Will Coronavirus Crater Hopes Of A Global Recovery As World Trade Tumbles?
The global economy is faced with a synchronized slowdown as central bank ammunition to fight the next global recession is limited.
Monetary authorities across the world have slashed interest rates 80 times over the last 12 months and printed upwards of $1 trillion over four months to counter the slowdown.
The only apparent solution central bankers have offered is a liquidity-fueled massive stock market melt-up across the world that rivals the end years of the Dot Com bubble (and the liquidity-fueled meltup around Y2K). These unelected officials have also provided forward guidance on how an epic V-shape recovery in the real economy is imminent.
The only problem today that market watchers like ourselves have noticed – is that traditional monetary policy has had a challenging time stimulating growth in developed and emerging economies.
Data from Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) showed Friday that global trade volume continued to contract in November, marking one of the most extended stretches of negative growth since the end of the financial crisis.
According to CPB, world trade slipped 0.60% in November over the prior quarter and was down 1.1% compared to the same month a year ago.
November was the sixth month of straight of declines on a Y/Y basis, the longest stretch since right after the 2008 financial crisis.
World trade has dropped sharply from 3.4% in November 2018.
However, there was some good news; the rate of contraction has slowed from a -2% pace seen in October, which was the quickest rate of decline since a decade ago.
And while hope is high that the so-called ‘trade deal’ will lift all boats, data shows that the global economy has continued slowing into 2020 as the Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index has crashed 70% in the last four months, the biggest down moves since 2008.
Additionally, earlier this week, the IMF downgraded its forecast for global GDP for 2020 and 2021, its sixth straight reduction, although in a sliver of optimism, global GDP in 2020 is now expected to post a modest rebound from 2.9% to 3.3%, (down from 3.4% in October) and to 3.4% in 2021 (down from 3.6%) as the IMF said, “there are now tentative signs that global growth may be stabilizing, though at subdued levels.”
Before Davos this week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) President Borge Brende warned the world is “faced with a synchronized slowdown in the global economy. And we’re also faced with a situation where the ammunition that we have to fight a potential global recession is more limited.”
Last week, the UN published its annual report that warned the global economy recorded its lowest growth in a decade in 2019, falling to 2.3% as a result of the U.S. and China trade war and sharp pullbacks in investment.
The report warns of slowbalisation will define the global economy in the early 2020s. Growth is expected to pick up slightly across the world from 2.3% last year to 2.5% in 2020, but that depends on the effectiveness of monetary policy and if all trade disputes can be resolved.
And on top of everyone warning about a decelerating global economy in 2020, the market’s most important pillars of support – buybacks – are declining.
If the global economy fails to rebound in a V-shape fashion in early 2020, asset manages and leverage funds, who’ve already priced in a massive recovery by bidding stocks to record highs, could soon see a repricing of growth that would ultimately lead to a blowoff top in stocks.
Along with a continued global slowdown, a deadly virus outbreak could derail consumer spending habits across Asia that would ultimately weigh on global trade.
Most epidemics were a buying opportunity for bulls…
But given the level of excess-liquidity and extreme over-valuation today, this time could indeed be different.
The Swedish welfare state has often been praised by the left in the United States. After the migration crisis of 2015, however, when Sweden was flooded by Syrian refugee claimants, Sweden is now facing a welfare crisis that threatens the entire Swedish welfare state model.
Sweden had 9.7 million inhabitants in 2015, before it received 162,000 asylum seekers. 70% of those asylum seekers came from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. 70% of those asylum seekers were also men. The migration crisis created an unsustainable financial and social situation that caused the Swedish political establishment to rethink its stance on asylum migration, which, until then, had been extremely liberal.
Asylum migration has continued, nevertheless. Between 2016 and 2018, more than 70,000 additional migrants have applied for asylum in Sweden, and more than 105,000 asylum migrants havebeengranted asylum.
There is a demographic impact from migration that affects Sweden’s national and cultural identity, as well as the crushing economic impact on Sweden’s welfare state.
The demographic impact can be seen in cities such as Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmö, where people of foreign background (foreign-born or both parents born abroad) have increased from 31.9% of the population in 2002, to 45.9% of the population in 2018. There are already three Swedish municipalities where the majority of the population has a foreign background: Botkyrka, Södertälje and Haparanda. The question then becomes how to integrate foreigners if the majority of the people in a city are of a foreign background. 51% of the elementary school students in Malmö are either foreign born or both of whose parents are foreign born. Within a generation, Sweden’s third-largest city will have a population in which the majority of people are of foreign background. How will integrating immigrants take place then, and which group will be integrated into which?
Integrating migrants into Swedish society has been a failure, a situation that both experts and politicians agree on. In March 2018, 58% of registered unemployed persons were born outside Sweden, even though the group’s share of the population is only 23%. In 2018, the unemployment rate for foreign-born Swedes was 15.4%, while unemployment for Swedes born in Sweden was 3.8%.
The EBO Law (Lagen om eget boende – “Independent Living Act”) permits asylum seekers to settle anywhere in the country. Migrants often settle in areas where other migrants already have settled, partly because of the low housing prices in those areas and partly because it is easier for migrants to network there. This process both reinforces segregation and creates migrant enclaves in Sweden.
