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Mon, 30 Mar 2020
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Better Flu Season Than Average? Covid-19 Yet to Impact Europe's Overall Mortality

The official figures for 24 countries across Europe show not only that overall mortality is not increasing, but - so far - it is actually well below recent averages.

The statistics were gathered by the European Monitoring of Excess Mortality for Public Health Action (EuroMOMO), an international partnership of agencies from 24 European nations aiming to promote preparedness for public health emergencies.

They track "excess mortality", meaning the number of officially recorded deaths vs the average death rate.

We recommend you check their website, where each country is broken down by age demographics. Today, we're focusing on their maps.

Here is the map showing Europe's excess mortality for Week 12 of 2020 (19th-25th March):

excess deaths europe
© MOMO Europe
MOMO Europe mortality, week 12, 2020 [CLICK FOR FULL SIZE]

Comment: So not only is this so-called pandemic 'not just the flu', as media talking-heads have been droning on about for weeks, it's not EVEN 'the flu'.


Faster than any virus: The sickness of snitching spreads

traffic stop britain UK
© Getty Images
Meet the Covid-Stasi: nasty neighbours squealing on people for going for a second run.

A sickness is spreading through Britain. The sickness of snitching. Police forces report a 'surge' in calls from people squealing on their neighbours for going for a second run or taking their dog out rather too often. It's being called 'quarantine shaming'. It's the most shameful part of this pandemic so far. If we aren't careful, this enthusiastic embrace of the Stasi tactic of spying and grassing on our neighbours could hurt Britain more than the virus itself in the long run.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in our societies. The best can be seen in the armies of volunteers stepping up to help their neighbours. More than 700,000 people signed up to be NHS volunteers and many others across the country have set up local WhatsApp groups to discuss what needs to be done in their community. This is wonderful and inspiring. But there has been a dark side too and we can't ignore it. The curtain-twitching element has been emboldened by this crisis. Some seem to relish the opportunity to name, shame and harass anyone who deviates even slightly from the lockdown rules. This is the Covid-Stasi.



Nigeria: Massive explosion splits Akure-Owo road, dozens of houses damaged - UPDATE

crater nigeria explosion akure

A crater caused by the Ondo explosion
On March 28 morning, a massive explosion rocked a suburb of the city of Akure, the capital of the southern Nigerian State of Ondo.

According to Nigerian sources, the explosion split Akure-Owo road and inflicted serious damage on dozens of houses, 50 to 100, as well as a school and churches.

Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, revealed that the explosion was a an accident. According to the governor, a fire broke out in a vehicle within a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighboring state, which caused the explosion.

Comment: Punch news site reports:
Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has said a vehicle moving improvised explosive devices to a nearby state caused the explosion that rocked Akure, the state capital.

The PUNCH reports that the explosion which occurred in the early hours of Saturday split the Akure-Owo Road into two, destroying over 50 buildings. Akeredolu, who inspected the scene of the explosion on Saturday, said he was briefed by security chiefs.

He explained that the vehicle was in a convoy heading to a storage facility in a neighbouring state when it broke down along the Akure-Owo Road, some 2km to the Akure Airport.

The governor said the explosion, which destroyed over 50 buildings, happened in the process of fixing the vehicle.

He said the state would commence work on creating an alternative route for commuters due to the importance of the split Akure-Owo road.

He said, "I have been briefed by the security chiefs that in the early hours of Saturday, March 28th, a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state developed a fault while in transit along the Akure Owo Road about 2km from the Akure Airport.

"Security personnel and other individuals transporting the ordinances noticed smoke from the vehicle. After several attempts to extinguish the resulting fire failed, the vehicle and its consignment ignited causing a massive explosion that was felt in Akure and its environs.

"Presently, efforts are being made to ascertain if there are casualties.

"I have directed that the area be cordoned off to allow the explosive ordinance department/bomb squad to extricate the vehicle buried underground because it is unclear if there are still explosives that are yet to be detonated.
There are conflicting reports. According to The Cable, the crater was caused by a meteorite impact:
The explosion that rocked Akure, Ondo state capital, on Saturday, was caused by a giant rock from space known as meteors, a team of experts have concluded.

A meteor is what happens when a meteoroid - a small piece of an asteroid - burns up upon entering earth's atmosphere, creating a streak of light in the sky.

