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Thu, 23 Jan 2020
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Masks and airport checks for coronavirus outbreak are there to keep population calm - no government can stop its spread now

coronovirus mask china airport temperature checks
© Getty Images / Anadolu Agency
Citizens wear masks to defend against new viruses on January 22,2020 in Guangzhou, China
As the Chinese coronavirus spreads rapidly around the globe, governments worldwide are making a show of doing something. But are their measures effective, or just exercises in population control?

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization may declare an international public health emergency. Whether or not they do this will greatly affect the response of both the Chinese government and others in dealing with the outbreak of the 2019-nCoV virus that has already infected hundreds and killed nine.

Talk is now being raised about a global pandemic:
coronavirus spread
© AFP / Anthony Wallace
A press conference in Hong Kong about the extent of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China, January 21, 2020
The deadly pneumonia-like illness that has sickened hundreds and killed nine in and near Wuhan, China has turned up in the US, despite precautions, as China's neighbors ratchet up screening efforts to prevent a global pandemic.

A Snohomish County, Washington man has become the first officially confirmed novel coronavirus case in the US. Local officials have not named the man, who is said to be very sick. He was hospitalized with pneumonia last week after returning from the Wuhan region, where the illness has already claimed nine lives, according to Chinese authorities.

It's not immediately clear how many other Americans may have been exposed to the disease, which is believed to have its origins in a seafood and poultry market in the city of Wuhan, home to 11 million people.

Over 440 cases had been confirmed by Wednesday in China, cropping up in cities including Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai; cases have also been reported in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and - now - the US. Infectious disease experts from Imperial College London estimated the disease toll to be much higher, however, suggesting on Saturday that at least 1,723 people might be infected.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set up screening points at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York on Friday in hopes of catching coronavirus carriers before they made it into the country, but they were apparently too late - or too far south - for US Patient Zero. While the CDC has claimed the threat to Americans is low, it also claims to be taking "proactive preparedness precautions."

Russian airports in Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk stepped up screening of travelers arriving from China to try to identify infected people on Tuesday, after it became clear the virus is able to spread from human to human. India has also expanded thermal screening of passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, to seven airports, among them Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin, in addition to New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

The sole South Korean airport operating direct flights to Wuhan set up special gates for passengers back on January 3, while Singapore also expanded travelers' temperature screenings at Changi airport. Malaysia beefed up its own evaluations at the major airport in Kuala Lumpur, and the Bangladesh aviation watchdog also ordered screenings for travelers from China to look for any signs of the illness. Australian health officials, meanwhile, are distributing pamphlets and asking everyone coming from Wuhan to identify themselves if they feel any symptoms.

It's not entirely clear how easily the virus - which causes pneumonia-like symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness - spreads from person to person, or what predisposes a person to contracting (or dying from) it, but authorities believe it initially jumped from animals at the Wuhan market to humans. The World Health Organization is due to weigh in on Wednesday on whether the outbreak will be declared an international public health emergency.
The virus is feared to be adapting too fast for China to deal with. It has asked for help from WHO:
The virus seems to be adapting and mutating, according to the head of China's Disease Control Center, Gao Fu, who noted though that, so far, all of its changes have been in line with expectations.

There may now be up to 2,197 cases of "close contact" with confirmed carriers, though another Health Commission official said he has yet to see evidence for "super spreaders" of the illness, or highly contagious patients, adding that "relevant measures" were being taken in the event such patients arise.

The abrupt increase in confirmed cases comes with improvements in methods of detection, the vice minister said, but the government has nonetheless warned the public to avoid densely populated areas nationwide. Meanwhile, officials in both Wuhan and the city of Hubei have been asked to take the "strictest possible measures" to minimize public gatherings, while residents of both cities were requested to refrain from traveling.

The Health Commission said it will continue to publicize new cases daily throughout China's lunar New Year as researchers work to track the source of the illness and create a vaccine, adding it is now in its "most critical" stage for prevention and control.