A large influx of migrants combined with a failed integration policy has created cultural consequences in which Swedish culture is both undergoing rapid change and having its identity challenged. In many areas where migrants are in the majority, there is no way to maintain Swedish culture because the population has a culture distinctly different from Sweden’s culture. This results, among other things, in changes in the language and in which holidays are publicly observed.
Several established Swedish media outlets published articles in June glorifying Eid-al-fitr, the holiday that ends the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Well-known companies in Sweden, such as Arla Foods, ICA and COOP, published recipes on their websites for the holiday. Several voices have already suggested that Eid-al-fitr, a Muslim holiday, should be a national holiday in Sweden. These voices have come from the Social Democrats and the Church of Sweden, two institutions that have great influence in Swedish society. Even though Eid-al-fitr has not become a national holiday, yet, severalmunicipalities choose to celebrate it.
As long as Sweden has existed as a nation, the bond to its ancestral neighbor, Finland, has been strong and Finnish has been the second most popular language here. In 2018, the linguist Mikael Parkvall noted that Arabic is now the second most popular language in Sweden. At the same time, many children born in Sweden learn Swedish so poorly that they cannot speak it properly, because there is not enough Swedish spoken in some preschools and grade schools. This change is unfolding at a rapid pace.
It is not just Swedish society that will look radically different within a decade. The Swedish welfare state, which has been the hallmark of the Swedish state known around the world, is also changing or possibly even being phased out.
The calculations underpinning Sweden’s welfare state are based on the assumption of a majority of adults employed full-time, who pay income tax to the state. What the state receives needs to be greater than what it pays out in the form of various welfare benefits and transfer payments. When a large number of people who receive welfare benefits cannot find employment or are not willing to work, there is a crisis. This is exactly what has happened in Sweden with its liberal immigration policy.
An example highlighted in Swedish media is Filipstad, a municipality with more than 10,000 inhabitants. There, the proportion of residents with a foreign background has increased from 8.5 % in 2002 to 22.7 % in 2018. Between 2012 and 2018, the domestic-born group decreased by 640 individuals, while the foreign-born group increased by 963. Those who move out of Filipstad are Swedish-born and of working age. At the same time, Filipstad’s City Manager, Claes Hultgren, is concerned that the newly arrived migrants do not have the necessary skills to enter the labor market. The consequence for municipalities such as Filipstad, is that they then must make cutbacks in the welfare services that the municipality has a responsibility to supply.
Filipstad is not the only municipality to suffer from cutbacks. According to a report from the association Sweden’s Municipalities and Regions (SKR), in 2023, there will be a deficit of 43 billion Swedish kronor (approximately $4.6 billion) in municipal and regional operations if costs increase in line with the population growth and the state does not add more resources than already planned.
The Social Democratic municipal commissioner in Strömsund, a Swedish municipality with 11,699 inhabitants, warned:
“All costs are borne by the municipalities. We have never had such low unemployment in the municipality among native-born, yet, we are on our knees, and the explanation is that we also never had such high unemployment among foreign-born. And they end up in welfare, which in practice is now, for many, life-long support.”
Charlotta Mellander, Professor of Economics at Jönköping International Business School, noted the following about the municipalities’ economic crisis:
“This is not something that happened overnight, but the municipalities’ finances have been eroded for a long time. But something that has affected the situation is the refugee reception in 2015, where, from the beginning, the municipalities that received the most had poor conditions in terms of a labor market and integration. And that has made the situation even tougher.”
At the beginning of this new decade, because of excessive migration and failed integration policies, Sweden faces radical cultural and economic changes that will fundamentally change the country.
There is ongoing Islamization in parts of Sweden and how much this Islamization will affect Swedish society is something that is influenced by the political decisions that will be made during the 2020s.
Will asylum immigration to Sweden from Muslim countries continue? Will Swedish authorities continue to support Islamic culture with tax funds? Will the immigrants adopt Swedish culture, or will the failed integration approach continue and the Swedes increasingly adopt the Islamic culture?
There are major conflicts between these two cultures, so the expansion of the Islamic culture in Sweden will doubtless create unrest of various kinds. Today, there are more contradictions between Islamic culture and Swedish culture than commonalities. Segregation is strong and mosques have been involved in scandals several times due to cultural conflicts between Islam and Swedish values.
The new decade will therefore be both unstable and decisive for Sweden, and contain major political, cultural and economic changes inescapably taking place.
Third US Coronavirus Case Confirmed In Orange County, 40 Reported In Shanghai
Hundreds of medical personnel are rushing to Wuhan following yesterday’s tragic death of Doctor Liang Wudong, of the ENT department of Hubei Xinhua Hospital, who died Saturday while fighting to suppress the virus. The South China Morning Post reports that 1,350 medics (presumably from the PLA) have already arrived in the city, and another 1,000 are expected to arrive soon.
