|Wednesday 19th of February 2020
Study estimates "86% of all infections were undocumented prior to Wuhan travel shutdown (Jan 23rd)" H/T @anilvohra69 #COVID19
Law & Politics
Study estimates “86% of all infections were undocumented prior to
Wuhan travel shutdown (Jan 23rd)”, which “explain the rapid geographic
spread of COVID-19 and indicate containment of the virus will be
Results We estimate 86% of all infections were undocumented (95% CI:
[82%-90%]) prior to the Wuhan travel shutdown (January 23, 2020). Per
person, these undocumented infections were 52% as contagious as
documented infections ([44%-69%]) and were the source of infection for
two-thirds of documented cases. Our estimate of the reproductive
number (2.23; [1.77-3.00]) aligns with earlier findings; however,
after travel restrictions and control measures were imposed this
number falls considerably. Conclusions A majority of COVID-19
infections were undocumented prior to implementation of control
measures on January 23, and these undocumented infections
substantially contributed to virus transmission. These findings
explain the rapid geographic spread of COVID-19 and indicate
containment of this virus will be particularly challenging.
China's #Coronavirus Figures Don't Add Up. 'This Never Happens With Real Data.' @barronsonline
Law & Politics
A statistical analysis of China’s coronavirus casualty data shows a
near-perfect prediction model that data analysts say isn’t likely to
naturally occur, casting doubt over the reliability of the numbers
being reported to the World Health Organization.
In terms of the virus data, the number of cumulative deaths reported
is described by a simple mathematical formula to a very high accuracy,
according to a quantitative-finance specialist who ran a regression of
the data for Barron’s. A near-perfect 99.99% of variance is explained
by the equation, this person said.
Put in an investing context, that variance, or so-called r-squared
value, would mean that an investor could predict tomorrow’s stock
price with almost perfect accuracy.
In this case, the high r-squared means there is essentially zero
unexpected variability in reported cases day after day.
We ran it by Melody Goodman, associate professor of biostatistics at
New York University’s School of Global Public Health.
“I have never in my years seen an r-squared of 0.99,” Goodman says.
“As a statistician, it makes me question the data.”
For context, Goodman says a “really good” r-squared, in terms of
public health data, would be a 0.7.
“Anything like 0.99,” she said, “would make me think that someone is
simulating data. It would mean you already know what is going to
Hubei Doctors Warn Of Even-Deadlier Coronavirus Reinfection Causing Sudden Heart Attacks
Law & Politics
"It’s highly possible to get infected a second time. A few people
recovered from the first time by their own immune system, but the meds
they use are damaging their heart tissue, and when they get it the
second time, the antibody doesn’t help but makes it worse, and they
die a sudden death from heart failure," reads a message forwarded to
Taiwan News from a relative of one of the doctors living in the United
The source also said the virus has “outsmarted all of us,” as it can
hide symptoms for up to 24 days. This assertion has been made
independently elsewhere, with Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan
(鍾南山) saying the average incubation period is three days, but it can
take as little as one day and up to 24 days to develop symptoms.
Also, the source said that false negative tests for the virus are
fairly common. “It can fool the test kit – there were cases that they
found, the CT scan shows both lungs are fully infected but the test
came back negative four times. The fifth test came back positive.”
Notably, one of the ways coronaviruses cripple the immune system is
via an HIV-like attachment to white blood cells, which triggers a
'cytokine storm' - a term popularized during the avian H5N1 influenza
outbreak - in which an uncontrolled release of inflammatory
'cytokines' target various organs, often leading to failure and in
many cases death.
The cytokine storm is best exemplified by severe lung infections, in
which local inflammation spills over into the systemic circulation,
producing systemic sepsis, as defined by persistent hypotension,
hyper- or hypothermia, leukocytosis or leukopenia, and often
In addition to lung infections, the cytokine storm is a consequence of
severe infections in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract,
central nervous system, skin, joint spaces, and other sites.
