AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1849802 times)

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Temporary security measures can soon become permanent

Governments around the world are using high-tech surveillance measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak. But are they worth it?

Edward Snowden doesn’t think so.

The former CIA contractor, whose leaks exposed the scale of spying programs in the US, warns that once this tech is taken out the box, it will be hard to put it back.

“When we see emergency measures passed, particularly today, they tend to be sticky,” Snowden said in an interview with the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.

The emergency tends to be expanded. Then the authorities become comfortable with some new power. They start to like it.

Supporters of the draconian measures argue that normal rules are not enough during a pandemic and that the long-term risks can be addressed once the outbreak is contained. But a brief suspension of civil liberties can quickly be extended.

Security services will soon find new uses for the tech. And when the crisis passes, governments can impose new laws that make the emergency rules permanent and exploit them to crack down on dissent and political opposition.

Take the proposals to monitor the outbreak by tracking mobile phone location data.

This could prove a powerful method of tracing the spread of the virus and the movements of people who have it. But it will also be a tempting tool to track terrorists — or any other potential enemies of the states.

AI becoming ‘turnkey to tyranny’
Artificial intelligence has become a particularly popular way of monitoring life under the pandemic. In China, thermal scanners installed at train stations identify patients with fevers, while in Russia, facial recognition systems spot people breaking quarantine rules.

The coronavirus has even given Clearview AI a chance to repair its reputation. The controversial social media-scraping startup is in talks with governments about using its tech to track infected patients, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A big attraction of AI is its efficiency by assigning probabilities to different groups of people. But too much efficiency can be a threat to freedom, which is why we limit police powers through measures such as warrants and probable cause for arrest.

The alternative is algorithmic policing that justifies excessive force and perpetuates racial profiling.

Snowden is especially concerned about security services adding AI to all the other surveillance tech they have.

“They already know what you’re looking at on the internet,” he said. “They already know where your phone is moving. Now they know what your heart rate is, what your pulse is. What happens when they start to mix these and apply artificial intelligence to it?

Finding a balance
It’s tough to strike a balance between security and privacy at the best of times, let alone during a global crisis.

Snowden doesn’t dispute the severity of the pandemic. But he believes it’s a transient problem that will eventually be resolved by vaccines and herd immunity.

The consequences of the measures we introduce today, however, will be permanent. That’s why the tech we deploy now must be proportionate to each phase of the outbreak. Openness from governments and consultation with the public will ensure it’s within the rule of law and preserves our basic human rights.

Draconian measures may be tolerable if they get us through the pandemic. But we must also think about the world we want to live in once the coronavirus is contained.

I hate articles like these.

“They already know what you’re looking at on the internet,” he said. “They already know where your phone is moving. Now they know what your heart rate is, what your pulse is. What happens when they start to mix these and apply artificial intelligence to it?

They already are dumfuck.  I've mentioned what they can do with phones is amazing a few times.  I suggested the idea from the getgo as a good way to make quarantine lists.  Ask yourself, how did K-Dog think of it so fast.  What is really cool is when they track your phone and when you walk into the room where your computer is they turn it on for you.  It FREAKS YOU OUT.  It takes a while to put 2 and 2 together and figure out how they did it.

This could prove a powerful method of tracing the spread of the virus and the movements of people who have it. But it will also be a tempting tool to track terrorists — or any other potential enemies of the states.

Q: And just when will it be used to track terrorists?

A: 20 years ago.

Doomers of all types are considered to be potential terrorists.  The doom world has had more fans than there are doomers since the doom world condensed from wandering bits in the void.  Anybody want to spike a tree this weekend?

Transparency not secrecy is what we want.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 02:14:52 AM by K-Dog »
Under ideal conditions of temperature and pressure the organism will grow without limit.

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3.3 Million File For Unemployment Claims, Shattering The Record
« Reply #15571 on: March 26, 2020, 06:27:19 AM »
Updated at 9:11 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report Thursday was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

"This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series," the department said. "The previous high was 695,000 in October of 1982." The Labor Department's records go back to 1967.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, appearing on NBC's Today Show, said what businesses and analysts already know: "We may well be in a recession."

"This is a unique situation," Powell added. "People are being asked to close their business, to stay home from work, and to not engage in certain economic activity, and so they are pulling back. At a certain point, we will get the virus under control and confidence will return."

The staggering jobless claims figure was well above the levels seen during the darkest days of the Great Recession, and the worst isn't over yet, economic forecasters say.

The crisis has cut a giant swath through the energy, travel, transportation, hotel and restaurant sectors, with large and small companies suddenly forced to furlough employees.

