A cartoon in last week’s Spectator (British) showed a couple in front of their TV set listening to endless news on the coronavirus. The husband turned to his wife and said, “I sure miss Brexit.” British readers will remember that the news was dominated by Brexit for 3 ½ years!
When we first got a television set in the late 1950’s, TV news lasted ten minutes in the evening. That’s all. If the coronavirus had been around then, we would have avoided all the panic and negativity that surrounds it now. With an uncountable number of 24/7 news channels, we are daily saturated with news of the virus. It’s overwhelming us and affecting people mentally as well as physically.
There is no toilet paper available anywhere in the Lansing area (at least I haven’t found any). No drinking water, either. For some inexplicable reason, stores have also run out of vegetarian beans. Entire rows of shelving are empty. From Monday afternoon at 3pm, all restaurants and bars in Michigan will have to close. They will only be allowed to sell take-out food. Schools closed from Monday for at least three weeks. We are all encouraged to stay home. In England, if one person in the family gets sick, then everybody should self-isolate for 14 days to allow the virus to run its course.
It’s affecting international relations, with flights between Europe and America suspended for a month.
The virus is changing the world. The gradual advancement of globalization over the last 75 years is under severe strain, with nations increasingly looking after themselves. Some European countries have closed their borders to their neighbors and are not following the lead of the EU in their national affairs. It’s a case of every country for itself.
Will we ever return to normalcy?
Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU German-Foreign-Policy, 18 March, 2020
Newsletter – EU Solidarity (II) – Experts expect the Corona crisis to have a serious impact on the EU and speculate a possible disintegration of the Union. According to an expert in the USA, the heavy human toll that the pandemic will exact and the feeling “that the European institutions are not helping,” could give rise to centrifugal tendencies, particularly in those countries hardest hit, such as Italy and Spain, which are also the countries deeply indebted. Tensions between Germany, on the one hand, and France and Italy on the other, have been already increasing since Berlin unilaterally closed Germany’s borders, thereby annulling the Schengen Agreements. Whereas the Élysée Palace has angrily complained about “the unilateral measures at the borders,” the pro-EU Italian daily La Repubblica, notes that Berlin, rather than a detailed coordination “with the partners,” in one of the worst crises the Union has faced, it pursues “a national logic.” Therefore, the Covid-19 virus has “swept away” the last remaining “illusions” about the EU. (https://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/news/detail/8222/)
“Stay home” is not a sufficient plan
by James Hamlin, March 11, 2020, The Atlantic
This coronavirus is unknown to our species. Once it breaks into one of our cells, the extent of its spread through the body seems to vary significantly. The experience can slowly progress from the familiar— cough, congestion, fever — to a life-threatening inflammatory response as the virus spreads down into the lungs, filling the airways with fluid. Survivors can have permanent scarring in the lungs. The virus can also spread into other organs, causing liver damage or gastrointestinal disease. These effects can play out over longer periods than in the flu, sometimes waxing and waning. Some patients have begun to feel better, then fallen critically ill. The disease can be fatal despite receiving optimal medical care.