(Tisoncik, et. al, Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm)(2012)
According to the 2012 study, "Cytokine storms are associated with a
wide variety of infectious and noninfectious diseases and have even
been the unfortunate consequence of attempts at therapeutic
How do coronaviruses enter the body?
With SARS (sudden acute respiratory syndrome), another coronavirus,
researchers discovered that one of the ways the disease attaches
itself is through an enzyme known as ACE2, a 'functional receptor'
produced in several organs (oral and nasal mucosa, nasopharynx, lung,
stomach, small intestine, colon, skin, lymph nodes, thymus, bone
marrow, spleen, liver, kidney, and brain).
ACE2 is also "abundantly present in humans in the epithelia of the
lung and small intestine, which might provide possible routes of entry
for the SARS-CoV," while it was also observed "in arterial and venous
endothelial cells and arterial smooth muscle cells" - which would
include the heart.
This has led some to speculate that Asians, who have higher
concentrations of ACE2 (per the 1000 genome project) may be affected
to a greater degree than those of European ancestry, who produce the
least of it - and have largely been the asymptomatic 'super spreaders'
such as Diamond Princess coronavirus victim Rebecca Frasure.
And so while more research on COVID-19 is urgently needed - we know
that coronavirus can target ACE2 receptors, which are found in the
And we have seen evidence of both sudden collapses and neurological
damage from footage pouring out of Wuhan, China.
If the virus can reinfect patients and cause cytokine storms and
sudden death - possibly exacerbated by therapeutic intervention -
treating the coronavirus which CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield says
will become widespread throughout the United States 'this year or
next,' it is vitally important to understand exactly how COVID-19
works, and how to treat it.
That would require cooperation from China and a CDC team on the ground
in the epicenter. For some unknown reason, however, China still
refuses to grant US scientists access to ground zero.
The Karakax List: Dissecting the Anatomy of Beijing's Internment Drive in Xinjiang Journal of Political Risk @adrianzenz
Law & Politics
the Karakax List lays bare the ideological and administrative
micromechanics of a system of targeted cultural genocide that arguably
rivals any similar attempt in the history of humanity. Driven by a
deeply religio-phobic worldview, Beijing has embarked on a project
that, ideologically, isn’t far from a medieval witch-hunt, yet is
being executed with administrative perfectionism and iron discipline.
Being distrustful of the true intentions of its minority citizens, the
state has established a system of governance that fully substitutes
trust with control. That, however, is also set to become its greatest
long-term liability. Xinjiang’s mechanisms of governance are both
labor-intensive and predicated upon highly unequal power structures
that often run along and increase ethnic fault lines. The long-term
ramifications of this arrangement for social stability and ethnic
relations are impossible to predict.
@LindseyGrahamSC tells Defense Secretary @EsperDoD he could 'make your life hell' in battle over @realDonaldTrump Africa policy @NBCNews
MUNICH — Sen. Lindsey Graham and a bipartisan group of lawmakers,
uniting against a Trump administration idea to withdraw U.S. troops
from part of Africa, pushed back during a fiery exchange with Defense
Secretary Mark Esper here over the weekend, according to four people
present at or familiar with the meeting.
Senators and members of the House met with Esper on the margins of the
Munich Security Conference. Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Chris Coons,
D-Del., who are members of the Foreign Relations Committee, led the
charge, said the four people, telling Esper that Congress would not
support a U.S. troop withdrawal from the Sahel region in Africa and
laying out the reasons to keep the troop presence there.
At one point, Graham warned Esper that there would be consequences if
the Pentagon withdrew all troops from the region. Graham told Esper
that he could "make your life hell," according to the four people.
One member present said Graham, Coons and several other lawmakers laid
out their case "forcefully."
Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah said the quote attributed to
Graham was false. "I was in the room and that was never said," said
"The secretary had a productive conversation with bipartisan,
bicameral members of Congress on the future of U.S. force presence in
An aide to Graham said a person in the room does not recall the
senator using those words but said there was "bipartisan agreement and
support in the meeting in support of the mission."