States that depend heavily on tourism, such as Nevada and Florida, as well as oil-and-gas towns like Midland, Texas, will be especially hard hit, but the damage will be felt almost everywhere, according to a Brookings Institution report.

The hotel industry alone has lost as many as 1 million jobs this month, the American Hotel and Lodging Association says.

"It is a huge shock and we are trying to cope with it and keep it under control," says James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Earlier this week, he said unemployment would hit 30%. But he tempered those remarks Wednesday, saying he expected the number to fall again quickly.

The Economic Policy Institute had estimated 3.4 million people filed for first-time claims during the week ending March 21. That compares with an average of 225,000 a week during the past six months.

New claims filed last week were nearly five times the number recorded during the peak of the Great Recession. In the week that ended March 28, 2009, about 665,000 new claims were filed. That was second only to the week that ended Oct. 2, 1982, when 695,000 first-time claims were filed.

"Most historical comparisons of this scale are inadequate," said Daniel Zhao, an economist with Glassdoor. "The coronavirus outbreak is economically akin to a major hurricane occurring in every state around the country for weeks on end."

The loss of that many jobs is expected to push unemployment to 5.5% — a level it last reached in 2o15 — but it's likely to climb even further. Goldman Sachs has predicted that the jobless rate could approach 13% during the next few months.

"If the number of new claims is as high as predicted and if it remains high in coming weeks, unemployment will skyrocket," the Joint Economic Committee of Congress said in a report ahead of Thursday's data.

The collapse of the job market has been unprecedented in size and speed.

Adam Hill of Worcester, Mass., worked until recently as a graphic designer at a company that organizes trade shows.

"A couple of weeks before this happened, we had a [company] meeting where we heard about how we did the previous year, and revenue was up. Everyone was pretty excited for the next year," he says.

"Then all of a sudden, this show canceled, and then another one and then another one. And within two weeks, I think, 155 shows had canceled. No shows, no money," he says. "I guess I wasn't too surprised when we got laid off."

Hill says he expects to be called back to work when the economy recovers, but no one is sure when that will be.

In the meantime, the Senate has approved a $2 trillion economic relief package that broadly expands unemployment benefits, extending them to gig workers and freelancers. It includes more generous benefits and extend eligibility for benefits by 13 weeks. A House vote is expected by Friday.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Trump gets ratings bump amid coronavirus crisis
« Reply #15572 on: March 26, 2020, 06:35:55 AM »
The president's poll numbers are up slightly, but he isn’t galvanizing wide swaths of the country the way previous presidents have in times of crisis.

After three-plus years of consistently negative approval ratings, President Donald Trump is getting better marks for his handling of the still-fledgling coronavirus outbreak ravaging the nation.

But Trump’s higher job ratings from Americans are just relative: Voters are still mostly split on how he’s handling the pandemic, and the past two weeks have brought only a modest bump in his overall approval numbers, which still show more Americans disapprove of his performance as president than approve.

In a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a quarter of voters surveyed said Trump is doing an “excellent” job handling the virus, and another 17 percent said he is doing a “good” job. But almost as many, 39 percent, said he’s doing a “poor” job, and 13 percent rate his handling of the crisis as “just fair.”

Those numbers are statistically unchanged from last week’s survey and match the results of other public polls, which show Americans divided along partisan lines in judging Trump’s handling of the virus.

The latest poll numbers come at a pivot point for Trump, who is considering loosening some of the constraints placed on American's public and economic lives to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus — even as public-health officials warn that the U.S. is falling behind in its containment efforts despite the actions already taken. Meanwhile, Americans are growing more supportive of aggressive containment measures like quarantines.

Trump said Tuesday he hopes the economy would resume in large part by Easter, which is April 12.

While Trump and some of his allies are blanching at the growing economic toll of the virus, polls show Americans aren’t worried the government is going too far in trying to contain the virus. On the contrary: Voters say they are more concerned the government won’t go far enough.

According to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, only 3 percent of voters said the Trump administration is doing too much in response to the virus, compared to 45 percent who say the Trump administration isn’t doing enough. Roughly 4 in 10 voters said the administration is doing the right amount.

"As the coronavirus pandemic continues, voters are almost evenly split on whether the Trump administration is doing the right amount or not enough in response," said Tyler Sinclair, vice president for Morning Consult.

That matches the sentiment in other surveys. About as many Americans in a Monmouth University poll released Monday said the federal government wasn’t doing enough (45 percent) as said the federal government’s response was “appropriate” (47 percent).

Just two weeks ago, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed voters divided evenly over whether they were more worried the government would go too far or not far enough in combating the coronavirus. But Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm that makes up half of the news organizations' bipartisan team of researchers, said in its private polling over the past week that significantly more respondents are worried the government won’t go far enough.

