Saturday 19th of September 2020

in the fishbowls of the world...

fish tales

A man died after ingesting an additive used to clean fish tanks — the pharmaceutical drug version of which has been touted by President Trump as a potential coronavirus cure.

Within 30 minutes of taking chloroquine phosphate, the man in his 60s experienced “immediate effects” and had to be admitted to a nearby Banner Health hospital, the medical system in Arizona said in a press release Monday.

His wife, also in her 60s, is in critical condition after taking the additive, which is used in aquariums to kill some organisms, like algae, that may harm fish.

Prices of the product on eBay skyrocketed after some studies found that the pharmaceutical version, the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, and a derivative of it called hydroxychloroquine, were effective in killing the virus in laboratory experiments.

Trump said last week the drug would soon begin to be distributed to treat some coronavirus patients. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn clarified that the drug would be made available as part of a clinical trial.


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See also: allowed in france for severe cases... 

pray at home...

Long queues are forming outside Centrelink offices across the country again today, despite the Federal Government urging welfare-seekers to go home.

Key points:
  • The Government wants people to apply for coronavirus welfare assistance remotely
  • Minister Stuart Robert said it was "my bad" that he failed to anticipate demand for services
  • The Government expects at least a million people could be unemployed


It is the second day in a row that people have gathered in large numbers outside the offices, as Centrelink struggles to keep up with unprecedented demand from people seeking financial assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The demand for help was so high yesterday it crashed Centrelink's website.

The Government is estimating at least 1 million people could be made unemployed as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the Australian economy.

There are estimates hundreds of thousands of Australians lost their jobs yesterday in the forced closure of pubs, clubs and indoor entertainment and sporting facilities. Places of worship were also forced to close their doors at midday on Monday.


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Gus doesn't care much about places of worship, but closing down local waterholes and restaurants is beyond the pale...

the failure of the intel agencies...


by Scott Ritter


The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the United States unlike any other event in recent history, proving to be far more disruptive to American society, and far most damaging to the U.S. economy, than even the events of 9/11. 

The U.S. response is something President Trump has likened to a “war,” going so far as to label himself a “wartime President,” leading the U.S. against “the toughest enemy” in a struggle in which he vows “total victory.” If the fight against the coronavirus is a war, then the virus clearly took the U.S. government by surprise. “Certainly we didn’t get an early run on it, Trump noted in a press conference on March 17. “It would’ve been helpful if we knew about it earlier.”

It is the job of the U.S. intelligence community to provide senior U.S. government policy makers, including the president, with advance warning about potential crises. The U.S. taxpayer pays a premium for this service; in 2020, the budget for the National Intelligence Program, which includes all programs, projects and activities of the U.S. intelligence community, was $62.8 billion. 

Included in this budget is a small, specialized intelligence unit known as the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), which operates as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The mission of the NCMI is to serve as the lead activity within the Department of Defense (DoD) “for the production of medical intelligence,” and to prepare and coordinate “integrated, all-source intelligence for the DoD and other government and international organizations on foreign health threats and other medical issues to protect U.S. interests worldwide.”

For a small agency, the NCMI packs a large punch in terms of the overall impact of its product. For example, in April 2009—two months prior to when the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially declared the global outbreak of H1N1 influenza a pandemicNCMI published an intelligence product, known as an “Infectious Disease Risk Assessment,” which predicted that a recent outbreak of the Swine Flu (H1N1) would become a pandemic. 

The positive work done by the NCMI in relation to the H1N1 outbreak contributed to the creation of the 2012 “National Strategy for Biosurveillance,” designed to help facilitate a full-time institutionalized process for obtaining timely and accurate insight on current and emerging biological risks. President Obama himself noted the critical role played by “accurate and timely information” during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic that enabled decision makers, including himself, to “develop the effective responses that save lives. 



“The sooner we can detect and understand a threat,” Obama wrote in the introduction to the first National Strategy for Biosurveillance, “the faster we can take action to protect the American people.”

Providing this early detection of a threat is the mission of the NCMI. When it comes to diseases like H1N1 and the coronavirus, this task falls under the remit of the NCMI’s Infectious Disease Division, whose baseline requirement, according to a former commanding officer, Air Force Col. (Dr.) Anthony M. Rizzo, “is to understand the risk of every type of [endemic] infectious disease in every country.” 

“When we think of the word biosurveillance, we think of the kinds of things that the public health community does—collecting cases, taking cultures, deciding which disease is which,” Rizzo said. “But we in the intelligence community are looking way before that to determine [if there are] threats on the horizon.” 

The NCMI’s job, Rizzo noted, is predictive in nature—not to explain what is happening, but rather “what we believe is going to happen.” To do this, NCMI has access to the resources of the totality of the intelligence community, including intercepted communications, satellite imagery, and sensitive human intelligence, including covert sample collection.