The experts led by Adepelumi Adekunle, a professor of geophysics and earthquake engineering at Obafemi Awolowo University, said the meteors impacted the location from "an angle of 43 degrees".

Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of the state, had told journalists the blast occurred after a truck conveying explosives to a quarry exploded.

"I have been briefed by the security chiefs that in the early hours of Saturday March 28th, a vehicle in a convoy transporting explosives to a storage facility in a neighbouring state developed a fault while in transit along the Akure Owo Road about 2km from the Akure Airport," the governor had said.

But Adekunle said findings by his team suggest the explosion was caused by a natural phenomena, thereby contradicting the governor.

He added there was no evidence of a buried vehicle, buried ordinance or explosives from the site, and that "foreign rocks and strange metallic objects" were found within the crater crated.

His report read: "My Research group carried out a detailed analysis of the impact site. A circular impact crater with 21m diameter and 7.8m depth was found which suggest a natural phenomenal.

"Water was found oozing out from the edges of the crater. A preliminary in situ vibration, noise, seismicity, water analysis, radioactivity studies, rock and soil investigation were carried out.

"Our findings suggest that the impact of the blasting covers 1km radius of the surroundings of the crater. No evidence of fire or Burning of anything was found within the vicinity.

"No evidence of radioactivity radiation was found within the crater and immediate vicinity. The field evidence point to a conclusion that a meteoric from an asteroid belt that travels at a great speed from space impacted the location at an angle of 43 degrees created an ejecta at South-Western part."

Heart - Black

Protecting the vulnerable? Elderly woman dies after being smacked for not social distancing

Woodhull Medical Center
© Helayne Seidman
Woodhull Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY
An 86-year-old woman awaiting treatment for bowel blockage at a Brooklyn hospital yesterday died after being punched by a fellow patient — for not engaging in "social distancing" amid the coronavirus, law enforcement sources told The Post on Sunday.

The death of Janie Marshall of Williamsburg appeared to be the first potential crime in the city sparked by fears over the deadly contagion.

Marshall was in the emergency room at the city-run Woodhull Medical Center when she was smacked in the face by a 32-year-old patient, who was awaiting psychiatric treatment and got out of her nearby bed to launch the unprovoked attack, sources said.


At least 28 Afghan security forces personnel/soldiers killed by Taliban, prisoner release on hold

Afghan security forces
Afghan security forces in Kabul
Militants have killed 28 members of the Afghan security forces, police officials and authorities said on March 30, as the government postponed a release of Taliban prisoners.

Militants stormed the compound of a top police official in the northeastern province of Takhar on March 29, killing 13 police officers and wounding the senior official, a spokesman for the force said.

In the southern province of Zabul, Taliban fighters attacked government security outposts, killing at least 11 soldiers, also on March 29, police said. Attacks on government security posts in the southern province of Helmand and northern province of Baghlan killed four members of the security forces, officials said.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's National Security Council said the government will not carry out a planned release of 100 Taliban prisoners on March 31.


Plane carrying medical supplies crashes and explodes into a fireball - 8 people dead

The plane that is believed to be carrying medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, has crashed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines.

The Jet, bound for Haneda, Japan, crashed at Manila International Airport in the Philippines and it is believed that all eight people on board were killed.

The Jet erupted into a huge fireball during take off at the busy airport at around 8.30pm local time (2.30pm Spain time).

It is reported eight people were on board the aircraft which was heading to Japan, and that all of them died.


No new cases in Hubei, China, 93% recovery rate - and other worldwide Covid-19 news

china masks
© Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People wearing face masks exit a subway station following an outbreak of Covid-19, in Beijing, China. March 30, 2020.
No new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in China's central Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan, where the outbreak originally began, the National Health Commission (NHC) told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

Overall, 81,470 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in mainland China since the beginning of the outbreak, and 75,770 of them have subsequently recovered and were discharged from the hospitals, a health official said. This makes the recovery rate in the country close to 93 percent.

Chinese doctors have recorded 31 new cases and four deaths in the past 24 hours, with all but one of the new cases are linked to people arriving from overseas.

Imported cases of Covid-19 are now the government's main concern since NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said on Saturday that the domestic transmission of the disease had "basically been stopped."

