Nationalfile – The Czech Republic recently erected boards with signs informing their Chinese tourists of the events of the Tiananmen Square protests which took place in 1989–something that has been reportedly covered up by the Chinese government for over thirty years.
The cultural significance of these boards comes at a time where China’s reputation, on a global scale, is at an all-time low. Following a disinformation campaign over the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, faulty reporting, and sending defective medical equipment all over the world, the East Asian economic powerhouse has not made many friends.
But the global community has placed much of China’s activity under scrutiny for its failure to stand up to contemporary standards and ethics.
Before the global crisis, China’s treatment of religious and political dissidents drew ample criticism. In particular, reports of their Western Chinese Uighur Muslim population being subjected to torture and concentration camps gripped global headlines.
In 2015, China told the world that they would stop harvesting political and religious prisoners’ organs. However, following an improbable double-lung transplant that took place on February 28, speculation over how the organs were ethically-sourced–given the relatively small pool of voluntary organ donors; and the time taken to acquire the healthy, matching organs–has prompted a discussion over organ harvesting, again.
AFP – Police used batons on Monday to beat back thirsty Indians jostling to buy alcohol for the first time in 40 days as the government eased further the world’s biggest coronavirus lockdown.
The government credits its harsh shutdown of almost all activity since in late March with keeping the tally of cases to a relatively modest 42,500 with around 1,400 deaths.
But it has also caused misery for millions of workers in India’s vast informal sector left suddenly jobless and dealt a major blow to Asia’s third-biggest economy.
Adding to some relaxations for industry and agriculture last month, on Monday offices could operate with one-third capacity as well as some cars and motorbikes and certain shops.
Officials had painstakingly drawn chalk circles for buyers of booze to stand in but the social distancing efforts were thwarted as people gathered from early morning.
“We have been in solitude for over a month,” Asit Banerjee, 55, told AFP as he queued in Kolkata, where — as in Delhi and elsewhere — police used “lathi” batons to control the crowds.
“Alcohol will energise us to maintain social distancing during the pandemic,” he said.
Elsewhere such as in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh state police closed down the shops soon after they opened as long queues of men in face masks snaked around the block.
“One of the shops had opened in the morning but clashes broke out as a lot of crowd had gathered,” a police officer in Ghaziabad told AFP.
But hundreds continue to loiter in neighbouring streets and bylanes in the hope they would be reopened.
AFP – Traditionalist former pope Benedict XVI accuses opponents of wanting to “silence” him while associating gay marriage with “the Antichrist” and attacking “humanist ideologies” in a new authorised biography published Monday in Germany.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Fox – An anti-Trump Democratic-aligned political action committee advised by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal is planning to deploy an information warfare tool that received initial funding from DARPA, the Pentagon’s secretive research arm — transforming technology originally envisioned as a way to fight ISIS propaganda into a campaign platform to benefit Joe Biden.
The Washington Post first reported that the initiative, called Defeat Disinfo, will utilize “artificial intelligence and network analysis to map discussion of the president’s claims on social media,” and then attempt to “intervene” by “identifying the most popular counter-narratives and boosting them through a network of more than 3.4 million influencers across the country — in some cases paying users with large followings to take sides against the president.”
Social media guru Curtis Hougland is heading up Defeat Disinfo, and he received the funding from DARPA when his program was “part of an effort to combat extremism overseas.” He explained in an interview with the Post that he was unhappy that top social media accounts often supported Trump, and had effectively defended the president in recent days from claims that he had suggested Americans inject themselves with disinfectant.
The effort raised the question of whether taxpayer funds were being repurposed for political means, and whether social media platforms have rules in place that could stymie Hougland’s efforts — if he plays along.
A spokesperson for Facebook told Fox News that “our policies require creators and publishers to tag business partners in their branded content posts when there’s an exchange of value between a creator or publisher and a business partner.”
AFP – As several nations begin relaxing their lockdowns following an initial peak in COVID-19 cases, attention is turning to how they can avoid a “second wave” of infections as social distancing is eased.
Italy and Spain — two of the hardest hit countries — have already started allowing people outside to exercise for the first time in nearly two months, and several US states are allowing businesses to reopen.
In France, where confinement measures are set to lift on May 11, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said there is a “fine line” between lifting restrictions on movement and avoiding a new surge in infections of a disease that has killed nearly a quarter of a million people globally.
“The risk of a second wave — which would hit our already fragile hospitals, which would need us to reimpose confinement and waste the efforts and sacrifices we’ve already made — is serious,” he said last week.
KY3 – U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show.
Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press. The revelation comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that that country was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.
The sharper rhetoric coincides with administration critics saying the government’s response to the virus was slow and inadequate. President Donald Trump’s political opponents have accused him of lashing out at China, a geopolitical foe but critical U.S. trade partner, in an attempt to deflect criticism at home.
Not classified but marked “for official use only,” the DHS analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the analysis states.
The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad — and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.
Those conclusions are based on the 95% probability that China’s changes in imports and export behavior were not within normal range, according to the report.
China informed the WHO of the outbreak on Dec. 31. It contacted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Jan. 3 and publicly identified the pathogen as a novel coronavirus on Jan. 8.