In retrospect, was it wise to have relied on China to produce essential parts for the supply chains of goods vital to our national security? Does it appear wise to have moved the production of pharmaceuticals and lifesaving drugs for heart disease, strokes and diabetes to China? Does it appear wise to have allowed China to develop a virtual monopoly on rare earth minerals crucial to the development of weapons for our defense? (Pat Buchanan, 3/13/2020)
In the corona crisis, the German government has initiated measures aiding the German economy, but refuses urgently recommended measures by the WHO for protecting the population. Berlin is doing “everything” to prevent the coronavirus COVID-19 from “affecting the economy throughout Germany,” German Minster of the Economy, Peter Altmaier, was quoted saying early this month. The measures are reinforcing positions of German businesses vis à vis their global rivals. The following steps will be discussed tomorrow, Friday. At the same time, the government is opposing the closure of schools and kindergartens, as WHO and leading experts are recommending, because children transmit the virus for a longer period than adults, according to initial studies. Germany’s Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, on the other hand, declared that closing schools should be avoided, so that parents are still available as workers for the enterprises. This, however, would eliminate any possibility of containment of the virus, as several Asian countries have been able to do. According to Chancellor Angela Merkel, “60 to 70 percent” of the population could be infected – throughout Germany. (German Foreign Policy, 3/12/2020)
New Zealand’s PM has said nearly everyone entering the country from midnight on Sunday must self-isolate to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Jacinda Ardern said the new measure also included returning New Zealanders. The only exemption is for small Pacific islands with no confirmed virus cases. “I make no apologies. This is an unprecedented time,” Ms. Ardern said, describing the new rules as the strictest in the world. New Zealand has six confirmed cases. (BBC, 3/14/2020)
FINANCIAL PROBLEMS STARTED A LONG TIME AGO
A decade of aggressive risk-taking, nurtured in part by central banks, has ended in traumatic fashion. This week marked the biggest one-day falls for Wall Street and UK equities since the great crash of 1987 while European bourses recorded all-time daily slumps. In the space of just a few weeks, record equity peaks and elevated credit valuations have succumbed to a long-feared moment of reckoning. Government bond markets had been warning for a while that 2020 was going to be make-or-break for global economic growth. Meanwhile, the leaderboard in stock markets had been dominated by defensive, high-quality companies — another signal that cast doubt on the widely held view that corporate earnings would rebound strongly this year. But such signs were mostly ignored. Money poured into corporate bonds, emerging markets and already crowded equity sectors such as US technology shares, pushing valuations toward extreme levels. Until last month, that is. When questioned about the risk-versus-reward dynamic of buying assets at these prices in recent months, the response from professional investors pretty much boiled down to a need to “put money to work”, accompanied by a wink suggesting that central banks had their backs. This week’s rout in markets is of giant proportions, triggered by an oil price war on top of an escalating health crisis across Europe and North America. An abrupt US travel ban on Europeans for 30 days triggered Thursday’s sharp sell-off across markets. The adverse sentiment also acknowledged the limited monetary ammunition central banks have, leaving investors wondering whether the fiscal response in Europe and the US can offset the economic damage currently being wrought. (This market was in trouble long before the virus hit. (Michael MacKenzie, Financial Times, 3/14/2020)
Cyril Ramaphosa lists countries on South Africa’s travel ban
“We will limit contact between persons who may be infected. We’re imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. We have cancelled visas from those countries. We advise against all travel to the EU, the United States, China, Iran, the UK and South Korea – this is effective immediately.
“Any foreign national who has visited these countries in the past 20 days, will be denied a visa. Anyone returning to South Africa from these high-risk countries will be quarantined for 14 days. All travelers who entered SA from these nations since mid-February, are asked to get themselves tested.” (15 March, 2020)
Netanyahu’s trial delayed by over 2 months as court activity limited over virus
As country slows down with introduction of fresh far-reaching rules in attempt to stop pandemic, May 24 date announced just two days before scheduled hearing
The opening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial in three corruption cases has been pushed off by more than two months due to new restrictions on Israel’s courts as part of the new measures to combat the coronavirus, the Jerusalem District Court announced Sunday morning. The move comes just two days before the scheduled March 17 hearing, which according to the Courts Administration of Israel has now been postponed until May 24. “In light of developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus, and taking into account the latest guidelines given and the declaration of a state of emergency in the courts, we have decided to cancel the scheduled hearing,” the three judges presiding over the case wrote in their announcement. On Saturday night, Justice Minister Amir Ohana declared a 24-hour “state of emergency” in Israel’s court system, “as part of the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
Zimbabwe Govt Minister blames USA+EU for coronavirus: President corrects
The Herald, Zimbabwe, 16 March 2020
[Zimbabwe] – Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri . . . at the weekend insinuated that COVID-19 was God’s response to countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri was speaking at a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association meeting in Chinhoyi on Saturday. She said in Shona: “This coronavirus that has come are sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us. God is now punishing them and they are staying indoors now, while their economy is screaming like what they did to ours by imposing sanctions on us. “Trump should know that he is not God. They must face the consequences of coronavirus, so that they also feel the pain.” . . . President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe stands by the international community in fighting the Covid-19, and that it was time to look after each other, especially the weak and vulnerable.
AN ALTERNATIVE THOUGHT
DAILYKENN.com – God is punishing the USA and other Western nations for its sanctions on Zimbabwe, the African nation’s defense minister said.
Oppah Muchinguri said the coronavirus is God’s punishment for “sanctions against the countries that have imposed sanctions on us,” according to reports.
