Episode 249 – Freedom is just another word for – I need to eat

According to The Fist, many Americans are demanding the freedom to work because they are broke and they know that no-one is going to help them.

Why Does Trevor Bang on about America

Because it is more interesting. When an authoritarian regime like China fucks people it’s just plain obvious. Everyone knows. But when the USA does it through economic power and controlling the narrative it is not so obvious and people don’t know. That is more interesting.

Plus, it’s not every day you get to witness the demise of the most powerful civilisation in history.

The USA is truly a failed state.

USA Protestors

Find some sympathy.

The Video

Libertarian ideals mix with a Methodist work ethic in a state where welfare assistance won’t be forthcoming and the prols know it.

These rallies have the same DNA as the Tea Party.

These people are angry and they want to protest their precarious circumstances but they have been brainwashed by Fox and by American culture so they don’t understand who they should blame.

As a matter of pride it’s easier to say I want to work rather than I have to work.

Trump tweets “Liberate Michigan”

Trump is Gaslighting

From Wikipedia

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents occurred to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by her husband in the 1938 stage play Gas Light,[4] and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944.[5] In the story, the husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The play’s title alludes to how the abusive husband slowly dims the gas lights in their home, while pretending nothing has changed, in an effort to make his wife doubt her own perceptions. He further uses the lights in the sealed-off attic to secretly search for jewels belonging to a woman whom he has murdered. He makes loud noises as he searches, including talking to himself. The wife repeatedly asks her husband to confirm her perceptions about the dimming lights, noises and voices, but in defiance of reality, he keeps insisting that the lights are the same and instead it is she who is going insane.[6]:8 He intends on having her assessed and committed to a mental institution, after which he will be able to gain power of attorney over her and search more effectively.

Trump is blaming Democratic State Governors and The Who and China.

He could win. Trump supporters will walk over broken glass to vote for him. Democrat supporters won’t or can’t do the same for Biden.

Fortunately we have a calendar of shame

Texas

From the John Menadue Blog

But a more useful comparison is Australia versus Texas as they have similar population sizes and urban population densities even though Australia is actually bigger than Texas – a fact which may not be generally known in the Lone Star State outside Austin.

Australia’s population is 25.5 million and Texas’ is 29.9 million. As at April 18 in Australia we have carried out 391,000 tests – Texas 170,000. We have 6,533 reported cases – Texas 17,760. Australia has 2,647 active cases – Texas 13,131. In Australia 65 have died – in Texas 439. In Australia 3,821 have recovered and in Texas 4,190. Our fatality rate so far is 1.7% – in Texas it is 9.5%.

Texas has done less than half the testing of Australia but, despite lower testing rates, Texas has more than twice the number of reported cases and five times the number of active cases.

In Australia the death toll is highest among the old. In Texas it is highest among poor Texans and those of Hispanic origin. Indeed, the toll is heaviest on those who – when they do vote – tend to vote Democrat. A convenient outcome for Republican Governor, Greg Abbott.

So well may we say: only in America!

US Federal Authorities are seizing medical supplies

From the New England Journal of Medicine

Andrew W. Artenstein, M.D.
Baystate Health, Springfield, MA

As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. Protecting our caregivers is essential so that these talented professionals can safely provide compassionate care to our patients. Yet we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming.

Our supply-chain group has worked around the clock to secure gowns, gloves, face masks, goggles, face shields, and N95 respirators. These employees have adapted to a new normal, exploring every lead, no matter how unusual. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.

A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker’s professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.

Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

From Intelligencer

In this instance, the executive managed to secure the supplies, but what is most horrifying about his account is that this experience was not all that surprising to him — he expected interference from federal officials, and did everything he could (including staging the shipment in food-service trucks to avoid detection) to get around that interference.

Those measures do not seem unusual, horrifyingly enough. Last month, 3 million masks ordered by the state of Massachusetts were seized by the federal government. Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, was arranging secret chartered flights of supplies as a way of outmaneuvering federal interference. “The governor has clearly outlined the challenges this administration has faced as we’ve worked around the clock to purchase PPE for our health-care workers and first responders,” a spokesperson for the governor told the paper. “The supply chain has been likened to the Wild West, and once you have purchased supplies, ensuring they get to the state is another Herculean feat,” he continued. “These flights are carrying millions of masks and gloves our workers need. They’re scheduled to land in Illinois in the coming weeks and the state is working to ensure these much-needed supplies are protected and ready for distribution around the state.” A source “knowledgeable about the flights” told the paper that the governor didn’t want to be more open about the shipments “because we’ve heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.”

