddled with crippling debt and reduced markets.

Recovery will occur only to the degree that people feel comfortable about getting on airplanes, trains, buses, restaurants, and other closed spaces. With a vaccine projected as still a year away, the population could soon be divided into the immunized and the potentially contagious. If you are in the later group, the question is whether you can be denied certain services.

It is not as far-fetched as you might think. Take the airlines. Planes need to be near capacity to be profitable as a general rule. Social distancing on an airplane is not economically viable. One solution is to require proof of antibodies in your system with one of these available tests. Indeed, the airlines this week floated the idea of a required blood test. That conversely would create barriers to those who are immuno signatures.

Various countries are already using tracking technology to identify carriers and the same technology can be used to distinguish those who are immune. In Moscow, the government has issued “digital permits” to travel that bars others from public transport and even car traffic.

DAYYUM! There Go Those Virus Reparations Lawsuits - Er, Uh, You See What Happened Wuz...,

washingtontimes |  Meanwhile, a number of suspicious actions and a paper trail suggest that the virus escaped from one of the labs, though China is clamping down on the ability to pursue those leads.

 “The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off from outside inquiry by the CCP,” said the document, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

The party has taken draconian steps to control information about the virus since January.
“A gag order to both places was issued on Jan. 1, 2020, and a major general from the PLA who is China’s top military microbiologist essentially took over the [Wuhan Institute of Virology] since mid-January.”

Labs face scrutiny
Both of the labs under scrutiny in the report have conducted extensive research on bat coronaviruses, including those that have close molecular similarities to SARS-Cov-2, the full designation of the new pathogen.

Among the most significant circumstantial evidence identified in the report are the activities of Shi Zhengli, a leader in bat coronavirus research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China’s only high-security, level four research laboratory.

Ms. Shi has been involved in bioengineering bat coronaviruses, and a medical doctor named Wu Xiaohua launched an online campaign to expose Ms. Shi’s work. Dr. Wu said she believes the coronavirus at the root of the pandemic is one of 50 viruses in a database Ms. Shi manages.

The document also points to a 2015 academic report in Nature Medicine by Ms. Shi and 14 other scientists who said that while researching the potential for bat coronaviruses to infect humans, “we built a chimeric virus encoding a novel, zoonotic [animal-origin] spike protein … that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats.”

The scientists said the “hybrid virus” allowed researchers to study the ability of the virus to “cause disease.”

Dr. Wu stated in an internet posting that Ms. Shi used laboratory animals to test the human-infecting virus, and one of those animals may have been the origin of the pandemic.

Dr. Wu also asserted that the institute’s virus-carrying animals had been sold as pets, dead laboratory animals were not properly disposed of, and lab workers were known to boil and eat laboratory-used eggs.

“Wu’s charges of WIV management negligence are specific and have not been convincingly rebutted by WIV,” the analysis said.

Ms. Shi has worked closely with several U.S. virologists, and some American scientists have defended her and the institute from critics who point to her work with bat viruses as a needed focus of an investigation, the analysis says. Ms. Shi, in response to Dr. Wu’s assertions, said in March on her social media account: “I promise with my life that the virus has nothing to do with the lab.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Fauci Transferred Gain Of Function Research To Wuhan In 2015 After Obama Banned It

newsweek |   The NIH research consisted of two parts. The first part began in 2014 and involved surveillance of bat coronaviruses, and had a budget of $3.7 million. The program funded Shi Zheng-Li, a virologist at the Wuhan lab, and other researchers to investigate and catalogue bat coronaviruses in the wild. This part of the project was completed in 2019.

A second phase of the project, beginning that year, included additional surveillance work but also gain-of-function research for the purpose of understanding how bat coronaviruses could mutate to attack humans. The project was run by EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit research group, under the direction of President Peter Daszak, an expert on disease ecology. NIH canceled the project just this past Friday, April 24th, Politico reported. Daszak did not immediately respond to Newsweek requests for comment.

The project proposal states: "We will use S protein sequence data, infectious clone technology, in vitro and in vivo infection experiments and analysis of receptor binding to test the hypothesis that % divergence thresholds in S protein sequences predict spillover potential."

In layman's terms, "spillover potential" refers to the ability of a virus to jump from animals to humans, which requires that the virus be able to receptors in the cells of humans. SARS-CoV-2, for instance, is adept at binding to the ACE2 receptor in human lungs and other organs.

According to Richard Ebright, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers University, the project description refers to experiments that would enhance the ability of bat coronavirus to infect human cells and laboratory animals using techniques of genetic engineering. In the wake of the pandemic, that is a noteworthy detail.

Ebright, along with many other scientists, has been a vocal opponent of gain-of-function research because of the risk it presents of creating a pandemic through accidental release from a lab.

 Dr. Fauci is renowned for his work on the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1990s. Born in Brooklyn, he graduated first in his class from Cornell University Medical College in 1966. As head of NIAID since 1984, he has served as an adviser to every U.S. president since Ronald Reagan.