Zimbabwe has suffered a decades-long downward spiral after ousting the Rhodesian government. White settlers rescued the region from a millennia of indescribable misery, replacing it with a wonderland of amazing technological advancement. Those advancements included modern health care that has saved the lives of countless millions of black Africans.
Could it be that God has blessed Western nations for colonizing African regions and introducing them to advanced technologies? (dailykenn, 3/17/2020)
Now it’s time to lose the two most famous phrases of the moment.
One is “Don’t panic!” The other is “an abundance of caution.”
“Don’t panic” is what nervous, defensive people say when someone warns of coming trouble. They don’t want to hear it, so their message is “Don’t worry like a coward, be blithely unconcerned like a brave person.” One way or another we’ve heard it a lot from administration people.
This is how I’ve experienced it: “Captain, that appears to be an iceberg.” “Don’t panic, officer, full steam ahead.”
“Admiral, concentrating our entire fleet in one port seems tempting fate.” “We don’t need your alarmist fantasies, ensign.”
“We’re picking up increased chatter about an al Qaeda action.” “Your hand-wringing is duly noted.”
“Don’t panic,” in the current atmosphere, is a way of shutting up people who are using their imaginations as a protective tool. It’s an implication of cowardice by cowards. As for “abundance of caution,” at this point, in a world-wide crisis, the cautions we must take aren’t abundant, they’re reasonable and realistic.
(Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal opinion (extract), March 12, 2020)
Spain welcomes post-Brexit chance for Gibraltar talks with UK
Madrid interested in pragmatic accords with territory, says foreign minister
Spain’s foreign minister has welcomed post-Brexit talks with the UK as an “incredible opportunity” for the countries to address the status of Gibraltar after centuries of dispute. Arancha González reacted warmly to calls by Gibraltar’s government for a free-movement area with Spain and suggested that traditional concepts of sovereignty were less important than a series of recent accords on issues such as tax and fighting contraband.
Spain has sought to regain sovereignty over Gibraltar since Britain took control of the Mediterranean territory through the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Madrid has at times instigated delays at its border with Gibraltar, hitting the territory’s economy.
However, Ms, González, who took office last month after a career focusing on international trade, argued that Spain needed to focus on “21st century sovereignty” and practical issues that would strengthen ties with the territory. “We have an incredible opportunity to fix a number of things that we have not been able to fix in the last 300 years,” she told the Financial Times. “At the end of the day, whatever agreement we find . . . will have to work for them [for Gibraltar] and it will have to work for us; that’s the only red line in reality.” . . . She added: “The Gibraltar population needs the Spaniards to function and the Spaniards need the Gibraltarians in order to enhance their prosperity . . . What matters in the 21st century is managing interdependence.” Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, has called for a special deal in which Gibraltar would become part of Europe’s Schengen free-movement area, adding that under such an arrangement, the number of Spaniards working in the territory could increase dramatically. (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved)
Bombshell letters expose Belgian trawlers fishing off Britain’s Brighton Pier BREXIT means the UK can finally take back control of its fishing waters, but there are fears that foreign vessels may continue to use them illegally – and documents unearthed by Express.co.uk have revealed a row over claims Belgian trawlers were spotted fishing off Brighton Pier in the Seventies.
Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which came into effect in 1983, EU countries have full access to each other’s fishing waters. National quotas were divided up using historical data, which many British fishermen feel the UK got a raw deal out of. Currently, around 68 percent of the fish caught in UK waters are caught by foreign vessels. Outside the EU, the UK would be entitled to its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which stretches up to 200 miles away from its shores or up to the median point between it and its neighbor (e.g. halfway across the Irish Sea or English Channel). However, before the CFP, boats from other European countries used to flout the UK’s fishing limits. For example, the UK had general fishing limits of 12 miles, but France and Belgium were entitled to fish in the 6-12 miles – and, even then, Belgian vessels were accused of fishing even closer to Britain’s shoreline. According to documents unearthed by Express.co.uk in the National Archives, there were accusations of persistent breaches of the six mile limit by Belgian trawlers off Brighton and the Sussex coast in the early Seventies.
