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Source: Zero Hedge

Authored by Daniel Lacalle,

The economy is the heart of the social body. If we shut down the heart of an organism to safeguard the hands and brain, the body dies.

The data on deaths and infected from the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic is alarming. Let us remember the deceased, the infected and their families, and applaud the response of civil society, businesses, and citizens.

A pandemic crisis is addressed by providing safety protocols and sanitary equipment for businesses to continue to run and keep employment, not shutting down everything, which may create a larger social and health problem in the long term regardless of the massive liquidity and fiscal policies. Why? Because demand-side policies never work in a forced shutdown of all sectors. There is no demand to “incentivize” when the government orders the closing of all activities. And there is no supply to follow when the economic crisis creates a collapse in employment and consumption.

Many commentators are saying that shutting down the economy is an essential measure to gain time to control the virus. This analysis comes from people who simply do not understand the ripple effects and massive ramifications of a complete shutdown.

Source: Zero Hedge

While the nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, was the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak three weeks ago, the fast-spreading virus has turned its crosshairs onto the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. 

Virus cases and deaths are erupting in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. 

The hardest-hit area is New York state, which has 53,399 confirmed cases and 827 deaths as of Saturday night (March 28). Reports are pouring in that hospital systems in the region are beyond capacity, and that is the point where the mortality rate could surge unless extra capacity is brought online to alleviate the lack of hospital beds and ICU-level treatment.

At the moment, New Jersey is the second hardest-hit area with 11,124 cases and 140 deaths, next is Massachusetts with 4,257 cases and 44 deaths, then Pennsylvania with 2,845 cases and 34 deaths, and last is Maryland with 995 cases and 10 deaths. 

It appears the epicenter of the virus has shifted from West Coast to East Coast. Parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have densely packed metro areas with large senior populations, a dangerous combination that could lead to a further rise in cases and deaths. 

With March coming to a close, the

Source: Zero Hedge

The next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be a flare-up of social unrest across major Western cities as millions have lost their jobs, economies have crashed into depressions, and the military is being called up to maintain order.

The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) warned that riots could be imminent in low-income neighborhoods as extreme wealth inequality has left households unprepared and without a cash buffer to weather the economic downturn.

As we’ve noted before, many Western households were already stretched thin before the shutdowns began, with little savings, insurmountable debts, and the lack of access to proper healthcare. Now, these folks, which many have been laid off from gig-economy and service sector jobs, have zero income and could be emotionally motivated to hit the streets and protest.

IFRC president Francesco Rocca warned on Friday during a press conference that social unrest could be imminent in Italy, reported Reuters.

“We have a lot of people who are living very marginalized, in the so-called black hole of society… In the most difficult neighborhoods of the biggest cities, I am afraid that in a few weeks, we will have social problems,” Rocca said.

This is a

Source: Zero Hedge

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top government official in France has admitted that draconian lockdown measures being imposed on the rest of the population shouldn’t be implemented in the country’s migrant-heavy ghettos in order to prevent riots.

In a letter leaked to magazine Le Canard Enchaine, French Secretary of State to the Ministry of the Interior Laurent Nunez advises, “It is not a priority to enforce closings in certain neighborhoods and to stop gatherings.”

In a separate video conference call, Nunez told other officials that restricting movement and shutting down shops in France’s infamous banlieues risks igniting violent social disorder if enforced too rigorously.

A regional defense zone prefect who was in on the call agreed that businesses that had been closed down in other areas of France should remain open in poorer neighborhoods in order to help with “social mediation.”

“This undermining of the laws that Macron declared as essential, this clear disregard for the population as a whole, comes at a time when police, ambulance and firefighters face record levels of hostility when they venture into the suburbs where gangs set cars on fire then attack them when

Source: Zero Hedge

Sanderson Farms, a large poultry manufacturer and Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, have both reported their first couple of positive cases of coronavirus.

This raises the obvious question: what happens when people critical to the world’s food supply start to fall ill?