A decade ago, during a controversy over gain-of-function research on bird-flu viruses, Dr. Fauci played an important role in promoting the work. He argued that the research was worth the risk it entailed because it enables scientists to make preparations, such as investigating possible anti-viral medications, that could be useful if and when a pandemic occurred.

The work in question was a type of gain-of-function research that involved taking wild viruses and passing them through live animals until they mutate into a form that could pose a pandemic threat. Scientists used it to take a virus that was poorly transmitted among humans and make it into one that was highly transmissible—a hallmark of a pandemic virus. This work was done by infecting a series of ferrets, allowing the virus to mutate until a ferret that hadn't been deliberately infected contracted the disease.

NSCAI: Military Backed Computational Cultural Darwinism

thelastamericanvagabond |  Last year, a U.S. government body dedicated to examining how artificial intelligence can “address the national security and defense needs of the United States” discussed in detail the “structural” changes that the American economy and society must undergo in order to ensure a technological advantage over China, according to a recent document acquired through a FOIA request. This document suggests that the U.S. follow China’s lead and even surpass them in many aspects related to AI-driven technologies, particularly their use of mass surveillance. This perspective clearly clashes with the public rhetoric of prominent U.S. government officials and politicians on China, who have labeled the Chinese government’s technology investments and export of its surveillance systems and other technologies as a major “threat” to Americans’ “way of life.”

In addition, many of the steps for the implementation of such a program in the U.S., as laid out in this newly available document, are currently being promoted and implemented as part of the government’s response to the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. This likely due to the fact that many members of this same body have considerable overlap with the taskforces and advisors currently guiding the government’s plans to “re-open the economy” and efforts to use technology to respond to the current crisis.

The FOIA document, obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was produced by a little-known U.S. government organization called the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). It was created by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its official purpose is “to consider the methods and means necessary to advance the development of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.” 

The NSCAI is a key part of the government’s response to what is often referred to as the coming “fourth industrial revolution,” which has been described as “a revolution characterized by discontinuous technological development in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology and biotechnology, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and quantum computing.”

However, their main focus is ensuring that “the United States … maintain a technological advantage in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other associated technologies related to national security and defense.” The vice-chair of NSCAI, Robert Work – former Deputy Secretary of Defense and senior fellow at the hawkish Center for a New American Security (CNAS), described the commission’s purpose as determining “how the U.S. national security apparatus should approach artificial intelligence, including a focus on how the government can work with industry to compete with China’s ‘civil-military fusion’ concept.” 

The recently released NSCAI document is a May 2019 presentation entitled “Chinese Tech Landscape Overview.” Throughout the presentation, the NSCAI promotes the overhaul of the U.S. economy and way of life as necessary for allowing the U.S. to ensure it holds a considerable technological advantage over China, as losing this advantage is currently deemed a major “national security” issue by the U.S. national security apparatus. This concern about maintaining a technological advantage can be seen in several other U.S. military documents and think tank reports, several of which have warned that the U.S.’ technological advantage is quickly eroding.

Wee Phuk Yu Social Credit Can't Hold A Candle To American Sicherheitsdeinst Fur Profit

theatlantic  |  COVID-19 has emboldened American tech platforms to emerge from their defensive crouch. Before the pandemic, they were targets of public outrage over life under their dominion. Today, the platforms are proudly collaborating with one another, and following government guidance, to censor harmful information related to the coronavirus. And they are using their prodigious data-collection capacities, in coordination with federal and state governments, to improve contact tracing, quarantine enforcement, and other health measures. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently boasted, “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good.”

Over the past decade, network surveillance has grown in roughly the same proportion as speech control. Indeed, on many platforms, ubiquitous surveillance is a prerequisite to speech control.

The public has been told over and over that the hundreds of computers we interact with daily—smartphones, laptops, desktops, automobiles, cameras, audio recorders, payment mechanisms, and more—collect, emit, and analyze data about us that are, in turn, packaged and exploited in various ways to influence and control our lives. We have also learned a lot—but surely not the whole picture—about the extent to which governments exploit this gargantuan pool of data.

Police use subpoenas to tap into huge warehouses of personal data collected by private companies. They have used these tools to gain access to doorbell cameras that now line city blocks, microphones in the Alexa devices in millions of homes, privately owned license-plate readers that track every car, and the data in DNA databases that people voluntarily pay to enter. They also get access to information collected on smart-home devices and home-surveillance cameras—a growing share of which are capable of facial recognition—to solve crimes. And they pay to access private tow trucks equipped with cameras tracking the movements of cars throughout a city.