As the number of confirmed cases surges past 2,000, China is scrambling to build not one, but two, SARS treatment-model hospitals in Wuhan (remember, Wuhan is a massive city of 11 million). Authorities have told the press that they expect both hospitals and their combined 2,300 beds to be operational within half a month.
Even though researchers have purportedly cast doubt on the theory that the coronavirus didn’t make the jump from animals to humans thanks to a shady food market that trafficking in live wild animals, officials in Beijing announced Sunday that the sale of live wild animals, including bats and snakes, at markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms. But we thought eating bats was a delicacy and an ingrained cultural practice not to be criticized or stifled?
As we reported last night (Sunday morning in Beijing), health officials in Hubei Province confirmed thirteen more deaths on Saturday, while another was reported in Henan Province. Perhaps most alarmingly, last night, we learned that a patient has reportedly succumbed to the virus in Shanghai as well. In that case, the victim was an 88-year-old man who was suffering from preexisting health issues. AFP adds that 40 cases have been confirmed in the city: 37 stable, one critical, one recovered, and one (88yo man with comorbidities) died. They are also investigating 95 additional suspected cases. These weren’t the first deaths outside of Hubei, but, according to the New York Times, “the death in Shanghai, which is among China’s most populous cities and a major commercial hub, is likely to add to anxieties about the disease’s spread.”
Over in the US, officials confirmed a third case of nCoV early Sunday. The patient is being treated in isolation at a hospital in Orange County, Calif., a wealthy suburban California county known for its (relative) conservatism. The CDC notified health officials in the county that the patient had tested positive on Saturday, according to a statement obtained by CNN. The individual is said to be in “good condition”. State and federal officials are tracking down anybody who might have had contact with the patient, who recently traveled from Wuhan to the US. Two previous cases were confirmed in Illinois and Washington state.
Additionally, Japan confirmed its fourth case of infection, Thailand confirmed its 8th case, Hong Kong confirmed its sixth case and Macau confirmed three new cases overnight. Paris has cancelled a Lunar New Year parade
AFP reported the Shanghai cases late yesterday in the US, but the American press has, for some reason, neglected to emphasize, or even mention, this alarming factoid. We suspect it could have something to do with the stock market.
Across China, 688 new cases of the virus were diagnosed on Saturday. Some experts suspect that Beijing is concealing the true number of confirmed cases for fear of sparking ‘social panic’, just like the leadership did during the SARS outbreak in 2003 (which is what necessitated all of their promises of “transparency” in the first place).
This would also partially explain the vast discrepancies in case counts between the WHO, and media organizations like SCMP, which has consistently led the world in confirming new cases.
Regardless of the circumstances, Beijing’s first priority will always be ‘maintain social stability’ – no matter the cost, in lives or money. As one twitter wit argued, it looks like the medical field is going to have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Nobody trusts Chinese economic data but everybody is now relying on their healthcare data…
the medical field is going to learn this the hard way, the same way the finance community has had to
Despite all this, Pope Francis weighed in on the outbreak on Sunday, praising China’s efforts to contain the outbreak, and praying for the dead and the sick.
“I would like also to be close and to pray for the people who are sick because of the virus that has spread through China,” Francis told tens of thousands of onlookers gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly homily and blessing. “May the Lord welcome the dead into his peace, comfort families and sustain the great commitment by the Chinese community that has already been put in place to combat the epidemic.”
Across Asia, prices of protective facemasks have stayed elevated amid rampant price-gouging.
There were a few updates on China’s expanding lockdown overnight. The eastern province of Shandong, with a population of 100 million, is the latest to announce that it will suspend long-distance bus service, following similar announcements in Tianjin, Beijing and Xi’an. Sunday marks the beginning of a ban on all private vehicles traveling through Wuhan as authorities expand the quarantine/lockdown, which will remain in place indefinitely until the outbreak is truly ‘contained’. Amid the lockdown, South Korea, the US, Russia, France and other governments have hatched plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.
At least two Chinese provinces and three cities have ordered citizens to wear face masks in public, according to Al Jazeera.
And Reuters reports that a manufacturing hub in Suzhou expects its businesses to remain closed until at least Feb. 8, the latest reminder that when all is said and done, this outbreak will likely take a bite out of Chinese GDP (though whether the leadership decides to publicize the true extent of the deceleration in growth remains to be seen).
And as Wuhan continues to suffer from a withering shortage of medical supplies, one resident told the AFP that the entire city has been infected with a pervasive despair.
“In the past week, we’ve not been able to go out and buy anything to eat,” Mashal Jamalzai, a political science student from Afghanistan told AFP. “We want to be evacuated as soon as possible, because their the virus, the hunger or the fear will kill us.”
The measure is required in the provinces of Guangdong in the south and Jiangxi in the centre, plus the eastern city of Nanjing, Ma’anshan city in Anhui province and Xinyang city in Henan, according to local authorities.
After Friday’s selloff, we imagine investors will be paying close attention to news out of Wuhan as it completely overshadows other ‘important’ domestic news stories, like the Dems impeachment debacle, or the fact that Bernie Sanders is now on track to win Iowa and New Hampshire.
