By Dr. John Campbell
By Dr. John Campbell
The new epicenter of the dreaded pandemic, Italy, has been struggling to stop the spread of Covid-19 for weeks now. The disease has already killed more than six thousand people in the country, with over 60 thousand people infected.
The EU clearly underestimated the virus, blaming the outbreak in Italy on its national healthcare system flaws, according to the two-time foreign minister and OSCE representative. As a result, Brussels, which preaches pan-European solidarity, failed to act when this solidarity was needed in the face of a crisis that eventually affected the entire bloc.
Frankly speaking, Brussels is not doing enough. At the very first moment, Italy was practically alone against the virus. Many said it was all because of the Italian habits, because Italians do not respect the rules. Suddenly, they realized all the other countries were equally affected.
The situation in other major EU states like Germany and France deteriorated rapidly, forcing them to deal with thousands of infected on their own soil.
“Everyone just focused on the situation at home before even thinking about helping others,” Andrea Giannotti, the executive director of the Italian Institute of Eurasian Studies, told RT.
The lack of solidarity was recently noted from outside of the bloc – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic decried European solidarity as a myth, while praising Beijing for its assistance. His remarks came after Serbia received five million masks from China, which it could not get in Europe.
The EU is now trying “to do more” and somehow “make up” for its initial poor execution of a coordinated response, former Italian MP Dario Rivolta said.
Brussels has indeed ramped up its efforts, suspending the bloc’s strict Stability and Growth Pact regulating budgetary policy among others. Frattini particularly hailed this decision, which allows Rome to act freely in terms of budgetary spending, as “very important.” But this came only after Europe “realized its [measures] were inadequate to give a united response.”
Still, it is not enough, Rivolta told RT, adding that “for the moment,” there are no major changes. And while financial relief is necessary, there are other things to be considered, such as medical assistance.
“As for the medical aspects, the only thing that the EU did up to now was to put barriers between Italy and other countries.”
At one point, requests for help were sent out all over the world, according to Giannotti.
“Some Italian embassies were tasked with negotiating with local governments in order to find any opportunities to receive assistance from abroad, including help with equipment, which Italy lacks.” Russia and China were among those who responded.
In total, Moscow prepared nine cargo planes with emergency aid, delivering vital medical equipment and supplies, as well as bringing experienced specialists in infectious diseases and military doctors to Italy. Now they will be deployed to the most affected regions in the country’s north.
Frattini said the help was of the utmost importance: “What Russia has done is not comparable to what other countries have done, including China because China also sent something but not comparable with the support provided by Russia.”
The specialists have provided “very huge support in terms of expertise… in terms of virology.”
The assistance serves as a gesture of solidarity in times of European sanctions on Moscow and the counter-measures, Giannotti said. Sending help “despite [the fact] the situation in Russia itself may also worsen” means it is a clear message that Moscow is ready to talk and settle issues with Europe when there is a greater need for cooperation.
Speaking to RT, the Italian ambassador to Russia, Pasquale Terracciano, agreed that a joint approach is the best way to put an end to the pandemic.
Thanking Moscow for the contribution, he said: “It will be crucial to recover from this tragic situation, hopefully soon.”
By Cristina Laila – March 24, 2020
“I don’t have time to follow people’s twits…tweets, Twitters, whatever, tweets — so don’t expect me to comment on that,” Pelosi said.
“Well, even beyond Twitter, the President of the United States is signaling that he could open it up,” Bash said.
“What is your opinion on that?” Bash said pressing Pelosi.
“I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care!” Pelosi said as CNN’s Dana Bash brought up Trump’s plans to open America back up for business soon.
“It is not scientific based — he’s notion mongering,” Pelosi slurred.
Of course Pelosi doesn’t care about Americans going back to work. She wants America shut down while she holds the country hostage and tries to shove her Socialist wish list through Congress.
President Trump on Tuesday appeared on Fox News for a town hall to discuss his administration’s ongoing efforts to combat the Coronavirus.
Trump said he would likely open the country back up by Easter (April 12).