As of now, there has been no such disruption – but it is beginning to morph into a massive threat, Bloomberg notes, with workers in close quarters preparing and processing food globally. Aside from the obvious threat of food not making it to consumers, things like fruits may also wind up rotting in fields if there aren’t enough workers to pick and cultivate them. 

Al Stehly, who operates a farm-management business in California’s North San Diego County said: “If we can’t flatten the curve, then that is going to affect farmers and farm laborers — and then we have to make choices about which crops we harvest and which ones we don’t. We hope no one gets sick. But I would expect some of us are going to get the virus.”

Don't Look Now But The People Responsible For The World's Food Supply Are Starting To Get Sick 5

And to clarify, it’s not the food itself that causes the threat of the virus. It’s the supply chain disruption that the virus can cause with workers.

Sanderson was lucky in the sense that their one worker only worked at a small table by themselves. But other infections in the industry, where workers are closer together, could wreak more havoc. At some beef plants, workers are “elbow to elbow” and despite the employees wearing protective gear, there still remains risk of contagion. 

Dave MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill Inc., the world’s largest agricultural commodities trader said: “One of our beef plants feeds 22 million people per day, so it’s vital that these plants stay open.”

Thomas Hesse, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 said: “There’s underlying tension, there’s fear and there’s anxiety.”

Don't Look Now But The People Responsible For The World's Food Supply Are Starting To Get Sick 6Photo: BBG

And so, as grocery shelves go empty around the globe, food processing companies have stepped up their sanitary procedures, including more hand washing, spraying down plants and wiping down door knobs. Shifts are becoming more staggered and lunch breaks are now taken alone. 

Steve Cahillane, CEO of Kellogg Co., has suggested his company will bring in additional workers, if needed, as part of a “mitigation plan”. 

Mary Coppola of the United Fresh Produce Association said: “We’re going to see some creative solutions where folks that are being laid off are going to be able to find new opportunities that continue to support the essential critical infrastructure.”

But luring people into the food processing industry may not be as easy as it sounds, especially as the government is mailing people checks specifically to prevent them from going to work. Wages in the industry are generally low and the labor is described as “back-breaking”. 

Don't Look Now But The People Responsible For The World's Food Supply Are Starting To Get Sick 7Photo: BBG

While some major producers have been issuing bonuses or increased pay to their workers to let them know they are appreciated, Vermont dairy farmers have implemented other unusual backup plans. In a call through social media, they simply asked for people to come milk cows if farmers start to get sick. They signed up 80 volunteers as standbys.  

Kim Mercer of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont said: “It started when we got a couple of calls from dairy farmers who were super worried they might get sick and wouldn’t be able to milk their cows, and that would be it — they’d lose their farms. We now have people everywhere all across the state who are ready to go.”

We’re not sure other major food producers will be as lucky…

Source: Zero Hedge

Authored by Giulio Meotti via The Gatestone Institute,

The Chinese Communist Party is the “central threat of our times”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo astutely said in January. Back then, coronavirus was already spreading throughout China and over the world; the Communist Party’s attempt to hide the epidemic proved that Pompeo was more than right.

“My concern is that this cover-up, this disinformation that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in, is still denying the world the information it needs so that we can prevent further cases or something like this from recurring again”, Pompeo added this week.

Had China responded to the outbreak three weeks earlier than it did, cases of coronavirus could have been reduced by 95%, according to a study by the University of Southampton. In those three weeks, China was busy hiding the truth. According to Steve Tsang, director of the University of London’s SOAS China Institute, “It is the cover-up of the Communist Party for the first two months or so which created conditions to generate a global pandemic”.

Chinese leaders, however, seemed obsessed only with the sustainability of their totalitarian regime, and as eager to silence any criticism as they have been in the past. Since January, the evidence

Source: Zero Hedge

Authored by Dr Piers Robinson, Co-Director Organisation for Propaganda Studies,  via Off-Guardian.org,

The ongoing and unfolding reactions to the Coronavirus look set to have wide-ranging and long-lasting effect on politics, society and economics. The drive to close down all activities is extraordinary as are the measures being promoted to isolate people from each other.