… in many cases, states are legally barred from deficit spending, which means in times of crisis, especially those producing huge budget shortfalls through collapsing tax revenue, they are functionally unable to respond at all. In such situations, the federal government is designed to serve as a backstop, but over and over again throughout this crisis, the White House has said states will get little to no help — that they are entirely on their own. (The federal medical stockpile isn’t meant for the states, as Jared Kushner has said, as though the country is anything more than its states.)

On top of that outrage, the Feds are bidding against states who are trying to buy their own supplies, and refusing to interfere in those auctions between states, which have driven prices up by ten times or more. But while you might think that was as bad as federal management of this crisis could be, it is not. This new outrage is deeper: Even those states that are trying to manage their own resources, buying equipment themselves with incredibly scarce resources to aid in a time of crisis, are being stopped, and those resources seized on the way to delivery.

You could call this piracy. You could call it sanctions. The federal government is choking supply chains to states like it chokes supply chains to Iran and North Korea. These blockades aren’t as complete as those surrounding sanctioned regimes, of course, and some amount of the disruption may be honest confusion in a time of crisis. But the disruption is being brought about by federal interference, and unlike the kind of disruptions you’d want to engineer against antagonistic states, the purpose seems completely unclear — indeed the policy is inexplicable and indefensible.

 . What business do the DHS and FEMA have with ventilators and PPE purchases by governors and local hospitals? “This is like a story out of the last days of the Soviet Union,” David Frum wrote on Twitter, of the NEJM letter. “This is what it means to be a failed state,” wrote the essayist Umair Haque, echoing him. In the absence of an explanation, it is hard to come to any conclusion other than that this is simply mafia government, exerting control for the sake of control, not in spite of but because of the crisis-led demand, and squeezing the American people, as they die in hospital beds and attend — with inadequate protection — to the sick and scared.

Trump and the WHO

The Crikey Version

From Crikey

Q: Did the WHO really appoint Robert Mugabe to be its goodwill ambassador?

A: Yes. It happened in October 2017. WHO’s newly-appointed director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made an early blunder when he announced the (now deceased) Zimbabwean dictator would be a WHO goodwill ambassador. He was forced to rescind the appointment four days later.

Dr Tedros, as he prefers to be known, is a former Ethiopian government minister with a PhD in community health from the UK’s Nottingham University. He is the first African leader of the WHO and the first to have no medical qualifications.

Q: Did the WHO endorse dubious Chinese claims on COVID-19?

A: Yes, to a degree. On January 14 the WHO tweeted that “early investigations” showed Chinese authorities had found “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” of the coronavirus.

Yet three days before — on January 11 — a CT scan of whistleblower doctor, Dr Li Wenliang, confirmed that both his lungs were infected with the new virus.

Q: What about Taiwan?

A: Tricky. Taiwan has been one of the world’s undisputed leaders in containing the spread of the coronavirus, but it’s shut out of the WHO because of China’s opposition.

WHO’s geopolitical problem reached farcical heights when WHO’s assistant director-general Bruce Aylward appeared to dodge a question on Taiwan from a Hong Kong interviewer last month. Asked if the WHO might consider allowing Taiwan to join, Aylward claimed, after a long pause, that he had been unable to hear the question, asked to move to a different topic, and then appeared to hang up when pressed on Taiwan.

Q: Did the WHO really endorse the Chinese government’s decision to allow wet markets to re-open?

A: Yes it did. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg slammed the move as “unbelievable, extraordinary”. Scott Morrison called it “unfathomable”, given that a market in Wuhan city is considered the source of the COVID-19 virus, possibly from an infected bat. The infectious disease SARS is also thought to have emerged from animals, present in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002.

Q: Is China exporting traditional medicine remedies linked to exotic animals with the WHO’s support? 

A: Yes. As China specialist and emeritus professor at Swinburne University of Technology John Fitgerald wrote in Crikey last week, China’s president Xi Jinping is a champion of traditional chinese medicine which uses ingredients drawn from exotic animals such as pangolins which are found in wet markets:

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is a significant and growing source of revenue for China … A thriving and growing international consumer market for pangolin meat and scales, rhinoceros horns, leopard bones, tiger plasters, black bear bile, donkey hide, and kangaroo penises is a predictable outcome of the grandiose repackaging and political marketing of TCM as a global equivalent to evidence-based medicine in Xi Jinping’s New Era of global leadership.