“I would love to have [the country] open by Easter,” Trump said. “It’s such an important day for other reasons.”
By John Hayward – 3/24/2020
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.
By Peak Prosperity 3/23/2020
By Peter Andrews
Economics is the study of choices, and never more so than now. It’s now clear that, with the coronavirus pandemic causing widespread chaos that economists believe will cause a prolonged economic depression, the choices that each person makes have the power to affect their country’s and the world’s economy over the coming weeks and months. With the caveat that much depends on those individual choices and the actions of governments, here is our current assessment of which places are likely to be worst-hit economically, as well as a few that might come out rosier than most.
Singapore might be the perfect recipe for coronavirus containment. A rich city-state with a world class universal healthcare system, a pandemic response plan in place ever since they were badly hit by the SARS virus in 2003, and healthy lashings of state-enforced social control mean they quickly knew exactly how and where 100 of their first 112 confirmed cases became infected. Astonishingly, their non-oil exports grew in February, owing mostly to an increase in shipments of pharmaceuticals and various manufactured goods to America, Japan and the EU. Their regional trade with China and the rest of Southeast Asia will suffer, though, and their economy is a trade-based one. Therefore, they are likely to enter a recession this year, along with the rest of the world. But the early signs suggest they may be better off than a lot of places, though.
Sometimes, it pays to be a totalitarian state. And to go first. China’s stifling of the contagion that started the trail of devastation has been miraculous, albeit achieved through the sort of state enforcement other countries would find difficult to enact. For the most populous country on Earth to go into a state of universal lockdown, with meetings or gatherings of any kind forbidden and essentially no individual movement outside of one’s own home permitted, requires a strong level of police enforcement, and the end of all but the most rudimentary personal freedoms. But it sure is working. China has been seeing the number of new cases decline, with none being home-grown — all their new infections — it reported 39 today — are from people returning home from abroad.
In the early days of the pandemic, economists were predicting a sharp decline in China’s economy followed by a sharp bounce back, a so-called V-shaped curve. But as the crisis has worsened experts are now forecasting a longer, deeper downturn, one that will take longer to escape from. But, having been the first to suffer, they will be the first to emerge from it. After the Communist Party has held the entire population of the country in its grip for the duration of this lockdown, without any major public unrest, they will come out the other side poorer, but arguably with even more political control than before. Which Beijing will use to help make a swift economic recovery, using its technological and manufacturing muscle.
Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency tweeting and boasting about how strong the US economy has been… and he’s been right. The economy has been steadily growing ever since the last global crisis in 2009, and in 2019 the period became the longest global expansion on record. But that expansion will become yet another victim of coronavirus before the summer is out. And there appears not to really be a reference for how bad things could get. Bill Ackman, the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, has begged President Trump on CNBC to beg to shut down the American economy for 30 days and put the country in a nationwide lockdown. “America will end as we know it unless we take this option”, he said. When hedge fund managers are praying for the economy to be SHUT DOWN in order to protect it, you know things are bad.
Comparisons to the Great Depression of the 1930s are common, with the majority consensus leaning towards the Covid-19 Depression of the 2020s being worse. JP Morgan is predicting a 14% slash in the US economy this quarter (alongside an eye-watering 22% in the Eurozone) while another forecast yesterday warned US unemployment could rise to 30% and overall GDP could decline by a staggering 50% in the second quarter. Depending on how quickly the Federal Reserve can pump money out to businesses at the same time as stemming the contagion as much as they can, then this could be anything between a gigantic global recession for at least six months, to the worst economic crisis in history, with depths as yet unplumbed. America, as the centre of the Western world’s economy, is going to feel the pain most.
No prizes for predicting that Italy will have suffered more than most when the dust settles on this crisis. A middle-sized country with a small economy, they find themselves overtaking patient zero China in numbers of active cases and dead. Italy has everything working against it. An elderly population more susceptible to the disease. An economy heavily reliant on tourism which will be decimated. And huge debts.
