Sunday, March 29, 2020

Relax, elites have it handled. They save you from death by, for example, requiring you to have government issued “permission to go outside” papers to leave your cage-“War on Death,” Off Guardian

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Bill Gates, 2/18/2017: Bill Gates said everyone must rehearse for pandemics withgerm games and other preparedness exercises so we can better understand how diseases will spread, how people will respond in a panic and how to deal with things like overloaded highways and communications systems.…UK Guardian

3/25/2020, “Military tanks on union pacific train heading south of Los Angeles,” You Tube (“just relocating inventory“)

March 27, 2020, “The War on Death," Off-Guardian, CJ Hopkins

“Yes, that’s right, global capitalism (a/k/a “the world”) is now at war with Deathwhich is great news for authoritarians! No more bothersome critical thinking. The time for questioning our leaders is over. It’s time to shut up and follow orders. We’re in a global state of emergency, folks! 

We’re talking lockdowns, soldiers in the streets, abrogation of our constitutional rights, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions, round-the-clock media fear-propaganda…the whole totalitarian megillah!… 

And, just like after those terrorist attacks, the world has united and forcefully responded. No, we haven’t invaded Iraq again (well, actually, we did bomb them a little), but we have locked down almost the entire planet, virtually shut down the global economy, and are scaring the masses into a state of unprecedented mass hysteria. 

Police are patrolling the streets of Europe, checking people’s “permission-to-go-outside” papers. 

In the U.K., soldiers are standing by to assist with “protecting possible quarantine zones, or to “cope with the breakdown of civil society.” Israel is tapping its formerly secret collection of everyone’s mobile phone records to identify people who might be infected, and assorted “others who need to be quarantined.”

[Image: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” 1956 movie about conformity, police encourage public to help search for persons who wouldn’t surrender to groupthink] 

Macron (now relieved of his Gilets Jaunes problem!) is ready to “rule by decree” if necessary. California is “prepared to enact martial law.” The U.S. military is “prepared to deploy in support of potential extraordinary missions,” including quelling civil disturbances.” 

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking Congress for the power to detain people indefinitely. The British Parliament is on the brink of passing an emergency “Coronavirus Bill” that will (among other unsettling provisions) grant authorities the power to arrest and indefinitely quarantine anyone they deem a “potentially infectious person” … or, in other words, pretty much anyone they want. 

As if that wasn’t dystopian enough, according to a report in Politico: 

“Counter-terrorism troops have been redeployed across Italy to beef up police forces throughout Italian cities. Patrol cars are now circulating in every major city in Italy with a monotone male voice warning citizens over a loudspeaker not to leave their residences or risk a ticket. ‘GO BACK INTO YOUR HOMES,’ the voice warns.”” 

But wait, it gets even better than that. In Missouri, prosecutors have charged an idiot who licked some items at Walmart as a “terrorist.” I kid you not, a Coronavirus Terrorist. I could go on, but I think you get the picture (if you need more examples, check this Twitter thread). 

The point is, the global capitalist empire (for whatever reasons, real or imagined) has turned on the MINDLESS HYSTERIA machine, and dialed it up as high as it goes. People are in full-blown headless chicken mode. No one (or hardly anyone) is thinking, or listening to dissenting opinions, or paying attention to official statistics, or common sense, or anything else that contradicts the War on Death narrative. 

The British tabloids are publishing horror stories about “doctors” standing by and helplessly watching as patients slowly suffocate to death. According to such stories, not only are these “doctors” unable to treat roughly 400 patients with any of the UK’s over 8,000 ventilators, but, apparently, patients whose hearts have stopped (and who are therefore unconscious) are also now capable of “dying in agony” with “terror in their eyes.” 

According to The New York Times, the Coronapocalypse has begun in Elmhurst, where the authorities have called in the refrigerator trucks to haul away the mountains of corpses, after 13 people who “had tested positive” died (of something) in the course of one day. 

The rest of the corporate media are running moment-by-moment deathometer updates, apocalyptic prognostications of the millions or billions who are possibly going to die, and of course the latest on which celebrities have been infected and are clinging to life, or experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, or absolutely no symptoms whatsoever.
 
[Image from 1956 film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, central characters run to escape capture by townspeople who will force them to conform to groupthink] 

Greta suspects she might have been infected! Prince Charles! Colton Underwood (whoever that is), Tom Hanks, and even Idris Elba! Just the other night, celebrated playwright Terrence McNally (who was 81, and had a history of lung cancer and COPD) was struck down in the prime of his life! 

