RETAILERS PREPARE FOR CIVIL UNREST; BOARDED-UP STORES SEEN FROM SOHO TO BEVERLY HILLS

Retailers Prepare For Civil Unrest; Boarded-Up Stores Seen From SoHo To Beverly Hills

In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows

By Tyler Durden – 03/31/2020

High-end stores across the country have been boarding up their stores in anticipation of civil unrest due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows according to TMZ.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.00.56 AM

Meanwhile, stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver and elsewhere were similarly boarded up.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.04.46 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.06.13 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.06.54 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.07.42 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.08.28 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 11.09.11 AM

Thanks, China. 

People who brand China a ‘dictatorship’ are jealous that Beijing beat the pandemic, embassy claims

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 11.08.35 AM

Commentators refusing to give China credit for containing the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan and citing ‘Asian democracies’ as better examples simply envy Beijing’s efficiency, the Chinese embassy in France has said.

China, from which the coronavirus spread throughout the world, has largely succeeded in containing the disease, according to official updates. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has recorded no new cases in a week and has been lifting the restrictions that helped quash the pandemic.

Beijing sees the outcome as a success story and finds it irritating when commentators in countries currently overwhelmed by the virus insist they have nothing to learn from the Chinese experience. At least that’s what’s suggested in an article published this week by the Chinese embassy in France, where the Covid-19 death toll may soon exceed China’s.

Negative commenters “envy the efficiency of our political system and hate the inability of their own nations to perform as well. So they try to stick the ‘dictatorship’ label on China,” the embassy said.

Instead, detractors praise ‘Asian democracies’ like South Korea, Japan and Singapore, which have been more successful than Western nations in containing the pandemic. However, China, which resorted to more drastic quarantine measures than those countries, has a much bigger population. So its task in fighting the disease was far more difficult, the article argued. Ultimately, the virus doesn’t care whether it is ravaging a ‘democracy’ or an ‘autocracy.’

With the threat of coronavirus diminishing at home, Beijing has been busy building goodwill and sharing expertise with other nations affected by the pandemic, sending doctors and aid supplies to those in need.

Serbian PM: ‘Fake news’ that we don’t appreciate EU help, but Covid-19 aid came from China

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 11.12.12 AM

This ‘mask diplomacy,’ as some commentators call it, has drawn quite a lot of negative feedback on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Critics say the help comes with political strings attached, undermines European solidarity, and damages targeted nations’ relations with the United States.

There is also a popular narrative claiming that China has massively misreported the human cost of containing the pandemic. The latest item to fuel it is the reported delivery of about 2,500 urns to a funeral home in Wuhan.

Links to the urns story inevitably popped up in comments to the Chinese embassy’s Twitter feed, after it published excerpts from the article.

 

Leftist Journo Takes Pleasure In US Becoming Worst Hit Coronavirus Nation: ‘Who’s The S***hole Country Now?’

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 10.33.51 AM

“If you needed anymore evidence these people hate America.”

By Steve Watson

A leftist columnist seemingly took pleasure in the fact that the US has become the country with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus by mocking President Trump and proclaiming “Who’s the shithole country now?”

Julia Ioffe, who writes for GQ, tweeted out the inane comment along with a link to a New York Times story on the development.

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 10.39.09 AM

Of course, Ioffe provided no salient facts or useful information, such as President Trump’s assertion that the spike in confirmed cases is down to more robust testing being rolled out.

Nor did Ioffe indicate that in comparison with other hard hit countries, the mortality rate in the US stands at 1.5%, which equates to much fewer deaths per confirmed cases than Italy (10%), Spain (8%), Iran (7.6%) and France (6%).

No, Ioffe simply wanted to vent her pent up Trump derangement syndrome.

Americans are not amused:

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 10.42.16 AM

Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 10.42.58 AM

 

Army Asks Retired Soldiers in Health Care Fields to Come Back for COVID-19 Fight

Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 2.14.52 PM

By Hodge Seck

The Army has a message for its retirees: Uncle Sam wants you to help fight the novel coronavirus.

A message sent by Defense Finance and Accounting Services, which processes and dispenses retiree pay, asked troops who had previously served in specific health care specialties to consider “re-joining the team” to address the current pandemic crisis. It’s signed by Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army Personnel, G-1.

“We need to hear from you STAT!” reads the message, obtained by Military.com.