America’s private surveillance system goes far beyond apps, cameras, and microphones. Behind the scenes, and unbeknownst to most Americans, data brokers have developed algorithmic scores for each one of us—scores that rate us on reliability, propensity to repay loans, and likelihood to commit a crime. Uber bans passengers with low ratings from drivers. Some bars and restaurants now run background checks on their patrons to see whether they’re likely to pay their tab or cause trouble. Facebook has patented a mechanism for determining a person’s creditworthiness by evaluating their social network.

Governments Must Ensure The Internet Is Compatible With Society's Norms And Values

caitlynjohnstone |  Neoconservative publication The Atlantic has published an article authored by two university professors titled “Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal”, subtitled “In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.”

The article is actually worth reading in full, not just because it’s outrage porn for anyone who values human communication that is unregulated by oligarchs and government agencies, but because it’s actually packed full of extensively sourced information about the way Silicon Valley tech giants are collaborating with western governments to censor speech. The only difference between this article and something you might read on some libertarian website is that this article argues that all of these regulations on speech are a good thing.

Here’s an archive of the article if you don’t want to give clicks to The Atlantic, whose editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg once assured the world that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.” Do give it a look if this interests you and you have time.

“In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong,” argue the article’s authors, one of whom is a former Bush administration lawyer. “Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mitch, Go Head On And Ninja Turtle SCHLAP The Taste Out Of Andrew Cuomo's Mouth

CTH  |  The biggest of all the bigger financial issues around the economic shut-down will ultimately come down to a battle this spring/summer over a massive bailout for state governments to replace their missing revenue.  States like California, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut & New York have been struggling with financial issues for years.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”  ~ Rahm Emanuel
Long before the Wuhan Virus those states were near financial collapse.  The only thing keeping them afloat was as expanding economy, and new revenue as a result of President Trump’s economic policies (making bigger pies).

The economic shut-down in those specific states makes their preexisting financial trouble exponentially worse.

Not only will CA, NJ, IL, CT and New York demand a bailout, a very massive bailout to cover their revenue shortfall, but they will almost certainly use the wuhan virus as an excuse to cover and bail-out preexisting budget deficits.  Governor Andrew Cuomo hinted toward his intention weeks ago.  He sees this as an opportunity to get federal money.

So when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell throws a bucket of ice water in the face of blue state governors who were anticipating to “make money” by forcing the country to subsidize their overindulgent spending habits, obviously Cuomo is apoplectic.

For several decades, and particularly since 2008, the issue of unfunded liabilities has been a growing problem for the Blue State governors.  One reason Obamacare was created was to address this issue on the union and healthcare side. However, the underlying over-spending by state legislators/governors was never addressed.

The solution of allowing states to declare bankruptcy has been a part of that discussion for years. However, every Blue state governor knows if they declare bankruptcy they will never sell another bond again…. which means no investment… which means they will implode.

If the laws changed allowing states to declare bankruptcy, internally the blue states would collapse… there would be a massive exodus… people would flee the rust and collapse…. housing values would plummet overnight in Blue states…. business would leave… unemployment would skyrocket…. it would be statewide chaos.

The ultimate result would be smaller populations within the Blue state misery zones.

Joltin Joe Obidenbama Not Hiding From Coronavirus, He's Hiding From Tara Reade!

nymag |  Tara Reade’s mother may have called in to the Larry King Show to discuss problems her daughter had experienced while working for “a prominent senator,” the Intercept reported on Friday. Reade has accused former Vice-President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, of sexually assaulting her when she worked for his Senate office. The Intercept report, which includes a partial transcript of the call in question, provides new corroborative evidence for Reade’s story.

In the call, a woman asks King, “what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington?” Her daughter, she added, “has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”

Though the Intercept story doesn’t confirm that the Larry King caller was indeed Reade’s mother, some biographical details do match up. The caller and Reade’s mother, who died in 2016, lived in San Luis Obispo County in August 1993, and Reade would have just left Biden’s office around the time of the call. Reade told the Intercept in previous interviews that her mother had called into the Larry King Show, though she couldn’t recall the date.

Hours after the Intercept published its report, the conservative Media Research Group published a clip of the episode in question; Reade confirmed to Holly Otterbein of Politico that she could hear her mother’s voice.

Reade has said that in 1993, Biden pushed her up against a wall in the Senate complex, kissed her, and then digitally penetrated her underneath her skirt. In 2019, she told reporters that the former vice president had touched her neck and ran his fingers through her hair on several occasions, which made her one of over a half dozen women to say that Biden had kissed or touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable.