The Guardian Version

From The Guardian

When a pandemic strikes, the world’s leading experts convene – physically or virtually – in a hi-tech chamber in the basement of the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization.

It is called the “strategic health operations centre”, or SHOC, an appropriately urgent acronym for a place where life and death decisions are taken, and it is where critical choices were made in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

… The whole thing does look like something that Hollywood set up, imagining a pandemic,” a WHO official said.

“You sit there and you hear these experts from all over the world and they’re really leading people. The best expertise available to get the best advice possible, it’s a very impressive sense that hey, this is really how it is supposed to work.”

On 22 January, it was in this setting that the WHO emergency committee convened to make a pivotal decision on whether to advise the organisation to declare a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) – a formal red alert for the world.

The WHO had been sharing information with member states constantly since the first cluster of pneumonia cases was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December, but declaring a PHEIC still had huge symbolic importance.

The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sat in the SHOC with his top advisers watching as a succession of speakers gave their views on the screens in front of them.

First there were reports from China, and then Japan and Thailand where cases had been recently confirmed. Then it was the turn of the 15 members and six advisers on the emergency committee, drawn from around the world.

The debate was highly technical but it had one critical issue at its heart. It was known by then that the virus had spread from person to person, but the question was how easily?

If human-to-human transmission was only happening in close quarters, in families, or between patients and health workers, then perhaps it could be largely contained without a worldwide alert, and all the global economic disruption that entailed. If the virus was spreading freely among communities, there was not a moment to lose.

The emergency committee was split down the middle on the question. So Tedros told it to convene again the next day, in the hope new data might create a consensus.

“Tedros’s only obligation under the law is to convene a committee but not to follow it. But he feels that politically he needs to get a unanimous decision before he acts or at least an overwhelming majority,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor of public health law at Georgetown University, said.

The second day’s meeting however, changed no one’s mind, and the impasse remained. Tedros had the committee adjourn pending further study and put it on notice to reconvene at short notice. A international health emergency was declared a week later, on 30 January, after clear evidence of community spread of Covid-19 had emerged.

The events of January were always destined for scrutiny. The WHO conducts an after-action report in wake of every pandemic. But by seeking to make the global body the scapegoat for the debacle of the US response, Donald Trump has ensured each detail will become exhibits in a highly-politicised show-trial, likely to last as long as the election campaign.

Furthermore, the president has used claims of WHO’s dysfunction to justify cutting off US funding to it, worth over $400m a year, and hindering the organisation’s ability to help counter the spread of the pandemic in fragile and poor countries around the world.

In a hail of accusations hurled at the WHO in recent days, Trump has accused it of withholding critical information about the danger of Covid-19, and being under the control of China.

None of the accusations are supported by the facts.

China argued against declaring an emergency on 22 January, but could not have carried the argument alone. The other emergency members and advisers were experts from the US, Thailand, Russia, France, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Senegal, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and New Zealand.

Their advice is confidential, but for the vote to have been split, several western, or western-aligned, representatives must have voted with Beijing.

While the emergency committee took a week to decide to declare a PHEIC, Trump spent more than a month after that playing down the threat to the US, during which the country fell weeks behind the rest of the world in diagnostic testing and stockpiling essential equipment.

There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that the WHO hid information at China’s behest. The US is well represented in the top ranks of the organisation. There were more than a dozen officials from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) embedded in the WHO in January and February.

US health leaders were part of regular conference calls, weekly or twice weekly, beginning on 7 January. From 10 January those calls included warnings about the risk of human-to-human transmission.

Timeline

From CBS

What exactly is a wet market?

Wet markets sell fresh food and producev

– as opposed to ‘dry’ goods such as clothing – and some stock live animals such as chickens, as well as seafood and wild animals.

A recent study into key predictors of virus spillover risk found threatened wildlife species (with reduced populations because of exploitation) potentially shared more viruses with humans.

Research published in the Royal Society Proceedings B journal shows infectious diseases from wildlife have emerged at an increased pace in the past century

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the future of overseas wet markets could be in doubt because they will pose a big challenge.

“We can clearly see the great risks to the health and wellbeing of the rest of the world as a result of these types of places and facilities,” he said.

Mr Morrison has urged the WHO to turn its attention to the markets’ risks.

“We don’t have them here and there is a good reason,” he said.