While Graham has met often with President Donald Trump and was a key
supporter during his impeachment, he has repeatedly criticized Trump
administration initiatives to remove U.S. troops from crisis zones.
Last year, NBC News reported that during a meeting on the sidelines of
the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Graham had a "tense" and "heated"
exchange with Esper's predecessor, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick
Shanahan, over Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria.
Officials said that at the 2019 meeting, Graham unleashed expletives
at Shanahan and told Shanahan that he should consider him "an
The Sahel region is a huge expanse of western and north-central Africa
just south of the Sahara Desert that extends from the Atlantic coast
of Senegal across the continent to the Red Sea coast of Eritrea.
It includes several nations plagued by international terrorist groups,
including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.
More than a dozen terrorist groups with links to the Islamic State
group or al Qaeda, like Boko Haram and al Shabaab, are operating in
the Sahel and other parts of Africa.
While the U.S. military presence in the region fluctuates, about 1,000
American troops are usually deployed in the Sahel, some at a new drone
base near Agadez, Niger.
The troops train local forces, provide aerial refueling to French
military planes and collect and share intelligence.
Among the reasons to keep U.S. troops there, the members of Congress
argued over the weekend, is the small number of troops and overall low
cost of the deployments.
Graham told Esper that he should be able to find the roughly $50
million to fund the deployments in the more than $700 billion overall
defense budget for fiscal year 2020, according to the people with
knowledge of the exchange.
Several members told Esper that leaving would abandon a key U.S. ally,
France, whose military has been leading the fight against terrorists
in the region while the U.S. acts in a support role.
"Isn't this the exact model the Trump administration is encouraging?
Another nation leads while the U.S. supports?" a person present at the
meeting asked afterward. "Does the U.S. want to leave a place where
it's actually working?"
Trump suddenly decided to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria several
months ago, leaving the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces behind to
fight ISIS and the Syrian regime.
Trump reversed the decision soon afterward and kept a smaller U.S.
military force in Syria in a more condensed area.
The members told Esper that both French and African partners are
worried that the U.S. could suddenly abandon them, as well.
Later at the Munich conference, after the exchange with members of
Congress, Esper praised the French for their work in the Sahel and
said he had spoken with his French counterpart about the possibility
of a change in U.S. support in Africa.
"I give the French credit for what they've done in Africa,
particularly in the Sahel. They've been the real leaders. They've been
reaching out aggressively to get more European partners on board with
mixed success, and I fully support that effort," Esper said.
Trump campaigned on bringing U.S. troops home, and his defense
secretary has supported removing some troops from Africa, South
America, the Middle East and Europe to dedicate more forces to the
Asia Pacific region to counter a growing China.
Esper said at the Reagan National Defense Forum in December that he
was looking at "all of these places where I can free up troops, where
I could either bring them home to allow them to rest and refit and
retrain or then reallocate them to Indo-Pacific to compete with the
Chinese, to reassure our allies, to conduct exercises and training."
Esper began a review to look at the U.S. military combatant commands
all over the world to determine whether resources were distributed to
best support the National Defense Strategy, which says Russia and
China are the biggest strategic competitors to the U.S.
The review is widely expected to result in a cut in the number of U.S.
troops in Africa to counter China and Russia elsewhere, with emphasis
on sending more U.S. forces to the Asia Pacific region.
After initially telling the lawmakers in Munich that U.S. troops could
be withdrawn to comply with the National Defense Strategy priorities,
by the end of the meeting Esper reassured the group that he would
factor their concerns into the decision-making process and would not
make any sudden decisions.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has heard about
congressional opposition to a drawdown.
Last month, Graham and Coons co-authored a letter urging Trump not to
withdraw U.S. troops from Africa. The U.S. has about 7,000 troops in
Africa, more than 5,000 of them based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
"Any withdrawal or reduction would likely result in a surge in violent
extremist attacks on the continent," the letter warned. "A withdrawal
would also abandon our partners and allies in the region."