The US Government, which had lied its way into invading and destroying Iraq in 2003 (with a little help from UK and Europeans), wants Europeans to pitch-in for more US-run invasions. Europeans find this disturbing, but not repulsive enough to say, flat-out, “No!” to it. However, only that “No!” can stop the onrush toward a massive US war against both Iran and Iraq, which would spread ultimately into a global nuclear war between US and Russia.
On January 6th, Barbara Wessel, a columnist for Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW), headlined a common European sentiment: “Trump has Europeans caught in a trap: Europe is suffering under the way Donald Trump makes political decisions on the fly. The only option left is to appeal to Iran’s interest in self-preservation”. But Iranians can’t stop the sanctions against itself, and can’t stop Trump’s other outrageous aggressions. Wessel’s false underlying assumption was that Europe must lecture Iranians. That’s like lecturing to Jews during WWII: “The only option left is to appeal to Jews’ interest in self-preservation.” Victims already do everything they can to stop their being victimized; they cannot stop the victimizer from victimizing them. They don’t cause it. Europe must, at last, say “No!” to US, the tyrant over the entire world — Bolivia, Venezuela, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and more. Wessel, however, understood, at least, that the dangerousness actually comes far more from the US, than it does from Iran. So, she recognized that her thinking on this whole matter was confused. She stated:
Any illusions about the possibility of an even partially rational cooperation on foreign policy with the government in Washington have long been shattered. Cynical remarks by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who accuses the Europeans of not giving enough support in the Middle East, underline their helplessness.
Even experienced observers of US Middle East policy have been unable to explain how this [Trump’s “bring American soldiers home”] fits in with the strike against Soleimani…
Europeans find themselves in the trap of a kind of US foreign policy that is marked by the emotional eruptions of an unpredictable president and his power-drunk neocon supporters…
Basically, their [the US Government’s] only explanation for killing Soleimani is: “Because we can.”
Granted, Europe looks weak and helpless when, in joint statements, Europeans call for de-escalation after their presumed partner, the US, has just done everything it can to escalate the situation…
The new year will quickly show how strong the current tendency to suicide is among all those involved…
Germany, France, Italy, Spain and all the rest of Europe, actually belong with all the rest of the Eurasian Continent, rather than with the formerly democratic but now fascist United States across the Atlantic Ocean. A federal Eurasia, composed of free and independent states within a wider United States of Eurasia, would have 4.618 billion population, almost half of the entire world, and wealth to match that, and economic growth which far exceeds that of what will then be left of the US-and-its-allied-countries: UK, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. All other nations would ally either with Eurasia or with that US group — American and those three core allies (Saudi Arabia, Israel, and UK). NATO is America’s aggressive alliance, which routinely invades countries that pose no threat to either US or Europe (such as Iraq). America’s plan for NATO is to expand it worldwide, so that the US will automatically have European allies for invasions in places such as Latin America. NATO needs to be replaced by a united Eurasian defense force, which will be able to counterbalance, within its sphere, the world’s largest military.
Barbara Wessel’s commentary presumes, instead, that Europe’s leaders have no ability to say no to the US. That presumed passivity is only bad habit, inherited from a Europe which was wrecked by WWII. That’s no longer the reality today. Instead, Europe, joined with Asia, will be the global superpower that can finally end America’s endless wars —simply by not joining them. Eurasia will be the world’s dominant power, if Europeans want a future that is better than the past, instead of catastrophic. Either way, the future won’t be much like the past. Europe needs to wake up now, from its vassalage since WWII ended. Simply continuing that would produce a horrible future.
Another DW columnist on January 6th, Konstantin Eggert, headlined “Opinion: Putin’s power games may get out of hand”, and he was even more supportive of Germany’s vassalage to the US regime. He presented a strong case that by murdering Soleimani, Trump had pulled the trump card in the US-v.-Russia game by eliminating the key person upon whom Putin had been relying in order to transfer dominance in the Middle East away from US and toward, instead, Russia. Soleimani was that key individual for Putin’s success in this.
“According to sources in Moscow, Putin knew Soleimani very well: He played a key role in creating the Russian-Iranian alliance that saved Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria from what seemed in 2015 an imminent demise.”
With Soleimani now gone, Eggert predicted that regardless of what Iraq’s Government might want, the US would refuse to terminate its occupation of that country, and Iran would be in a much weaker position than before. He said that “Putin has every reason to wish the Iranians backed off from confrontation with the United States,” so as for Russia to avoid being drawn into World War III. “Putin’s best chance to avoid this drama is to play peacemaker — not alone but in the company of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey’s Erdogan, who are rushing to meet him in the coming two days. Berlin and Ankara do not want to see the Middle East explode and will be asking Putin to use his close ties in Tehran to hatch a deal and fend off confrontation.” In this sense, the missile that hit Soleimani on January 3rd hit not only Iraq and Iran but EU and Turkey. Eggert therefore advises America’s vassals to remain America’s vassals because Russia now is trapped and Putin might not fold his hand and might not simply let Iran become ultimately swallowed-up — Merkel etc. should urge Putin to fold his hand, is the implication here. Eggert’s implication is that, in the final analysis, might makes right, and that therefore any resistance against it (for example, if Putin continues to resist) would only be harmful. Or, as he puts it:
“With the Iranian regime massively undermined or destroyed, Moscow’s position in the Middle East and Vladimir Putin’s personal prestige as the world’s topmost authority on stopping ‘regime change’ and someone who never leaves allies in the lurch, will be badly hit and revealed as much weaker than it seems.”
