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Sun, 29 Mar 2020
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Eight killed after medical evaluation flight catches fire and crashes at Manila airport

medical plane crash Manila
© Facebook / Department of Health (Philippines)
Philippines officials load medical supplies into the Westwind jet several days before its crash.
A medical evacuation flight has crashed at Manila Airport in the Philippines, killing all on board. The IAI Westwind jet was reportedly chartered by the Philippine government to evacuate a sick patient to Tokyo.

The jet, which had the registration number RP-C5880, was scheduled to take off from Manilla's Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 8pm on Sunday. Before making it off the tarmac, the plane caught fire, overshooting the runway as flames billowed from its wrecked hull. Fire crews extinguished the blaze within an hour.


Rats swarm New Orleans' as coronavirus shut-down leaves streets empty

rats new orleans covid shut-down
Precautions put in place to slow the rise of coronavirus cases in New Orleans has inadvertently led to a rat problem for the Louisiana city. With restaurants closed save for take-out service, far less food waste is being discarded in the city's alleyways, driving the local rodent population out into the open to search for scraps.

New Orleans' famous Mardi Gras celebration brought thousands of tourists to the city, and medical experts believe it might be a big factor in the city's COVID-19 outbreak. Now with Bourbon Street's famous bars all closed and people social distancing, videos show dozens of rats scurrying through the empty streets.

"I turn the corner, there's about 30 rats at the corner, feasting on something in the middle of the street," Charles Marsala of New Orleans Insider Tours and AWE News told CBS News' Omar Villafranca. Marsala said he had "never" seen anything like it before.


Former Israeli Health Ministry chief Yoram Lass: Lockdown will kill more people from depression than the virus

Yoram Lass
Former Ministry of Health director-general Prof. Yoram Lass has been regularly interviewed by the Israeli media since the coronavirus outbreak first started. But in contrast to the prophets of doom and deep concern shown by most medical professionals, he has presented a somewhat different and controversial opinion. Prof. Lass feels that it is wrong to shut down the entire country because of a virus that is ultimately less of a killer than the flu. In other words, he is saying that taking into account the cost benefits, it is preferable 'to sacrifice' the elderly so that daily life can go on as normal. This is an outlook that has antagonized many and has made him a 'persona non grata' in the TV interview studios.

Lass is at peace with himself over all this and with the voices calling him 'deluded." "I didn't invite myself to the studios," he told "Globes," "and I'm prepared to give my opinion to everybody who is ready to listen."

Do you think you are being excluded because you presented an unpopular position?

"I can tell you that several days ago I heard with my own ears, after I was interviewed on the radio by Nissim Mishal, the deputy director of the Ministry of Health Prof. Itamar Grotto tell Mishal that I shouldn't be brought into studios. And last Friday, I was invited to the studio by Ayala Hasson. Some three days beforehand, they called me and ask not to go anywhere else, and then the day before they cancelled. And who did they replace me with on the program? The futurist David Passig, who told the people of Israel that in the best case scenario 40 million people would die, and in the worst case scenario 300 million people would die. That shows you how the media is only trumpeting hysteria. Because it was clear that if I was sitting next to him, I would only have told an amazed Israeli people that every year 17,000 Italians die of flu while in Israel only 126 dies of flue last year.


COVID: an infectious disease and a phantom pandemic

covid-19 coronavirus
In an essay published on the Saker blog at the beginning of March, I wrote with a restrained skepticism about the novel coronavirus, the narratives surrounding the severity of its adverse health impacts compared to its cousins causing other influenza epidemics, and its reported mortality rates both in Iran and elsewhere. Now, towards the end of March some three weeks, five continents, one hundred ninety two countries, three hundred twenty thousand cases, and thirteen thousand four hundred deaths,[1] and one official pandemic announcement by World Health Organization later, my original skepticism has evolved into a nagging, nuanced, and forcefully persistent suspicion. A lot of things just do not add up.

In this essay, I would like to examine this locally-specific globally-diffused novel coronavirus phenomenon from two distinct yet interlinked angles. From one angle, we look at the phenomenon as an infectious respiratory disease epidemic as it is experienced and weathered by ordinary people in Iran while at the same time, juxtaposing the people's experiences with the official reports of morbidities and mortalities that are either confirmed and/or alleged to be caused by nCoV-19 and/or other factors. From the second angle, we follow this phenomenon as part of a socially-constructed phantom pandemic buttressed with multiple connotations of a zombie virus and amalgamated by death from other causes.

Firstly, I am not using the word zombie in a derogatory manner just to be disrespectful of this lifeless creature. Rather, the use of the term is meant to instill an interest in the readers to dig deeper into the history of the development of these sorts of viruses[2] should they be interested. Cambridge Dictionary defines zombie as "a frightening creature that is a dead person who has been brought back to life without human qualities. Zombies are not able to think and they are often shown as attacking and eating human beings."[3] The evidence that grandparent of this virus and its relatives may have been dug up[3] from the remnants of civilians and soldiers who died of influenza in 1918[4], reversed engineered[5], and genetically augmented[6] in series of experiments far exceeds the evidence that it did not. Exploring potentially choreographed intentional and/or accidental releases of the virus with respect to epidemiological trio of person, place, and time, though interesting and informative, is not the topic of this essay.

Comment: See also:


Rescuer dies as enormous FIRE erupts near Rostov-on-Don 2018 World Cup stadium

russia fire
© Ruptly
A raging blaze, near a stadium used for the 2018 football World Cup, in Rostov-on-Don has scorched an area covering 25 hectares and claimed the life of one emergency worker.

The fire was fueled by a deadly mixture of dry reeds and a swirling wind, which allowed it to rapidly spread.

