Links June 2020

June 9, 2020

Do you need earplugs to be able to sleep? Are the glaring bright colors, the dazzling flashing lights, the gaudy designs, the shrill and deafening sounds making you feel dizzy and dazed? Do you long for some quiet place where nothing than the twiddling of songbirds, the humming of  bumblebees, and the whisper of leaves in the soft evening breeze can be heard? 

What could make the deafening noise and the stink of machines and vehicles stop? What could make the cacophony of superficial and rude pop culture or advertising fade out? What could silence the irritating, confusing, misleading news chatter? What could mute the lies and gibberish of politicians, bankers, industry bosses, narcissistic celebrities, and pompous billionaires? 

I felt some kind of satisfaction as the story of the coronavirus pandemic developed — finally nature struck back and showed the overweening and pretentious humans who really rules the world. Air travel, tourism, binge shopping, and other wasteful and harmful activities were severely curtailed, skies were clear again and our fellow animals came out from their refuges to roam streets and parks of the towns. 

The people who profit most from our industrial consumerist civilization (the billionaires and their minions), try now to restart the economy and get back to the old normal. Maybe they succeed or can at least with the help of their mass media channels create the illusion of what they regard as normal circumstances.

But this will not be the last pandemic, and as human immune systems are increasingly weakened by the thousands of poisonous chemicals which continuously contaminate our environment, the next one will be even deadlier. SARS-CoV-2 has similarities with HIV and it mutates easily. What about an airborne AIDS?

I’m aware about the suffering that this pandemic causes and feel for each victim of the disease, and yet, this is the only way I see to end humanity’s war against nature and let nature prevail.

Feline news:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2013400?query=TOC Human to cat and cat to cat infections are proven. Cat to human infections seem possible.

Against all odds:

Following several recent sightings, another sea turtle — this time of the critically endangered hawksbill species — emerged from the sea to lay at least 80 eggs on a Thai beach just minutes before the start of World Environment Day as an apparent sign of how wildlife is making the most of the coronavirus pandemic limiting human movement.

The hawksbill sea turtle chose a beach on Koh Samui, an island typically visited by several million people each year, and was tracked by veterinarians thanks to an implanted digital chip.

National park and wildlife conservation staff were on the spot to collect a blood sample and check the health of the turtle, which they estimated to be about 30 years old. The hawksbill turtles’ population has been reduced significantly because of the trade in their shells, which is now illegal but nevertheless still happening.


Environmental news:

https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-is-a-sliding-doors-moment-what-we-do-now-could-change-earths-trajectory-137838 There are conflicting reports about the environmental impact of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a widely cited study lockdowns, reduced driving and flying, and industrial cutbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic drove emissions down 17 percent to 2006 levels. The plunge is equivalent to more than a billion tons of carbon dioxide that never made its way into the atmosphere. The drop in emissions, which reached its lowest level in early April, is believed to be temporary and experts see greenhouse gas levels bouncing back later this year as the national economies gradually reopen. Other studies find no significant reduction of air pollution:
https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/13/co2-levels-break-record-hitting-new-high-raising-alarm/ Sorry, CO2 levels were not lowered by the pandemic shutdown.
https://earther.gizmodo.com/chinas-air-pollution-is-already-worse-than-pre-coronavi-1843520326 Air pollution in China is back and even worse than it was before the lockdown. Of course, the people who destroy nature and human health have to make up for the reduction of emissions during the lockdown.
Coal consumption by six major power generators surged back to historical norms after May’s “Golden week” holidays. It currently stands 1.5 percent above the historical average, suggesting that power demand has returned to normal.

https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/watch-city-400-foreign-ships-argentinas-coast-conduct-illegal-fishing-night Illegal fishing and destroying an ecosystem on an industrial scale.
https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/india-s-heartland-states-battle-the-worst-locust-attack-in-27-years-what-does-it-mean-for-the-economy/596467 More locusts and more poison sprayed.
https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/chile-faces-serious-water-shortages-due-climate-crisis Chile’s water utilities are owned by large multinationals, among them Suez Group (French), Aguas de Barcelona (Spanish), and Marubeni (Japanese). They want to make profit no matter what.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52881721 Tropical forest destruction continues.

Economic news:

China will not set a target for economic growth this year, which is unprecedented, as annual economic goals have been declared every year since 1990.

With over 40 million US unemployment claims since March, economists says the situation is “grimmer than we thought.”

The coronavirus pandemic is causing supply and demand shocks unlike anything before.  It is generating a much faster economic contraction than that of the Great Depression. And unlike 1989 Japan, 2000 Tech (US), and 2008 (US and Europe), it is truly global. The drop in GDP and rise in unemployment in four weeks have equaled what took some four years to reach in the Great Depression and were never reached in the other events.

Economists had expected the US unemployment rate to spike from 14.7 percent to 19.5 percent; instead, it declined to 13.3 percent. A predicted loss of 8.33 million jobs miraculously turned into a gain of 2.5 million. The expected “worst recession since the Great Depression” seemed to be not happening, sending the Dow up 800 points and Treasury yields surging.

