The Daily Beast – As cases of the deadly coronavirus explode in Italy, South Korea and Iran, markets plunge and the WHO about what is not being reported at all.
The sharp jump in the number of coronavirus cases outside China has caused panic attacks around the world. The Dow plummeted nearly 1,000 points on Monday, countries are slamming borders shut and quarantining people based on racial profiling, and hand sanitizer and face masks are impossible to find.But authorities have something far more worrying on their minds. They are increasingly focused on clusters of coronavirus with untraceable, or at least so far untraced, beginnings.
That’s the case in Italy, where infections shot from four on Friday to 229 and climbing fast on Monday, including at least six fatalities. In the north of the country, where all of the current cases are concentrated at the moment, authorities still have not identified “patient zero,” the first carrier of the virus who sparked the outbreak.
That is also the case in South Korea, where infections rocketed past the 800 mark on Monday with seven confirmed deaths, and where the outbreak is closely tied to members of the Shincheonji religious sect in the city of Daegu. There, too, officials have not identified what they are calling the “index case,” or the first church member to introduce the virus to the rest of the flock.
What makes these clusters so worrying is that without identifying the primary source who set off the contagion in a cluster, authorities say they cannot effectively predict the trajectory of the spread or, more importantly, stop it. If they don’t know where it started, they don’t know how it got there, and theoretically at least the carrier could still be spreading the disease and could even set off another cluster.
In Italy, two major clusters are miles apart, and health officials have no idea if they are related. “We don’t have primary contagion,” Luca Zaia, head of the Veneto region, site of the smaller of two major clusters. Veneto also is home to Venice, which has just cancelled Carnival celebrations set for Tuesday night.
“We are faced with secondary infections in people who have not had relationships with citizens from infected areas or who have been to infected areas,” said Zaia.
An experimental antiviral vaccine called remdesivir was found to cure rhesus macaques infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
More than 2,400 have been infected with the strain of the virus, which the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimate has killed 910 humans.
Axios – About 150 prescription drugs — including antibiotics, generics and some branded drugs without alternatives — are at risk of shortage if the coronavirus outbreak in China worsens, according to two sources familiar with a list of at-risk drugs compiled by the Food and Drug Administration.
Why it matters: China is a huge supplier of the ingredients used to make drugs that are sold in the U.S. If the virus decreases China’s production capability, Americans who rely on the drugs made from these ingredients could be in trouble.
What they’re saying: The FDA declined to comment on the list, but said in a statement that it’s “keenly aware that the outbreak could impact the medical product supply chain,” and has devoted additional resources toward identifying potential vulnerabilities to U.S. medical products stemming specifically from the outbreak.
Time – In a promotional video featuring Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, as well as fans of different nationalities, the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games revealed on Feb. 17 the event’s official motto: United by Emotion.
Yet if there’s one emotion linking the world today, it might be fear. The COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of weakening. As of Feb. 19, the disease has infected more than 75,000, killed 2,014 and prompted over 50 countries and territories to close their borders to arrivals from China. The “devil” virus, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has called it, has already surpassed the combined death toll of SARS and MERS and lies on the cusp of becoming a pandemic that spreads around the globe. The next few weeks will determine whether containment efforts can prevent COVID-19 becoming the “black swan event” that Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has warned may derail the global economy.
Now, speculation is mounting about one of the year’s biggest events due to take place directly in the orbit of the outbreak—the 2020 Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo beginning July 24. Japan has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections after China, with 695 people testing positive for the virus, most of them on a cruise ship docked at the city of Yokohama. Yet the Olympics torch relay is due to begin next month and traverse to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures over 121 days, coinciding with its popular cherry blossom bloom.
The chill on visitor numbers across Asia already risk making the Games a subdued affair. Japan received 9.6 million visitors from China in 2019, accounting for a third of foreign tourist expenditure, but Chinese arrivals have virtually ceased since the outbreak. According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said on Feb.5 he was “extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games.”
Officials have since closed ranks as speculation about the Games has increased. Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori insisted Feb. 13, “we are not considering a cancelation or postponement of the Games—let me make that clear.” As he spoke, some 3,700 people remained quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner, anchored less than two miles from Yokohama Baseball stadium, a key Tokyo 2020 venue. (Those uninfected were scheduled for release beginning Feb. 19.)
Four days later, the city canceled the Tokyo Marathon due to take place on March 1 for all except elite runners. Dick Pound, a former Olympian swimmer and member of the International Olympic Committee, told TIME the organisation was monitoring the situation closely but said no one was talking about relocation or cancelation with five months still to go. “If there’s a legitimate pandemic that is potentially a lot more lethal than normal illnesses of flu, that’s when you need to start thinking about it. But not at this stage.”