“Last week, public opinion tipped to favoring more restrictions and shut downs,” GOP pollster Bill McInturff wrote on Public Opinion Strategies’ website.

In the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a big majority of voters said they would be on board with a national quarantine to control the spread of coronavirus, permitting only essential travel such as trips to grocery stores and pharmacies. Nearly 3 in 4 voters would either strongly or somewhat support a national quarantine.

For Trump, the polling amounts to a mixed bag. On one hand, there is a long-duration Gallup poll, conducted March 13-22 — a 10-day stretch beginning the same day Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency. The Gallup poll shows Trump with a 49 percent approval rating overall, equaling a high-water mark, with 60 percent approving of his response to the virus.

Other polls, including the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, show a smaller bump. Trump’s overall approval rating is up just 2 points from last week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult survey, from 43 percent to 45 percent, with a majority, 52 percent, still disapproving of his job performance.

Trump gets mildly positive reviews in other polls for his response to the virus. Monmouth found 50 percent of Americans said he was doing a good job handling the outbreak, while 45 percent said he was doing a bad job. A CBS News/YouGov poll was similar: A combined 53 percent said Trump was doing a “very good” or “somewhat good” job, but 47 percent said he was doing a “very bad” or “somewhat bad” job.

The Monmouth poll also showed a slight uptick in Trump's approval rating, to 46 percent. But Trump still trails former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, in a matchup among registered voters, 48 percent to 45 percent, the poll shows.

While views of Trump and his response fall largely along partisan lines, so does concern about the virus. In the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, a slight majority of voters, 53 percent, said they are “very concerned” about the coronavirus outbreak. But the share of self-identified Democratic voters who are “very concerned” (64 percent) is significantly larger than the percentages of Republicans (46 percent) and independents (47 percent) who said the same.

Democratic voters are also more plugged into news about the virus and the government’s response. Overall, nearly a quarter of voters said the outbreak will have a “major impact” on their vote in the 2020 elections. But twice as many Democrats (32 percent) as Republicans (16 percent) said it will have a “major impact.”

"Week over week, more voters are now saying the outbreak will impact their vote for president, so all eyes remain on the federal government's handling of this virus,” Sinclair said.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted March 20-22, as the Senate wrangled over a stimulus package intended to support the economy. Proposals from both parties would benefit both workers and businesses, but the poll asked voters which was more important.

The vast majority, 73 percent, said the government “should provide financial assistance to individual Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, because businesses will benefit from the economic activity” — far more than the 15 percent who said the government “should provide financial assistance to businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, because individual Americans will benefit from the economic activity.”

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll surveyed 1,996 registered voters via online interviews and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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5 Truck Drivers Describe Hauling Critical Supplies During A Pandemic
« Reply #15573 on: March 26, 2020, 06:45:59 AM »
The US is counting on truck drivers to help ensure shelves remain stocked as Americans load up on things like toilet paper and canned goods amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN Business spoke with several truck drivers about their recent experiences. Many said they’re working under trying circumstances that include longer hours, crowded truck stops, difficulties finding food, as well as health and safety concerns. Still, they said they’re energized by the challenge and thankful for the gratitude they are receiving from their fellow Americans.

Here’s what they had to say:

Ralph Garcia
Based out of: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Drives for: ABF Freight

The 41 years I’ve driven, I’ve never seen the truck traffic, it’s incredible. Places at night, trying to get parked. The other day I didn’t want to stop because it was so packed. People were lined up on the off ramp, sleeping right there. They couldn’t even get into the truck stop.

It’s getting hard to even get a sandwich in the past week, with states closing restaurants. I thought that was insanity. They’re doing takeout, at least they have that.

There’s a restaurant that I always call ahead to so they’ll have it ready. This time, they asked me if I could sit out in my truck. They brought it right to my truck. That was a first.

The other day I went to Burger King in Kingman, Arizona. My truck doesn’t fit through the drive-through so I stood in the drive-through. I made my order walking between the cars and they looked at me like I was crazy.

The lady said, ‘This is a drive-up.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t drive my semi.’ She just kind of chuckled and said ‘We don’t usually do this.’ I said ‘You’re going to have to start, because we got to eat.’ They didn’t give me a hard time.

Courtney Emery
Based out of: Crossville Tennessee

Drives for: A FedEx contractor

I’m a little bit nervous [that I’ve been exposed].

It’s definitely scary. When I go home off the road, I live with my grandparents. I’m afraid to go home and transport it to them.

Truckers aren’t health care workers and we’re not anybody special. We just have to keep working because, what else are we going to do right now? And people need their toilet paper.