Eggert sees Trump’s assassination of Soleimani as, in effect, a master-stroke, which has severely weakened Putin. Of course, if Europe’s leaders will act this way, then Eggert’s might-makes-right view will be vindicated, by them.
Europe is the US regime’s indispensable ally. If EU breaks away from US and joins with the rest of the Eurasian continent instead, at least the possibility will exist for avoiding a hellish future of continued and accelerating vassalage to the US regime for the entire world. Passivity and might-makes-right slants such as “Putin’s power games may get out of hand” (instead of “America’s assassination of Soleimani places entire world in danger”) are choices — not inevitable — and Europeans will ultimately be the individuals who will be making the choices here. Europeans will decide whether the US is the world’s enemy; or, instead, whether Russia, China, Iran, and, really, all the rest of Asia, will be treated as if they were that (like the US regime wants). Ganging-up against the victims — if that is to be the European response — would be a choice, not an inevitability (such as DW implies). It will be up to Europeans whether to order all US troops to leave, and to tariff all imports from America, and to sanction and boycott US brands and increasingly replace them with Eurasian ones instead. Trump can be trumped, but only Europe has the clout to do it. The future will be decided by Europeans. The voices of passivity, such as DW, are doing the bidding of Europeans’ enemy — not of the entire world’s future: a Eurasian-led world.
TEPCO Proposes 44-Year Plan To Decommission Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Plant
About a decade ago, a powerful earthquake triggered a 15-meter tsunami that disabled the power supply and cooling of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The accident led to nuclear cores of three reactors to meltdown, causing widespread radiation release, along with the evacuation of thousands of people within a 30-kilometer radius.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) is the operator of the nuclear power plant, released a statement last week detailing how it would take 44 years to decommission Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, reported The Japan Times.
Fukushima No. 2 plant is South of No.1 and North of No.3, which suffered a catastrophic triple meltdown in the March 2011 incident.
TEPCO outlines how the decommissioning process will be conducted in four phases: taking ten years for phase one, 12 years for phase two, and 11 years for both phase three and four.
“TEPCO will survey radioactive contamination at the nuclear plant in the first stage, clear equipment around nuclear reactors in the second, remove the reactors in the third and demolish the reactor buildings in the fourth,” the Times said.
By the end of phase four, so approximately 2064, a total of 9,532 spent nuclear fuel units from the plant will have been delivered to a local fuel reprocessing plant.
Japan’s Economy and Industry Ministry proposed last month that TEPCO could gradually release massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water being stored at the power plant.
In a December 2019 proposal, the ministry suggested a “controlled release” of the contaminated water into the Pacific. Another option via the ministry was allowing the radioactive water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.
But the ministry insisted that the controlled release of the contaminated water into the sea would be the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the water from the plant, while also allowing the government and TEPCO to more easily monitor the operation.
And as we have reported, the Japanese fishing industry isn’t the only party that objects to the government’s plan. South Korea has also complained to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is nowhere close to being resolved. Reactors released iodine-131, cesium-134, and cesium-137. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years.
The Black Death and other epidemics arrived in Europe from China during the 1300’s, killing a large percentage of its population. Much of this pestilence came from rats that stowed away on merchant ships coming from the east.
At the end of World War I, another pandemic, wrongly called the Spanish flu, killed an estimated 18 to 50 million people in Europe and North America.
Seventeen years after the SARS virus killed some 800 people in China and Canada and terrified the entire world, a new plague threatens the West: the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Officially named 2019-nCoV, the new virus has so far infected over 800 people in China. This latest plague erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, population 11 million, which is located on the Yangtze River and is an important hub for national communications.
Like SARS, the Wuhan virus is believed to have come from a live animal market that specializes in exotic animals from the Himalayas or China’s remote mountain regions. Serving exotic animals at dinner parties is a big status symbol in China. Sometimes they are even served while still alive. Dog meat is a favorite in northern China.
SARS was believed to have come from civet cats. As a result, thousands of these felines were brutally killed. But it was later determined the virus originated from bats, then spread to other captive animals. Bat soup is another Chinese delicacy.
Keeping large numbers of captive animals crammed together in cages with poor ventilation and no cleaning is an ideal vector for viral diseases. Each year, China consumes 730 million pigs. Fifty percent of China’s factory farmed pigs have so far contracted lethal swine flu. Rising living standards have boosted demand for pork.
I have seen how China raises and transports pigs. It’s a nightmare of brutality and inhuman behavior. No wonder so many of these intelligent sensitive animals fall ill and die. Swine fever could be payback for China’s terrible cruelty to pigs.
And it’s not just China. Pigs in North America are treated almost as badly. A lady where I live was actually jailed and prosecuted for having given water to a truckload of thirsty, starving, terrified pigs on the way to the slaughterhouse.