The Sidney Morning Herald – The nation’s chief medical officer told Australians there is no need for face masks and to go about their normal business only hours before Victoria’s chief medical officer Doctor Brett Sutton said a coronavirus pandemic may be unavoidable.
Dr Sutton took to Twitter on Sunday and in a six-part message said a surge in cases was “inevitable.”
“It’s clear that with local transmission in several countries that a pandemic is very likely, if not inevitable. We are working rapidly on planning and surge with our health sector,” Dr Sutton said.
“Australia absolutely has world-class healthcare but even the best healthcare in the world is challenged during pandemics, so everyone will need to work together to ensure that should a pandemic eventuate, our services can function as effectively as possible.
“We’ve got some of the brightest minds in the world in our health services, laboratories, research sector and emergency management sector. I’m confident we’re well placed to meet the challenges ahead, whatever they might be. Hoping for the best, and planning for the worst.”
Guardian – Secret sources who had supplied information to the US government “disappeared” after they were put at risk of death or torture by WikiLeaks’s release of classified documents, the first day of Julian Assange’s extradition hearing has been told.
James Lewis QC opened the US case for the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder from the UK at Woolwich crown court. Lewis referred to a range of sources in states including Iraq, Afghanistan and China.
“The US is aware of sources, whose unredacted names and other identifying information was contained in classified documents published by WikiLeaks, who subsequently disappeared, although the US can’t prove at this point that their disappearance was the result of being outed by WikiLeaks,” he told the court in south-east London.
By disseminating material in an unredacted form, Lewis said Assange knowingly put human rights activists, dissidents, journalists and their families at risk of serious harm in states run by oppressive regimes.
Information Liberation – President Donald Trump on Wednesday appointed US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence, making him the first openly gay person to serve in a cabinet-level position
WSJ – Senior White House officials are discussing plans to pursue an overhaul of how the government surveils individuals in the U.S. suspected of posing a national security risk, spurred in part by President Trump’s grievances about an investigation of an adviser on his 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
The effort seeks to take advantage of the looming expiration of some spying powers next month, including portions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a Watergate-era law…
The Blaze – Some lawmakers in Suffolk County, New York, want so badly to stamp out tobacco smoking that they believe private citizens shouldn’t be allowed to smoke in their own private residences.
According to a Wednesday WCBS-TV report, those lawmakers are proposing to act on that.
WCBS’ Jennifer McLogan reported that while smoking is banned in a vast majority of public spaces, lawmakers are eyeing laws to make apartment buildings, condominiums, and multi-family homes smoke-free, too.
Leglislator Sam Gonzalez is sponsoring a bill that would effectively ban all smoking in such areas.
“It’s not going too far,” he insisted. “We’re heading in that direction anyway. We can’t smoke in restaurants. We can’t smoke in buildings. We can’t smoke inside the theaters. There are parks, there are beaches, that you can’t smoke in. We are headed there.”
Many citizens reportedly say that such legislation will be impossible to enforce, but Gonzalez refuted that idea.
“When I get the pushback from individuals that say, ‘No, you can’t stop me from smoking,’ I say, ‘Why not?'” Gonzalez insisted.
Gonzalez said that if the legislation is passed, offenders could be fined up to $1,000 and face possible prosecution. All reports of smoking inside residences, he added, will be complaint-driven.
The county is set to hold public hearings on the matter later this month.
Politico – Amy Berman Jackson accuses the defense of abusing the court’s docket with claims of bias.
The federal judge who sentenced President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone to more than three years in prison last week has decisively rejected a defense request that she drop off the case before ruling on a pending new trial motion challenging the conduct of a juror at his trial.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s sharply worded order also dressed down Stone’s defense team for using the court’s docket to air what she said were meritless claims that she is biased against him.
Information Liberation – Christian pastor Rick Wiles’ channel TruNews was permanently banned from Google-owned YouTube on Thursday for “hate speech.”
“It was only a matter of time, YouTube finally canceled our channel,” Wiles said on his show Thursday. “What was our crime? They accused us of hate speech.”
“Of course, there is no such thing as hate speech — it’s a crime that was invented by the political left several decades ago,” he said. “What it really means is free speech that somebody doesn’t like.”
Wiles said the “final nail in the coffin” according to YouTube was their February 12 interview with Israeli News Live’s Steve and Jana Ben-Nun titled, “Christianity Vs. Evangelical Zionism.”
Wiles said he got hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free bandwidth off YouTube and plans to conduct “business as usual” on their own website.