The Army, it states, is gauging the interest of retired officers, noncommissioned officers and more junior enlisted soldiers in assisting service efforts to treat the sometimes-deadly disease. The message does not specify whether retired troops would be returned to active status or serve in some other capacity.

“These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that’s why we’re turning to you — trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,” the message states. “When the Nation called — you answered, and now, that call may come again.”

The call was addressed to retirees from the following health care-specific military occupational specialties:

  • 60F: Critical Care Officer

  • 60N: Anesthesiologist

  • 66F: Nurse Anesthetist

  • 66S: Critical Care Nurse

  • 66P: Nurse Practitioner

  • 66T: ER Nurse

  • 68V: Respiratory Specialist

  • 68W: Medic

The message came with a caveat: retired personnel now working in a civilian capacity in a hospital or other medical facility should make that known. Army officials said they did not want to pull personnel from service they were “providing to the Nation” in that role. They added that former soldiers from a different specialty who were interested in supporting Army efforts should also reach out to communicate that interest.

The call-out directed interested retirees to contact Human Resources Command, Reserve Personnel Management Directorate at Fort Knox, Kentucky, providing contact info and MOS.

As of Wednesday, the Pentagon reported 227 cases of Coronavirus among U.S. troops and 435 total among Defense Department-connected personnel. U.S. cases on Wednesday passed 64,000.

This week, the Pentagon announced that military medical and dental treatment facilities would postpone the majority of elective surgeries, dental procedures and invasive procedures for 60 days as it shifts most resources to fighting the pandemic. A massive relief package moving quickly through Congress Wednesday would triple the number of hospital beds available at these facilities and give the DoD $1.5 billion to open expeditionary military hospitals.

The call to retirees also comes on the heels of a recommendation from the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service for the creation of a “critical skills Individual Ready Reserve” that would serve essentially as a roster of qualified individuals in high-demand fields, likely including health care, on standby to support the Defense Department in times of national emergency. It’s one of 164 recommendations that will be considered by Congress in coming months.

The U.S. Selective Service System also owns a yet-to-be activated standby plan known as the Health Care Personnel Delivery System, colloquially known as the “doctor draft,” that would “provide a fair and equitable draft of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and those with certain other health care skills if, in some future emergency, the military’s existing medical capability proved insufficient and there is a shortage of volunteers.”

That proposed mechanism, however, is designed for use only in wartime and in connection with a broader national mobilization effort, with the approval of Congress and the president.

In a briefing at the Pentagon Wednesday, Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul Friedrichs, Joint Staff surgeon, said he felt generally comfortable that the U.S. military had the resources it needed to continue to fight the virus.

“I’m very comfortable that we’ve analyzed the communities where we have military bases. We’ve looked at what we think their medical requirements would be when an outbreak occurs or if an outbreak occurs in that community,” he said. “Do we have enough health care resources there? Is it the right mix of health care resources? That’s then allowed us to identify what medical capabilities from the military we can offer to help support the whole of government, or to support combatant commands in other parts of the world.”

Interested retirees can contact Human Resources Command, Reserve Personnel Management Directorate, at usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.g3-retiree-recall@mail.mil or call 502-613-4911.

Countries are starting to hoard food, threatening global trade

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 9.58.06 AM

By Isis Almeida and Agnieszka de Sousa

Kazakhstan, one of the world’s biggest shippers of wheat flour, banned exports of that product along with others, including carrots, sugar and potatoes. Serbia has stopped the flow of its sunflower oil and other goods. Russia is leaving the door open to shipment bans and said it’s assessing the situation weekly.
To be perfectly clear, there have been just a handful of moves and no sure signs that much more is on the horizon. Still, what’s been happening has raised a question: Is this the start of a wave of food nationalism that will further disrupt supply chains and trade flows?

“We’re starting to see this happening already — and all we can see is that the lockdown is going to get worse,” said Tim Benton, research director in emerging risks at think tank Chatham House in London.

Though food supplies are ample, logistical hurdles are making it harder to get products where they need to be as the coronavirus unleashes unprecedented measures, panic buying and the threat of labor crunches.

Consumers across the globe are still loading their pantries — and the economic fallout from the virus is just starting. The specter of more trade restrictions is stirring memories of how protectionism can often end up causing more harm than good. That adage rings especially true now as the moves would be driven by anxiety and not made in response to crop failures or other supply problems.

Related video: Food supply is not where it’s needed

As it is, many governments have employed extreme measures, setting curfews and limits on crowds or even on people venturing out for anything but to acquire essentials. That could spill over to food policy, said Ann Berg, an independent consultant and veteran agricultural trader who started her career at Louis Dreyfus Co. in 1974.

