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Today’s News: March 24, 2020

World News

India Is Now Hand Stamping People Who Are Suspected To Have COVID-19 Infections

Activist Post – After an all-day curfew was observed by the entire nation Sunday, millions of Indians are remaining on lockdown because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

And now, as if the coronavirus containment scenes from around the world weren’t dystopian enough, the disturbing imagery continues in India, where those suspected of having the coronavirus are now being given hand stamps, according to Reuters.

This prompted the government to institute hand stamping, using indelible ink. The stamps are being used on people arriving at airports in the western state of Maharashtra and southern Karnataka state. The stamps show the date a person must remain under home quarantine and say “proud to protect” on them.

Supreme Court lawyer N S Nappinai said: “When I first heard of the stamping in Mumbai, I thought it was fake news. I understand the concern but where does one draw the line? Should fundamental rights be suspended in an emergency like this?”

The Indian government is also using citizen and reservation data from airlines to track people.

Archana Valzade, under secretary in Maharashtra’s health department said:

We found people who were stamped and were traveling. They had signed a self-declaration that they will not travel because they could be carriers of coronavirus. It is their duty as well to stop the infection. Stamping is essential and very useful to reduce the spread.

Amar Fettle, who is heading the coronavirus control team in Kerala said:

People have been jumping quarantine and it has been a challenge to track them. But we have formed hundreds of squads, including policemen to track and ensure people follow the norms.

Hospital physician Armida Fernandez concluded:

As a doctor who has worked in the public health service and in the community, I find people are not realizing the seriousness of the pandemic. Knowing the situation of public health in India and that we are dealing with 1.3 billion people … I am for the steps the government is taking.

China to lift lockdown in most of virus-hit Hubei province

AP – Chinese authorities said Tuesday they will end a two-month lockdown of most of coronavirus-hit Hubei province at midnight, as domestic cases of what has become a global pandemic subside.

People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said, easing restrictions on movement that were unprecedented in scale. The city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in December, is to remain locked down until April 8.

China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan beginning Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded that to most of the province in succeeding days. Trains and flights were canceled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.

Mexico’s President Rules Out Company Bailouts or Requesting IMF Line

Bloomberg – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the nation’s companies shouldn’t expect bailouts or tax amnesties and that Mexico won’t tap a standing credit line with the International Monetary Fund even as other economies take extraordinary measures to fight a slump in activity.

“No more bailouts in the style of the neoliberal period, which were given to banks, to large companies. No, don’t even think that there will be tax forgiveness or other mechanisms that were used before,” Lopez Obrador said Monday in his morning news conference.

Economists are quickly slashing their outlooks for Mexico and now expect Latin America’s second-largest economy to contract 3% this year due to the impact of coronavirus on the local economy and a likely recession in the U.S., Mexico’s top trading partner.

Mexican government health officials say the country is not yet seeing widespread community transmission and authorities have so far avoided some of the most drastic measures taken by other nations on fear of halting economic activity.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

WHO: USA has potential of becoming epicenter.

Reuters – The United States has the potential to become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic due to a “very large acceleration” in infections there, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The highly contagious respiratory virus has infected more than 42,000 people in the United States, prompting more governors to join states ordering Americans to stay at home.

Over the past 24 hours, 85 percent of new cases worldwide were from Europe and the United States, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters. Of those, 40 percent were from the United States.

Asked whether the United States could become the new epicenter, she said: “We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential. We cannot say that is the case yet but it does have that potential.”

“…They (the United States) have a very large outbreak and an outbreak that is increasing in intensity,” Harris added.

Over 13,000 Americans seek help to return to U.S. as virus spreads

Reuters – Some 13,500 U.S. citizens abroad are seeking State Department help to return home because of the coronavirus, a U.S. official said on Monday, urging Americans who are uncomfortable remaining overseas to “get out now” while commercial flights are still available.

The State Department this week will bring back about 1,600 Americans abroad on about 16 flights, the senior U.S. official told reporters, saying about 5,700 people have already come back, many through flights arranged by the agency.