The coronavirus was clearly part of the NCMI’s remit. And yet its first Infectious Disease Risk Assessment for COVID-19 was issued on January 5, 2020, reporting that 59 people had been taken ill in Wuhan, China. This report was derived not from any sensitive intelligence collection effort or independent biosurveillance activity, but rather from a report issued to the WHO by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, dated January 5, 2020.

The next day the CDC warned American citizens to take precautions if traveling to China, followed a day later with the activation of a COVID-19 incident management team within the CDC Emergency Management System. This, however, is not the kind of predictive analysis that U.S. policymakers needed if they were going to get ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike 2009, when the NCMI provided a full two months heads up about the threat of a Swine Flu pandemic, in 2020 the Trump administration was taking its cues from the WHO, which waited until January 30, 2020 to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The NCMI had been relegated to a mere observer, having failed in its mission to provide timely, predictive analysis of pending epidemiological threats.

Almost everything the NCMI knew about the current situation in Wuhan came from the WHO, which had been working very closely with Chinese authorities from the Chinese Center of Disease Control (CCDC) to determine the origin and nature of the coronavirus outbreak. While a great deal of attention has been paid to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city of Wuhan, which sells live poultry, fish, and several kinds of wild animals to the public, a detailed investigation by the Joint Field Epidemiology Investigation Team, a specialized task force working under the auspices of the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CCDC), found that the COVID-19 epidemic did not originate by animal-to-human transmission in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, as originally believed, but rather human-to-human transmission totally unrelated to the operation of the market.  

Moreover, by analyzing the characteristic of some 27 genomes of the COVID-19 virus provided by the Chinese and published by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GSAID), research scientists were able to determine that the “most recent common ancestor” for the coronavirus could be dated back to as early as October 1, 2019. 

The importance of this date as it relates to the NCMI is that in mid-October 2019 a delegation of 300 U.S. military athletes arrived in Wuhan to participate in the 2019 Military World games. China has suggested that these personnel might have introduced the coronavirus infection to Wuhan, citing their own research thatsuggests that the virus was introduced into China from elsewhere, and Japanese and Taiwanese studies that point to the U.S. as the likely source of the virus. There is, however, no independent evidence to support these allegations. 

The importance of the U.S. military athletes rests in the fact that the NCMI is responsible for conducting threat briefs for all deployments of military personnel world-wide, which meant that a Wuhan-specific Infectious Disease Risk Assessment would have necessarily been prepared in support of this deployment. Infectious Disease Risk Assessments are the bread-and-butter intelligence product produced by the NCMI’s Infectious Disease Division, one in which the totality of the medical intelligence collection and analytical capabilities would be utilized. 

The production of a Wuhan-specific Infectious Disease Risk Assessment would have created a window of opportunity for the NCMI to have collected the kind of medical intelligence that could have provided early warning about the existence of the coronavirus. Moreover, these athletes should have been subjected to screening upon return as part of the national biosurveillance program, providing yet another opportunity for early detection of the coronavirus if anyone had been exposed to it during their travel.

The CDC has recently acknowledged, during a hearing of the House Oversight Committeeon March 11, that its biosurveillance program has uncovered evidence that Americans who had previously died to what had been originally diagnosed as influenza have, through post-mortem testing, been found to have actually have perished from the coronavirus. Normally, the details obtained from this kind of biosurveillance would be widely shared to better understand the scope and potential spread of the infection, as well as to better pin down the source and timing of the infections. 

However, the initial meetings regarding a national-level coronavirus response conducted under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, where intelligence gathered as a result of any such biosurveillance activity would logically be discussed, were all treated as classified events, under orders from the National Security Council. As a result, many people who otherwise would have been present were excluded, and those who did attend these meetings were precluded from discussing what occurred. This lack of transparency on the part of the Trump administration only fuels speculation about the reasons for meetings normally conducted in the open suddenly being classified, as well as precisely what information is being hidden from the public. 

The sufficiency and efficacy of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen. As President Trump noted on March 17, however, it would have been helpful to have had advance warning. That was the job of the NCMI, and they failed. This failure may have been a result of complacency, incompetence, or just a byproduct of circumstance. Regardless of the reason, the NCMI needs to learn from this experience, and reexamine the totality of the intelligence cycle—the direction, collection, analysis and feedback loop—associated with its failure to adequately predict the coronavirus pandemic. This reexamination should ensure that the U.S. will not be caught flat-footed the next time around, because there will be a next time around.

Scott Ritter is a former Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. He is the author of several books, including his forthcoming, Scorpion King: America’s Embrace of Nuclear Weapons From FDR to Trump (2020).



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fake bubbles in the aquarium...