Dee Sova
Based out of: Greenville Missouri

Drives for: Prime, Inc.

We’ve been a little bit more obsessive about hand cleaning and sanitizer. Because you just don’t know. It’s business as usual, with the acknowledgment we must be super, super careful about hygiene.

It’s already using hand sanitizer before we walk into the truck stop. Or we have gloves on. We’re not touching surfaces right now. I’m trying not to touch buttons. When we’re at the fuel island [to fill up] we’re using a pen versus touching that surface.

People are kinder now. My husband, who I drive with, took $70 into a Walmart Thursday to get what he needed. When he went up to the counter to ring everything up, it came to $78. This lady behind him gave him extra [money] to pay for what he needed to get. I realized that was human kindness at work on our behalf as drivers. She didn’t have to do that. He could’ve came out to the truck, got the ATM card and covered everything, but she didn’t waste any hesitation in giving him that extra money.

Jorge Chavez
Based out of: Houston, Texas

Drives for: Jetco Delivery

I just dropped a full trailer loaded with milk. As a father, I got kids at home. I would feel bad if my family doesn’t have whatever they need. Right now I feel proud, I feel good because somehow we’re helping the community to make sure that they get whatever they need in their homes.

Honestly, I don’t feel tired. I just feel excited. What’s happening now is impacting every family across the nation. I got friends that are driving from state to state. Everyone is doing their part.

Allen Boyd
Based out of: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Drives for: Walmart

You always pay attention to who is following you. With all the stuff that’s happening, now we really must pay attention.

I talked to a driver last week who had somebody come up alongside him and blow on the horn and asked him to roll down his window. They wanted to know if he had toilet paper, as he’s driving down the road.

You don’t know how desperate people are. People do different things that they would never do when they need something really bad.

Most of the time, we don’t have a clue what’s in our trucks. Even if we do know, we don’t tell. You don’t know what that person is going to do, how that person’s going to react. In these times, we must step up our game.

In 39 years, I don’t recall ever being thanked for just being a truck driver before. I appreciate being thanked for a change. I hope that it’s not just during this time and when it goes away, we’re back to just being in everybody’s way again.

We make sure everybody has what they need everyday, and do it as safely as possible and in a timely manner.

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Threatening messages are being circulated in the slums of Rio de Janeiro by gangsters saying they will 'teach people to respect' an 8 pm shutdown.

Inside the Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

New Delhi: Criminal gangs in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro, that have long held sway over the city’s favelas (slums), are enforcing their own lockdown to curtail the spread of coronavirus, even as President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the pandemic as a “little flu”.

According to Brazilian media, threatening messages are being circulated in the slums of Rio de Janeiro by gangsters who have said they will “teach people to respect” an 8 pm shutdown.

One of the messages by a gang read: “Attention all residents of Rio das Pedras, Muzema and Tijuguinhal! Curfew from 8 pm…Whoever is seen on the street after this time will learn to respect the next one.”

Another read, “We want the best for the population. If the government does not have the capacity to fix it, organised crime will solve it.”

As of Tuesday, Brazil’s health ministry reported over 2,201 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Governor Wilson Witzel has warned that the state’s public health system was likely to “collapse” in the next 15 days.

Also read: PM’s wife, ministers, officials — how coronavirus is travelling though corridors of power

‘Better to stay home doing nothing’
Apart from gangs and militias imposing curfews, ‘baile funk’ (a form of modern Brazilian music) dance parties have also been called off. “Open-air drug markets” have similarly been closed.

Rio-based newspaper Extra has reported that in the ‘City of God’ — a sprawling complex of slums made famous in 2002 by a movie of the same name — gangsters were driving around, blaring loud messages to residents.

One of their messages said: “We’re imposing a curfew because nobody is taking this seriously. Whoever is in the street screwing around or going for a walk will receive a corrective and serve as an example. Better to stay home doing nothing. The message has been given.”

‘Disease of the rich’
People in Brazil have dubbed the outbreak as a “disease of the rich“. They believe the viral illness has come from the country’s rich populace who had returned from Europe. It is now feared that the outbreak has reached poorer communities who have limited access to healthcare facilities.

Paulo Buss, director of the Center for International Relations, a public health research center at Fiocruz, said, “The irony is that the disease was brought to Brazil by plane, by the rich, but it is among the poor that it will explode.”

Vania Ribeiro, vice-president of the Local Neighbourhood Association, also said, “Here people are very afraid. The nearest health centre is the same that the elderly people in Copacabana and tourists from all over the world use.”

‘Terrible’ basic sanitation
A 27-year-old resident of the ‘City of God’, Jefferson Maia, has been quoted by Reuters as saying that the country’s basic sanitation is in a “terrible” condition.