The vast majority of an estimated 10 million U.S. citizens abroad live there and do not wish to return, the official said, but stressed Americans should weigh whether they are comfortable remaining overseas indefinitely.

“If you are somewhere where you think ‘no, this is not where I would want to be over the long haul,’ take advantage of existing commercial opportunities and get out now,” he said.

U.S. Domestic Passenger Flights Could Virtually Shut Down, Voluntarily or by Government Order

As airlines struggle to keep aircraft flying with minimal passengers, various options are being considered

WSJ – Major U.S. airlines are drafting plans for a potential voluntary shutdown of virtually all passenger flights across the U.S., according to industry and federal officials, as government agencies also consider ordering such a move and the nation’s air-traffic control system continues to be ravaged by the coronavirus contagion.

Governors Clamp Down as Trump Considers Easing Virus Plans

Bloomberg – Governors and mayors across the U.S. issued orders to shut down normal human contact and commercial life even as the Trump administration debates dialing back guidances that officials fear is smothering the economy.

On Monday, Indiana, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Massachusetts ordered residents to stay at home while Virginia and Maryland placed restrictions on non-essential movement. South Carolina banned gatherings of more than two people. The actions by the governors — Democrats and Republicans alike — show that even if President Donald Trump relaxes the recommendations, states won’t necessarily follow.

“It’s the biggest event of any living person in the United States today,” West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said about the pandemic.

Trump’s administration has weighed loosening “social distancing” guidelines and encouraging more Americans to get back to work. Convention cancellations, school closures, drops in bus and rail ridership and bans on dining-in at restaurants are raising the chances the U.S. is headed into or is already in recession. Unemployment claims are surging.

California Police To Use Chinese-Made Drones To Monitor Citizens During COVID-19 Lockdown

Infowars – The Chula Vista Police Department in southern California has announced it’s doubling its fleet of drones, purchasing two Chinese-made drones equipped with cameras and loudspeakers for possible use during the COVID-19 lockdown.

As the state’s governor recently declared a “stay at home” order and is considering announcing Martial Law, police departments are preparing for potential unrest.

“We have not traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved,” said Chula Vista Police Capt. Vern Sallee.

Sallee added, “We have not traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved.”

“The outbreak has changed my view of expanding the program as rapidly as I can,” Sallee explained.

The police captain also explained how the flying devices could be used to conduct operations that could put officers in harm’s way.

For example, Sallee said homeless people could be contacted via the drone’s microphone, noting, “We need to tell them we actually have resources for them — they are vulnerable right now. It might be impractical or unsafe for our officers to be put into those areas.”

The drones were purchased from a Chinese company called DJI, the world’s largest civilian drone manufacturer.

Chaos, inconsistency mark launch of drive-thru virus testing

AP – Drive-thru sites have been opening around the United States to make it quicker and safer to test people for the new coronavirus. But much like the rest of the U.S. response to the pandemic, the system has been marked by inconsistencies, delays, and shortages. Many people who have symptoms and a doctor’s order have waited hours or days for a test.

More than a week after President Donald Trump promised that states and retail stores such as Walmart and CVS would open drive-thru test centers, few sites are up and running, and they’re not yet open to the general public. Some states are leaving it to the private sector to open test locations; others are coordinating the effort through state health departments.

Patients have complained that they had to jump through cumbersome bureaucratic hoops and wait days to get tested, then wait even longer for a result. Testing centers opened in some places only to be shut down shortly afterward because of shortages of supplies and staff. And while the drive-thru test centers that have opened are generally orderly, there have been long lines at some.

Denver mayor reverses order to close liquor stores, recreational marijuana dispensaries after crowds swarm

Fox – Hours after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries would close across the city in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus, his office reversed course, a report said.

The mayor sent a tweet at 5 p.m. Denver time saying liquor and marijuana stores in city would be open as usual, but following extreme physical distancing rules (social distancing). The new rules will continue through April 10, the Denver Post reported.

Hours earlier, he deemed liquor stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries non-essential businesses, as opposed to grocery stores, gas stations and healthcare operations.