In short, the authorities have whipped the masses into an orgy of shrieking, white-eyed FEAR of this new, evil, “invisible enemy” that is coming to kill them and their families. Millions of people (now confined in their homes of the horrors their therapists’ accountants’ doctors have personally witnessed on the war’s “front lines,” and hunt down any infected persons, or potentially infected persons (or otherwise uncooperative persons) who might have gone outside for some air) have taken to the Internet to pump up the hysteria, share totally un-sourced personal accounts. 

So, that’s the good news for you authoritarians! For the rest of us … yeah, not so good. 

Oh, I almost forgot the bad news. The bad news is … well, the bad news is Death. The bad news is, you are going to die. I’m going to die. We are all going to die. All of us. We are going to die. We are going to die of … well, something. Cancer. A heart attack. A stroke. The flu. Diabetes. Alzheimer’s disease. 

Possibly a coronavirus. Maybe even this coronavirus. 

In fact, a lot of us are dying right now, according to the Internet, around a hundred per minute … which, it goes without saying, is unacceptable, and a tragedy, and something we need to take drastic action to prevent at all costs. 

We can’t let these Russian dissension sowers, neo-Nazi accelerationists, and coronavirus-sympathizers confuse us. They want to convince us that Death is, yes, scary, and sad, but inevitable, and natural. How utterly heartless and insane is that?! 

No, we need to close our minds to that nonsense. People are dying! This is not normal! Death is our enemy! We have to defeat it! We need to hunt down and neutralize Death! Root it out if its hidey hole and hang it like we did with Saddam! 

I’m not kidding. There is a war on, people! GloboCap is taking the gloves off again. (You remember what happens when the gloves come off, don’t you?) So get your mind right and get with the program or get ready to face the consequences. 

Relax, I’m not referring to all these tanks (2:34 in the NBC video). I’m referring to other consequences. I am not some crazy conspiracy theorist. Plus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has assured us there’s no cause for concern: 

“If and when National Guard or military units are deployed to the streets of L.A., trust me, I’ll let you know.” 

See? Everything is perfectly fine. No one is preparing for martial law. Those tanks just returned from the Middle East and are “being sent back home to Texas.” This kind of thing happens all the time. It has nothing to do with the global lockdown. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely relieved … for a moment there I thought we were in trouble.”
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“Richard Le Sarc 

One of the Guardian presstitutes reported today’s UNSC [UN Security Council] goings-on. The USA attempted to blame China for the outbreak, and generally acted as the psychopathic bullying thug it is, but the Guardian presstitute spent half of its report spewing hatred at Russia (who else?) for wishing face to face meetings to continue in the UNSC. That, according to a ‘Western diplomatic source’, constituted some grand conspiracy to take over the world, or some such other gibberish. Cerebral CoVid 19, or business-as-usual?”




Dozens of sailors test positive for Corona on US nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the Pacific. US reacts by ramping up efforts to starve and sicken millions of innocent people in Iran and Venezuela

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TWO US aircraft carriers in the Pacific have been taken out of action after the first at-sea coronavirus outbreaks on board. At least 25 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for the killer virus, forcing the ship to port in Guam with estimates it will take 25 days to test all 5,000 crew members on board….Berthing compartments, or sleeping quarters where a dozen sailors are often packed into spaces not much larger than an average kitchen, will become birthing compartments for the virus.”…Additional source: 3/27/20, “Coronavirus Outbreak: US Navy’s Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier Diverted After Dozens Aboard Test Positive,” IBTimes.com 

3/28/20, “It Is A Time Of Crisis And U.S. Foreign Policy Is Becoming Unhinged,moon of alabama 

“The Trump administration is reacting to the pandemic stress by lashing out at perceived internal and external enemies. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is leading the external onslaught. 

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an “immediate global ceasefire” to focus on fighting Covid-19. He has appealed for the “waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the pandemic.” 

But Washington is not listening. 

Requests from Venezuela and Iran for emergency IMF loans to buy medical supplies were blocked by U.S. interventions. 

Just a month ago Pompeo announced an increase of sanctions against Iran. The sanctions block money transfers. They make it impossible for Iran to import the medical equipment it urgently needs to counter the epidemic. 

