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Sun, 29 Mar 2020
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The perils of our 'just enough, just in time' food system

empty store shelves
Toilet paper shortages, profiteering from hand sanitizer and empty shelves in grocery stores.

Thanks to COVID-19, governments in most industrialized nations are preparing for shortages of life's necessities. If they fail, riots over food may be inevitable. Some wonder if we are responding appropriately to COVID-19, and it's clear that recent events expose a fundamental flaw in the global systems that bring us our daily bread.

We live in a wondrous age when global supply chains seamlessly link farmers and consumers using the principles of "just enough, just in time." For years, companies have worked hard to keep inventories low, timing shipments to balance supply and demand using knife-edge accuracy.

In many ways, this system is a miracle. Low-cost food is one outcome. And if there's a problem in one part of the supply chain, the global system is good at finding alternatives. (Mangoes from Asia gone bad? Try the mangoes from Central America!)

But with this abundance — and convenience — comes a hidden cost that COVID-19 has exposed: a loss of resilience. Our global food system depends on the tendrils of international trade to wrap the world in an ever more complex system of buyers, sellers, processors and retailers, all of whom are motivated to keep costs low and operations lean.

Comment: SOTT.net has been recommending for years that people take it upon themselves to be prepared for an emergency as the 'system' cannot necessarily be relied upon. And yes, while this Covid panic will likely die down, there are a multitude of reasons as noted above to prepare your household for other emergencies. See:


Coronavirus hysteria: The Diamond Princess cruise ship does not fit the media narrative

diamond princess
OK, here are my questions. We had a perfect petri-dish coronavirus disease (COVID-19) experiment with the cruise ship "Diamond Princess". That's the cruise ship that ended up in quarantine for a number of weeks after a number of people tested positive for the coronavirus. I got to wondering what the outcome of the experiment was.

So I dug around and found an analysis of the situation, with the catchy title of Estimating the infection and case fatality ratio for COVID-19 using age-adjusted data from the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship(PDF), so I could see what the outcomes were.

As you might imagine, before they knew it was a problem, the epidemic raged on the ship, with infected crew members cooking and cleaning for the guests, people all eating together, close living quarters, lots of social interaction, and a generally older population. Seems like a perfect situation for an overwhelming majority of the passengers to become infected.


Even 'small-scale' nuclear war between India & Pakistan would DEVASTATE global food supply - study

© Reuters / Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation Handout; Reuters / Jitendra Prakash
A low-level nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could wipe out large swaths of the world's food supply, igniting cataclysmic fires that blot out the Sun in a decade-long nuclear winter, according to new research.

Estimated to hold about 150 warheads each, India and Pakistan's combined arsenals make up only a fraction of the worldwide stockpile - about 14,000-strong at present - but even a "limited" nuclear war between the regional rivals could have grave consequences for the rest of the planet, a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal claims.

"Even this regional, limited war would have devastating indirect implications worldwide," said Jonas Jagermeyr, the study's lead author and a researcher at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "It would exceed the largest famine in documented history."
We're not saying a nuclear conflict is around the corner. But it is important to understand what could happen.


Coronavirus fears have led to a surge in US gun sales

line up for guns coronavirus
© Getty Images
A man walks with a stroller as people stand in line outside the Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store Culver City, California over the weekend.
Gun shops nationwide are reporting an increase of sales — particularly from first-time gun buyers — as Americans brace for the worst amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Around 4 p.m. ET Monday, stocks for publicly-traded gun sellers American Outdoor Brands were up 5.46%, Sturm, Ruger & Co. had increased by 3.6% and Vista Outdoor had jumped by 7.86%, all while stocks on the broad market were dismal.
  • Background checks for gun purchases through the FBI system totaled 2.8 million nationally in February, a 36% jump compared to the same month in 2019 — it's the largest year-over-year percentage spike since 2016.

Comment: It's hardly surprising, given the level of panic being spread throughout the mainstream press, that people are feeling insecure and buying guns. It's funny that the liberal MSM, who are helping to drive the panic, would find this so distasteful.

See also:

Microscope 1

Caitlin Johnstone: Nine thoughts on COVID-19 and what's coming

Comment: The Corona-mind-virus appears to have taken in this once astute author...

sick quarantine masks
This gig is kinda weird at the moment. I write about what's going on in the world for a living, and there's certainly plenty going on in the world to be written about. But also there's this acute awareness that anything I write about today is going to look petty and insignificant in the very near future.

I mean, we're in the first moments of an unfolding pandemic which, from what I can tell just looking at the numbers, is about to change the world in some pretty significant ways. Governmental faceplant after governmental faceplant after missed opportunity after missed opportunity all around the world appears to have set us on a trajectory toward overburdened healthcare systems, severe economic downturns, and, of course, mass deaths.

And maybe chaos. And maybe healing. And maybe, when all is said and done, a total restructuring of power and the way we do things.

Gold Coins

Coronavirus calls US' 'world's richest country' bluff: Will it cling to busted myths or evolve under pressure?

stores closed reduced hours
© Reuters / Jeenah Moon
The coronavirus containment measures the US has (belatedly, reluctantly) taken are revealing enormous fissures in its first-world facade, from legions of hungry schoolchildren to their broke parents left to fend for themselves.