“We do not have them listed as essential,” Hancock had said of liquor stores. “As much as I might think it’s essential for me, it’s not essential for everyone.” He suggested Denver residents buy their alcohol Monday night while they still could

n response to Hancock’s order, city residents swarmed neighborhood liquor stores Monday afternoon — but violated social distancing requirements while they were at it — with some stores reporting lines forming a block long just 15 minutes after the mayor’s  news conference, the Post reported.

Argonaut Wine & Liquor co-owner Josh Robinson told the newspaper his staff had to act like bouncers, allowing one shopper in for each person that left.

“It’s created a safety issue in the short term,” Robinson said. “The mayor said not to panic buy, but that is exactly what he encouraged people to do by shutting us down.”

States Across the US, Attacking 2nd Amendment by Forcing Gun Stores to Close

Activist Post – In case you are just waking up from a coma, America is currently in utter turmoil. Panic buying has emptied shelves across the country, millions of unemployed people are spending their last dollar on food, hundreds of cities have been placed on lockdown, and cops are using Chinese-made patrol drones to monitor citizens 24-hours a day. In a matter of just 2 weeks, America has shifted from the land of the free to the land of the economic collapse and newly ushered in police state. As if things couldn’t get bad enough, governments across the country are now stripping people of their constitutional right to bear arms by forcing gun stores to close.

With so much uncertainty on the horizon, there has never been a better time for a citizen to be prepared to defend themselves and their family. The market is reacting appropriately to this demand and business has boomed for the gun industry in the past week, with long lines stretching outside gun stores across the country. The Wall Street Journal reports that on March 16, background checks were up 300% compared with the same day last year, according to federal data shared with the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

However, this is becoming increasingly harder to do thanks to executive orders and court rulings that have shuttered gun stores from coast to coast.

While liquor stores and fast food restaurants are considered “essential business” and allowed to stay open, stores that allow people to purchase tools for self-defense are closed. This is creating a storm of backlash against the state.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy forced all gun stores to close on Saturday and now he’s being sued for it. The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society and Legend Firearms shop in Monroe.

“The exigencies surrounding this viral pandemic both justify and necessitate changes in the manner in which people live their lives and conduct their daily business,” the lawsuit said. “However, this emergency (like any other emergency) has its constitutional limits. It would not justify a prior restraint on speech, nor a suspension of the right to vote. Just the same, it does not justify a ban on obtaining guns and ammunition.”

On Sunday night, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the governor’s order to close all gun stores too. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all gun stores shut down claiming they were not “life-sustaining.” The decision was challenged all the way to the state’s highest court and the people lost — but not without descent from two of the justices.

Economy & Business

In COVID-19 Stimulus, US Congress Eyes Digital Dollar to Send Aid to the Unbanked

Cointelegraph – Amid contentious debate over the massive stimulus package in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats in the United States House of Representatives look to implement the digital dollar to streamline payments to U.S. citizens outside of the traditional financial system.

A digital dollar for direct payments to families 

A draft of the legislation circulating as of March 23 proposes the creation of digital wallets for U.S. citizens to be maintained by the Federal Reserve within a section entitled “Direct Stimulus Payments for Families.”

The section envisions $2,000 monthly payments to every adult earning less than $75,000 a year, at which points the payments taper off. These payments would last until the economy recovers.

While the proposal does indicate the option of providing checks, it would require member banks of the federal reserve to maintain digital dollar wallets for all clients.

The massive stimulus package and current gridlock

This version of the bill seems to come from the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Bloomberg Law puts the bill’s origin date as March 22.

The bill is massive, with all extant versions clocking in at well over a thousand pages and aiming to distribute upwards of $1.8 trillion.

On both March 22 and 23, Democrats in the Senate blocked the Republican version of the bill (which did not mention digital dollars). The Democrats criticized the bill for favoring bailouts to big businesses at the expense of everyday citizens.

As of close of business on March 23, Speaker Pelosi was expected to present a counteroffer in the form of a bill laying out $2.5 trillion in stimulus funding.

Covid-19 lockdown threatens to destroy 37 MILLION jobs in US

RT – Unemployment in the United States could hit unprecedented levels in the coming weeks and months, according to recent research by the developers of the US Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI).