“You could see wartime rationing, price controls and domestic stockpiling,” she said.

Some nations are adding to their strategic reserves. China, the biggest rice grower and consumer, pledged to buy more than ever before from its domestic harvest, even though the government already holds massive stockpiles of rice and wheat, enough for one year of consumption.

Key wheat importers including Algeria and Turkey have also issued new tenders, and Morocco said a suspension on wheat-import duties would last through mid-June.

a close up of a map: Food Dependence© Bloomberg Food Dependence

As governments take nationalistic approaches, they risk disrupting an international system that has become increasingly interconnected in recent decades.

Kazakhstan had already stopped exports of other food staples, like buckwheat and onions, before the move this week to cut off wheat-flour shipments. That latest action was a much bigger step, with the potential to affect companies around the world that rely on the supplies to make bread.

For some commodities, a handful of countries, or even fewer, make up the bulk of exportable supplies. Disruptions to those shipments would have major global ramifications. Take, for example, Russia, which has emerged as the world’s top wheat exporter and a key supplier to North Africa.

“If governments are not working collectively and cooperatively to ensure there is a global supply, if they’re just putting their nations first, you can end up in a situation where things get worse,” said Benton of Chatham House.

He warned that frenzied shopping coupled with protectionist policies could eventually lead to higher food prices — a cycle that could end up perpetuating itself.

“If you’re panic buying on the market for next year’s harvest, then prices will go up, and as prices go up, policy makers will panic more,” he said.

And higher grocery bills can have major ramifications. Bread costs have a long history of kick-starting unrest and political instability. During the food price spikes of 2011 and 2008, there were food riots in more than 30 nations across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

“Without the food supply, societies just totally break,” Benton said.

Ample supplies have kept prices relatively low since the 2011 spike© Bloomberg Ample supplies have kept prices relatively low since the 2011 spike

Unlike previous periods of rampant food inflation, global inventories of staple crops like corn, wheat, soybeans and rice are plentiful, said Dan Kowalski, vice president of research at CoBank, a $145 billion lender to the agriculture industry, adding he doesn’t expect “dramatic” gains for prices now.

While the spikes of the last decade were initially caused by climate problems for crops, policies exacerbated the consequences. In 2010, Russia experienced a record heat wave that damaged the wheat crop. The government responded by banning exports to make sure domestic consumers had enough.

The United Nations’ measure of global food prices reached a record high by February 2011.

“Given the problem that we are facing now, it’s not the moment to put these types of policies into place,” said Maximo Torero, chief economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “On the contrary, it’s the moment to cooperate and coordinate.”

Read More on Food Issues in Virus Era:

There’s Plenty of Food in the World, Just Not Where It’s Needed

Americans Drop Kale and Quinoa to Lock Down With Chips and Oreos

Cargill Says China Offers Hope for Meat Markets Hit by Virus 

Of course, the few bans in place may not last, and signs of a return to normal could prevent countries from taking drastic measures. Once consumers start to see more products on shelves, they may stop hoarding, in turn allowing governments to back off. X5 Retail, Russia’s biggest grocer, said demand for staple foods is starting to stabilize. In the U.S., major stores like Walmart Inc. have cut store hours to allow workers to restock.

In the meantime, some food prices have already started going up because of the spike in buying.

Wheat futures in Chicago, the global benchmark, have climbed more than 6% in March as consumers buy up flour. U.S. wholesale beef has shot up to the highest since 2015, and egg prices are higher.

At the same time, the U.S. dollar is surging against a host of emerging-market currencies. That reduces purchasing power for countries that ship in commodities, which are usually priced in greenbacks.

n the end, whenever there’s a disruption for whatever reason, Berg said, “it’s the least-developed countries with weak currencies that get hurt the most.”

21 Million Chinese Cellphone Users Disappear in Three Months of Pandemic

A woman wearing a Minnie Mouse face mask looks at her mobile phone in Beijing on February 11, 2020. - The death toll from a new coronavirus outbreak surged past 1,000 on February 11 as the World Health Organization warned infected people who have not travelled to China could be …

By John Hayward – 3/24/2020

The opacity of the Chinese Communist government obliges responsible outside observers to look for clues to the truth of the coronavirus epidemic, instead of merely repeating official information without question.