“Sometimes, we don’t even have water to wash our hands properly. We are very concerned with the coronavirus issue,” said Maia.

According to Edmilson Migowski, an infectologist at Rio’s Federal University, the favelas are expected to pose a major public health challenge in the coming days.

“The entry of coronavirus into denser, less planned and less culturally assisted areas could be devastating. Where water, soap and detergent are lacking, it will be difficult to stop the spread,” Migowski said.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Authorities Are Charging A Woman Who Coughed On $35,000 Worth Of Food...
« Reply #15575 on: March 26, 2020, 04:49:14 PM »
At A Grocery Store That Had To Be Thrown Away

"While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing," Joe Fasula, the co-owner of the store, said.

Authorities in Pennsylvania are planning on filing criminal charges against a woman who coughed on more than $35,000 worth of food that all then had to be thrown away in what the grocery store owners are calling a coronavirus prank.

“The Hanover Township Police Department is investigating an incident at 2280 Sans Souci Parkway, Gerrity's Supermarket, for a female customer who intentionally contaminated produce/meat/merchandise for sale,” the police department wrote in a statement on Facebook.

“The suspect has been identified and is being evaluated at a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. Criminal charges will be filed.”

Joe Fasula, the co-owner of Gerrity’s, wrote about the incident in a Facebook post, saying, “while there is little doubt this woman was doing it as a very twisted prank, we will not take any chances with the health and well-being of our customers.”

Fasula said the woman had coughed on items in the bakery, meat case, and grocery sections of the market.

He said 15 staff members had to clean up the mess and dispose of the food.

“I’m absolutely sick to my stomach about the loss of food,” Fasula wrote. “While it is always a shame when food is wasted, in these times when so many people are worried about the security of our food supply, it is even more disturbing.”

The Pennsylvania incident appears to be the latest in a series of recent hoaxes where people are pretending to have the coronavirus to cause panic.

Justin M. Rhodes, a 31-year-old man from North Carolina, was arrested for allegedly pretending to have COVID-19 and going to Walmart, which he proudly talked about in a Facebook video.

"If I got it, y'all gonna get it too," he said in the three-minute video. “Fuck all y'all, that's how I feel about it.”

The Albemarle Police Department investigated the incident and confirmed that “no one in Stanly County has tested positive for the Coronavirus” and then charged Rhodes with felony perpetrating a hoax in a public building and disorderly conduct.

Another man, from New Jersey, 50-year-old George Falcone, was charged with making terrorist threats after allegedly coughing on an employee at a Wegmans Food Markets and telling them he had the coronavirus.

"We must do everything we can to deter this type of conduct and any similar conduct that harms others during this emergency," New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a statement.

"Just as we are cracking down on bias offenses and those who use the pandemic to fuel hatred and prejudice, we vow to respond swiftly and strongly whenever someone commits a criminal offense that uses the coronavirus to generate panic or discord."
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Mexican governor prompts outrage with claim poor are immune to coronavirus
« Reply #15576 on: March 26, 2020, 04:56:29 PM »
Miguel Barbosa’s comments reflect almost conspiratorial response of many Mexican politicians to pandemic

 Miguel Barbosa (centre) is governor of Puebla state.

A Mexican state governor has prompted incredulity and outrage by claiming that poor people are immune to Covid-19, as the government attempts to promote physical distancing and cancels non-essential services.

Miguel Barbosa, the governor of Puebla, was apparently commenting on reports that a significant proportion of Mexico’s coronavirus cases is made up of wealthy people who had travelled abroad.

Officials say three-quarters of Mexico’s 475 confirmed cases are related to international travel, including several people who reportedly caught the virus on skiing trips to Italy or the US.

“Most of them are wealthy people,” Barbosa said. “If you are rich you are at risk. If you are poor you are not. The poor, we’re immune.”

His comments sparked controversy in a country where nearly half of the population are poor and the majority work in the informal economy.

They also reflected the almost conspiratorial response of many Mexican politicians toward Covid-19, which threatens to wreck the government’s agenda of mega-projects and expanding social programmes.

The country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, whose administration has promised to “put the poor first”, has responded with breezy optimism to the crisis. He told reporters on Tuesday that Mexico would be past the “worst of it” within a month.

López Obrador has resisted stiffer measures, such as quarantine and border closures, on the grounds that poor Mexicans are unable to afford not to work.

“The economy is in a nosedive and his base, the poor, is getting the short end of the stick,” Esteban Illades, the editor of Nexos magazine, said of the president’s motives. “A weak economy means his legacy is compromised.”