In North America, animals destined for slaughter are packed together and then dosed with heavy antibiotics to combat communicable diseases from over-crowding and mistreatment. These same antibiotics then enter our food chain, causing us ever growing viral resistance.
When the SARS epidemic erupted in South China 17 years ago, the Chinese communist party tried to hush up the crisis, allowing infected people to travel to North America and Europe.
This time, China did the right thing by jumping hard on the epidemic: shutting down all air, sea and land communications with the greater Wuhan region and 14 smaller cities – right in the middle of China’s huge new year celebrations when over 400 million people return to their homes. The epidemic could not have come at a worse time.
Some Wuhan residents have already flown to other parts of Asia and North America. Simply checking incoming air travellers for fever will not prevent the virus from spreading or identify passengers who have contracted and are developing the illness.
A better solution would be to quarantine all people arriving from Central China and even bar airlines coming from there until we better understand the new virus. We stop so-called ‘terrorists’ and Muslims from flying to our shores. Why not potentially infective people?
China must also be pressed to cease its dangerous, inhumane trade in exotic wild animals and urged to treat all animals with humanity and care. China is a major cause of species loss. Aside from a few brave animal rights groups, there is very little consciousness of our animal neighbors in China nor understanding that animals are sentient beings with emotions similar to those of humans. The Chinese are one of the most intelligent people on earth. Yet when it comes to animals, all they see is walking food.
As I’ve seen on my travels across China, it has made great strides in public sanitation and cleanliness as well as planting trees. Now, it’s time to stop abusing animals or the plagues will keep coming.
Last year a mysterious shipment was caught smuggling Coronavirus from Canada. It was traced to Chinese agents working at a Canadian lab. Subsequent investigation by GreatGameIndia linked the agents to Chinese Biological Warfare Program from where the virus is suspected to have leaked causing the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak.
The Saudi SARS Sample
On June 13, 2012 a 60-year-old Saudi man was admitted to a private hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with a 7-day history of fever, cough, expectoration, and shortness of breath. He had no history of cardiopulmonary or renal disease, was receiving no long-term medications, and did not smoke.
Egyptian virologist Dr. Ali Mohamed Zaki isolated and identified a previously unknown coronavirus from his lungs. After routine diagnostics failed to identify the causative agent, Zaki contacted Ron Fouchier, a leading virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for advice.
Fouchier sequenced the virus from a sample sent by Zaki. Fouchier used a broad-spectrum “pan-coronavirus” real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method to test for distinguishing features of a number of known coronaviruses known to infect humans.
Coronavirus arrived at Canada’s NML Winnipeg facility on May 4, 2013 from the Dutch lab. The Canadian lab grew up stocks of the virus and used it to assess diagnostic tests being used in Canada. Winnipeg scientists worked to see which animal species can be infected with the new virus.
Research was done in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s national lab, the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases which is housed in the same complex as the National Microbiology Laboratory.
NML has a long history of offering comprehensive testing services for coronaviruses. It isolated and provided the first genome sequence of the SARS coronavirus and identified another coronavirus NL63 in 2004.
The NML scientist who was escorted out of the Canadian lab along with her husband, another biologist, and members of her research team is believed to be a Chinese Bio-Warfare agent Xiangguo Qiu. Qiu was the head of the Vaccine Development and Antiviral Therapies Section in the Special Pathogens Program at Canada’s NML.
Xiangguo Qiu is an outstanding Chinese scientist born in Tianjin. She primarily received her medical doctor degree from Hebei Medical University in China in 1985 and came to Canada for graduate studies in 1996. Later on, she was affiliated with the Institute of Cell Biology and the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, not engaged with studying pathogens.
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu is married to another Chinese scientist – Dr. Keding Cheng, also affiliated with the NML, specifically the “Science and Technology Core”. Dr. Cheng is primarily a bacteriologist who shifted to virology. The couple is responsible for infiltrating Canada’s NML with many Chinese agents as students from a range of Chinese scientific facilities directly tied to China’s Biological Warfare Program, namely:
Institute of Military Veterinary, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Changchun
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Chengdu Military Region
Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hubei
Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
All of the above four mentioned Chinese Biological Warfare facilities collaborated with Dr. Xiangguo Qiu within the context of Ebola virus, the Institute of Military Veterinary joined a study on the Rift Valley fever virus too, while the Institute of Microbiology joined a study on Marburg virus. Noticeably, the drug used in the latter study – Favipiravir – has been earlier tested successfully by the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences, with the designation JK-05 (originally a Japanese patent registered in China already in 2006), against Ebola and additional viruses.
However, the studies by Dr. Qiu are considerably more advanced and apparently vital for the Chinese biological weapons development in case Coronavirus, Ebola, Nipah, Marburg or Rift Valley fever viruses are included therein.
The Canadian investigation is ongoing and questions remain whether previous shipments to China of other viruses or other essential preparations, took place from 2006 to 2018, one way or another.