There are currently 723 imported cases of Covid-19 in China after Beijing banned foreigners from visiting the country earlier this week.

Comment: The Chinese embassy in France says that haters "envy the efficiency of our political system and hate the inability of their own nations to perform as well. So they try to stick the 'dictatorship' label on China." If the disease isn't as bad as everyone thinks, then the "efficiency" of the Chinese response is self-congratulation over nothing (or not much, at least). As Dr. John Lee puts it:
If we take drastic measures to reduce the incidence of Covid-19, it follows that the deaths will also go down. We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never really going to be as severe as we feared.
Around the world, global cases passed 700k. The European death toll passed 25k (though actual deaths caused by Covid-19 are probably a fraction of that). Spain's rate of fatalities fell (though health chief Fernando Simon tested positive, like several other health ministers worldwide). Germany recorded another 4,751 cases (around 800 more than the day before). The UK spread of the virus shows signs of slowing. (PM Johnson's top adviser Dominic Cummings also came down with symptoms and is self-isolating. Prince Charles is out of isolation, health improved.) US cases have almost reached 150k, with 2,500+ deaths. NYC first responders have had a record number of emergency calls. Athony Almojera, a Fire Department lieutenant and supervisor, told RT:
"In the last few days we've done over 44,000 calls. Just to give you some perspective, we normally do only about 4,000 calls a day," he explained. "9/11, which was the busiest day for the EMS, we've done 6,300 calls roughly. For the last couple of days we've done over 7,000."
US stocks rose, but global markets are sinking. Netanyahu decided to self-isolate after confirmation that one of his aides tested positive (and after initial reports that Netanyahu wouldn't self-isolate). Iran's FM Zarif says US sanctions on life-saving drugs are leading Iran into a 'humanitarian catastrophe'. In India, Modi denied that the lockdown there would be extended past April 14.

And in Russia, the Orthodox Church has told worshipers to stay at home. In Moscow, data shows that almost half of Covid-19 patients are between 18 and 40 years old.

See also:


Authoritarian hysteria: Armed vigilantes chop down tree, block driveway to force neighbor into quarantine

house in Maine
A group of armed vigilantes cut down a tree and dragged it across a man's driveway in Maine to force him to quarantine in his home amid fears he could be infected with the coronavirus, officials said.

A man residing on Cripple Creek Road in Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine, called authorities around 3:35 p.m. Friday to report a group of people with guns had cut down a large tree and dragged it in front of his driveway, blocking access to the main road.

The man said he left his house to check his property when he noticed the cable went out. The unidentified man said he retreated to his home and hailed the Coast Guard for help using a VHF radio after a neighbor began yelling at him to get indoors and remain quarantined.

The armed group had dispersed before authorities arrived. Deputies with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, along with the Maine Marine Patrol and a Coast Guard boarding party, responded to the scene. The incident remains under investigation.

Comment: The fear pandemic is now showing its ugly and oppressive face in greater numbers. So sadly for many Americans and individuals elsewhere, we are seeing an uptick in irrationality - and an impetus to make life miserable for anyone not sharing in this thought-disease.


Fascism: Maryland ups the ante on coronavirus quarantine enforcement with $5,000 fine or one year in PRISON

empty parking lot
© Reuters / Mary Calvert
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued a stay-at-home order for state residents, warning that violations are punishable by fines of $5,000, a year's prison time, or both, the heftiest sentence yet as states strengthen penalties.

Hogan effectively locked down Maryland residents on Monday, declaring that as of 8pm that night leaving one's home for any other reason than "an essential job or for an essential reason such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or for other necessary purposes" would incur the steep punishment.


Scientists must look dispassionately at Covid-19 so they can see what it is, not what they fear: Rushed science can be bad science

© Getty Images / Pierre Crom
No one likes uncertainty, especially when it comes to the threat of death posed by the coronavirus. Demanding certainty may be human, but we should be very wary of rushing to quick conclusions driven by fears rather than evidence.

It is inevitable that the "something must be done" demands to stem the coronavirus are placing immense pressure upon governments and scientists. At times like these, there is a tendency to shut down debate, to become increasingly intolerant of different views, disagreements and challenges.

But challenging the experts has become a fundamental part of defeating Covid-19, not a divergence from this fight.