In December, Trump signed into law legislation co-authored by Coons
and Graham to help stabilize fragile regions and conflict-affected
In their letter to Trump last month, the senators said the Sahel and
the Horn of Africa were "ripe for U.S. engagement," as laid out in the
The debate over troops in Africa comes as Trump prepares to face
voters in November having fallen short of his promises to end wars and
bring troops home.
Trump recently has increased the number of U.S. troops in the Middle
East, for instance, by more than he has brought home.
Many of the new deployments have been in response to increased tension
with Iran. But the president has said publicly and privately to aides
that he's eager to draw down the number of troops overseas.
As a candidate, Trump promised to end what he called America's
"endless" wars. As president. he hasn't ended any of the wars the U.S.
was waging when he took office.
He is within reach of a peace deal with the Taliban that aims to wind
down the war in Afghanistan, but there is no final agreement yet.
Last week, Trump said in an interview with Geraldo Rivera that he
"would like to bring our troops back home."
"It's time to come home," Trump said when asked about a possible deal
with the Taliban.
28-OCT-2019 :: From Russia with Love
But, he said, Russia was going to be a different kind of superpower,
one that does not engage in “pressure, in- timidation and blackmail”
to “exploit” sovereign African governments.
“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented. We do not ally
with someone against someone else, and we strongly oppose any
geopolitical games involving Africa.”
"I'm confident that we can get the right force posture, the right risk for the United States, and still deliver on peace and security that is important for the region." @BBGAfrica
African officials have voiced concerns about the possibility that the
U.S. will pull out its troops even as militants gain ground in the
Sahel region and the al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab group stages deadly
attacks in Somalia and Kenya.
Among the most vocal leaders urging the U.S. to stay has been
Senegal’s President Macky Sall, whom Pompeo met Feb. 16.
In a briefing alongside Pompeo that day, Senegal’s Foreign Minister
Amadou Ba said the two sides have “talked about the need to be present
in the area.”
The U.S. has about 6,000 troops in Africa, according to a defense
official, including those guarding diplomatic facilities. The biggest
contingent is based at a U.S. facility in Djibouti.
In late January, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. wouldn’t
withdraw all its troops from Africa but acknowledged a review is under
way to account for a new strategy that makes countering Russia and
China the priority.
General Stephen Townsend, head of U.S. Africa Command, last month
testified that the U.S. would have to coordinate with the French and
other European allies on any change in the American troop posture.
He said that the terrorist threat in Africa “is very serious” and “on
Pompeo’s reassurances in the face of expected cuts constituted one of
a few dissonant notes during his trip to Africa, the first by such a
senior Cabinet-level official since Rex Tillerson criss-crossed the
continent in early 2018 days before he was fired.
That time, Tillerson had to do cleanup after reports circulated that
President Donald Trump had denigrated African nations.
This time, Pompeo traveled to Africa shortly after the administration
added four African countries -- Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea
-- to a list of countries subject to severe visa restrictions, in a
move that the Nigerian foreign minister said “blindsided” his
Also last week, the administration proposed a budget that would slash
the State Department’s funding by more than 20%, with heavy cuts to
disaster relief and bilateral aid.
Pompeo defended the travel restrictions during a stop in Angola,
arguing it was a security matter that “in no way conflicts with
America’s deep desire to increase our contact.”
And in Ethiopia, he announced $8 million in aid to address fallout
from massive locust swarms that have devastated crops.
Instead, Pompeo has focused on boosting the private sector and ties
between American and African businesses.
Pompeo is seeking to contrast that approach to the Chinese model in
which countries go deep into debt to finance Chinese infrastructure
projects such as roads and stadiums.
That theme has given his visit to the three African countries a
different flavor than his other trips abroad.
