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Mon, 06 Apr 2020
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The Covid-19 debate: Economies really are made up of real people

unemployment lines
The headline of this piece is admittedly very, very dumb. It's dumb because everyone knows that real people work in economies. As such, it's on a par with news that paper is made from wood pulp, apples grow on trees and fire is hot.

But the reason it needs to be stated is that the past couple of weeks has convinced me that many people actually don't seem to know this at all. Judging by comments I have seen in numerous articles, and the pushback I and many others have received from questioning the proportionality of the measures put in place to deal with the outbreak of Covid-19, there seem to be many people who think that economies are all about money and commerce and wealth. Well, there is that, but principally they are about people.

It works like this: I or A.N. Other state that we believe shutting down most of the economy for an indefinite period is an astonishingly disproportionate and dangerous way of tackling the threat from Covid-19, and we are immediately assailed with responses that run along the following lines:
  • How can you equate money with people's lives?
  • I can't believe you're bringing the economy into it when we're talking about saving lives.
  • What a callous person you must be to put wealth and profit before people.
For what it's worth, I work for a company that deals with labour market data. On the systems we use, such data looks like a bunch of numbers. Yet we are aware, for example, that when we look at the numbers of jobs in the Restaurant and Pub sectors (approximately 1.6m in the UK), each of the single digits that go to make up that number is actually a person. A real, live person. A person with thoughts and feelings. A person with a heart and soul. A person who works to earn money to put food on the table, to pay the rent, to keep the lights on. Some of them have families, and therefore have dependants to feed, clothe, shelter etc as well as themselves.

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Carrier captain fired over coronavirus letter cheered by his crew as he leaves ship, becomes latest hero of #Resistance

Captain Brett Crozier
© US Navy/Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh
Captain Brett Crozier
Videos of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt cheering their captain, relieved of command by the Navy amid a Covid-19 controversy, have become a surprise hit among the critics of President Donald Trump, who is getting the blame.

Hundreds of sailors gathered on the deck of the Roosevelt on Thursday night to bid farewell to Captain Brett Crozier, cheering him and chanting his name as he walked off the ship. They showed no sign of concern that doing so might expose them to the coronavirus - which started the entire drama to begin with.

"I've never seen anything quite like it," said Erik Slavin, writer for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, sharing a Facebook video of Crozier's sendoff from inside the Roosevelt's hangar bay.

Arrow Up

Two million guns sold during March as sales skyrocket to second highest level ever in US

gun shop
The pandemic is leading people to buy way, way more guns as some fear there will soon be civil unrest.

According to a new report from the New York Times, Americans bought nearly two million guns last month as the country slowly went into lockdown.

This was the second-highest sales numbers ever seen in the U.S. for firearms, surpassed only by the January after then U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election, which was also when the Sandy Hook shooting occurred. And while more guns were sold in January 2013, the numbers are actually extremely close — with roughly two million guns sold during each time period.


Barcelona converts car park into a temporary coronavirus morgue

© unknown
Coffins in car park in Barcelona, Spain
As Spanish health sector workers fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the funeral services are overrun and Madrid and Barcelona are having to enact emergency measures.

The coronavirus pandemic in Spain shows little sign of abating and as the country's hard-pressed health services battle valiantly to attend to the needs of the over 70,000 active cases nationwide the situation is worsening in terms of places to store those people who have lost their lives due to the ongoing crisis. There have now been more than 10,000 deaths directly related to the Covid-19 outbreak in Spain and funeral service sector workers are inundated, leading to the use of places other than morgues to try and alleviate the situation.

The main ice rink in Madrid, the Palacio de Hielo, has been turned into a temporary morgue during the pandemic and the IFEMA conference centre in the capital has been repurposed as a emergency isolation centre for coronavirus patients, in addition to military hospitals being set up on the outskirts of the city. In Barcelona, the situation has become so untenable that a three-storey car park attached to the Collserola de Barcelona funeral home has been converted into a temporary resting place for Covid-19 victims.

Eye 1

Virus vigilantes: 'My neighbour isn't self-isolating'

An Ottawa woman was outraged when she spotted social media posts from a neighbour who was supposed to be self-isolating but was out and about in the community. "I'm about to lose it on her!" she posted on Facebook.