Mexico has entered phase two of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning community spreading has started. There have been six deaths in the country so far.

Covid-19 has struck at a tough time for Mexico. The economy slumped in 2019 and forecasts for 2020 suggested continued stagnation even before the pandemic.

López Obrador swept to power with an overwhelming majority in 2018, but recent polls suggest his support is slipping. One survey showed his approval rating below 50% for the first time.

The president’s supporters have rallied around him and tried to downplay the dangers of the coronavirus.

Analysts say the pandemic is the most recent in a string of crises, including outbreaks of drug violence and growing fury over gender-based violence, which López Obrador and his supporters see as personal attacks rather than issues requiring urgent attention and resources.

Illades said: “They’re looking at how coronavirus will affect their so-called ‘fourth transformation’,” as the president refers to his administration, “and how their dreams of transforming the country are now on the backburner. It happens every presidential term. Reality always gets in the way of dreams.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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New Orleans emerges as next coronavirus epicenter, threatening rest of South
« Reply #15577 on: March 26, 2020, 05:14:39 PM »
(Reuters) - New Orleans is on track to become the next coronavirus epicenter in the United States, dimming hopes that less densely populated and warmer-climate cities would escape the worst of the pandemic, and that summer months could see it wane.

The plight of New Orleans - with the world’s highest growth rate in coronavirus cases - also raises fears that the city may become a powerful catalyst in spreading the virus across the south of the country. Authorities have warned the number of cases in New Orleans could overwhelm its hospitals by April 4.

New Orleans is the biggest city in Louisiana, the state with the third-highest case load of coronavirus in the United States on a per capita basis after the major epicenters of New York and Washington.

The growth rate in Louisiana tops all others, according to a University of Louisiana at Lafayette analysis of global data, with the number of cases rising by 30% in the 24 hours before noon on Wednesday. On Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a major federal disaster declaration for the state, freeing federal funds and resources.

Some 70% of Louisiana’s 1,795 confirmed cases to date are in the New Orleans metro area.

The culprit for the rapid spread of coronavirus in the Big Easy? Some blame Carnival.

“Mardi Gras was the perfect storm, it provided the perfect conditions for the spread of this virus,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, who until January was the Health Secretary for Louisiana and now heads up Louisiana State University’s health care services division.

She noted that Fat Tuesday fell on Feb. 25, when the virus was already in the United States but before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national leaders had raised the alarm with the American public.

“New Orleans had its normal level of celebration, which involved people congregating in large crowds and some 1.4 million tourists,” Gee said. “We shared drink cups. We shared each other’s space in the crowds. People were in close contact catching beads. It is now clear that people also caught coronavirus.”

Gee said that the explosive growth rate of the coronavirus in the Mississippi River port city means “it’s on the trajectory to become the epicenter for the outbreak in the United States.”

Dr. Peter Hotez is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College, a renowned vaccine scientist and an expert on the coronavirus pandemic.

He said that the tight grip the virus is gaining on New Orleans was deeply worrying and a possible harbinger for worse to come across the south and for less densely populated and warmer cities across America.

“There has been some research and data suggesting that warmer, more humid weather could slow this epidemic,” he said. “The fact that this occurred on the Gulf Coast, which has some of the higher humidity and temperatures in the U.S., is a serious concern.”

Hotez noted that more research into how climate does or does not play a role in the spread of this coronavirus needs to happen, but acknowledged that experts hoped that warm weather and the coming summer months in the northern hemisphere would be natural buffers against it.

“If you look at this epidemic, we’ve not seen much in the hotter parts of the country. Texas has not had a lot. Arizona has not had a lot. Then all of a sudden - bam! - it appears in strength in New Orleans,” he said. “We have to follow this trend closely.”

Having an entirely new coronavirus epicenter kick off means that the United States may soon be dealing with multiple hot spots all at once, Hotez said - a worst-case scenario that could cripple healthcare systems.

If predictions were correct, the hospitals in New Orleans would struggle to manage past next week, Governor John Bel Edwards told a news conference on Wednesday.

“The trajectory of our case growth continues to be very alarming,” Edwards said. “We have a long way to go.”

New Orleans could well be the first major domino to fall in the south, starting a chain reaction in other metro areas in the region, said Hotez.

That is a serious concern for Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country and a major center for the oil industry. The two cities have historically strong links made even more so by an influx of New Orleans residents into Houston following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey.

On the ground in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, residents said they were concerned, but that the virus was an entirely different threat from the natural disasters that routinely befall the city.

Jonathan Sanders, a 35-year-old general manager of the French Quarter brasserie Justine, said the city was calm and residents largely heeding authorities orders to stay inside.