Germany plans to send a warship to the Indian Ocean The German Navy plans to send its frigate Hamburg to the Indian Ocean in June to conduct port visits and partake in a regional, naval powwow on the French island of Réunion, the service announced March 12 Cologne, Germany, Defense News, 12 March 2020
The planned Hamburg deployment comes as Germany’s defense leaders test the waters for new engagements far from home. The sea service especially is seen by some as a potential harbinger for the type of out-of-area missions that the homeland defense-focused German military wants to expand to underwrite its geopolitical ambitions. “German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Andreas Krause has for years argued that Germany needs a presence in the Indian Ocean.” . . . Bruns said the Navy has been operating in the Indian Ocean’s environs for some time, with mine clearing in the Arabian Gulf, counterterrorism missions under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom and the European Union’s counter-piracy operation, Atalanta, off the coast of Somalia. “The Indian Ocean is a vibrant and strategically important maritime theater,” he said. “German sea lines of communication run through the area, and the great powers are wrestling for influence.”
Krause . . . outlined the country’s maritime spheres of interest in a Defense News op-ed last December. “They range from the northern flank, i.e., the north Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, down to the Mediterranean, and extend into the wider Indian Ocean region.”
The political rise of southern Africa’s machete gangs
Zimbabwe News, 16 March 2020
A dangerous cocktail of unemployment, social exclusion, poverty, corruption and gold smuggling has led to the rise of violent machete gangs, which are offering their services to local power brokers and criminal gangs fighting for power in both Mozambique and Zimbabwe. International media reports have shown that Islamist militants have carried out a number of brutal attacks and killings in Mozambique that have left hundreds dead and displaced more than 65,000 people, according to estimates by humanitarian agencies including Human Rights Watch. A wave of violence perpetrated by a criminal gang in Cabo Delgado, 2,000 kilometres north of Maputo, in the far north of Mozambique near the border with Tanzania, came to public attention after shocking armed attacks on police stations in October 2017. The group deploys thugs to attack and decapitate people, apparently indiscriminately, with machetes and firearms, and burn down houses and villages as part of its campaign of terror aimed at forcing the Mozambican state to adopt extreme Islamist practices. A study found the group wants the full adoption of Sharia law, along with an Islamic education system. Its membership is drawn from among unemployed and marginalized youth, particularly speakers of the Kimwani language, the study said.
The gangs, operating under code names “MaShurugwi” or “Mabhemba,” have been linked to senior officials, right up to the top of the government. This may explain their boldness — they appear to operate with impunity; few arrests are ever made; they have even, on several occasions, invaded hospitals to finish off their victims; and are not averse to raiding police stations to free fellow gang members.
Coronavirus: Hundreds gather to pray at Wailing Wall Posted: 17 Mar 2020 03:16 AM PDT
DAILYKENN.com — Thousands were expected to show up at the Wailing Wall to pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds showed up.
Worshipers recited prayers and Psalms, sang and even danced in a circle, asking God to help in the finding of a cure for the disease, in a ceremony promoted by Chief Rabbi of Safed and president of the Rabbinical Community Association Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu in partnership with the Israeli branch of the US Orthodox Union.
TO THE POINT
- A newspaper in Darwin, Australia, included a few blank pages last Saturday. It was their way of helping readers get through the shortage of toilet paper! I well remember my mother talking about the Depression and how her family had to use newspaper, at a time when the print often came off onto your skin. It led to some humorous comments. Toilet paper was not invented until 1857. Now we can’t imagine life without it.
- Beijing has, according to President Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, already nationalized one American factory making medical masks. Moreover, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on air repeatedly said the Chinese forced at least one ship carrying masks, gloves, and other protective gear to the United States to return to China. (Gordon C. Chang, Gatestone, 3/17/2020)
- Dailykenn.com – If you don’t like diversity, get out of the country. That is the message of Tunahan Kuzu, the leader of a Muslim political party in The Netherlands, to native Dutch. DENK is a relatively new political party, having been formed in 2015. It is largely comprised of Turkish Muslims. (3/11/2020)
- Good sleep hygiene is the new wellness goal. Try telling that to an eight-month-old baby. (Hadley Freeman, the Guardian, 3/14/2020)
- The call for a National Day of Prayer on Sunday should have included a call to repentance. The US continues to kill 1.3 million babies a year, is the world’s leading producer of pornography and peoples’ morals are sadly lacking. We need to change a great deal before we can expect God to listen to us.
- One of the first casualties of the coronavirus is “Playboy” magazine which is to cease publication with the Spring issue.