While the U.S. renewed the sanction waiver which allows Iraq to import electricity and gas from Iran the waiver is now limited to only 30 days. One third of Iraq’s electricity depends on those imports from Iran and, if the waiver is not renewed, its hospitals will go dark just when the epidemic will reach its zenith. 

Parts of the Trump administration are even pressing for a wider war against alleged Iranian proxy forces in Iraq: 

“The Pentagon has ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of American combat in Iraq, issuing a directive last week to prepare a campaign to destroy an Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops. [Solution: End illegal US presence there.] 

But the United States’ top commander in Iraq has warned that such a campaign could be bloody and counterproductive and risks war with Iran…. 

Some top officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, have been pushing for aggressive new action against Iran and its proxy forces — and see an opportunity to try to destroy Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq as leaders in Iran are distracted by the pandemic crisis in their country. [Iran men over age 60 have very weak lungs so are dying fastest. This is due to 1980s poison gas attacks by Iraq with gases produced by US and others]. 

Military leaders, including Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been wary of a sharp military escalation, warning it could further destabilize the Middle East at a time when President Trump has said he hopes to reduce the number of American troops in the region.” [We’ve learned that nothing Trump says should be taken seriously. “Tweet. Cave. Repeat.”] 

The plan is lunatic. One can not “destroy” Kataib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Shia groups which Iran helped to build during the war against ISIS. These groups are part of political parties with deep roots in the Iraqi society. 

France, Italy and the Czech Republic have started to withdraw from Iraq. Denmark is also leaving and the UK is removing 50% of its force. There are less then 5,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and a war on Kataib Hezbollah could mobilized hundreds of thousands Iraqis to fight against the U.S. occupation. Such a war would also involve Iran and the U.S. would certainly lose it. 

The U.S. has currently two aircraft carrier groups in the Arab sea to threaten Iran. But those ships are of no use right now. They are ‘cruise ships with guns’. Nuclear powered five billion dollar petri dishes for novel coronavirus outbreaks. Two U.S. carrier groups in the Pacific are already out of action because they have larger outbreaks on board. It is only a question of time until the other carriers follow. 

It is not only Iraq and Iran the U.S. is aiming at. The U.S. State Department cut its contributions to health care in Yemen just in time of the highest need: 

“Officials with the United States Agency for International Development said the decision to halt funding, reported earlier by The Washington Post, included exceptions for “critical, lifesaving activities, including treatment of malnutrition as well as water, sanitation and hygiene programs aimed at keeping people healthy and staving off disease.” 

But humanitarian officials said the agency’s exceptions did not provide for continued funding of basic health care programs, which are heavily reliant on foreign aid, and did not seem to take into account what might occur when the coronavirus begins to spread.” 

Not happy with only messing up the Middle East the State Department also renewed its assault on Venezuela. On Thursday the Justice Department announced charges of ‘Narco-Terrorism, Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Crimes‘ against President Nicolas Maduro and 14 former or current officials. It put up a $15 million reward for Maduro’s arrest. [How pathetic]. 

It [falsely] alleges that Maduro worked with Columbian cartels to smuggle cocaine through Venezuela. 

But here is a map of smuggling routes from U.S. ally Columbia where most of the cocaine is produced. It was shown during a Congress hearing. Whatever is smuggled through Venezuela is a tiny share compared to the huge stream that comes through the Pacific.


Whoever wrote and signed of the indictment also made a huge mistake. The charges included Clíver Antonio Alcalá Cordones, a former General in the Venezuelan armed forces, and put a $10 million reward on his head. 

Alcalá Cordones is no friend of Maduro. He retired in 2013 when Maduro was elected after Hugo Chávez had died. Alcalá Cordones fled to Colombia from where he supported the U.S. chosen clown Juan Guaidó as self proclaimed president of Venezuela. 