Emergency services are scrambling to battle the blaze with dozens of firefighters training their hoses on the inferno and helicopters dumping tons of water on it from above.

Eye 2

Naked man breaks India's national virus quarantine to viciously kill woman in savage bite attack

© Joint Base Charleston
Amidst all the anxiety-inducing developments of the coronavirus pandemic comes a grisly report that a man in India broke out of quarantine in order to nakedly chase after a woman and viciously kill her by biting on her throat.

The horrific slaying took place in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Friday when the man, who is in his 30s, ran out of his home naked and violently attacked the throat of a 90-year-old woman who was sleeping outside her house, Times of India reports.

The man, a textile trader, had been isolating because he had recently returned from Sri Lanka; the Indian newspaper also reported that he was "mentally disturbed."


Calm down: Covid-19 hysteria vs. your actual (very low) chance of dying

stock market face mask coronavirus covid-19
How likely are you to die from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)? Based on the hysteria spreading across the globe, it would seem like the chances are fairly high.

But Statnews.com would report on the actual projected death rate of those who contract Covid-19 based on US Center for Disease Control (CDC) data, noting:
...the death rate in Covid-19 patients ages 80 and over was 10.4%, compared to 5.35% in 70-somethings, 1.51% in patients 60 to 69, 0.37% in 50-somethings. Even lower rates were seen in younger people, dropping to zero in those 29 and younger.
The article also noted that the worst cases involved not only people who were much older, but involved people who were also already unhealthy and vulnerable.



Russia to ban all cross-border travel, presents possible drug treatment - and other Covid-19 updates

russian trucker
© Sputnik / Oleg Mineev
A Russian border guard officer checks the temperature of a truck driver at Belarusian-Russian border.
Automobile, railway, pedestrian and river checkpoints on the Russian border will go on a lockdown on Monday in order to prevent Covid-19 from spreading across the country, the government has announced.

The order said that the measure was "temporary," but provided no indication as to when the border traffic will resume.

The border ban doesn't apply to diplomats or members of official delegations departing from the country. Russian truck drivers serving international routes, as well as the crews of trains and river vessels, will be able to return home. Exceptions will also be made for the residents of the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, as well as Russian passport holders living in the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Comment: Russian specialists say they have identified a good treatment for Covid-19 - Mefloquine, an anti-malarial drug. Two more have died in Russia (both in their fifties with pre-existing conditions), with total cases reaching 1,264. Lombardy's VP has called Russia's assistance there "very much needed":
The Russian servicemen will first be providing assistance to 65 of Bergamo's homes for the elderly, which are suffering from a lack of qualified personnel, according to the deputy head of Russia's own NBC defense forces, Sergey Kikot.

When a Russian field hospital is established in the city, the medics will then move their operations there, Kikot said.
Here they are disinfecting a nursing home.

Cases worldwide have reached over 615k. India saw a daily jump up to 900 cases. Spain recorded over 800 new deaths. (These numbers shouldn't be seen as definitive - they are based in large part on catchall diagnostics, not lab testing.) Netherlands recorded 93 new deaths, and 1,100+ new cases. Germany recorded almost 6,300 new cases, with a total death toll of 325. Merkel is warning that Germany's lockdown won't be lifted. Gaza saw its first cases, and West Bank recorded a spike. (Israel coldheartedly confiscated a Palestinian field clinic.) Wuhan reopened its subway, and China has sent its first train of medical supplies to Europe. Rouhani says Iran's healthcare system is ready for a peak in infection, whereas over in LA, the mayor says he expects the city to catch up with NYC in terms of cases within days. Tragically, over 1,000 Iranians were poisoned after a rumor that methanol protects against Covid-19.

See also:


Poll suggests Russians split down the middle on presidential terms reset; Putin's ratings take a hit

Walls of Kremlin
© unknown
Walls of Kremlin in Moscow
Following a few months of political shocks in Russia, voters have become used to surprises. But opinion seems to be divided on whether restarting the clock on time spent in the Kremlin is worth supporting, says a new survey.

Pollsters at the Levada Center report that 48 percent of their respondents support the nullification of terms, and 47 percent are against, with 5 percent undecided.

Levada also revealed that Putin's approval rating is on the decline: It stood at 69 percent in February but decreased to 63 percent in March.

Named for its founder, the late Yuri Levada, the polling company is regarded by many in Russia as being effectively a liberal opposition think tank. In 2016, it was accused of "performing the functions of a foreign agent" by authorities, and it has received western funding in the past but claims to have stopped this practice after 2013. A rival state-owned outfit VTsIOM is accused of similar bias by Kremlin critics.

Meanwhile, 46 percent of those questioned indicated they would like to see Putin as president after 2024, with 40 percent against.

Star of David

Israel confiscates clinic's tents during coronavirus crisis as communities face expulsion

Demolishing clinic
© Unknown
This morning, Thursday, 26 March 2020, at around 7:30 am, officials from Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank arrived with a military jeep escort, a bulldozer and two flatbed trucks with cranes at the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley. They confiscated poles and sheeting that were meant to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, and four for emergency housing for residents evacuated from their homes, and two as makeshift mosques. The force also confiscated a tin shack in place for more than two years, as well as a power generator and sacks of sand and cement. Four pallets of cinder blocks intended for the tent floors were taken away and four others demolished.

As the whole world battles an unprecedented and paralyzing healthcare crisis, Israel's military is devoting time and resources to harassing the most vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank, that Israel has attempted to drive out of the area for decades. Shutting down a first-aid community initiative during a health crisis is an especially cruel example of the regular abuse inflicted on these communities, and it goes against basic human and humanitarian principles during an emergency.