Arrow Down

Lying through her teeth, AGAIN: Hillary defends past association with Weinstein, claiming 'how could we have known?'

Paltrow, Hillary Clinton, Weinstein
© (PM/ELD/Reuters)
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (L) poses with former first lady Hillary Clinton (C) and producer Harvey Weinstein in New York, December 3, 1998.
Hillary Clinton defended her past association with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in an interview released Tuesday, suggesting she would not have taken the thousands in donations to her 2016 campaign if she had "known what we know now."

"How could we have known? He raised money for me, for the Obamas, for Democrats in general," Clinton told The Hollywood Reporter when asked if she had any regrets about her association with Weinstein. "And that at the time was something that everybody thought made sense. And of course, if all of us had known what we know now, it would have affected our behavior."

Weinstein donated the maximum amount possible for an individual contributor to Clinton in both the 2016 Democratic primary and the general election, which Clinton said in 2017 that she would donate to charity after allegations of sexual misconduct broke against the Hollywood producer. FEC records show that Weinstein has raised over $2.3 million for Democratic causes in his career.

Actress Lena Dunham and journalist Tina Brown have both said they informed Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign of Weinstein's sexual misconduct and warned them not to associate with him or accept his donations.



Heated demonstrations continue in Beirut, despite formation of new Hezbollah-approved government

Protests Beirut Jan 2020
Even after the formation of a new government in Lebanon, heated demonstrations in the streets of Beirut show no signs of slowing down, with protesters continuing to trade blows with security forces in on-and-off clashes.

The ongoing unrest comes as a new government was announced on Tuesday, following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and amid the worst economic crisis Lebanon has faced in decades. An agreement reached between Hezbollah and its allies in parliament made Hassan Diab the new prime minister, and created a fresh cabinet consisting of 20 members.



First US case of potentially deadly Chinese coronavirus confirmed in Washington state

Commuters face masks China
© AFP Via Getty Images
Commuters wearing face masks walk through a railway station in Wuhan, in central China.
A Washington state man has been diagnosed with the mysterious virus that broke out last month in China, becoming the first confirmed case in the United States of an illness that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more, according to U.S. officials.

The man, in his 30s, is in stable condition at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash. Officials said they are monitoring him there out of an abundance of caution, not because he is seriously ill. The man returned to the United States last week, before federal health officials began screening travelers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan at Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York's John F. Kennedy international airports, the first such effort since the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Washington state health officials said the man, a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., returned Wednesday from a trip to the region where he was visiting relatives in Wuhan, where the outbreak began. Shortly after arriving at Seattle's international airport, he began feeling ill and reached out to his health-care provider on Sunday. Local, state and federal officials quickly collected samples and sent them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. His case was confirmed Monday as the coronavirus that has sickened close to 300 people in China and others in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Comment: See also:

Bizarro Earth

Driver rams car carrying 6 teenagers, killing 3, in California

© Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP
An officer with the California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team investigates the scene of a deadly crash in the Temescal Valley, south of Corona,...
An officer with the California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team investigates the scene of a deadly crash in the Temescal Valley, south of Corona, California, on Jan. 20, 2020. A driver intentionally rammed the Prius with six teenage boys inside, killing three and injuring the others before fleeing, authorities said.
A California man "intentionally rammed" his vehicle into a car carrying six teenage boys, killing three and injuring the others, before driving off, authorities said.

The deadly crash occurred Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. local time on a roadway in the Temescal Valley, some 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The hit caused the teens' Toyota Prius to slam into a tree off the road, and first responders had to free three of the boys who were trapped in the wrecked vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol.

One of the teens died at the scene, while the other five were transported to local hospitals with injuries ranging from moderate to serious. Two of them were later pronounced dead, according to the California Highway Patrol. Their names and exact ages were not immediately released.