But buried in the rosy statistics are unpleasant truths about the nature of this “recovery.” Average hourly wages are down 6.7 percent from this time last year, indicating employers either can’t afford to pay workers their previous wages or have hired replacements at lower rates. And as the country remains in the grips of a protest movement spawned by the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by a white police officer, the racial disparity in this “recovery” (black unemployment actually increased to 16.8 percent) is unlikely to quell unrest in the streets.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/12/blackrock-eu-environmental-rules-for-banks The European commission and BlackRock are both despicable entities and one can only hope that the current pandemic or the next one will bring an end to it all.
http://www.defenddemocracy.press/from-pandemic-to-political-pandemonium/ Must read.
https://www.politico.eu/article/macron-and-merkel-defy-brussels-with-push-for-industrial-champions/ The new Merkel – Macron plan seems a mixture of “helicopter money” (grants instead of loans) and of a partial return to “state monopoly capitalism” (industrial strategy aiming at creating European champions that can compete on the world market).
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/21/ukjo-m21.html UK job losses.
https://asiatimes.com/2020/05/expat-flight-to-follow-migrant-exodus-from-gulf Pandemonium in the Gulf states.
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/CEOs-Bank-Big-Bonuses-As-Oil-Companies-Go-Bankrupt.html When the survival of the fittest became the survival of the meanest.

Media and Technology news:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/04/medi-j04.html The European press fears that the USA cannot be cited anymore as a shining example of freedom and democracy.

Imperial news:

How can a country, which has locked up 2.2 million of its inhabitants in overcrowded prisons call itself “leader of the free world”?

Caitlin Johnstone writes: Watching liberals trying to feign enthusiasm about Biden is like watching a gay Republican trying to get an erection for his wife.

The unforgotten stand-up comedian George Carlin: “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

From a comment on the web: “Trump is everything the USA is. Trump didn’t make things the way they are, he is the personification of the situation. If the United States were a suit, then it was tailor made for Trump.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 28, 2020: “They want to meet me not because I’m Mike from Kansas, because I represent the greatest nation in the history of civilization.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 7, 2020: “I want everyone to be reminded that America remains the world’s leading light of humanitarian goodness as well amidst this global pandemic.”

After more than 100,000 small businesses have closed forever, the pandemic emerges as an existential threat to small companies.

According to a report by ATF (Americans for Tax Fairness) and IPS (Institute for Policy Studies, the five wealthiest billionaires in the USA — Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), and Larry Ellison (Oracle) — saw their collective wealth grow by 75.5 billion US$ between March 18 and May 19, a 19 percent jump. The combined wealth of all 630 US billionaires rose by 434 billion US$ (from 2.948 trillion to 3.382 trillion US$). The report noted that during that same three month period, more than 40 million US inhabitants lost their jobs, 2 million got infected with SARS-CoV-2, and more than 113,000 died.

After a temporary moratorium, states are moving to resume evictions of people who are behind on rent payment. Oklahoma has started evictions on May 26. In Iowa and Wisconsin, evictions began on May 27. In Texas, a statewide ban on evictions just expired and a surge of new cases is expected in the coming weeks.

The multitrillion-dollar patchwork of federal and state relief programs has not kept bills from piling up or prevented long lines at food banks. But it has mitigated the damage. Now the expiration of those programs represents a cliff that many Americans and the economy are hurtling toward.

The 1,200 US$ checks are long gone, at least for those who needed them most, with little imminent prospect for a second round. The lending program that helped millions of small businesses keep workers on the payroll will wind down if Congress does not extend it. Eviction moratoriums that are keeping people in their homes are expiring in many cities.

And the 600 US$ per week in extra unemployment benefits that have allowed tens of millions of laid-off workers to pay rent and buy groceries will expire at the end of July.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/15/pers-m15.html Trump vs. science.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/16/pric-m16.html Food prices soar, “food deserts“ grow.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/20/covi-m20.html Are coronavirus data manipulated?
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/22/hosp-m22.html The cruelty and barbarity of profit based health care. Hospitals are closed and 1.5 million health care workers are fired just when they would be needed most. Rural hospitals are failing at an increased rate — 172 have closed since 2005 and 19 shut their doors last year. On the other side, twenty large hospital chains received more than five billion US$ in federal grants even while sitting on more than 100 billion US$ in cash.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/28/cdcr-m28.html 64 thousand US health care workers have been infected with COVID-19 and 600 have died.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/490233-black-riots-covid-white-looting The median black household net worth is 17,600 US$, compared with 171,000 US$ for white households. The national black unemployment and poverty rates have long been at least twice as high as the white rates.
https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/looting-minneapolis-police-george-floyd The billionaire looters.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/02/beating-swords-to-plowshares-2/ A powerful text, please read!
https://dgrnewsservice.org/resistance-culture/anti-racism/the-u-s-has-always-been-a-police-state Please read that too!