The US puts a lot of effort into maintaining its image as the world's richest country, but while it may have the world's highest GDP, near-record levels of income inequality mean that the "American dream" is out of reach for much of the population. Aside from an upper-crust of fantastically wealthy families and the professional class that supports them, much of the US population struggles to make ends meet even in the best of times. And clearly, the coronavirus epidemic does not represent the best of times.

The federal government has been accused of dragging its feet in responding to the epidemic, and not without reason. While other nations rushed into action, President Donald Trump held back from making public statements about the coronavirus out of fear of "spooking the markets." The Centers for Disease Control didn't just refuse to use the WHO-developed test for Covid-19 - it actively intervened to stop infectious disease experts in Washington state from testing patients for the disease until the last week of February. Trump waited until last week to declare a public health emergency. Many Americans wondered what was taking their government so long, and some suspected ulterior motives.

Comment: See also:


COVID-19 pandemic creates panic and "cancel-everything" culture

No School Today sign
Panic is counterproductive, it oftentimes results in short-sighted selfish decisions that could potentially cause harm. Panic causes people to buy and hoard all of the toilet paper, leaving nothing for others. Panic births chaos, chaos creates stress, stress interferes with our body's defense systems and immunity, therefore panic puts us at a higher risk of becoming susceptible to the very concern we are panicking about.

Leaders have a responsibility to assure the public that they are engaged in decisive measures to fix the problem, merely saying things will be okay is never helpful.

Unsurprisingly, American's are divided when it comes to their support or lack thereof of the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus. Some argue that the response is simply too little too late, and if officials didn't downplay COVID-19 early on and took matters more seriously it wouldn't have spread to 49 states (allegedly West Virginia doesn't have any cases).

Comment: See also:


Last orders... Ireland closes all pubs on eve of St Patrick's Day

The Temple Bar in Dublin
© PA
The Temple Bar in Dublin, as pubs and clubs in Irish tourist hotspot Temple Bar closed with immediate effect
Ireland on Sunday said all bars in the country should close until at least the end of the month to curb the spread of coronavirus after videos of groups singing in packed Dublin venues sparked anger on social media.

The government's move comes just two days before Ireland's national day, St Patrick's Day, which traditionally sees bars across the country packed from early in the day. The annual parade celebrating the day had already been canceled.

Ireland, known around the world for its traditional pubs, on Sunday said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had increased to 169 from 129. It closed schools and universities last week and advised people to cancel all indoor gatherings of 100 people or more.

But it stopped short of closing cafes, bars and restaurants, as some European countries have done, citing the potential impact on workers and small businesses and saying owners should ensure customers are kept at a safe distance from each other.

But showing packed bars with sing-alongs and crowded streets in Temple Bar, Dublin's busiest nightlife district, went viral on social media on Saturday under the #CloseThePubs hashtag.

Comment: COVID-19 will devastate the economic fortunes of those who are already struggling

Gold Seal

Panic Pandemic: Why Are People Who Should Know Better Buying The COVID-19 Hype?

italy police
The only certainty about the 'novel' virus is that a great deal of nonsense is being talked about it by people who really ought to know better, and a great deal of opportunism is being displayed.

From Netanyahu grabbing the chance to postpone his corruption trial to Hollywood starlets claiming they have 'tested positive' (surely not a sad and cynical attempt to up their profile), this bandwagon is seething and teeming with those trying to seize their moment of fame or get rich or stay out of jail or just join in the mayhem.

It's cool to be nCoV-positive now. Maybe that's why such inordinate numbers of famous people are staking their claim to it.

ISIS are apparently a bit worried about nCoV also and is allegedly sending out travel advisories to its jihadists.

Yup, that's a real thing, right there. Really happening. Definitely.

Meanwhile, the propaganda is relentless, and there's a variety for all tastes.

Comment: Spot on. We know of only a handful of other alt-media sites and commentators who see through this scam.

It's pretty shocking how many people have departed aboard the Coronavirus Cruise, destination unknown, which speaks to people's fickle natures. Remember, just because someone sounds like they're on your team - politics or culture-wise - they may in fact not be, at all.

It says in the Bible: 'beware false prophets.'

Well, beware false Noah's arks too.

See also:

Red Flag

COVID-19 will devastate the economic fortunes of those who are already struggling

clothes shop
Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake opened its first Toronto store five years ago this Wednesday. Almost immediately, it gained a cult following, with downtown lineups approaching two hours.

On Sunday, there was no line at all. In fact, I was the only one in the store, which allowed me plenty of room for the required social distancing. This was the Uncle Tetsu location at Pacific Mall, a famously bustling Asian-themed indoor arcade that is usually packed on weekends. But when I arrived during peak early-afternoon hours, the parking lot was a third full. The lone server told me (from the prescribed distance of at least six feet) that business is down by almost 75 percent. From what I saw inside the mall, that estimate seemed optimistic. Almost all of the kiosks were open. But the clerks, all wearing face masks, outnumbered the customers.