After the Justice Department indictment against him he came out and revealed that he was involved in coup plans in support of Juan Guaidó: 

“Alcalá is implicated in a recent plot to attack the Maduro government. On March 24, Colombian authorities seized a truck full of weapons and military equipment, including 26 assault rifles, worth $500,000. Venezuelan intelligence services linked the weapons to three camps in Colombia where paramilitary groups of Venezuelan deserters and U.S. mercenaries are training to carry out attacks against Venezuela. According to Venezuela’s Communication Minister Jorge Rodríguez, these groups were planning to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to attack military units and plant bombs. He also linked the groups to Alcalá. [“Soros has waged a decades-long assault on the country’s institutions designed to legitimize Colombia’s narco-terrorist groupsa goal he is very close to achieving. (1)”] 

These allegations proved to be correct, as Alcalá, in a video he posted online hours after the indictments, admitted that the weapons were under his command. He further admitted that the weapons were purchased with funds given to him by [US stooge] Juan Guaidó, with whom he allegedly signed a contract.  Additionally, Alcala claimed that the operation was planned by U.S. advisors, with whom he supposedly met at least seven times. Aclalá also alleged that Leopoldo López, the founder of Guaidó’s party Voluntad Popular who was sprung from house arrest during Guaidó’s April 30 attempted insurrection, had full knowledge of the terror plot.  

As a result of these videos, Venezuela’s Attorney General has opened an investigation into Juan Guaidó for an attempted coup.” 

The U.S. blew it by accusing the one man that was willing to help its chosen clown and by not informing him before the indictment came out. That man then freaked out and blew the whistle. This is now threatening the whole opposition plan the U.S. concocted with Guaidó and the men behind him. 

On Friday Alcalá Cordones decided it was unsafe for him to stay in Colombia. He ‘called up‘ the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and gave himself up. He was extradited to New York and will now become a ‘witness’ against Maduro who he has publicly opposed in the first place.  

This chaos was certainly created by [Trump hire] Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela. Abrams has a talent for messing things up. 

U.S. foreign policy during the crisis has been abysmal. The U.S. angered China, the biggest producer of urgently needed masks and drugs, by calling the virus  “Wuhan virus” or “Chinese virus”, a practice that stopped only after a phone call between Trump and Xi Jinping. It angered Germany when it tried to buy exclusive rights for a potential vaccine that is being developed there. 

Requests for support by multiple European allies were left unanswered while China and Russia mobilized to help over 80 countries. Meanwhile Pompeo chastised Italy for accepting Cuban drugs and doctors. 

There will be a large cost to pay for this when the pandemic is over. The U.S. has exposed itself as unreliable ally, as war mongering moron even at the worst time and as incapable of helping its own citizens.”… 

“Posted by b on March 28, 2020 at 15:13 UTC | Permalink”

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"In blocking IMF loans to Iran and Venezuela, the US might have actually done them a favour. Once you are in the clutches of the tentacles of the IMF, you are rat-fucked. Your economy will be sucked dry by enforced austerity and foreign investment, until there is nothing left. 

Posted by: Antoinetta III | Mar 28 2020 17:21 utc | 26"

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

“I’ve been watching people routinely accept whatever the authorities say. It’s been frightening to me to see how easy it’s been to do this.” We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of alleged health experts that we don’t know-Rush Limbaugh, 3/27/20

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“I’ve been watching people routinely accept whatever the authorities say....It has been frightening to me to see how easy it has been to do this.No matter where we’ve been this country is shut down. It’s just incredible.We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of [US or UK] health experts that we don’t know. And how do we know they’re even health experts?"…(Images of mass suicide below added by blog editor, not RushLimbaugh.com) 

3/27/20, “America’s Anchorman’s Take on Where We Are as a Country," Rush Limbaugh 

“KEN MATTHEWS: We have a very special guest today. The host of the Rush Limbaugh Show, Mr. Rush Limbaugh. 

RUSH: Mr. Matthews, thank you very much. I found a way past the call screener on this program, folks, because I, as the architect of this whole enterprise, would know how to do that. And I cannot tell you how great it is to be back here, even if it is just for a half hour or so here on the phone today…. 

You know, we’ve talked about the deep state all these years since Trump was elected, the Trump-Russia collusion, the FBI — the deep state extends very deeply. And the American people did not elect a bunch of [US or UK] health experts that we don’t know. We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of [US or UK] health experts that we don’t know. And how do we know they’re even health experts?…There’s a U.K. epidemiologist who got all of this started by predicting 500,000 deaths in the U.K. from coronavirus.…


[Image, Nov. 17, 1978, Jonestown, Guyana, hundreds committed mass suicide by drinking poisoned kool aid, getty]

Well, they wear white lab coats and they’ve been on the job for a while and they’re at the CDC and they’re at the NIH. Well, yeah, they’ve been there and they are there, but has there been any job assessment for them? They’re just assumed to be the best because they’re in government,but these are all kinds of things that I’ve been questioning.... 