“Nothing they do to stop us will succeed, in fact, the more they try to destroy us the more God will bless us, the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church,” Wiles said.
The Hill – MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is under fire after comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders‘s (I-Vt.) decisive win in the Nevada caucuses to the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, with some on social media calling for the “Hardball” host to resign.
“I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940,” Matthews said during MSNBC’s live coverage of the caucuses on Saturday. “And the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says, ‘How can that be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.'”
Criticism quickly poured in on social media over Matthews using the analogy. Sanders is Jewish and most of his family members were killed in the Holocaust.
Axios – Pete Buttigieg’s campaign wrote a letter on Sunday asking the Nevada State Democratic Party to release early vote and in-person vote totals by precinct and address certain caucus errors identified by campaigns, The Nevada Independent reports.
The big picture: The campaign alleges that the process of integrating early votes on caucus day was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies,” and says it received more than 200 incident reports from precincts around the state.
What they’re saying: “Currently our data shows that this is a razor thin margin for second place in Nevada, and due to irregularities and a number of unresolved questions we have raised with the Nevada Democratic Party, it’s unclear what the final results will be,” Hari Sevugan, Buttigieg’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.
Fox – The Trump administration on Monday is implementing the long-awaited “public charge” rule that restricts green cards for immigrants deemed likely to be reliant on welfare — a rule furiously opposed by Democrats, but one that officials argue will protect taxpayers and align with American principles.
“It’s consistent with our law for over 140 years, it’s a core American value of self-sufficiency, and it’s just plain old logic — what country wants to bring welfare problems into its society? We don’t want to do that,” acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told Fox News ahead of the rule going into effect. “We’re happy to open our doors to people from all over the world but we expect them to stand on their own two feet.”
The Trump administration had published the rule in August, scheduled to go into effect in October, but it was blocked amid a series of court challenges. The Supreme Court lifted preliminary injunctions in January in a 5-4 vote. It ruled the same way on a separate injunction for the state of Illinois on Friday, allowing the rule to go into effect across the country on Monday.
“This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Friday.
Fox – The Supreme Court announced Monday that it has agreed to hear a case involving a Catholic social services agency that sued the city of Philadelphia for cutting ties with them over their refusal to place children in foster care with same-sex couples.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city, which put a freeze on the taxpayer funding for the Catholic Social Services foster care system. The agency claims this violated their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and free speech.
The organization, which court records show placed more than 250 children into foster care in 2017, is one of nearly two dozen private agencies contracted by the city for foster care placement. The city opted not to renew the contract over their policy, which also says that unmarried couples who live together may not foster children.
“I’m relieved to hear that the Supreme Court will weigh in on faith-based adoption and foster care,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the agency. “Over the last few years, agencies have been closing their doors across the country, and all the while children are pouring into the system. We are confident that the Court will realize that the best solution is the one that has worked in Philadelphia for a century — all hands on deck for foster kids.”
The Support Center for Child Advocates and Philadelphia Family Pride intervened in the lawsuit, under the representation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
WSJ – Case of Chinese researcher at Boston University renews fears Beijing is targeting American academia
When a researcher from a Chinese military academy applied to study with celebrated Boston University physicist Eugene Stanley, he said her affiliation didn’t raise red flags.
“I’m not interested at all in politics. I’m a scientist,” said Mr. Stanley, whose wide-ranging research has included using artificial intelligence to decode financial markets and applying statistical physics to prevent diseases.
Daily Sheeple – A Senate investigation of the FBI’s abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will start off with a focus on a mysterious source for Christopher Steele who disputed much of the former British spy’s infamous dossier, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday.
Graham said his first order of business during the probe will be to interview four FBI and Justice Department officials who interviewed the primary source for Steele’s dossier in January 2017, he said in an interview on “Sunday Futures with Maria Bartiromo.”
“The first thing I want to do is call the people who heard from Russian sub-source that this dossier is a bunch of bar talk and hearsay,” Graham said.
AP – Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday at his sexual assault trial, sealing his dizzying fall from powerful Hollywood studio boss to archvillain of the #MeToo movement.
He was found guilty of criminal sex act for assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006 and third-degree rape of a woman in 2013. The jury found him not guilty on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, that could have resulted in a life sentence.
The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and that’s-Hollywood excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works.
The conviction was seen as a long-overdue reckoning for Weinstein after years of whispers about his behavior turned into a torrent of accusations in 2017 that destroyed his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to encourage women to come forward and hold powerful men accountable for their sexual misconduct.
The jury of seven men and five women took five days to find him guilty.