Pompeo’s stops in Senegal and Angola included meetings with
entrepreneurs and business leaders, and he’s repeatedly warned against
the perils of corruption and the power of economic cooperation to fuel
As a sign of that commitment, Jim Richardson, the State Department’s
director for foreign assistance, has accompanied Pompeo on each of his
Pompeo chose the three countries he’s visited on this trip to lend
support for what the State Department calls dynamic leaders who are
reliable partners committed to battling corruption and reforming their
On Wednesday, he’ll give a speech to the African Union that’s expected
to emphasize those themes.
Zimbabwe's Venezuela-Like Currency Extends Its Decline @markets
The Zimbabwe dollar has weakened more than 20% this year on the black
market to 28.7 per U.S. dollar, according to marketwatch.co.zw, a
local website. The official exchange rate is almost 60% stronger at
Policy makers held the southern African nation’s key rate at 35% on
Monday in an effort to rein in inflation that was probably above 500%
at the end of 2019. Among countries tracked by Bloomberg, only
Argentina has a higher base rate, at 44%.
The plunge in the currency underscores the shortage of foreign
exchange in Zimbabwe, whose gross domestic product contracted more
than 6% last year, leaving half the population in need of food aid.
The chaos has spread to the stock market. The main equity index in
Harare, the capital, has risen 69% since the end of 2019 as
Zimbabweans, who are restricted from moving money abroad due to
capital controls, rush to protect their savings from inflation.
Not even in Venezuela, where equities are also used to hedge against
soaring prices and a currency collapse, have stocks climbed that much.
Central bank Governor John Mangudya said Monday that inflation will
likely decelerate to 50% by the end of 2020, which would give the
currency some relief.
Zimbabwe reintroduced its local dollar in early 2019 at an initial
rate of 2.5 against the U.S. currency.
The country has suffered from a dearth of foreign exchange for years
and the crisis has only worsened since former President Robert Mugabe,
under whom the economy began its decline, was forced out of power in
Locust Swarms Ravaging East Africa Are the Size of Cities @business @herbling & @Habesh_
Mary Muthoni runs through her farm in Mathyakani, in southeast Kenya,
shaking a bottle filled with pebbles at the clouds of locusts that
swarmed into her village the night before.
That morning, the whole community rose early to try chasing off the
insects, banging on pots and pans, blowing whistles and honking
“We first woke up and prayed. We prayed that the Lord shut the mouths
of the locusts,” Muthoni said.
It’s a scene that’s playing out across East Africa as swarms of desert
locusts spread through the region, destroying crops and pastures at a
The United Nations has warned of an unprecedented threat to food
security in a part of the world where millions already face hunger.
And the situation will probably get worse before it gets better.
Experts say the outbreak—the worst in recent memory—is caused by an
increased number of cyclones. If the weather trends continue, there
may be more to come.
“There is a link between climate change and the unprecedented locust
crisis plaguing Ethiopia and East Africa,” UN Secretary General
Antonio Guterres said.
“Warmer seas mean more cyclones generating the perfect breeding ground
for locusts. Today the swarms are as big as major cities and it is
getting worse by the day.”
The number of locusts in East Africa could expand 500 times by June,
the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization said last month.
The region gets heavy seasonal rains—and great locust-breeding and
swarming conditions—from March through May. Last year, the
October-to-December rainy season was among the wettest in 40 years,
with cumulative rainfall ranging from 120% to 400% of normal.
“Locust outbreaks are expected to become more frequent and severe
under climate change,” said Rick Overson, a research coordinator at
the Global Locust Initiative at Arizona State University.
“Locusts are quite adept at responding rapidly and capitalizing on
extreme rainfall events.”
Insect dynamics have also shifted with climate change, according to
Baldwyn Torto, principal scientist at the International Centre of
Insect Physiology and Ecology.
The desert locust may be the most dangerous yet.
“Just a single locust, if it comes into a farmer’s field in the
morning, by midday it has eaten the entire field,” said FAO locust
forecasting expert Keith Cressman.
“That one field represents the entire livelihood of that farmer.”
The current outbreak started in the areas around the Red Sea, a key
winter breeding area for desert locusts, and spread through the Horn
of Africa and into East Africa.