They point to a forced halt of business activity in cities, municipalities and states in an attempt to lessen the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Statistics showed that some 37 million domestic jobs are vulnerable to layoffs due to the temporary shutdowns created by the health crisis.

AMAZON using coronavirus to expand its power

Guardian – It is calling up 100,000 troops, extending grants to small businesses, prioritizing essential goods, and cracking down on profiteers.

No, that’s not the United States federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic: it’s Amazon’s. The e-commerce behemoth is poised to become one of the major winners of the coronavirus crisis. As smaller businesses (even those that are not in any sense of the word small) falter and fail, Amazon is expanding its dominance over American commerce and society.

It’s less and less far-fetched to imagine “the everything store” becoming the only store. And with so much rancor and incompetence on display in Washington DC, Amazon’s efficiency and competence has become a source of comfort and security, at least for those of us who can afford a Prime membership.

Many of Amazon’s moves over the past few weeks have had the distinct flavor of government.

The hiring of 100,000 staff and a $2-an-hour pay raise is akin to a 21st-century Works Progress Administration (WPA), only private. Amazon’s hometown noblesse oblige – extending its beneficence to small businesses around its Seattle offices so that they might live to serve Amazonians another day – is akin to a government stimulus package. Amazon’s decision to stop accepting non-essential products from third-party sellers who use its warehouses is essentially Amazon regulating the marketplace.

As unemployment mounts, Amazon’s coercive power over its workforce will only increase. Last weekend, I spoke to several Amazon warehouse workers who were grappling with fear and uncertainty around coronavirus and their risk of infection in the workplace.

Matthew Fyall, a 26-year-old stower at Amazon’s warehouse on Staten Island, New York, said he was frightened of “being contaminated” at work – he has a young daughter at home – but also concerned that any infection might shut down the worksite.

“At this point, we’re sort of being forced to go to work because we still have to live,” he told me. “I do have to get my Metro card, I do have to get food. The job can stop, but the bills are going to come, your stomach is still going to growl, life is still going to go on.”

Meanwhile, the threat that Amazon’s already outsized size and power will only expand has real costs for creativity and innovation.

“If you want to have a diverse, competitive economy, where people invent new things, write new books, and come up with new ideas, you need to have diverse pathways to market,” said Stacy Mitchell, the co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “We could see the distribution of consumer goods collapse into a single pipeline named Amazon. It’s incredibly risky.”

There is a fragility that comes from relying on a single pipeline. If we let Amazon’s strength over dominate our entire economy, we may just find out how weak we are.

Mortgage Firms Brace for Wave of Missed Payments

WSJ – Mortgage companies are bracing for a severe cash crunch when Americans who lose jobs and income because of the coronavirus pandemic stop making payments on their home loans.

The companies, such as Quicken Loans Inc. and Mr. Cooper Group Inc., expect a wave of missed payments from borrowers as early as next month that will force them to come up with tens of billions of dollars on short notice.


Coronavirus Vaccine Will Bypass Safety Testing

Mercola – Researchers are foregoing some of the normally required safety testing in order to get a coronavirus vaccine out as soon as possible. The biotech company Moderna is also relying on a novel manufacturing technique to produce their genetically engineered coronavirus vaccine in record time.

Moderna is using synthetic mRNA to instruct DNA to produce the same kind of proteins COVID-19 uses to gain access into our cells. The idea is that your immune system will learn to recognize and kill the real virus.

It will still be at least a year before the vaccine, if successful in limited human trials, will be available to the public. But that’s a significantly shorter wait time than the 15 to 20 years it normally takes to bring an experimental vaccine to market.

Fast-tracking vaccine development and licensure has considerable risks. It might be ineffective (which is typically the case for the seasonal influenza vaccine), or it might cause serious side effects (as was the case with the fast-tracked H1N1 swine flu vaccine in 2009), or it just might worsen infection rather than prevent it.