Activist Post – In December doctors, scientists, engineers, and public advocates asked President Trump for a moratorium on 5G because of biological, environmental, and safety risks Also in December, the folks at Take Back Your Power published an investigative article about multiple deaths of 5G enabled “Smart” ambulance workers in the U.K. There have been other reports since 2018 of people and animals getting sick after 5G has been installed and turned on. Many cities and countries have taken action against 5G including banning it.
Multiple 5G lawsuits have been filed in the U.S.
LAST YEAR the telecom industry gave congressional testimony that they have NO scientific evidence that 5G is safe. Unfortunately, many American elected officials and government employees (see 1, 2) continue promoting it and forcing it on communities while others continue turning a blind eye to all the warnings, sickness, and public outcry. The first American 5G-enabled school was announced last month in Ohio. Now American Veterans are getting a 5G-enabled hospital in California.
The Veterans Affairs Department’s health care facility in Palo Alto, California, is poised to become the agency’s first 5G-enabled hospital—and one of the first in the world.
During a “State of the VA” speech in Washington Wednesday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkieunveiled the agency’s plans to tap into fifth-generation wireless technology to provide veterans with ultramodern medical care.
“VA will now have the first 5G hospital in America,” Wilkie said. “It should be operational this week.”
Fox – All three major indices plummeted at Monday’s opening bell as reported cases of the epidemic surged worldwide.
Wall Street plunged on Monday, after a spike in the number of reported cases of coronavirus fueled fears that the epidemic would have a serious impact on global economic growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 979 points at the opening bell, erasing all gains for the blue-chip index for the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell by 4 percent, with the S&P 500 dropping 3.2 percent.
Travel-related stocks continued to take heavy hits as the epidemic restricted movement and discouraged vacationers, with Delta Air Lines and American Airlines falling by 5 percent. Casino operators Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts each tumbled by around 4 percent
Sputnik – While the researcher’s findings may eventually help predict the emergence of such destructive phenomena as tsunamis, the new study’s coordinator warns that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
It appears that researchers at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences have come up with a concept that might help improve mankind’s capability to detect earthquakes early.
According to a GFZ news release published by EurekAlert!, this new algorithm is based on the fact that earthquakes emit the so called Prompt Elasto-Gravity Signals (PEGS), that are essentially “sudden changes in gravity caused by a shift in the earth’s internal mass”, which travel “at the speed of light” – much faster than seismic waves whose speed is only about 8 kilometers per second.
Therefore, if one was able to detect these signals, it would be possible to detect earthquakes before the arrival of the destructive tremors or tsunami waves.
“Since the gravity that can be measured locally depends on the mass distribution in the vicinity of the measuring point, every earthquake generates a small but immediate change in gravity”, scientific of the new study Rongjiang Wang explained.
The algorithm devised by Wang’s team allows calculating “PEGS signals with high accuracy and without much effort for the first time”, with Sebastian Heimann, data analyst at GFZ, revealing that they first applied said algorithm to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan where “measurements on the strength of the PEGS signal were already available”, and “the consistency was perfect”.
The researchers hope that, in the future, examining the changes in gravity caused by earthquakes might help determine whether these tremors may cause a tsunami, for example.
Fox – A strengthening storm system moving into the Upper Midwest is expected to bring a swath of heavy, wet snow across the region, setting the stage for widespread travel problems on Tuesday in places such as Chicago.
Activist Post – Students nationwide raised concerns about universities using biometric surveillance, or facial recognition, on students.
Campus Reform reported last month that at least three California campuses had implemented the software. At the time, the University of San Francisco, the University of Southern California, and Stanford University were confirmed to have systems in place.
Now, after concerns both nationwide and directly from its own campus, the University of California-Los Angeles has publicly stated that it will not move forward with plans to use such technology and has promised to ban the use of any such technology on campus.
“UCLA will not pursue the use of this technology. We have determined that the potential benefits are limited and vastly outweighed by the concerns of our campus community,” said UCLA administrative vice-chancellor Michael Beck, according to CNET.
“This type of invasive technology poses a profound threat to our basic liberties, civil rights, and academic freedom. Schools that are already using this technology are conducting unethical experiments on their students. Students and staff have a right to know if their administrations are planning to implement biometric surveillance on campus,” said Deputy Director of Fight for the Future Evan Greer.
Fight for the future is a nonprofit group that advocates for digital rights and is part of the nationwide Ban Facial Recognition campaign against the use of this technology by universities.