“There is always something going on at all hours of the day or night. Now, without it all, it’s very peaceful,” he said. “You can park anywhere in the French Quarter.”

The virus, Sanders said, was so far easier to deal with than the death and destruction Hurricane Katrina unleashed in 2005, when over 1,800 people died along the Gulf Coast.

“When you think of the total destruction of Katrina... that was gut wrenching,” he said. “We’re fairly more resilient than other places that haven’t had so many tragic things happen to their city.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Doctors in the capital have seen an ‘explosion in demand’ in recent days

A coronavirus surge is already hitting London – where more than half of England’s infected patients are being treated.

The NHS is scrambling to avert the worst-case scenario, described as “armageddon”, when the virus reaches its expected peak in seven to 10 days.

It’s hoped that the newly assembled temporary hospital at east London’s ExCel centre will be able to bear the brunt of the surge, with NHS leaders ruling out shipping patients elsewhere in the country, so that Covid-19 can be better contained.

The capital is at the epicentre of the UK epidemic — with Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, warning of a tsunami of cases. But analysis seen by The Independent shows the majority of London patients are in the outer suburbs.

The analysis, by company Edge Health, shows there is a doughnut-type shape of cases forming around central London hospitals where the population is younger than in the outer boroughs.

NHS England on Thursday confirmed there were 2,000 Covid-19 patients in London hospitals, out of a total of 4,300 in hospital across the whole of England. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care said there were now 11,658 cases and 578 confirmed deaths.

Doctors working in hospitals across the capital told The Independent differing accounts of what was happening in their units, with some already at risk of being overstretched while others are putting together their final plans for when the surge hits them.

There are around 800 intensive care beds in London with a surge capacity of up to 3,000 beds, but bosses at NHS England believe they will need up to seven times more, which is why the ExCel centre, dubbed the NHS Nightingale, is so crucial.

The Independent has also learned tonight that NHS bosses are in advanced discussions to create up to five field hospitals across England, in addition to the ExCel centre.

The military was understood to be at Birmingham’s NEC conference centre today as part of plans to create a hospital there, as well as at the Manchester Central conference venue.

A senior NHS England source said some London hospitals were under “huge pressure” while others were still able to cope.

They added: “All the modelling suggests that unless the ExCel opens on top of surge [beds] in trusts then in seven to 10 days we would be looking at armageddon across London.”

They said there would be no regional mutual assistance for London as “everyone needs to consume their own smoke” – it’s feared that transporting patients would spread the disease.

They said Downing Street had taken special interest in the preparations across the city, but they added most big cities will need an ExCel-type field hospital as the virus spreads.

George Batchelor, director and co-founder of Edge Health said: “The peak in London based on our modelling will be around 5 April, with the numbers in hospital peaking around 8 April and critical care around 15 April. It will get worse before it gets better.”

He said areas with older populations around the centre of London appeared to be the worst hit, explaining: “It’s within the doughnut around London, the Hillingdon, Croydon areas where there are district general hospitals that are also less well equipped than hospitals in central London.

“London, and even outer London, are younger than other areas in England, which is a worry as the virus spreads to other parts of the UK.”

He added: “We are tracking Italy almost exactly but it does depend really on how well the NHS is going to cope. It had some advanced warning compared with Italy, which was really caught out.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Hopson of NHS Providers said the capital had seen “an explosion in demand” in recent days but hospitals had been able to increase their capacity “between five and seven-fold”.

However, he warned that hospital bosses were describing “a continuous tsunami” in seriously ill patients.

Northwick Park Hospital in northwest London reported a critical incident last week, and earlier this week reported 21 deaths of patients with coronavirus in a single day.

At the Royal London hospital, in Whitechapel, bosses have sought to create 200 extra intensive care beds. But on Wednesday, the hospital ran out of capacity and used beds in operating theatre recovery areas.

At St George’s Hospital in south London, doctors reported an increasing number of intensive care admissions with one patient an hour being admitted on Wednesday, although this slowed overnight. One source said many of the patients were younger than 70 and many younger than that, although most had underlying issues such as obesity.

They said the hospital still had spare beds on Thursday and escalation plans were ready.

A doctor at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington said the hospital was busy but still had intensive care capacity. They said there was an expectation the situation would worsen in coming days.
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Bolsonaro exempts Brazil churches from lockdowns at evangelicals' request
« Reply #15579 on: March 26, 2020, 06:13:03 PM »
BRASILIA, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday exempted churches from coronavirus lockdowns by classifying religious activity as an essential service, heeding requests from evangelical leaders who are an important constituency for him.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist elected with massive support from evangelical voters in 2018 due to his conservative social views, has said publicly that churches should remain open because they are “the last shelter” for many people.