Fictitious capital is a by-product of capitalist accumulation. It is a concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. It is introduced in chapter 25 of the third volume of Capital. Fictitious capital contrasts with what Marx calls “real capital”, which is capital actually invested in physical means of production and workers, and “money capital”, which is actual funds being held. 

The market value of fictitious capital assets (such as stocks and securities) varies according to the expected return or yield of those assets in the future, which Marx felt was only indirectly related to the growth of real production. Effectively, fictitious capital represents “accumulated claims, legal titles, to future production’’ and more specifically claims to the income generated by that production.

The moral of the story is that it is not possible to print wealth or value. Money in its paper representation of the real thing, e.g., gold, is not wealth it is a claim on wealth. 

Of course, this would be lost on establishment economists, bankers, and financial journalists, whose view is that the policy should be QE, liquidity injections, and so forth. A one-trick pony. 

And what has all of this to do with Coronavirus? Well, everything actually. 

I take it that we all knew that the grotesquely overleveraged world economy was heading for a ‘correction’ but that’s a rather a soothing description. “Massive correction” would be a better description. That is the nature of the beast. The world was a bubble of paper money looking for a pin. It found one. 

Have a nice day all.


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that is going to be a challenge...

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a 21-day lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people to try to protect the world’s second-most populous country from the coronavirus.

Health researchers have warned that more than a million people in India could be infected with the coronavirus by mid-May, prompting the government to shut down all air and train travel, businesses and schools.

Mr Modi went further on Tuesday, saying nobody in the world’s biggest democracy will be allowed to leave their homes for the next three weeks from midnight that day.

“The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don’t leave our homes, whatever happens, we stay at home,” he said, in his second address to the nation within a week.

“Every district, every lane, every village will be under lockdown,” he said, warning India would be set back decades if it didn’t shut down and fight the virus.

The order sparked panic buying in India, with scores of people turning up at shops in Delhi and Mumbai and elsewhere to buy essentials before the ban went into effect.

India has found 482 cases of the coronavirus and 10 people have died from the COVID-19 disease it causes.

However, alarm is growing across the region about prospects for its spread into impoverished communities and the ability of resource-starved public health sectors to cope.


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against the rulers of the darkness of this world...

'For we wrestle not against flesh & blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places'
Eph 6:12

We fight on for you



tilapias of the world, show us the way...

When Christ did his multiplication trick of loaves and fishes, one could suggest the fishes were Tilapias, a very fast breeding species...


About a decade ago, farm-raised tilapia in Israel began to die mysteriously. The fish had ulcerated skin and internal hemorrhages; sometimes ponds full of fish were wiped out. In 2014, researchers identified the culprit: a previously unknown virus they named tilapia lake virus. Since then, the virus has been detected on farms in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. There's no cure and no vaccine, and the virus is likely spreading, threatening one the world's most important farmed fish. “It's a major global problem,” says John Benzie, a geneticist at WorldFish, an international publicly funded research center.

New findings, however, are providing hope that Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), the most common kind of farmed tilapia, could be bred to resist the virus. In a lucky break, in 2018 the virus struck a pond at WorldFish holding numerous tilapia produced for breeding experiments, and some of the fish proved completely resistant to the virus, Benzie and colleagues reported last month in Aquaculture. “It's good news for the tilapia sector,” says Morten Rye, a fish geneticist at Benchmark Genetics, a company that breeds tilapia and other aquacultural species.

Tilapia is the second most popular fish in aquaculture, after carp, with farmers in more than 120 countries now harvesting about 6 million tons per year. It's especially important in developing nations, many of which rely on a productive strain first developed in the 1990s at WorldFish.


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Erik Stokstad

Science  06 Mar 2020:

Vol. 367, Issue 6482, pp. 1064



Could we adapt the technique of selective breeding in regard to humans facing the coronavirus? Just kidding...




Coronavirus: Research, Commentary, and News

The Science journals are striving to provide the best and most timely research, analysis, and news coverage of COVID-19 and the coronavirus that causes it. All content is free to access.


Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Highlighted story: Would everyone wearing face masks help us slow the pandemic?

Forecasting death: Can politicians rely on computer models of the pandemic to shut down cities and countries?

WHO launches global megatrial of the four most promising coronavirus treatments

New blood tests for antibodies could show true scale of coronavirus pandemic

See more News from Science coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.



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The world is in a sick space...

by Finian Cunningham


The world is in a sick place. We’re not just talking about the escalating coronavirus pandemic, serious though that is with global deaths doubling over the past week. What is also sick is the way gestures of solidarity are being cynically twisted.

Take the arrival of Russian medical aid to the US this week. That was promptly arranged after US President Donald Trump asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call for help in coping with the coronavirus crisis. Even before the Antonov-124 cargo plane touched down at JFK airport certain US media outlets were labelling the gesture of solidarity as a “propaganda gimmick” by the Kremlin.