And I’ve been watching people routinely accept whatever the authorities say. Where I live, the local town government is driving around town trying to spot people violating the social distancing ordinances. And when they see it, they publish it on their website, “This is very troublesome. We at the town are very troubled by groups of people congregating, violating the social distancing.” Well, what do you think people are gonna do? People are not just gonna sit around here and stop living. Anyway, most of this is for next week. I’m just kind of setting the table. ‘Cause once I get going the time starts flying here and I’m gonna be out of it before I know it…. 

And I’m traveling a lot. My treatment requires travel to different places. And no matter where we’ve been this country is shut down. It’s just incredible. And I’ll tell you, folks, it has been scary to me, it has been frightening to me to see how easy it has been to do this.

[Image: Family among hundreds who committed suicide at Jonestown, Nov. 18, 1978, getty] 

And the bigger question that I have, which we’ll address in much greater detail next week, is what kind of country are we going to have when this is over? Because it isn’t gonna be the same country. I mean, why even have budgets? We don’t have $2 trillion to be giving away to people. I’m not objecting to doing it, don’t misunderstand. We don’t have the money. We have a national debt of 22, $23 trillion. We don’t have this money. We’re printing this money. 

You remember how everybody was fit to be tied when Obama had a $787 billion stimulus? That wasn’t even $1 trillion. That led to the creation of the Tea Party. People feared the meaning, the future, all that spending, what it would mean for their kids and their grandkids. Now look. And of course nobody’s objecting to it because on the foundational side of this we’ve got this virus that is like a thousand airplanes crashing every day in terms of psychological effect it’s having on people. So, it’s a fascinating case study to me, and it’s worrisome and it’s troublesome. 

And then, on the other side of it is, through all of this, I’ve never had any doubt we’re gonna come out of it. I’ve never had any doubt we’re gonna come out of it stronger and we’re gonna come out of it healthy.”…
 
[Image: 11/18/1978, Hundreds committed mass suicide by drinking cyanide laced kool aid, Jonestown, Guyana, getty]
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Added: 

3/27/20, “An Update on My Health and Treatment," Rush Limbaugh
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Comment: Trump created a 12 member corona ultra bureaucracy. The mass suicide images in this post were added by blog editor, Susan, not by RushLimbaugh.com. What’s happening now seems to me to be a combination of mass suicide and genocide. 300 million Americans have quietly agreed to live in cages indefinitely, possibly for months, possibly forever--new strains of virus might be emerging. If you leave the house for more than a few minutes you risk being accosted and possibly arrested by the "social distance" police. This is certainly a dream come true for elected Republicans who've always despised Republican voters and wished us to be in cages if we had to exist at all. The billionaire class is getting what it has wanted for decades which is to be rid of us. At one time genocide was considered a bad thing. No more.






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Top Imperial College London scientist says Corona virus vaccine could be ready for human tests this summer “if enough funding is secured”-Sky News, 2/5/2020….(If we had known we could've given you $2 trillion and be sprung from our cages)

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Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, said he is now at the stage to start testing the vaccine on animals as early as next week with human studies in the summer if enough funding is secured.” 

2/5/20, Coronavirus: ‘Significant breakthrough’ in race for vaccine made by UK scientists,Sky News, Ashish Joshi 

A vaccine may be close to being tested on animals and then humans, depending on the level of funding researchers get.” 

The scientist leading the UK’s research into a coronavirus vaccine says his team have made a significant breakthrough by reducing a part of the normal development time from “two to three years to just 14 days”. 

Professor Robin Shattock, head of mucosal infection and immunity at Imperial College London, said he is now at the stage to start testing the vaccine on animals as early as next week with human studies in the summer if enough funding is secured. 

He told Sky News: “Conventional approaches usually take at least two to three years before you even get to the clinic. And we’ve gone from that sequence to generating a candidate in the laboratory in 14 days. 

“And we will have it in animal models by the beginning of next week. We’ve short-tracked that part. The next phase will be to move that from early animal testing into the first human studies.
 

“And we think with adequate funding we could do that in a period of a few months.” 