Through representatives, Biden has consistently denied assaulting Reade, and it is generally difficult for journalists to prove that a sexual assault definitively occurred. Deficiencies in the criminal-justice system and the fear and stigma associated with public identification as a victim of sexual abuse can also prevent a person from reporting an attack to the police, let alone the press. But key aspects of Reade’s account — namely, that she told friends and relatives about the incident — have proven true. The New York Times previously confirmed that Reade told a friend about the attack when it allegedly occurred. “Another friend and a brother of Ms. Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden,” the Times reported.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Believers Don't Know How The Coronavirus Is Getting Them Killed

nymag |  In an acute column published April 13, the New York Times’ Charlie Warzel listed 48 basic questions that remain unanswered about the coronavirus and what must be done to protect ourselves against it, from how deadly it is to how many people caught it and shrugged it off to how long immunity to the disease lasts after infection (if any time at all). “Despite the relentless, heroic work of doctors and scientists around the world,” he wrote, “there’s so much we don’t know.” The 48 questions he listed, he was careful to point out, did not represent a comprehensive list. And those are just the coronavirus’s “known unknowns.”

In the two weeks since, we’ve gotten some clarifying information on at least a handful of Warzel’s queries. In early trials, more patients taking the Trump-hyped hydroxychloroquine died than those who didn’t, and the FDA has now issued a statement warning coronavirus patients and their doctors from using the drug. The World Health Organization got so worried about the much-touted antiviral remdesivir, which received a jolt of publicity (and stock appreciation) a few weeks ago on rumors of positive results, the organization leaked an unpublished, preliminary survey showing no benefit to COVID-19 patients. Globally, studies have consistently found exposure levels to the virus in most populations in the low single digits — meaning dozens of times more people have gotten the coronavirus than have been diagnosed with it, though still just a tiny fraction of the number needed to achieve herd immunity. In particular hot spots, the exposure has been significantly more widespread — one survey in New York City found that 21 percent of residents may have COVID-19 antibodies already, making the city not just the deadliest community in the deadliest country in a world during the deadliest pandemic since AIDS, but also the most infected (and, by corollary, the farthest along to herd immunity). A study in Chelsea, Massachusetts, found an even higher and therefore more encouraging figure: 32 percent of those tested were found to have antibodies, which would mean, at least in that area, the disease was only a fraction as severe as it might’ve seemed at first glance, and that the community as a whole could be as much as halfway along to herd immunity. In most of the rest of the country, the picture of exposure we now have is much more dire, with much more infection almost inevitably to come.

But there is one big question that didn’t even make it onto Warzel’s list that has only gotten more mysterious in the weeks since: How is COVID-19 actually killing us?

Covid-19 Serial Killers: Unaddressed Congregate Situations Are THE Reservoirs Of Infection

NEJM |  A new approach that expands Covid-19 testing to include asymptomatic persons residing or working in skilled nursing facilities needs to be implemented now. Despite “lockdowns” in these facilities, coronavirus outbreaks continue to spread, with 1 in 10 nursing homes in the United States (>1300 skilled nursing facilities) now reporting cases, with the likelihood of thousands of deaths.6 Mass testing of the residents in skilled nursing facilities will allow appropriate isolation of infected residents so that they can be cared for and quarantine of exposed residents to minimize the risk of spread. Mass testing in these facilities could also allow cohorting7 and some resumption of group activities in a nonoutbreak setting. Routine rRT-PCR testing in addition to symptomatic screening of new residents before entry, conservative guidelines for discontinuation of isolation,7 and periodic retesting of long-term residents, as well as both periodic rRT-PCR screening and surgical masking of all staff, are important concomitant measures.

There are approximately 1.3 million Americans currently residing in nursing homes.8 Although this recommendation for mass testing in skilled nursing facilities could be initially rolled out in geographic areas with high rates of community Covid-19 transmission, an argument can be made to extend this recommendation to all U.S.-based skilled nursing facilities now because case ascertainment is uneven and incomplete and because of the devastating consequences of outbreaks. Immediately enforceable alternatives to mass testing in skilled nursing facilities are few. The public health director of Los Angeles has recommended that families remove their loved ones from nursing homes,9 a measure that is not feasible for many families.

Asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is the Achilles’ heel of Covid-19 pandemic control through the public health strategies we have currently deployed. Symptom-based screening has utility, but epidemiologic evaluations of Covid-19 outbreaks within skilled nursing facilities such as the one described by Arons et al. strongly demonstrate that our current approaches are inadequate. This recommendation for SARS-CoV-2 testing of asymptomatic persons in skilled nursing facilities should most likely be expanded to other congregate living situations, such as prisons and jails (where outbreaks in the United States, whose incarceration rate is much higher than rates in other countries, are increasing), enclosed mental health facilities, and homeless shelters, and to hospitalized inpatients. Current U.S. testing capability must increase immediately for this strategy to be implemented.