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu also collaborated in 2018 with three scientists from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Maryland, studying post-exposure immunotherapy for two Ebola viruses and Marburg virus in monkeys; a study supported by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
The Wuhan Coronavirus
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu made at least five trips over the school year 2017-18 to the above mentioned Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which was certified for BSL4 in January 2017. Moreover, in August 2017, the National Health Commission of China approved research activities involving Ebola, Nipah, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever viruses at the Wuhan facility.
Coincidentally, the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is located only 20 miles away from the Huanan Seafood Market which is the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak dubbed the Wuhan Coronavirus.
The Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is housed at the Chinese military facility Wuhan Institute of Virology linked to China’s Biological Warfare Program. It was the first ever lab in the country designed to meet biosafety-level-4 (BSL-4) standards – the highest biohazard level, meaning that it would be qualified to handle the most dangerous pathogens.
In January 2018, the lab was operational ‘for global experiments on BSL-4 pathogens,’ wrote Guizhen Wu in the journal Biosafety and Health. ‘After a laboratory leak incident of SARS in 2004, the former Ministry of Health of China initiated the construction of preservation laboratories for high-level pathogens such as SARS, coronavirus, and pandemic influenza virus,’ wrote Guizhen Wu.
The Wuhan institute has studied coronaviruses in the past, including the strain that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, H5N1 influenza virus, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue. Researchers at the institute also studied the germ that causes anthrax – a biological agent once developed in Russia.
“Coronaviruses (particularly SARS) have been studied in the institute and are probably held therein,” said Dany Shoham, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who has studied Chinese biowarfare. He said. “SARS is included within the Chinese BW program, at large, and is dealt with in several pertinent facilities.”
James Giordano, a neurology professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow in Biowarfare at the U.S. Special Operations Command, said China’s growing investment in bio-science, looser ethics around gene-editing and other cutting-edge technology and integration between government and academia raise the spectre of such pathogens being weaponized.
That could mean an offensive agent, or a modified germ let loose by proxies, for which only China has the treatment or vaccine. “This is not warfare, per se,” he said. “But what it’s doing is leveraging the capability to act as global saviour, which then creates various levels of macro and micro economic and bio-power dependencies.”
China’s Biological Warfare Program
In a 2015 academic paper, Shoham – of Bar-Ilan’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies – asserts that more than 40 Chinese facilities are involved in bio-weapon production.
China’s Biological Warfare Program is believed to include full range of traditional chemical & biological agents with a wide variety of delivery systems including artillery rockets, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short-range ballistic missiles. #coronarovirushttps://t.co/7qpDNNmqk7
China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences actually developed an Ebola drug – called JK-05 — but little has been divulged about it or the defence facility’s possession of the virus, prompting speculation its Ebola cells are part of China’s bio-warfare arsenal, Shoham told the National Post.
Ebola is classified as a “category A” bioterrorism agent by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning it could be easily transmitted from person to person, would result in high death rates and “might cause panic.” The CDC lists Nipah as a category C substance, a deadly emerging pathogen that could be engineered for mass dissemination.
China’s Biological Warfare Program is believed to be in an advanced stage that includes research and development, production and weaponization capabilities. Its current inventory is believed to include the full range of traditional chemical and biological agents with a wide variety of delivery systems including artillery rockets, aerial bombs, sprayers, and short-range ballistic missiles.
China’s national strategy of military-civil fusion has highlighted biology as a priority, and the People’s Liberation Army could be at the forefront of expanding and exploiting this knowledge.
The PLA is pursuing military applications for biology and looking into promising intersections with other disciplines, including brain science, supercomputing, and artificial intelligence. Since 2016, the Central Military Commission has funded projects on military brain science, advanced biomimetic systems, biological and biomimetic materials, human performance enhancement, and “new concept” biotechnology.
In 2016, an AMMS doctoral researcher published a dissertation, “Research on the Evaluation of Human Performance Enhancement Technology,” which characterized CRISPR-Cas as one of three primary technologies that might boost troops’ combat effectiveness. The supporting research looked at the effectiveness of the drug Modafinil, which has applications in cognitive enhancement; and at transcranial magnetic stimulation, a type of brain stimulation, while also contending that the “great potential” of CRISPR-Cas as a “military deterrence technology in which China should “grasp the initiative” in development.
In 2016, the potential strategic value of genetic information led the Chinese government to launch the National Genebank, which intends to become the world’s largest repository of such data. It aims to “develop and utilize China’s valuable genetic resources, safeguard national security in bioinformatics, and enhance China’s capability to seize the strategic commanding heights” in the domain of Biotechnology Warfare.
Chinese military’s interest in biology as an emerging domain of warfare is guided by strategists who talk about potential “genetic weapons” and the possibility of a “bloodless victory.”
The ‘Golden Age Of Plastic’? Banks Are Quietly Raising Credit Limits For Freespending Borrowers
Credit-card lenders are calling it the ‘Golden Age of Plastic’. But that’s mostly because they’re the ones hoarding all the gold.