:: Coronavirus crisis: Airline asks staff to take unpaid leave for three weeks 

:: Britons quarantined on coronavirus ship reveal situation ‘changed dramatically overnight’ 

Professor Shattock is part of a global effort to develop a vaccine that could potentially save hundreds or thousands of lives if this coronavirus outbreak develops into a full blown pandemic. 

The vaccine will be too late for this current outbreak but it will be crucial if there is another one. 

He said: “It’s not going to be too late if this becomes a pandemic and if it circulates around the world. We still don’t know much about the epidemic itself so it may wane over the summer months if it is like influenza.
 

“We may see a second wave come through on a global basis and if it comes a vaccine will be really important and would be in place to tackle that.” 

Scientists from China, the United States, Australia and Europe are all racing to develop a vaccine and are collaborating with each other in an effort to speed up the process. 

Britain has pledged £20m to CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, an international agency set up in 2017 to deal with health crises exactly like this one. 

And a further £20m has been earmarked for rapid research into coronavirus here in the UK. The money is crucial but so too is knowledge. 

The 2003 SARS epidemic killed some 800 people. 

At the time China was severely criticised for withholding information. This time it has been praised for sharing crucial data with the international health community. 

The lessons learned after the SARS outbreak are proving crucial in helping scientists deal with this epidemic. But a SARS vaccine was never fully developed. When the virus died out the funding dried up. 

Dr David Heymann is one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases. He lead the international fight against SARS and told Sky News this time a vaccine must be developed. 

He said: “In the case of SARS there was lots of interest in developing a vaccine but that disappeared rapidly after the outbreak was contained and over. 

“Today we have a new coalition – the CEPI – which is based here in London and which is simulating development of vaccines. 

“And hopefully that will continue to stimulate development of corona vaccines after this outbreak is over. It may not be effective in getting a vaccine ready for this outbreak, a vaccine may not even be necessary. 

“But it would be nice to have a coronavirus vaccine somewhere on the shelf which could be rolled out during a future epidemic.”” 

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Added: UK health service workers to be tested 

3/27/20, “Coronavirus: NHS staff first to receive ‘antigen testing’ for COVID-19,” Sky News 

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson missed the latest daily coronavirus briefing after announcing he had tested positive for the disease.

Hundreds of frontline NHS staff will be tested to find out if they have coronavirus by the end of the weekend, as the government moves to ramp up testing for the disease among healthcare workers. 

Michael Gove announced that increased “antigen testing“, developed in partnership between UK businesses, research institutes and universities, will be rolled out “immediately” to those working in hospitals and social care. 

Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, cabinet minister Mr Gove said that the testing would “dramatically” scale up next week, allowing those working in health and social care to “have security in the knowledge that they can safely return to work if their test is negative”. 

“This is absolutely crucial to our response to – and fight against – coronavirus,” he added. 

What is antigen testing? 

Antigen testing detects whether there are antigens present in a person’s blood. 

Antigens are part of the body’s immune system – they are contained within a virus and are triggered to help the body fight off infection and develop antibodies. 

Antigens can be detected in blood before antibodies are made, meaning they are a much quicker way of identifying whether someone has an infection. 

These tests are used to detect other viruses such as malaria and flu. 

They are different from antibody tests, which can tell you whether you have already had the virus rather than if you are carrying it at the time. 

Appearing alongside Mr Gove in Downing Street on Friday were NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and the deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries. 

Mr Stevens said 33,000 hospital beds across England had been made available to COVID-19 patients, with more to come as new makeshift hospitals are opened in major cities. 

Work is almost complete on transforming London’s enormous ExCel Centre into the NHS Nightingale Hospital, which will house thousands of beds for coronavirus patients. 

Sky News understands that Birmingham’s NEC and Manchester’s Central exhibition centres are also set to be converted into temporary hospitals by mid-April. 

Mr Stevens said the hospital plans were part of an “unprecedented response” to the pandemic. 

Regarding the increase in testing, he said: “We will be rolling out staff testing across the NHS, starting next week with the critical care nurses, other staff in intensive care, emergency departments, ambulance services, GPs. 

“As testing volumes continue to increase, we want to widen that to essential public service workers, as well as our social care workers, and continue with patient testing that is so vital.” 

Mr Gove led the news briefing for the first time in the absence of Boris Johnson, with the prime minister announcing earlier that he had tested positive for coronavirus and had gone into self-isolation. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously stood in for the PM but was also unavailable as he is also self-isolating after testing positive, having experienced “mild symptoms” of the disease. 