And The Vice Chair Of The Clinton Foundation? (No Focus On Congregate Situations)

cspan |  The Clinton Foundation hosted a discussion on the coronavirus pandemic response with Chelsea Clinton and a panel of health experts. The panel discussed the next steps, including the importance of contact tracing. The panel also encouraged young people to do their part in their communities and reach out to older adults in need

What Would Willie Do?

cspan |   The Clinton Foundation hosted a discussion on the coronavirus pandemic response. Former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton opened the event. In this portion, Pres. Clinton and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) discussed his state’s response to the outbreak, including what advice Gov. Cuomo would give to other state leaders. They also discussed the federal response and lessons learned for future public health crises.

cspan | The Clinton Foundation hosted a discussion on the coronavirus pandemic response with former President Bill Clinton and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). They discussed California’s public health response to coronavirus, the impact on the state’s economy and the importance of contact tracing going forward. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

What Would Jesus Do?

vice |  Earlier this week, someone showed up at a protest in Nashville, Tennessee with a sign reading "Sacrifice the weak." Real Housewives of Orange County star Kelly Dodd offered a similar message when she called the novel coronavirus "God's way of thinning the herd." Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick has said, "There are more important things than living." President Donald Trump goes on television every night to say effectively the same thing. What was different about the person who made the sign was that they were an ordinary person, not a politician or celebrity or pundit. That was the point.

The protest was fake in the way all the recent protests against social-distancing policies and the closure of the U.S. economy have been: Organized and supported by right-wing activists and politicians, and presenting the iconography of a populist uprising while expressing a position unpopular even within the Republican Party, these sham protests' purpose is to draw attention to their own existence. They're a function of an attention economy in which the willingness to say the most outrageous thing you can think of is a kind of power that can be effortlessly weaponized.

The protest was also real, though: An ordinary person actually did make the sign and carry it out into the world, achieving their ends, and those of others. The purpose of calling for the weak to be sacrificed is to let people know that you've done so; the purpose of ginning up a protest at which someone will do so is to amass power. The only question is the use to which that power will be put. We already know the answer: It will be used by those who want people to go back to work and make their employers richer even if it kills tens of thousands or more, because they would rather have that happen than adopt the social welfare policies of a civilized nation.

In Philadelphia, where I live and which has been, in comparison to other places in the Northeast, mercifully lightly hit by the pandemic, dead bodies were recently seen being delivered to the medical examiner's office in a pickup truck. Across the United States, around 2,000 people are dying of COVID-19 every day, and that's with much of the country having been locked down for multiple incubation cycles; the numbers don't even make headlines anymore. Due to the exhaustively reported-on failures of the federal government to do anything useful as public health authorities warned of what was coming or to use the time during which Americans have been in quarantine to do so, there's no obvious way out of the current situation. With social and economic life frozen—tens of millions can't work because the government has banned it while offering them next to nothing in support—thousands die every day. If the unsustainable status quo is changed, it seems likely even more will.

Controlavirus Panic-demic Will Wipe Out 40% Of U.S. Economy, Cost 27 Million U.S. Jobs

dailymail |  Coronavirus-related federal debt and deficit figures are pointing to government red ink unparalleled since World War II.

One lasting worry is the further shrinking of revenues that already were well below historic averages, even as the spending side of the federal ledger climbs due to the retirement costs of the baby boomers to Medicare and Social Security, record Pentagon spending and long-term COVID-19 response costs.

Even Washington's few remaining spending hawks say the flood of red ink should not be a focus in the short term as the government takes unprecedented steps to respond to a shrinking economy, unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression, and shutdown orders lasting well into next month or beyond.

But when policymakers inevitably are forced to take on deficits, virtually none of them will have any experience in successfully doing so. 

Congress has not passed a major attack on the deficit since the hard-won 1997 law that capped a decade's worth of politically-costly but ultimately effective reduction measures.

The era of successful action to tackle debt and deficits ended more than two decades ago. In the interim, a divisive brand of politics has taken hold, making the kind of painful sacrifices required to even dent the deficit virtually impossible to pull off.

What's more, no one has even seriously tried since a failed effort by former GOP Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Obama almost a decade ago.

There´s no agreement on what levels of debt and deficits are sustainable. The government has run large deficits for well over a decade without the predicted increase in interest rates, economic stagnation, or a European-style fiscal crisis.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

You Dirty, Wicked, Backsliding Rascals Fitna Put That Filthy Swine DOWN!!!

bloomberg |  A wave of shutdowns at some of North America’s largest meat plants is starting to force hog producers to dispose of their animals in the latest cruel blow to food supplies.

Shuttered or reduced processing capacity has prompted some farmers in eastern Canada to euthanize hogs that were ready for slaughter, said Rick Bergmann, chair of the Canadian Pork Council. In Minnesota, farmers may have to cull 200,000 pigs in the next few weeks, according to an industry association. Carcasses are typically buried or rendered

“This is an unacceptable situation and something must be done,” Bergmann, who is also a farmer, said Thursday.

The culling highlights the disconnect that’s occurring as the coronavirus pandemic sickens workers trying to churn out food supplies just as panicked shoppers seek to stock up on meat. Wholesale pork prices in the U.S. have surged in the past week.

bloomberg |  As businesses around the globe buckle under the strain of Covid-19, the world’s biggest pork producer is fighting not just one highly contagious virus, but two. And the outcome could determine whether Americans will have enough hot dogs, bacon, and ham this summer.