The deep-rooted fear of contagious disease, hardwired into the collective consciousness by historical events such as the ‘Black/Bubonic Plague’ and maintained through popular culture (e.g. the Hollywood movies Outbreak and Contagion), means that people are without question highly susceptible to accepting extreme emergency measures whether or not such measures are rational or justified. The New York Times called for America to be put on a war footing in order to deal with Corona whilst former Army General Stanley McChrystal has been invoking his 9/11 experience in order to prescribe lessons for today’s leaders.

At the same time, political actors are fully aware that these conditions of fear and panic provide a critical opportunity that can be exploited in order to pursue political, economic and societal objectives. It is very likely, however, that the dangers posed by the potential exploitation of Corona for broader political, economic and societal objectives latter far outweigh

Source: Zero Hedge

As the first quarter is about to close, many Chinese factories are still operating below full capacity, have been gradually ramping up production over the last several weeks as government data suggests the country’s pandemic curve has flattened.

But as Bloomberg notes, there is a serious problem developing, one where the virus crisis is locking down the Western Hemisphere, has resulted in firms from Europe and the US to cancel their Chinese orders en masse, triggering the second shockwave that is starting to decimate China’s industrial base. 

A manager from Shandong Pangu Industrial Co. told Bloomberg that 60% of their orders go to Europe. In recent weeks, manager Grace Gao warned that European clients are requesting orders to be delayed or canceled because of the virus crisis unfolding across the continent.

“It’s a complete, dramatic turnaround,” Gao said, estimating that sales in April to May could plunge by 40% over the prior year. “Last month, it was our customers who chased after us checking if we could still deliver goods as planned. Now it’s become us chasing after them asking if we should still deliver products as they ordered.”

A twin shock has emerged, one

Source: Zero Hedge

Authored by Aaron Kesel via ActivistPost.com,

The coronavirus outbreak is proving to be the Trojan horse that justifies increased digital surveillance via our smartphones.

All over the world, starting with China – the suspected origin of the COVID-19 outbreak – governments are increasing surveillance of citizens using their smartphones. The trend is taking off like wildfire; in China citizens now require a smartphone application’s permission to travel around the country and internationally.

The application is AliPay by Ant Financial, the finance affiliate controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. Citizens now require a green health code to travel, Yahoo News reported.

China isn’t the only country looking towards smartphones to monitor their citizens; Israel and Poland have also implemented their own spying to monitor those suspected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Israel has gone the more extreme route, and has now given itself authority to surveil any citizen without a court warrant. Poland on the other hand is requiring those diagnosed with COVID-19 ordered to self-isolate to send authorities a selfie using an app. Which, if Poles don’t respond back in 20 minutes with a smiling face, they

Source: Zero Hedge

The body of Thomas Schäfer – finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found lying across high-speed train tracks in the town of Hochheim, located between Frankfurt and Mainz, according to DW, citing local police.

Schäfer’s remains were initially unable to be identified due to the extent of the injuries after witnesses reported the body.

According to media in the state of Hesse, the 54-year-old regularly appeared in public in recent days, for example, to inform the public about financial assistance during the coronavirus crisis. Schäfer had been finance minister of Hesse for almost 10 years

The state premier of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, said in a statement Saturday that the state’s leadership has received the news with “sadness and disbelief.” –DW

“We are all shocked and can hardly believe,” he died “so suddenly and unexpectedly” said Bouffier, adding “Our sincere condolences go to his closest relatives.” 

Schäfer isn’t the only high-profile German to meet his end on train tracks.

In 2009, 74-year-old billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide after pushing his business empire to the edge of ruin with a speculative bet on Volkswagen stock that went wrong. He was found dead