They both revealed that they had been diagnosed in video messages posted on Twitter on Friday morning. 

There was also no sign of the government’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, who revealed on Friday afternoon that he is self-isolating with symptoms of coronavirus. 

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance was also not present despite being a regular fixture of the daily briefings; however, he confirmed on Twitter that he has not been experiencing symptoms and so has not been tested. 

Also on Friday afternoon, regional health bodies across the UK provided their latest figures on the number of people who had died after testing positive for coronavirus. 

The total death count in the UK now stands at 769 after another 185 fatalities were confirmed.”…
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Added: One third of UK farm harvest may be lost due to shortage of migrant labor this season: 
“Fruit and vegetable crops need harvesting in weeks but travel restrictions mean there is likely to be a vast labour shortage.” 
“A third of this summer’s food harvest could go to waste on British farms because of a chronic shortage of migrant labour caused by the coronavirus outbreak, charities and farmers are warning.UK farms and food producers rely on a migrant workforce of 60,000 to 70,000 seasonal labourers mainly drawn from eastern European countries including Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. 
Within weeks, fruit and vegetable crops will need harvesting but travel restrictions across Europe and the UK, imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, mean it may prove impossible to recruit overseas staff. 
Farm labour charity Concordia, which sources seasonal labourers for British farms, says it is “desperately worried” about the impact on the UK harvest, and warned that UK workers will not fill the gap. 
Chief executive Stephanie Maurel told Sky News: “We are extremely worried about what that means for the whole system. 
“If there are 90,000 jobs in our sector, that’s usually 60,000 people that might do six weeks here and there, picking strawberries, asparagus, potatoes and so on. 
“That’s at least 60,000 jobs, 60,000 people that we desperately need that we won’t find in the UK.” 
Concordia is in negotiations with the Romanian and UK governments about providing dedicated flights for some seasonal workers, and is running a campaign called Feed The Nation, encouraging British workers to apply for vacancies. But Ms Maurel warned that was unlikely to fill the gap, in part because of the government measures announced to cushion the economic impact of the virus. 

She said: “One unintended consequence of the employee support scheme is that British workers will be paid 80% of their salaries during the shutdown and may not have the incentive to take other jobs.” 

Farmers in some parts of the country are understood to be taking measures to try and slow down crops, including Scottish strawberry growers removing fleeces from their plants. 

But that may only buy the industry days rather than the months it may take for the virus to pass. 

Stephen Taylor, managing director of Winterwood Farms, Europe’s largest soft-fruit packing company, said the labour shortages could have a devastating impact. 

“The pickers that normally come to harvest UK crops, that’s for crops of all sorts, vegetables of all sorts,” he told Sky News. 

“With travel restrictions, it may be that people can’t leave the country they’re coming from. Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, and maybe the UK borders are closed and they don’t allow people to come. 

“I think many British farmers may think that if you offered them 70% of their crop being taken in this summer they would take it.” 

Mr Taylor has instituted more than 50 measures, including thrice-daily temperature checks, to slow the spread of coronavirus among the 200 workers at the company’s Kent packing plant. 

The plant currently distributes soft berries from Iberia to all the UK’s major supermarkets. 

Mr Taylor is also having to manage fluctuating demand, which saw orders equivalent to Christmas when the outbreak began, but have now slowed down as lockdown measures and supermarket policies take effect. 

He said: “The usual rules of supply and demand have been altered. With lockdown and people seeing the queues at supermarkets, we are seeing orders actually starting to decline. 

Supermarkets have withdrawn promotions which are designed to even out supply and demand, so we may actually see some fruit not sold.””



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Friday, March 27, 2020

Corona crisis overwhelms World Health Organization (WHO), UN agency that should’ve been most prepared. It’s so bad that WHO needs cash, has accepted donations from Facebook and Google-Scientific American, E&E News

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Image: WHO headquarters, Geneva

But the crisis has overwhelmed even the World Health Organization (WHO), the one U.N. agency that should have been most prepared. In response, the United Nations Foundation, a think tank, has launched an independent fundraising initiative designed to help WHO cope, recently welcoming financial contributions from Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Google.” 
 
3/23/20, U.N. Shifts from Climate Change to Coronavirus,scientificamerican.com, by Nathanial Gronewold, E&E News

“Secretary-General António Guterres still urged countries not to lose sight of the global warming challenge.” 