Hong Kong-based WH Group Ltd. is struggling to cope with the virus that causes African swine fever (ASF), a deadly malady that’s devastated hog herds and helped more than double pork prices in China, while also spreading to other countries in Asia and Europe. Like Covid-19, ASF is currently incurable and researchers have yet to come up with a vaccine. China’s pork production fell 29% in the first three months of 2020; the swine disease has slashed the size of the country’s hog herd by about half.

Now the coronavirus is piling on. Smithfield Foods, the Virginia-based subsidiary of WH Group, shut three of its U.S. plants this month because of Covid-19. They include a processing facility in Sioux Falls, S.D., that accounts for about a quarter of the company’s U.S. revenue.

When Smithfield announced the indefinite closure, more than 200 workers were sick; that number has risen to more than 700—almost half the state’s total. With the Sioux Falls site alone handling about 5% of all hog processing in the U.S., the maker of Farmland bacon, Farmer John hot dogs, Eckrich sausage, and Armour ham warned of possible supermarket shortages. “The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge.

Who Is Likely To Go Without Food In The Engineered "Food Crisis"?

nakedcapitalism |  In a new paper, Who is likely to go without food in the looming supply crisis? Markit identifies additional choke points:
Principal supply issues
Not enough labour to harvest the crops. This is partly due to transport problems (see below) and partly because of lockdowns…India has discovered that it is easier to lock people down and get them to return to their home towns and villages than it is to get them out again….
Also, if social distancing is practised, yields go down unless you add many more staff. That, of course, adds to costs.
Primary and further processing has exactly the same problem. At the simplest level, if you space staff on a conveyor belt two metres apart instead of one, you effectively halve your production rate. Either you work extra shifts or you add extra lines, again raising prices….
US farmers are sending all their herds to early slaughter because the catering market is dead and so, at the most basic level, nobody in the US is going out for steak & eggs or a nice bacon and egg breakfast in a diner. It takes time to rear cattle to ideal slaughter size and age (less time for pigs and poultry) and farmers are unlikely to start rearing until they are certain that there will be a market for the meat when the time comes, so there will be a gap of several months. Frozen meat will make up for some of the shortfall, but beef prices are likely to soar.
The crude oil price is now negative. In addition, the ethanol market is dead….As nobody’s making ethanol, that means a shortage of animal feed because after fermentation, the mash is dried, pelletised and fed to animals.
The entire (short) piece is worth reading, because it reaches grim conclusions for much of the world,, including food riots in cities with large slum populations.

A less obvious but still important factor in the comparatively pampered US is that more eating at home means different eating patterns. Someone who grabs ethnic fast food for lunch isn’t likely to attempt that in his kitchen. And a lot of people aren’t good at cooking, so Lord only know what they’ll wind up subsisting on.2 That’s why ground meat is so popular: it is versatile and fault tolerant.

America's New Negroes Better Start Learning To Love The Taste And Texture Of Bugs

usatoday |   A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meatpacking plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. 

And it could get worse. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates.
These facilities represent more than 1 in 3 of the nation’s biggest beef, pork and poultry processing plants. Rates of infection around these plants are higher than those of 75% of other U.S. counties, the analysis found. 

And while experts say the industry has thus far maintained sufficient production despite infections in at least 2,200 workers at 48 plants, there are fears that the number of cases could continue to rise and that meatpacking plants will become the next disaster zones.

"Initially our concern was long-term care facilities," said Gary Anthone, Nebraska's chief medical officer, in a Facebook Live video Sunday. “If there's one thing that might keep me up at night, it's the meat processing plants and the manufacturing plants."

As companies scramble to contain the outbreaks by closing more than a dozen U.S. plants so far – including a Smithfield pork plant in South Dakota that handles 5% of U.S. pork production – the crisis has raised the specter of mass meat shortages.

But experts say there's little risk of a dwindling protein supply because, given the choice between worker safety and keeping meat on grocery shelves, the nation’s slaughterhouses will choose to produce food.

“If this goes on for a long time, there is a reality of a shortage,” said Joshua Specht, an assistant professor of history at the University of Notre Dame who studies the meat industry. “The politics of this could play out that they reopen at enormous risks to workers, rather than face an actual shortage … I wouldn’t bet against that.”

The meatpacking industry already has been notorious for poor working conditions even before the coronavirus pandemic. Meat and poultry employees have among the highest illness rates of all manufacturing employees and are less likely to report injuries and illness than any other type of worker, federal watchdog reports have found. 

And the plants have been called out numerous times for refusing to let their employees use the bathroom, even to wash their hands – one of the biggest ways to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

Amplifying the danger is that, in many places, meat processing companies are largely on their own to ensure an outbreak doesn’t spread across their factory floors.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Antibody Testing In NYC Reveals 1-in-5 Infection Rate <.5 Fatality Rate

NYTimes | One of every five New York City residents tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, according to preliminary results described by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday that suggested that the virus had spread far more widely than known.