They were already a heavily indebted country that had suffered possibly more than any other European country through their membership of the Eurozone. And they were hardly a united cohesive society either, with the poorer south harboring ancient resentments against the richer north, which has experienced the centre of the outbreak. Footage of Italians singing from their balconies has been inspiring, and perhaps this crisis will bring them closer together as a country, as only tragedy can. But any other silver linings are hard to see for The Boot of Europe.
The Korean Republic is exerting a similarly strong defensive action to Singapore against the virus. They also have huge Big Data capabilities for mass testing and contact tracing, utilising citizens’ mobile phone and credit card data to decide who to test in the first place. They are no strangers to outbreaks either, as the 2015 MERS outbreak taught them lessons about how to minimize the impact on the health services. As for their economy, though, it was not in great shape leading up to this, and the damage to trade links within Asia will hurt them badly. The epicenter of their coronavirus outbreak is in the manufacturing region, and a Hyundai factory has already closed its doors there. But if it spreads to Seoul they will be in even bigger trouble, as that could shut down the business and finance sectors.
Australia is another country highly dependent on trade with China, and is predicted to be the hardest hit economy in the world outside of China itself and Hong Kong. China is also Australia’s biggest source of tourism revenue, and that twin-pronged attack on their economy is sure to do major lasting damage. This could not have come at a worse time for them either, straight off the back of a summer of rampant bushfires that did huge economic and reputational damage. Already, the Australian dollar is trading at very low values. Worrying times for Aussie people and politicians alike.
OK, Africa is obviously not a country, but there’s no point in trying to predict which of the already-fragile economies in that vast and troubled continent will be worst affected by coronavirus, when it does spread widely there. Africa has more than enough problems without yet another killer virus, but it has been largely ignored in discussions about global impacts of Covid-19 thus far. Frighteningly, most African countries are acutely vulnerable: many have fewer than 10 hospital beds per 10,000 people; they have many crowded, impoverished townships where there’s a lack of water to wash hands and little space to self-isolate; and few have any contingency plans or resources to cope with such an outbreak. According to NKC African Economics, Angola, Gabon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tunisia, Zambia and Kenya are the African countries most at risk of debt distress in the likely event of a global recession. Slowdowns in the rest of the world pose a grave threat to African countries’ already precarious trade links to Europe and Asia.
Damage to a country’s economy is a direct product of steps taken to hinder the spread of the virus itself. If absolutely no measures were taken by a country, and companies remained open and everything was business as usual, their economy would be unaffected. With the exception, that is, of the untenable pressure that would soon be brought on the health services in that scenario. With a high peak in Covid-19 cases, the health services would quickly be overwhelmed, and people would start dying on the streets or at home without the slightest hope of even the most basic medical intervention. Clearly, this is not an acceptable state of affairs, which is why such drastic, possibly recession-triggering measures are being taken, all in an effort to save as many lives as possible.
Governments are doing what they can, which is essentially throwing huge, unprecedented sums of money to try to avert a prolonged crash and to keep their economies running. Most commentators cite wartime measures as the only comparable action. And the world is at war, against an enemy that, if left to run amok, will cripple the economy, ruin livelihoods and perhaps kill hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people. How well we combat it will determine all of our futures.
MARCH 20, 2020
Wilson, who regularly appears on CNN and MSNBC programming to bash the President, was reposing to the announcement that Melania Trump will appear in coronavirus PSAs.
Wilson, a former GOP strategist, was most recently in the news when he and CNN’s Don Lemon, along with New York Times op-ed writer Wajahat Ali, traded impressions of ‘dumb redneck’ Trump supporters on air.
The exchange was later used by the GOP in ads to show how elitist and out of touch with everyday Americans these vile leftists are:
Following backlash, Wilson doubled down, calling the response “contrived phony bullshit outrage,” and using the attention to advertise his anti-Trump book titled ‘Running Against the Devil.’
Wilson has also previously called for the donor class to “put a bullet in” Donald Trump, and has also suggested that anti-vaxxers should be put in re-education camps and have their children taken away.
Wilson has also expressed hope for a recession so that Trump’s reelection chances would be hurt.