The official count from China is 3,277 fatalities from 81,171 infections as of Tuesday, but the Epoch Times noted the troubling disappearance of some 21 million cell phone accounts in China over the past three months – an unprecedented decline that hints at more fatalities than Beijing is prepared to admit.

It should be stated at the outset that we should not be forced to read tea leaves to figure out what really happened in China, especially in the virus epicenter of Hubei province and the city of Wuhan, where Chinese officials are currently making claims of zero new infections that no one seriously believes. While more responsible governments issue troubling warnings of a second wave of infections, severe enough to prompt the re-imposition of quarantine procedures that were only recently lifted, China claims it has no second wave and all of its new coronavirus cases are imported.

With that in mind, the Epoch Times thought it was a bit odd for 21 million Chinese cell phones to abruptly disappear, given that cell phone usage has been increasing constantly in China for years, and phones have been touted as an important tool for containing the coronavirus epidemic:

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced on March 19 the number of phone users in each province in February. Compared with the previous announcement, which was released on Dec. 18, 2019, for November 2019 data, both cellphone and landline users dropped dramatically. In the same period the year before, the number of users increased.

The number of cellphone users decreased from 1.600957 billion to 1.579927 billion, a drop of 21.03 million. The number of landline users decreased from 190.83 million to 189.99 million, a drop of 840,000.

In the previous February, the number increased. According to MIIT, the number of cellphone users increased in February 2019 from 1.5591 billion to 1.5835 billion, which is 24.37 million more. The number of landline users increased from 183.477 million to 190.118 million, which is 6.641 million more.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s population at the end of 2019 was 4.67 million larger than in 2018, reaching 1.40005 billion.

The article went on to postulate that some of the landlines might have been shut down as a consequence of the coronavirus quarantines, particularly lines used by shuttered business operations, but the sheer magnitude of the cell phone user decline makes it more difficult to explain. China Mobile, the nation’s largest carrier, reported gaining 3.7 million new accounts in December but then losing over 8 million in January and February, months in which it posted gains of 3.5 million users the previous year.

The Epoch Times considered several explanations for the loss of users, such as migrant workers who kept different cell phones for their home and work cities – necessary due to some of China’s regulations on phone service – abandoning the work phone because it was not needed during the quarantine period, or people generally canceling their phone service because they wanted to save money during the hard months.

On the other hand, the government is currently requiring citizens to use their cell phones to generate “health codes” so their movements can be tracked and permission to travel can be restricted to healthy individuals, so as U.S.-based commentator Tang Jiangyuan put it, it is effectively “impossible for a person to cancel his cellphone.”

“Dealing with the government for pensions and social security, buying train tickets, shopping … no matter what people want to do, they are required to use cell phones,” Tang noted.

The New York Times explained just how heavily Chinese authorities are leaning on those cell phones to monitor their population, and not just for coronavirus infections:

The Times’s analysis found that as soon as a user grants the software access to personal data, a piece of the program labeled “reportInfoAndLocationToPolice” sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. The software does not make clear to users its connection to the police. But according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency and an official police social media account, law enforcement authorities were a crucial partner in the system’s development.

While Chinese internet companies often share data with the government, the process is rarely so direct. In the United States, it would be akin to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track the coronavirus, then quietly sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office.

The system, which relies on a unit of the immense Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, assigns users a green, yellow, or red “health code” in the style of a traffic light. Predictably, Chinese citizens find the opaque system cryptic and frightening, since the government has not explained exactly how it works.

“In some cities, residents now have to register their phone numbers with an app to take public transportation,” the Times added.

At the beginning of March, the so-called Alipay Health Code system had been launched in the city of Hangzhou, expanded to 200 other cities, and was on its way to a complete nationwide rollout. The rollout ran into some hitches over the following weeks, from technical glitches to confusion caused by local governments adding their own health codes to the already intimidating system.

A correspondent writing for Bloomberg News on March 18 reported using the system and said it was in the process of being “rolled out nationwide at railway stations, restaurants, pharmacies, and more.” Other reports in China have noted how cell phones are ubiquitous there and are employed for everything from accessing public and commercial resources to telecommuting to school during the coronavirus lockdown.

With this in mind, it might not be completely impossible to get by in Chinese cities without a cell phone at the moment, but it seems unlikely that a huge number of citizens would choose this moment to get rid of their phones.

“Lacking data, the real death toll in China is a mystery. The cancellation of 21 million cellphones provides a data point that suggests the real number may be far higher than the official number,” the Epoch Times concluded.

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