UCLA’s decision comes as other colleges around the country have implemented technologies used to track students’ physical location for the purpose of recording class attendance. The University of Missouri, Syracuse University, Auburn, Central Florida, Indiana have all begun using a smartphone app called SpotterEDU, which the company says is currently being used at 40 schools across the country.
Dr. Coldwell – Blueberries are a well-known superfood, and it looks like their health benefits know no bounds. Researchers at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. have learned new insights into how blueberries can affect certain health markers associated with diabetes and heart disease. This is on top of another study from Laval University in Canada that has linked blueberries to improvements in physical activity and weight loss.
Blueberries vs. heart disease, diabetes
Previous research has determined the positive effects of blueberries when it comes to diabetes and heart disease. However, not everyone receives the same health benefits when eating them. The team at the University of East Anglia, led by Professor Aedin Cassidy, aimed to understand why that is the case.
“Previous studies have indicated that people who regularly eat blueberries have a reduced risk of developing conditions including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Cassidy. “This may be because blueberries are high in naturally occurring compounds called anthocyanins, which are the flavonoids responsible for the red and blue colour in fruits.”
The big issue that the team looked to tackle however, is why people don’t respond the same way to the fruit. “In the case of blueberries and anthocyanins, we think that differences in the way that people process and metabolise these foods may hold the key to understanding why they experience different health effects,” explained Cassidy.
Dr. Group – Korean ginseng root (Panax ginseng) — also known as Asian ginseng or Chinese ginseng — is a traditional medicinal herb, used by Asian cultures for more than 2,000 years.
Many types of ginseng exist, but not all are “true ginsengs” in the Panax genus. Siberian Ginseng, Indian Ginseng or Ashwagandha, and Peruvian Ginseng or Maca, while unrelated to Korean ginseng, are each powerful adaptogens, helping the body adapt to stress. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is related to Korean ginseng, although it has more cooling properties.
7 Benefits of Korean Ginseng
Korean ginseng is potent, affecting systems from your brain and immune system to your sex drive and sleep patterns. Below are its top seven benefits.
1. Boosts Mental Performance
2. Boosts Sex Drive & Fertility
3. Natural Immune Booster
4. Helps Relieve Stress
5. Reduces Fatigue & Improves Sleep
6. Promotes Healthy Skin
7. Promotes a Normal Response to Inflammation
Dr. Coldwell – Poor people in developing countries are far more likely to suffer from exposure to pesticides classified as having high hazard to human health or the environment, according to new data that Unearthed analyzed.
The analysis shows that the world’s top five pesticide makers are making billions, accounting for more than 36 percent of their income, from chemicals that are proven to hazards to humans and the environment and are contributing to the precipitous demise of bee populations, as Unearthed reported.
The researchers found that the sale of these highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), disproportionately occurred in poorer nations, which often have fewer regulations than industrialized nations, according to The Guardian. In India, for example, sales of HHPs were nearly 60 percent, while in the UK it was just 11 percent.
The report from the investigative team at Unearthed focused on the practices of Bayer, BASF, Corteva (formerly Dow and DuPont), FMC and Syngenta, which are continuing to sell HHPs like neonicotinoids and glufosinate that have been banned in other parts of the world, according to the produce industry publication Fresh Produce Journal.
Unearthed dove into data collected by Phillips McDougall, the leading agribusiness analysts, from buyer surveys that concentrated on the best sellers in the top 43 pesticide buying countries, as The Guardian reported.
While regulations have stopped the sale of certain pesticides in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, it has hardly slowed down chemical companies, which sold $4.8 billion worth of products containing HHPs in 2018, as The Guardian reported. Bayer called the analysis “misleading” but did not offer proof of that assessment.
Since the investigation focused on just 43 countries, it covered less than half of the companies’ global sales. That suggests that the companies actually made billions more from pesticides that regulatory agencies have said pose hazards like acute poisoning or chronic illness in people, or high toxicity to bees and other wildlife, according to Unearthed.
The investigation found that pesticide manufacturers sold the majority of its highly hazardous pesticide in low- and middle-income countries like Brazil and India, where experts say the risks posed by using these chemicals are greatest, according to Unearthed. The biggest market for HHPs were for corn and soya crops.
About a quarter of sales were from products known to be human carcinogens or dangerous to reproductive health. Another 10 percent were toxic to bees. An additional 4 percent of chemicals sold are acutely toxic to humans. Every year, nearly 200,000 suicides are linked to pesticide poisoning, almost entirely in developing countries, according to The Guardian.
“This investigation shows that there is a huge disconnect between what those companies are saying in the international policy arena and what they are actually doing,” Meriel Watts, a senior science and policy advisor to the Pesticide Action Network, said to Unearthed