His executive decree, published in the official gazette on Thursday, contradicts measures taken by state governors and city mayors to ban religious assemblies along with soccer games, cultural programs and non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the spread of the virus.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil have quadrupled in less than a week to 2,433, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday, with 57 deaths related to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

Churches still have to follow Health Ministry rules restricting crowds in public places but can stay open.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain raised as a Catholic, was re-baptized by an evangelical pastor in the River Jordan in 2016 in Israel, as he began to plan a run for president.

He is facing mounting criticism for disregarding the warnings of public health experts and playing down the threat of the virus by calling it “a little flu” even as the death toll rises in Brazil’s largest cities.

In Sao Paulo, the country’s most populous state that has been most stricken by the epidemic, Governor Joao Doria recommended that churches close their doors for 60 days.

Polls show a majority of Brazilians are in favor of the measures implemented by state governors. With his popularity falling, Bolsonaro is expected to rely more heavily on his core evangelical following for his political future.

Evangelical leaders welcomed the presidential decree as upholding the constitutional right of Brazilians to freedom of religion, which they said no governor or mayor could overrule.

“In this pandemic of panic, no hospital can calm people down, but religion can,” said Silas Malafaia, the leader of one of Brazil’s largest pentecostal churches, the Assembly of God, and a staunch backer of Bolsonaro from his pulpit.

Still, given threat of the outbreak, pastors should use their common sense to avoid crowded assemblies, said Hidekazu Takayama, an evangelical preacher and congressman.

“Pastors have to understand that we are dealing with a lethal virus and we must avoid contagion among the faithful,” he said.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Trump Fights with Governors, Reporters Over Coronavirus Response: A Closer Look
« Reply #15580 on: March 26, 2020, 07:20:01 PM »
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Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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‘Where’s Waldo’ Coronavirus Edition Is Here ...
« Reply #15581 on: March 29, 2020, 12:00:06 AM »
And It’s A Tad Easier To Spot Waldo Than Usual

The famous “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle has left so many people with sore brains after scanning for Waldo for hours, if not days, since 1987. Plus, recently, the sneaky hero was caught shrinking in size, making the challenge all more difficult.

But now, with the coronavirus pandemic changing the ways we used to live, Waldo is no exception. Inspired by Martin-Handford‘s iconic hero, the artists Pedro Mezzini and Clay Bennett gave Waldo quite a lone makeover. Thanks to global efforts in social distancing, for the first time ever, this boy is one heck of an easy target. Sorry to interrupt your stroll in the park, Waldo, but shouldn’t you be staying at home?

Art director Pedro Mezzini has made spotting Waldo way easier thanks to social distancing

Image credits: Pedro Mezzini

The award-winning cartoonist Clay Bennett also created a twist on the original Waldo

Image credits: timesfreepress
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Noam Chomsky: Coronavirus - What is at stake?
« Reply #15582 on: March 29, 2020, 07:23:12 PM »
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Coronavirus Rhapsody
« Reply #15583 on: April 01, 2020, 01:29:13 AM »
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« Reply #15584 on: April 01, 2020, 12:08:32 PM »
Company suggests stunts will return next year

Google has cancelled its famous April Fools’ Day announcements as the world battles with coronavirus.

The company said that it was focused on being “helpful to people” and would not launch any hoax products as it has in previous years.

Google usually releases numerous April Fools’ jokes each year, which are intended as light-hearted stunts to amuse the internet. Many of the joke features are actually released to the public, allowing them to play with the updates for the day.

There have been so many of the pranks that they have been given their own – very lengthy – Wikipedia article, documenting each year’s jokes. The tradition started in 2000, very soon after Google had first formed.

The jokes have gone wrong in the past. In 2016, for instance, it introduced a “mic drop” feature for Gmail that users blamed for leading them to lose out on jobs and insult friends and colleagues.

But this year, the company urged staff not to announce any such joke features, in accordance with the difficult time being faced by many in the world.

It said that the jokes could come back next April, when the world will be “a whole lot brighter” than it is now.

Google’s head of marketing, Lorraine Twohill, urged managers to ensure that specific teams were not working on their own smaller projects that could be launched without the knowledge of those higher up in the company, in a memo initially published by Business Insider and confirmed by The Independent.

“Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one,” Ms Twohill wrote.

“We’ve already stopped any centralized April Fool’s efforts but realise there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about. Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned — internally or externally.”

Microsoft already opted to stop the jokes last year. A message from its head of marketing noted that the jokes are often not amusing, can have limited positive impact, generate “unwanted news cycles” and that there is “more to lose than gain by attempting to be funny on this one day”.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'