It was surmised that the Russian response to the US request for aid was “to push efforts for relief from sanctions” imposed by Washington. The cynical inference is that supposed Russian conniving and deceit knows no bounds in the black art of manipulation.

How about just simply acknowledging the evident fact that Russia is sending vital medical help to the US at a time of need motivating by no other sentiment than basic humanitarian compassion? The fact that Russia has been slapped with numerous US sanctions over recent years since the Ukraine crisis as well as stemming from bizarre claims of Moscow meddling in the 2016 US presidential election – only goes to show Russia’s capacity for magnanimity. Simple as that folks.

The same pathetic distortion was earlier voiced regarding Russian and Chinese aid to Italy and other European countries stricken with the deadly virus.

This week a European Union so-called media watchdog warned that Russia and China were engaged in a disinformation campaign to “undermine public trust in national health-care systems”.

There are also reports of claims by US intelligence and other officials that China is to blame for spreading the disease because it deliberately under-reported the outbreak that initially occurred in December, thereby allegedly leaving Western nations ill-prepared to withstand the pandemic.

Those claims are patently false. China had alerted the world to the seriousness of the disease as early as January when it was itself getting to grips with the uncertain public health crisis. Western nations had three months to learn from China’s experience, as well as from neighboring South Korea, where authorities clamped down on the epidemic. But Western governments for various reasons, no doubt primarily due to budgetary costs, chose instead to ignore the threat.

Trump and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in particular showed stupendous nonchalance bordering on callous indifference. Both of them dismissed the looming Covid-19 crisis as a “passing flu”. Only last week Trump was touting the US “getting back to business by Easter”.

What is abundantly evident is that the US, Britain and other Western states are not prepared to deal with the present crisis because of their rundown public health services. That structural problem is a matter of government neglect over many years to ensure that their citizens are adequately protected in a time of crisis. And that neglect stems from deliberate policy choices, such as showering the rich with tax breaks and squandering trillions on militarism, while relentlessly cutting funds for public services.

In short, the coronavirus crisis is a reflection of a deeper crisis in the capitalist system that prevails among Western states, as American professor Richard Wolff explains. Societal human needs are always sacrificed on the altar of elite private profit.

The fact that in the US and Britain there is a paltry number of test kits for checking the disease and a dearth of vital protective equipment for medical staff is a national disgrace due to inherent political and economic reasons. That is what needs to be focused on. That is where the public anger should be directed. Why have citizens been so abjectly betrayed by their governments whose first duty of care should be to protect them?

It is absurd and contemptible for certain media and pundits to try to distract from the central issue of bankrupt democracy by seeking to disparage Russia over humanitarian aid or scapegoat China for the systemic failures of Western governments.

One senses, however, that the ploys of Russophobia and Chinaphobia have become hopelessly threadbare in credibility. In Britain, for example, normally Conservative-supporting media are asking angry questions on their front pages about government dereliction. Are we to believe that such anger is the result of Russia and China “sowing disinformation to undermine public trust”?

No, it is simply a case of citizens realizing – slowly and painfully – that their governments and society organized on capitalist priorities is a shambles unworthy of the name “democracy”.

The sickness of smearing and blaming others instead of dealing honestly with inherent problems will only embolden the public even more to exact retribution from their culpable authorities. As millions of workers and their families reap poverty and illness, one senses too that the pitchforks are being taken down from the barn roofs.

Sickness in the West is going viral, but maybe some lasting benefit may come from this crisis in the end, if societies are overhauled for the greater good of citizens.


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the battle of the masks...

A Berlin senator who accused the US of “piracy” by diverting a shipment of protective masks bound for the German capital has backtracked, and now says that no American firm was involved in the mix-up. But the masks remain missing.

According to Berlin’s Senator for the Interior Andreas Geisel, a shipment of protective masks left a 3M factory in China last week and arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, from where they were due to be shipped to Berlin’s police force. However, the masks never arrived.

Geisel claimed on Friday that they had been rerouted by 3M to the US, after President Donald Trump threatened that the American firm would “have a big price to pay” if it continued to supply foreign customers over domestic clients.

Geisel, a Social Democrat, accused the US of engaging in “modern piracy,” and Berlin Mayor Michael Muller called the apparent mask swiping “inhumane and unacceptable.”

But cracks in Geisel’s story soon emerged. 3M denied diverting any shipment, and stated that it had never received an order from the German city. The White House too denied any involvement.

Geisel has walked back his accusation, claiming on Saturday that the masks had been ordered from a German firm, and not from 3M. “We are trying to work out the details” with the police department in Berlin, his office stated on Twitter.

The clarification came only after the American media picked up on the story, and Trump gloated on Sunday when the Washington Post edited its story on the incident, calling it “Corrected Fake News!”

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