The fast-tracked ASO3-adjuvanted H1N1 swine flu vaccine Pandemrix (used in Europe but not in the U.S. in 2009-2010) has been causally linked to childhood narcolepsy, which abruptly skyrocketed in several countries after its release

ID2020 and partners launch program to provide digital ID with vaccines

Biometric Update (Sep 20, 2019 ) – The ID2020 Alliance has launched a new digital identity program at its annual summit in New York, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, vaccine alliance Gavi, and new partners in government, academia, and humanitarian relief.

The program to leverage immunization as an opportunity to establish digital identity was unveiled by ID2020 in partnership with the Bangladesh Government’s Access to Information (a2i) Program, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Gavi, according to the announcement.

“We are implementing a forward-looking approach to digital identity that gives individuals control over their own personal information, while still building off existing systems and programs,” says Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor at a2i. “The Government of Bangladesh recognizes that the design of digital identity systems carries far-reaching implications for individuals’ access to services and livelihoods, and we are eager to pioneer this approach.”

Gavi CEO Seth Berkley says that 89 percent of children and adolescents who do not have identification live in countries where the organization is active. “We are enthusiastic about the potential impact of this program not just in Bangladesh, but as something we can replicate across Gavi-eligible countries, providing a viable route to closing the identity gap,” he says.

A partnership was also formed earlier this year between Gavi, NEC, and Simprints to use biometrics to improve vaccine coverage in developing nations.

Clementine, ginger and garlic: Boost your immune system with powerful food cures

Dr. Leonard Coldwell – A strong immune system is the body’s first line of defense against disease-causing pathogens. However, the immune system requires an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals in order to function properly.

Certain body functions, such as metabolism and digestion, also benefit from nutrient-dense foods. Here are some of them:


Like their citrus relatives, clementines boast an impressive nutritional profile. One clementine contains the following:

Clementines are naturally sweet and cholesterol-free. They are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which aid various body functions including metabolism, immunity, respiration, digestion, blood circulation and bone development.

Unfortunately, the body cannot produce vitamin C. Instead, it absorbs this vitamin from fruits and vegetables including oranges, lemons, grapefruits, kale, spinach and broccoli. According to registered dietitian Maya Feller, “When we’re exposed to so many people and so many viruses, getting a little dose of vitamin C is incredibly helpful.”

Moreover, clementines are rich in potassium, which rids the body of toxins and excess sodium. Potassium also regulates blood pressure to prevent hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Clementines also contain antioxidants that protect the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Beta carotene, the red-orange pigment found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, is an antioxidant that the body transforms into vitamin A. It plays an essential role in immunity enhancement and eyesight maintenance.


Ginger is one of the most popular natural remedies used to treat many ailments, from stomach aches to joint pain. It is considered a superfood due to the various minerals and vitamins it has.

Ginger also contains bioactive components, such as 6-gingerol, 6-shogaol and 6-paradol, that possess potent antioxidant properties against pathogens that attack the immune system.

Ginger, for instance, is reported to reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which can increase the risk of age-related diseases including osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger can also relieve joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Moreover, ginger can help prevent an upset stomach. Its bioactive components aid digestion and trigger the expulsion of gas, thereby relieving abdominal discomfort and preventing constipation.

Ginger is also considered a safe, natural remedy against morning sickness, motion sickness and muscle pain caused by strenuous exercise. Recent studies also suggest that ginger may prevent certain cancers, including ovarian, lung and breast cancers. (Related: This ginger compound stops pancreatic cancer cells from spreading.)


Garlic is a bulbous herb that is closely related to onions, leeks, and chives. Like most herbs and spices, garlic produces a strong aroma that adds flavor to any dish or beverage.

Fresh garlic contains approximately 33 sulfur compounds that possess anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, such as allicin, alliin, ajoene, allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and S-allyl cysteine.

These antioxidants, along with several important enzymes and amino acids, make garlic a potent natural remedy. For instance, ancient Chinese and Indian medicine used garlic to aid respiration and digestion. Garlic was also a known remedy for arthritis, toothaches, chronic coughs, constipation, and snake bites.

Currently, garlic is used to treat conditions related to the cardiovascular system, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Garlic is also used for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.

Keep your immune system healthy by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and eating foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.