Gloom-and-doom economists who have portended the imminent collapse of the American consumer (we don’t want to name names) might have a reason to put off their calls for a downturn of epic proportions just a little bit longer. Because at a time when the American consumer is already leveraged to the hilt, and when credit data suggests some are finally biting the bullet and curbing spending to pay it down, lenders have hit on a novel strategy to boost growth.
And that strategy is, according to Bloomberg, raising certain borrowers’ credit limits without a request from the borrower. In other words, some consumers are waking up to notices or emails from their credit-card lenders informing them that their credit limits have just been raised – sometimes by a wide margin.
Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank told BBG that the company’s resistance to unsolicited credit-limit hikes is a “radical theology” because it goes above and beyond post-crisis safeguards. But now that lenders are being pressed to keep showing revenue growth at a time of record excess, Capital One has changed its mind with the explicit goal of trying to convince consumers to borrow more that they can afford to pay back – or at least not all at once.
Of course, while debt-fueled spending registers as growth in the all-important consumption metrics, there will eventually come a time when they debt must either be repaid, or written off.
“It’s like putting a sandwich in front of me and I haven’t eaten all day,” said D’Ante Jones, a 27-year-old rapper known as D. Maivia in Houston who was close to hitting the ceiling on his Chase Freedom card when JPMorgan Chase & Co. nearly doubled his spending limit a year ago without consulting him. He soon borrowed much more. “How can I not take a bite out of it?”
Banks insist that they raise credit limits “carefully”, and that they limit reckless borrowing.
But at this point, anybody who does make the mistake of carrying a balance is going to get hurt.
As we pointed out last month, something strange happened after the Fed started cutting interest rates again last year. While lenders were quick to lower the deposit rates they paid out to customers, interest rates on credit cards and other loans climbed, while the rates on credit cards hit all-time highs. It’s a trend we’ve documented before.
…but the problem here is that this is a double-edged sword. Because if American consumers really are finally cutting back on their spending to pay down debt, this would be bad news for the consumer-dependent economy.
Ironically, around the same time that Bloomberg published their story, Discover saw its biggest crash since the financial crisis on the highest Q4 charge-off rate in history.
So maybe giving irresponsible borrowers even more rope to hang themselves with wasn’t the best strategy.
The Chinese government forced the host of a TV show which popularized eating bats to apologize in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak, which scientists have linked to the consumption of wild animals.
Bat soup is a delicacy in some areas of China and was known to be sold at the illegal animal market in Wuhan blamed for being the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
A show called Beauty Eats Bats which originally launched in 2016 was blamed for re-invigorating the trend of eating bats across the country, prompting the Chinese Communist Party to demand that its female host discourage the consumption of bats.
The woman featured in the clip took to social media to profusely apologize for her role in encouraging the consumption of bats and encouraged everyone to start washing their hands more.
The video shows the woman breaking apart the corpse of a boiled bat, dipping its wing in sauce and eating it.
Meanwhile, the scale of the coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate.
56 million Chinese citizens have now been quarantined, with Chinese authorities claiming that around 1300 people have been infected so far.
However, according to one hospital worker in Wuhan, the government is lying and over 100,000 people have actually been infected.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that the United States will send a chartered flight to evacuate all of its citizens and diplomats out of Wuhan.
According to official figures, the virus has killed 41 people, although many suspect this number to be far higher.
Meanwhile, it’s probably a good idea for Chinese citizens to stop eating bats and other wild animals that are vectors for disease.
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20,000 US Troops Have Surged Into Mideast Since Last Spring To ‘Counter Iran’
The Associated Press reports a staggering surge of US troops into the Middle East since last Spring: “Over the past eight months, the United States has poured more than 20,000 additional troops into the Middle East to counter the escalating threat from Iran that peaked with the recent missile attack on American forces in Iraq.”
This despite President Trump’s multiple prior pledges to “bring the troops home” especially related to Syria and Iraq. Following the Soleimani assassination and subsequent Iranian ballistic missile retaliation on Ayn al-Assad airbase, where Friday it was reported that 34 soldiers suffered traumatic brain injuries (a dramatically increased figure up from the prior 11), this trend in force build-up looks to continue. Here’s breakdown of the staggering numbers via the AP:
The top commander for US forces in the Middle East told a gathering of Marines and sailors during a speech aboard the USS Bataan on Thursday they could be there for “quite a while”.
Gen. Frank McKenzie addressed the question of any near-term potential draw down of the extra forces: “we’ll work that out as we go ahead,” he said.
Underscoring the Iran constitutes a serious “threat” he admitted:
“I’m not sure how long you’re going to stay in the theater. We’ll work that out as we go ahead. Could be quite a while, could be less than that, just don’t know right now.”
On the Iran threat specifically, he said further, “I do believe that they are deterred right now, at least from state-on-state actions by our response. And so I think that while that threat remains, I think we’re in a period where they’re certainly not seeking to escalate anything.”
Ironically Gen. McKenzie’s words were given a day before possibly up to one million Iraqis protested across the country Friday demanding an end of America’s military presence.
Though hard to confirm, a top official with the Iraqi Federal Police Forces Jaffar al-Batat has announced that the total number of demonstrators who came out Friday against the US occupation exceeded one million.