The woman called the police to report her neighbour. The neighbour and other "ignorant assh**** who can't follow the rules are killing people," she posted.

Others chimed in on Facebook, harshly criticizing those who violate rules that public health authorities have put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


World-renowned Virologist: Coronavirus lockdown "useless, grotesque, collective suicide"

A world-renowned expert in medical microbiology, Professor Sucharit Bhakdi, has said that blaming the new coronavirus alone for deaths is 'wrong' and 'dangerously misleading'. There are other more important factors at play, he says, notably pre-existing health conditions and poor air quality in Chinese and northern Italian cities.

In the interview, Professor Bhakdi condemns the extreme and costly measures being taken around the world as 'grotesque', 'useless', 'self-destructive' and a 'collective suicide' that will shorten the lifespan of the elderly and should not be accepted by society.

His comments come as it emerges that the overall number of deaths in Europe during the outbreak so far, including in Italy, is no higher than usual for this time of year. In fact, it is lower.

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Serbia: Russian military medics arrive to assist Covid-19 battle

Russia truck, plane
© Reuters/Alexey Ereshko
After providing coronavirus aid to Italy and the US, Russia has sent its military medics to Serbia. The first plane with virologists and equipment has already landed near Belgrade, with 10 more flights to come.

Eight teams of doctors and nurses with state-of-the-art equipment as well as a unit of nuclear, biological and chemical protection (NBC) troops to carry out disinfection have been assigned by the Defense Ministry for the mission.

The first Il-76 cargo plane took off from the Chkalovsky airfield outside Moscow and landed at Batajnica Airport near Belgrade.

The flight between the Russian capital and Serbia takes less than three hours, with the Russian planes expected to make 10 trips - four more on Friday and six on Saturday - to deliver all of the intended cargo. Besides the 87 servicemen, they'll be carrying 16 military vehicles and a batch of individual protective gear.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for aid in tackling Covid-19 in late March, with his request now being fulfilled.


Chilling! Physicians send out 'do not resuscitate' forms, telling those like my disabled daughter to sign them

wheelchair person
© Getty Images/NurPhoto/Mehdi Taamallah
I get that Covid-19 means difficult medical decisions have to be made about who gets treatment and who doesn't. But telling the disabled and already sick to sign away their rights in advance is asking them to volunteer for death.

As the parent of a disabled child, you need to become an expert at juggling all the balls you must keep in the air if you want to become the parent of a disabled adult, as I am fortunate enough to be. In all my 18 years of helping to look after my lovely daughter Elvi, I've never been so scared for her future as I am in this Covid-19 pandemic. Drop one of those balls at this time, and I could be signing my child's death warrant.

It's not just because the virus could be significantly more lethal for her. It's also because some doctors may take the view that my daughter's life is much less worthy of medical care compared to able-bodied people.

It has emerged this week that some GPs around Britain have been sending out letters to patients with existing health issues asking them to sign Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) forms, in case they catch the coronavirus and their condition worsens.

So that's that, then. It's asking these people to volunteer for death.


Epstein's Hollywood pipeline had a straight-line connection to Harvey Weinstein

epstein maxwell weinstein graphic
© Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Jeffrey Epstein used his connections to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to impress young women, and even helped one victim land a role in a horror movie produced by a Weinstein-owned company, The Daily Beast has learned.

Chauntae Davies was recruited into Epstein's trafficking ring in 2001, when she was a 21-year-old massage-therapy student in California. She says the perverted financier groomed and sexually abused her for years before she escaped in 2005.

Davies' time in Epstein's world included a 2002 humanitarian trip to Africa with former President Bill Clinton on the money-manager's private jet. Actors Chris Tucker and Kevin Spacey were along for the ride.

Comment: On the elusive Ms. Maxwell who is unaccountably, still at large.

Stock Down

When will U.S. economy bottom? Economists hunt for the right view

© REUTERS/David Ryder
People practice social distancing while spending time outdoors in the West Seattle neighborhood during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 2, 2020.
The economic crisis spawned by the coronavirus pandemic has produced a wave of grim U.S. data, with likely more to come as millions lose jobs, businesses shutter and spending stops.

But at some point, the bottom will be reached.

Given how fast the situation has developed, judging when that happens in real time will prove challenging for economists who usually depend on monthly, quarterly or yearly trends in data to judge the state of the business cycle.

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