Imperial conquest news:

https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/marching-into-oblivion/ The USA intends to start a new nuclear arms race.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/22/vene-m22.html Preparing war against Venezuela.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/06/08/yeme-j08.html The humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen nobody wants to hear about.
https://cepr.net/report/analysis-of-the-2019-bolivia-election/ The Bolivian election was discussed extensively already in February and March, but as the New York Times unexpectedly and for unknown reason has brought the issue to the surface again, here some crucial studies of election data.

WWIII news:


Pandemic news:

Saudi Arabia will quarantine all cash and coins from local and foreign sources for at least two weeks. Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country to sterilize its cash amid the pandemic. The central banks of South Korea and China did so earlier this year using UV light and heat. US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) said this week that the novel coronavirus “does not spread easily” on surfaces or objects such as coins or paper money.

The UK government has indicated it is prepared to rescue large British companies severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Tata Steel, Britain’s biggest steel producer, had approached both the Welsh and UK governments for financial aid that could run into hundreds of millions.

The MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) Singapore Dollar Facility, allows banks to borrow at a near-zero interest rate. This means banks can reduce the cost of loans to enterprises and offer an interest rate of between 2 and 4.5 per cent per annum, down from up to 6 per cent previously.

A study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the University of Pennsylvania found that ordinary speech can emit small respiratory droplets that linger in the air up to 14 minutes. This would help explain why SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious in enclosed spaces like supermarkets and restaurants.

Over a third of coronavirus patients in a New York medical system developed acute kidney injury, and nearly 15 percent required dialysis.

https://news.trust.org/item/20200514061808-pdq5w Kidney injuries from SARS-CoV-2.
https://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/coronavirus-and-air-conditioned-nightmare.html AC spreads the virus. Just common sense makes it clear and it was already mentioned in the first post here about the pandemic.
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/25/soua-m25.html The situation in South Asia.

https://truthout.org/articles/cubas-resilience-through-economic-crisis-prepared-it-for-covid-health-crisis/ Recommended reading.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has declared the coronavirus pandemic under control after the island nation registered an eighth straight day without a death from COVID-19.
The country of 11.2 million has recorded just under 2,200 cases and 83 deaths from the virus. With 1,862 people having recovered, Cuba has only 244 active cases
https://www.zerohedge.com/health/coronavirus-uses-same-strategy-hiv-evade-immune-response-chinese-study-finds. Is SARS-CoV-2 something like an airborne HIV?
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/27/deat-m27.html COVID-19 deaths likely underreported.


Uncategorized news:


News from cat land:

A fellow blogger mentioned lemon balm and elderberry as possible prophylactic treatment against a coronavirus infection. I nearly forgot about lemon balm, because for my tea I prefer peppermint, stinging nettle, and thyme. Lemon balm grows in the garden in various colonies even in the most shadowy and dry places. As rosemary has many similar ingredients I assume that it could also be used. I have rosemary only in the greenhouses, as it doesn’t survive freezing in winter.

Sage, garlic, peppermint, echinacea (purpurea), and oregano are also said to have antiviral properties. I grow all of them in between the berry bushes, fruit trees, and grapevines mainly to irritate and deter pests (aphids, mites, lice, etc.), but their medical use is a welcome bonus.

I have a huge (6 meter high) elderberry bush, the European variant, which just now is blooming white. The uncooked berries are said to be poisonous and I never had time to figure out how to process them.

Yesterday I made for the first time since long a lemon balm tea and it was ok, but nettle, mint, and thyme are still my favorites.

We have a “monsoon rain period” here and it is raining and raining. The plants love it and they grow like mad. I will have to prune or even cut down some trees and bushes. The slugs love the rain too and so I have to go up every morning at 5 o’clock or earlier, out into the garden with a LED torch and scissors, to commit slug and snail mass murder. I don’t do body counts, but there are hundreds of victims every day.

The cats are all in the house and sleeping.

Two days ago I discovered a blindworm near a pile of branches into which it instantly disappeared. I’m so glad that Rite, my one year old cat girl, was not able to wipe them out. Rita in the meantime is not interested in blindworms anymore, that was only in her learning phase. She has now become the best mouse catcher of the family and blindworms only cause her to yawn.

Blindworms, toads, frogs, and shrews would be the ideal partners to combat the slugs and snails, unfortunately they are also prey for the cats. Nothing is perfect in this life.

My 16 year old cat lady Aunt Rosy is still missing and I have given up hope that I will ever see her again. I did post a classified add at the regional weekly but no response. Could she still be alive? Could she have found a new family? Did she feel neglected or treated unfairly?

Maybe I will never know what became of her and I will not be able to close this chapter of my life. Aunt Rosy’s mysterious disappearance will haunt me for a long time, maybe till the end of my days.

My remaining feline companions will help me to overcome the loss.

One comment

  1. Condolences for Rosy. Cheers for the blind worm. My garden is quite overrun with adorable snails! Quite a funny thing in the desert, but they love the kale that thrives here.


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