“The novel coronavirus pandemic is now the world’s top priority. Climate change will have to be put on the back burner, for now. 

That was the message delivered to reporters from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, via an unprecedented online press conference he organized last week. Guterres made himself available only electronically because he is in isolation. 

Though Guterres still is urging countries to not lose sight of the global warming challenge and the Paris climate accord, the U.N. chief made it clear that all resources for now will be directed toward tackling the pandemic crisis. 

The stakes couldn’t be higher, he said. 

“It has been proven that the virus can be contained. It must be contained,” Guterres said. “If you let the virus spread like wildfire, especially in the most vulnerable regions of the world, it will kill millions of people.” 

Guterres called the virus outbreak one of the worst crises the United Nations has ever faced. He said a steep and painful global recession is all but inevitable and that millions of families worldwide stand to lose their livelihoods. 

Efforts to reduce poverty could be set back decades. 

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations, one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending the people’s lives,” Guterres said. A global recession, perhaps of record dimensions, is a near certainty.” 

A crisis on this scale calls for a coordinated, international response, he added. “People are suffering, sick and scared, and current responses at the country level will not address the global scale and complexity of the crisis,” Guterres argued.
U.N. headquarters in New York has effectively shut down. It’s now running on a skeleton crew—as some 95% of staff have been ordered to stay home and telecommute where possible. It’s the same story at other U.N. regional offices, including in Rome where the U.N. World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are based…. 

U.N. FORCED TO PIVOT 

During his virtual press conference Guterres gave a nod to the Paris Agreement. He said the pandemic could create an opportunity to rebuild the global economy along more sustainable lines. But he made it clear the world must focus first on the coronavirus crisis. 

As it has struggled to tackle global warming for a quarter century, the world is also finding itself hard-pressed to respond to a global pandemic. 

The United Nations is no exception, though officials are scrambling to organize an effective response despite travel restrictions and orders to work from home. Guterres insists the U.N. system has been ahead of the curve. 

But the crisis has overwhelmed even the World Health Organization (WHO), the one U.N. agency that should have been most prepared. 

In response, the United Nations Foundation, a think tank, has launched an independent fundraising initiative designed to help WHO cope, recently welcoming financial contributions from Silicon Valley giants Facebook and Google. 

Though WHO is “on the frontlines of this fast-moving crisis” and is assisting all governments where it can, U.N. Foundation official Kate Dodson said in a release that outside assistance is critical. “This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve ever faced before, and will require commitments from all corners of the planet to tackle,” Dodson added…. 

The United Nations’ main climate change initiatives have been moved online or are on hold. Several planned U.N. climate action gatherings have been canceled or delayed (Climatewire, March 12). 

The offices of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have canceled all in-person meetings and foreign travel, and are working to arrange online conferences where possible. 

Most recently, the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a body based in Montreal, called off a series of regional meetings meant to roll out a new emissions trading program to begin this month. 

ICAO said the regional planning seminars for its carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for international aviation simply have been postponed. But no new dates have been proposed. 

With talk that the crisis could extend into the summer—or beyondmore gatherings could face a similar fate. Those include the U.N. Ocean Conference planned for Portugal in early June, and the World Conservation Congress at the end of June to be hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Marseilles, France. 

The U.N. system and governments worldwide must be willing to make sacrifices to halt the coronavirus pandemic, Guterres said. 

“My central message is clear: We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply,” he said. “We cannot resort to the usual tools at such unusual times.” 

He urged governments to open their [taxpayers’]wallets as wide as possible for emergency spending and economic stimulus efforts. “We see that whenever there is a problem in the banking system, trillions [of dollars] appear to solve the problems of the banks,” he told reporters. “And these trillions [of US taxpayer dollars] must appear now.” 

Guterres added he would attend an emergency Group of 20 summit of world leaders this week. The G-20 meeting is to be held online. 

But Edwards at Seton Hall said he was skeptical it would produce a major breakthrough. 

“I’m really worried that the G-20 isn’t going to be the forum to bring countries together,” he said. “This is where populist governments have a problem. If your whole starting point is that the outside world is awful, it’s hard to suddenly turn on a dime and want to cooperate. And for many European countries right now, it’s hard to take the U.S. seriously.” [Great! Bye.] 

“Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.”…via Climate Depot
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