If the pattern holds, the results from random testing of 3,000 people raised the tantalizing prospect that many New Yorkers — as many as 2.7 million, the governor said — who never knew they had been infected had already encountered the virus, and survived. Mr. Cuomo also said that such wide infection might mean that the death rate was far lower than believed.

While the reliability of some early antibody tests has been widely questioned, researchers in New York have worked in recent weeks to develop and validate their own antibody tests, with federal approval. State officials believe that accurate antibody testing is seen as a critical tool to help determine when and how to begin restarting the economy, and sending people back to work.

“The testing also can tell you the infection rate in the population — where it’s higher, where it’s lower — to inform you on a reopening strategy,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Then when you start reopening, you can watch that infection rate to see if it’s going up and if it’s going up, slow down.”

The testing in New York is among several efforts by public health officials around the country to determine how many people may have been already exposed to the virus, beyond those who have tested positive. The results appear to conform with research from Northeastern University that indicated that the coronavirus was circulating by early February in the New York area and other major cities.

In California, a study using antibody testing found rates of exposure as high as 4 percent in Santa Clara County — higher than those indicated by infection tests, though not nearly as high as found in New York. Public health officials recently disclosed that a woman in Santa Clara who died on Feb. 6 was infected with the virus.

In New York City, about 21 percent tested positive for coronavirus antibodies during the state survey. The rate was about 17 percent on Long Island, nearly 12 percent in Westchester and Rockland Counties and less than 4 percent in the rest of the state.

State researchers sampled blood from the approximately 3,000 people they had tested over two days, including about 1,300 in New York City, at grocery and big-box stores. The results were sent to the state’s Wadsworth facility in Albany, a respected public health lab.

Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state health commissioner, said the lab had set a high bar for determining positive results, that it had been given blanket approval to develop coronavirus tests by the Food and Drug Administration and that state officials discussed this particular antibody test with the agency.
He said that while concerns about some tests on the market were valid, the state’s test was reliable enough to determine immunity — and, possibly, send people back to the office.

America Is The Most Extravagant Cornucopia Of Two-Piece-and-a-Biscuit Diversity EVER!!!

tomdispatch |  Today, more than 38 million people officially live below the federal poverty line and, in truth, that figure should have shocked the nation into action before the coronavirus even arrived here. No such luck and here’s the real story anyway: the official measure of poverty, developed in 1964, doesn’t even take into account household expenses like health care, child care, housing, and transportation, not to speak of other costs that have burgeoned in recent decades. The world has undergone profound economic transformations over the last 66 years and yet this out-of-date measure, based on three times a family’s food budget, continues to shape policymaking at every level of government as well as the contours of the American political and moral imagination.

Two years ago, the Poor People’s Campaign (which I co-chair alongside Reverend William Barber II) and the Institute for Policy Studies released an audit of America. Its centerpiece was a far more realistic assessment of poverty and economic precariousness in this country. Using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure as a baseline, which, among other things, measures family income after taxes and out-of-pocket expenses for food, clothing, housing, and utilities, there are at least 140 million people who are poor -- or just a $400 emergency from that state. (Of that, there are now untold examples in this pandemic moment.)

As poverty has grown and spread, one of the great political weapons of politicians and the ruling elite over the past decades (only emphasized in the age of Trump) has been to minimize, dismiss, and racialize it. In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” coded it into Republican national politics; in the 1980s, in the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the fabricated image of “the welfare queen” gained symbolic prominence. In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton’s welfare “reforms” enshrined such thinking in the arguments of both parties. Today, given the outright racism and xenophobia that has become the hallmark of Donald Trump’s presidency, "poor" has become a curse word.

It is, of course, true that, among the 140 million poor people in the U.S., a disproportionate number are indeed people of color. The inheritance of slavery, Jim Crow, never-ending discrimination, and the mass incarceration of black men in particular, as well as a generational disinvestment in such populations, could have resulted in nothing less. And yet the reality of poverty stretches deep into every community in this country. According to that audit of America, the poor or low-income today consist of 24 million blacks, 38 million Latinos, eight million Asian-Americans, two million Native peoples, and 66 million whites.

Those staggering numbers, already a deadweight for the nation, are likely to prove a grotestque underestimate in the coronaviral world we now inhabit and yet none of this should be a surprise. Although we couldn’t have predicted the exact circumstances of this pandemic, social theorists remind us that conditions were ripe for just this kind of economic dislocation.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Clay and Cass Counties and North Kansas City to Reopen Early

kansascity |  Clay and Cass counties are over this coronavirus shutdown, and so will end their stay-at-home orders on May 3. 

Of course, if their COVID-19 cases spike as a result, it’s Kansas City’s hospitals that will be overwhelmed.