Comment: Also in the last few days in the US: Mother admits to killing her 3 children in Phoenix, US

Bizarro Earth

Mother admits to killing her 3 children in Phoenix, US

mother murder
© Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP
This Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 booking photo released by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, shows Rachel Henry, 22, who has been arrested on suspicion of killing her three children. They were found dead inside the family's home after firefighters got a call about a drowning authorities said Tuesday.
A Phoenix woman has been arrested on suspicion of killing her three children, who were found dead inside the family's home after firefighters got a call about a drowning, authorities said Tuesday.

The 22-year-old mother, Rachel Henry, "has admitted to harming her three children," which led to their deaths, police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune told reporters outside the home on a block with several weathered wooden houses and an old mobile home in a once rural area of southern Phoenix.

A relative who lives at the house called police late Monday, and officers found a 7-month-old girl, 2-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy in a living room with no obvious trauma.

Arrow Up

Russian military engineers celebrate 319th anniversary of foundation with impressive drill

Russian Defense
© Russian Defense Ministry
Russia's Defense Ministry has marked the 319th anniversary of the creation of one of its most technologically advanced military branches by showcasing military engineers storming an enemy hideout in an impressive drill.

A video published by the Defense Ministry on social media shows a Russian military engineers' strike team clad in state-of-the-art combined armor protective suits storming a simulated militants' mine workshop under the cover of armored personnel carriers.

The soldiers' multilayer composite armor consisting of metallic, plastic and ceramic plates covering the whole body allows them to survive even if an explosive device is detonated right next to the strike team.

Comment: See also:


France apology after history textbook links CIA to 9/11

WTC wreckage
© Getty Images
Nearly 3,000 people died when four airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda jihadists were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania
A French publisher has apologised after a history textbook that appeared in bookshops in recent weeks suggested the 11 September 2001 attacks were probably "orchestrated by the CIA".

Comment: Where's the lie?

The debunked conspiracy theory was apparently highlighted on social media initially by a group of schoolteachers.

The book History of the 20th Century in Flash Cards is aimed at undergraduate students.

Comment: So somehow the truth ended up being printed in a textbook and the PTB went into overdrive trying to course correct, making sure no one for a moment considered it anything more than a crazy 'conspiracy theory'. God forbid new students get any hint of what actually went on on 9/11 and actually be lead to question the official narrative.

See also:


The infantilization of Western culture

© Elantseva Marina
What happens when an entire society succumbs to childlike behavior and discourse?
If you regularly watch TV, you've probably seen a cartoon bear pitching you toilet paper, a gecko with a British accent selling you auto insurance and a bunny in sunglasses promoting batteries.

This has always struck me as a bit odd. Sure, it makes sense to use cartoon characters to sell products to kids - a phenomenon that's been well-documented.

But why are advertisers using the same techniques on adults?

To me, it's just one symptom of a broader trend of infantilization in Western culture. It began before the advent of smartphones and social media. But, as I argue in my book "The Terminal Self," our everyday interactions with these computer technologies have accelerated and normalized our culture's infantile tendencies.

Comment: See also:


'Russian spies' in Davos: A scandal or clickbait-chasing nothingburger?

© REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A police officer stands guard ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2020.
What better way to spice up a snoozy meeting of world elite at a posh Swiss resort than a story of Russian spies? And if details show it's old with nothing to it, that hasn't stopped conspiracy-mongers and attention hungry media.

"And then the plumber pulled out a diplomatic passport," blares (in German) the headline in Sunday's Tages Anzeiger. The Zurich-based daily offered a lurid story of two Russians with diplomatic documents that Swiss authorities hassled way back in August, and ultimately released because, well, they hadn't done anything to warrant prosecution.

At least one of them "pretended to be a plumber," the paper proclaims, scandalized, to the delight of Russia conspiracy theorists everywhere - such as the Guardian's Luke Harding or Eliot 'Bellingcat' Higgins.