As locusts devour crops in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the insects
are breeding in Djibouti, Eritrea and Sudan—all areas that are prone
to drought and food shortages.
Swarms have now arrived in Uganda, and locusts have also crossed into
Tanzania. South Sudan is next on the watch list.
“The current rainfall and vegetation index have been unusual, all the
right recipe to provide the moisture conditions for locust eggs buried
in the soil for decades to mass hatch into hoppers to feed and rapidly
develop on the lush vegetation,” he said.
Locusts are part of a group of insects commonly called grasshoppers,
but have the ability to change their behavior and can migrate over
Desert locusts can have about 40 million to 80 million locust adults
in each square kilometer of a swarm and travel up to 150 kilometers a
day, according to the FAO.
There is an exponential increase in locust numbers with every new
generation of breeding and a swarm the size of one square kilometer,
containing about 40 million locusts, eats the same amount of food in
one day as about 35,000 people.
The locust infestation is the worst in Kenya in 70 years, according to
the FAO. In Ethiopia and Somalia, it’s been 25 years since an outbreak
of this severity.
Desert locusts will eat most plants they find and can destroy 80% to
100% of crops in areas where they invade, said Overson.
“This damage has the most impact on food security in areas with high
numbers of subsistence farmers,” he said.
To control the outbreak, the FAO is working with governments and other
groups to spray swarms with pesticides.
The FAO asked for $76 million to control the locusts’ spread, but had
only received about $20 million by Feb. 10.
“We need to act quickly,” said UN Under Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock.
“We do have a chance to nip this problem in the bud, but that’s not
what we’re doing at the moment. We’re running out of time.”
“Politics, climate and biology coinciding has allowed the formation of
bigger swarms,” said Bill Hansson, a professor at the Max Planck
Institute of Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany.
There’s also concern that the efforts to control the outbreak may have
“We should be careful with spraying because it may kill other insects
which are very useful in the ecosystem, such as bees for pollination,”
“Farmers’ traditional coping methods are ineffective,” he said. “They
have resorted to indiscriminate spraying of pesticides to address the
problem, creating more problems.”
In Ethiopia, people are burning tires and trash, hoping the smoke will
drive the locusts away. Farmers in traditional white scarves whistle
and shout at the pests, while cars in urban areas honk at the swarms
as the government intensifies aerial control.
Back in southeast Kenya, 45-year-old Esther Kyalo’s crop of cowpeas
was ravaged by locusts after the swarm arrived in late January. This
was her second planting after bad weather destroyed the first harvest.
“We planted in April but it all dried up,” said the mother of two. “We
may be staring at hunger now.”
09-DEC-2019 :: Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth
Revelation 6:12-13 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and
behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as
sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky
fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken
by a gale.
European Union finance ministers added Panama, the Seychelles, the Cayman Islands and Palau to the bloc's blacklist of tax havens
European Union finance ministers added Panama, the Seychelles, the
Cayman Islands and Palau to the bloc’s blacklist of tax havens, while
giving more time to Turkey to avoid listing despite shortfalls, an EU
document said on Tuesday.
The list, which was set up in 2017 after revelations of widespread tax
evasion and avoidance schemes used by firms and wealthy individuals to
reduce their tax bills, includes now 12 jurisdictions.
The other listed are: Fiji, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu
and the three U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S.
Public debt up Sh240bn in six months to December Daily Nation
Treasury contracted Sh156.16 billion in new borrowing from local
investors between July and December 2019, more than double the amount
raised in a similar period a year earlier.
In total, the growth in public debt (domestic plus external debt) in
the six-month period stood at Sh239.85 billion, the highest since
Sh326.71 billion in the same period of 2015.
The debt stood at Sh6.05 trillion at the end of the year, made up of
Sh2.94 trillion in domestic and Sh3.11 trillion in foreign debt.
During the six-month period under review, the Government was under
pressure to honour maturing debt with an option to roll over some of
them, while revenue significantly fell short of target by Sh138.7