But with Missouri Gov. Mike Parson talking about how nearly every business in the state will hopefully be wide open again as of May 4, the temptation was apparently too much.

That’s a head-spinning reversal for Clay County, where officials who seem to have contempt for their own citizens just last week said they would extend their order until May 15, as Kansas City has.
And Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is right to be irritated. 

“Less than one week ago,” Lucas said in a statement, “every health director in our nine-county bistate region advised our region’s stay-at-home order remain in place until May 15 based on new infections, inadequate testing and insufficient contact tracing capabilities. I’m not sure what has changed.”

Let’s see, it can’t be that new infections are a thing of the past, since the Kansas City metropolitan area’s coronavirus count grew by 69 cases Wednesday. In fact, that was the largest jump the area — which includes Kansas City and Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas — had seen in 10 days.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman Tells The Truth And Shames The Devil

rollingstone |  “What I assume is that everybody is a coronavirus carrier — that 100 percent of our population is asymptomatic, but a carrier.” Goodman continued, “My whole opinion is: Get our people back to work.”

Goodman said that the city needs to protect people’s health while reopening, adding, “Most importantly, take care of our elderly, who are the most susceptible to having a terrible experience or perhaps even dying. And we love our seniors. I happen to be a senior!”

Tur asked how that protection can be preserved when an open and successful Vegas means crowded casinos with smokers, people touching slot machines, and people breathing recycled air, seemingly making them all more susceptible to the coronavirus.

“How do you keep people safe? Do you think it’s possible?” Tur asked.

“Well, absolutely,” Goodman answered. The mayor then rattled off a list of previous epidemics that did not close Vegas without using any context or expressing any knowledge as to why those should compare to the extreme contagion the coronavirus has proven to be.

“We’ve survived the West Nile and SARS, bird flu, E. coli, the swine flu, the Zika virus,” Goodman said.

Tur interjected, saying, “Those were not as contagious, and they did not spread as far as this disease has already done.”

To which Goodman astonishingly replied, “Well, we’ll find out the facts afterward. Unfortunately, we all do better in hindsight.”

“But those are the facts. We have a death toll that proves it,” Tur responded.

As Tur continued to push Goodman, the mayor downplayed the number of cases in Nevada, saying that with more than 3 million citizens, “we have 151, sadly, lost individuals, most of whom had pre-existing conditions.”

If You Don't Follow MSM You Are Uninformed - If You Do Follow MSM You Are Misinformed

off-guardian |  We have been given a very clear narrative about the declared coronavirus pandemic. The UK State has passed legislation, in the form of the Coronavirus Act, to compel people to self isolate and practice social distancing in order to delay the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (SC2). We are told this “lockdown”, a common prison term, is essential. We are also told that SC2 has been clearly identified to be the virus which causes the COVID 19 syndrome.

At the time of writing SC2 is said to have infected 60,733 people with 7,097 people supposedly dying of COVID 19 in the UK. This case fatality ration (CFR) of 11.7% is seemingly one of the worst in the world. Furthermore, with just 135 people recovered, the recovery rate in the UK is inexplicably low.

Some reading this may baulk at use of words like “seemingly” and “alleged” in reference to these statistics. The mainstream media (MSM) have been leading the charge to cast anyone who questions the State’s coronavirus narrative as putting lives at risk. The claim being that questioning what we are told by the State, its officials and the MSM undermines the lockdown. The lockdown is, we are told, essential to save lives.

It is possible both to support the precautionary principle and question the lockdown. Questioning the scientific and statistical evidence base, supposedly justifying the complete removal of our civil liberties, does not mean those doing so care nothing for their fellow citizens. On the contrary, many of us are extremely concerned about the impact of the lockdown on everyone. It is desperately sad to see people blindly support their own house arrest while attacking anyone who questions the necessity for it.

The knee jerk reaction, assuming any questioning of the lockdown demonstrates a cavalier, uncaring disregard is puerile. Grown adults shouldn’t simply believe everything they are told like mindless idiots. Critical thinking and asking questions is never “bad” under any circumstances whatsoever.

Only the State, with the unwavering support of its MSM propaganda operation, enforces unanimity of thought. If a system cannot withstand questioning it suggests it is built upon shaky foundation
is and probably not worth maintaining. Yet perhaps it is what we are not told that is more telling.

Among the many things we are not told is how many lives the lockdown will ruin and end prematurely. Are these lives irrelevant? 

We are not told the evidence for the existence of a virus called SARS-CoV-2 is highly questionable and the tests for it unreliable; we are not told that the numbers of deaths reportedly caused by COVID 19 is statistically vague, seemingly deliberately so; we are not told that these deaths are well within the normal range of excess winter mortality and we are not told that in previous years excess winter deaths have been higher than they are now. 

We didn’t need to destroy the economy in response to those, far worse, periods of loss so why do we need to do so for this?