Wagga City Council

From The Daily Advertiser

A CALL to dump Wagga’s sister city in China has been narrowly supported by the city’s councillors at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Cr Paul Funnell, who initiated the motion, pushed to sever the the city’s connection with Kunming, as well as other arrangements associated with China.

He said the city was not in “a true friendship” with Kunming, which was an extension of a totalitarian regime that “lied to the world” about the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cr Funnell said it was not a “knee-jerk reaction” to coronavirus, nor a debate fuelled by racism, but an attempt to set an example.

“We must end that relationship arrangement and not condone such behaviour. This action is in no way stopping international trade, communication or the opportunity to deal with China in a fair, transparent and mutually beneficial manner,” he said. “What it does do is say we will not tolerate lies and subterfuge.

Uruguay

They have put us to shame.

This article is from the April 13 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald Digital Edition. To subscribe, visit https://www.smh.com.au.

Anthony Dennis

Only Uruguay proved willing and able to help the 128 passengers and 83 crew from aboard the Bahamas-registered Greg Mortimer, operated by the Australia-based Aurora Expeditions.

The ship had been refused permission to berth by other South American nations including Argentina and Chile after borders were suddenly closed due to the pandemic.

Ernesto Talvi, Uruguayan minister for foreign affairs, who worked closely with Australian counterpart Marise Payne on the repatriation mission, declared in La Republica after the aircraft carrying the Greg Mortimer passengers landed in Melbourne early on Sunday morning: ‘‘ They arrived. Task accomplished.’’

Many Uruguyans on social media stated that the evacuation of Australians was in a sense a favour repaid from nearly half a century ago.

‘‘ Australia was kind to many Uruguayans in dark times for us in the ‘70s,’’ tweeted Javier Dominquez, a citizen of Montevideo. Another Uruguayan, Lili de Leon, said: ‘‘ We remembered that Australia is the home of many, many Uruguayans that fled the country through the dark years of the dictatorship’’ .

The successful operation is the subject of immense national pride in Uruguay, the story dominating front pages over the Easter holiday weekend.

Dr Adrian Aguiar, an intern at Montevideo’s British Hospital, wrote at the weekend in El Pais, Uruguay’s main national daily newspaper on Saturday, of the decision to mount the medically perilous mission. ‘‘ They are not Uruguayans and they are in a foreignflagged ship, but they are human beings,’’ he wrote.

Patrons

We have some new patrons

FluTracking

Would you install the app?

The Australian government is planning to launch an app in a matter of weeks that will trace every person who has been in contact with a mobile phone owner who has tested positive for coronavirus in the previous few weeks, in a bid to automate coronavirus contact tracing, and allow the easing of restrictions.

Here’s what we know about the app so far.

How does the app work?

Scott Morrison told reporters on Thursday that the app, currently being vetted by the Australian Signals Directorate, would be similar to or based on the Singapore TraceTogether app.

That app works by using Bluetooth to record anyone you get close to who also has the app. The two apps exchange anonymised IDs, which are stored encrypted on phones and deleted after 21 days.

Can it trace my location?

Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the app would not track location. The Singapore version of the app does not track location, either.

Ultra Orthodox Jews Refuse to comply

From The Age

Police raided an ultra-Orthodox Jewish prayer group in Melbourne’s inner-east on Thursday morning where a group of at least 10 men were praying in contravention of social-distancing rules.

Just after 11am, about 10 police vehicles swooped on an apartment above an IGA store in Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea.

Police warned men meeting at the same venue on Wednesday and issued several warnings to the organiser of the group to not hold gatherings.

Police attended the location again on Thursday after being made aware of people heading to the address for a meeting.

About two weeks ago, prayer groups organised by members of the Satmar Hasidic sect, an offshoot of the Adass grouping, were revealed to be meeting for daily “minyan” prayers that require 10 men to attend, in defiance of social-distancing rules.

No immediate action was taken in response to reports about the prayer meetings but they prompted police interest and officers have since patrolled the locations at which they know they have taken place.

Federal Labor MP Josh Burns, whose Macnamara electorate takes in Ripponlea, said the behaviour was “dangerous” and “stupid”.

Novak Djokovic

Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” the world No 1 said in a live Facebook chat with several fellow Serbian athletes on Sunday. “But if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision.

“I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.

“Hypothetically, if the season was to resume in July, August or September, though unlikely, I understand that a vaccine will become a requirement straight after we are out of strict quarantine and there is no vaccine yet.”


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