Chinese officials muffled doctors who warned about the virus early on and repeatedly downplayed the threat of the outbreak. However, many of the Chinese government’s missteps appear to have been due to bureaucratic hurdles, tight controls on information, and officials hesitant to report bad news. There is no public evidence to suggest it was an intentional plot to buy up the world’s medical supplies.
In a tweet on Sunday, the president appeared to blame U.S. intelligence officials for not making clearer sooner just how dangerous a potential coronavirus outbreak could be. Trump has been defensive over whether he failed to act after receiving early warnings from intelligence officials and others about the coronavirus and its potential impact.
“Intelligence has just reported to me that I was correct, and that they did NOT bring up the CoronaVirus subject matter until late into January, just prior to my banning China from the U.S.,” Trump wrote without citing specifics. “Also, they only spoke of the Virus in a very non-threatening, or matter of fact, manner.”
Trump had previously speculated that China may have unleashed the coronavirus due to some kind of horrible “mistake.” His intelligence agencies say they are still examining a notion put forward by the president and aides that the pandemic may have resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab.
Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Pompeo said he had no reason to believe that the virus was deliberately spread. But he added, “Remember, China has a history of infecting the world, and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.”
Leaked ‘Five Eyes’ dossier on alleged Chinese coronavirus coverup consistent with US findings, officials say
Fox – A research dossier compiled by the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, that reportedly concludes China intentionally hid or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus pandemic, is consistent with U.S. findings about the origins of the outbreak so far, senior U.S. officials told Fox News on Saturday.
The 15-page document from the intelligence agencies of the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, was obtained by Australia’s Saturday Telegraph newspaper and finds that China’s secrecy amounted to an “assault on international transparency.”
The dossier, which is likely to further increase pressure on the Chinese government to explain its actions and early statements, points to the initial denial by the government that the virus could be transmitted between humans, the silencing of doctors, destruction of evidence, and a refusal to provide samples to scientists working on a vaccine.
While U.S. intelligence is not confirming the existence of the 15-page document, a senior official told Fox that reports of the document aligns with U.S. intelligence that China knew the spread between humans earlier than it said, that it knew it was a novel coronavirus earlier than it said and that it was spread wider than they reported to the international community in the first weeks of the outbreak.
But there are some exceptions. In particular, Australia believes the virus originated in a wet market, as the Chinese have claimed. However, the U.S. intelligence community has not yet determined this and is still leaning away from that theory.
Demonstrators stormed state capitol to protest governor’s tyrannical lockdown measures
Infowars – Democrat Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer went on CNN to complain about the anti-lockdown protesters unhappy with her illogical and tyrannical coronavirus lockdown measures, comparing them to neo-Nazis and racists.
With the help of CNN’s liberal activist host Jake Tapper on Sunday, Whitmer portrayed the armed protesters who stormed Michigan’s capitol to express their disapproval of her many new lockdown policies as a nothing but a group of angry racists.
Tapper first asked Whitmer if the Michigan protesters were “in the same vein as the Charlottesville Neo-Nazis” given President Trump defended them on Twitter.
“Some of the outrageousness of what happened at our capitol this week, um, you know, depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country,” Whiter replied
Whitmer then pointed to some protesters with swastikas on their signs as evidence of Nazi intentions, seemingly unaware that the swastikas were used to depict Whitmer’s authoritarian policies.
“The Confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas, the behavior that you’ve seen in all the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan,” she continued. “And the fact of the matter is, I mean, we’re in a global pandemic. This isn’t something we just negotiate ourselves out of as a political matter.”
Is this protester, a black man who explained his desire to go to work again and rejection of government “handouts”, one of the Nazis Whitmer is referring to?
“Just allow me to work, as a man of color. I don’t want any handouts,” he said. “Just giving me free stuff, it takes away my dignity…why should I depend on other people to take care of me?”
LA Times – Dirty money is piling up in Los Angeles. In the last three weeks, federal agents made three seizures that each netted more than $1 million in suspected drug proceeds.
The reason, according to the city’s top drug enforcement official: The coronavirus pandemic has slowed trade-based money laundering systems that drug trafficking groups use to repatriate profits and move Chinese capital into Southern California.
With storefronts closed, supply chains in disarray and the global economy in peril, these complex schemes are hobbled and cash is backing up in Los Angeles, Bill Bodner, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles field division, said in an interview.
The recent million-dollar interceptions were reminiscent of seizures the DEA made before drug traffickers embraced trade-based money laundering, said Bodner, a 28-year agent.
The column, written by Times opinion writer Elizabeth Bruenig, was bluntly headlined, “Democrats, It’s Time to Consider a Plan B,” with the subhead, “Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden demand action.”
Reade has accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, which he denies.
“Reade contends that, sometime in the spring of that year, Mr. Biden forced her against a wall, shoved his hand up her skirt, and forced his fingers into her vagina. Mr. Biden has unequivocally denied Ms. Reade’s allegations,” Bruenig wrote before citing recent developments, such as a former neighbor saying she’s heard about the accusations for years.
“I have my own impressions regarding Ms. Reade’s allegations, but no one – save Ms. Reade and Mr. Biden – knows with certainty whether her claims are true. What I can assert with firm conviction is that Democrats ought to start considering a backup plan for 2020,” Bruenig wrote.
Bruenig then wrote that many of the things Reade has been criticized for are “nearly as incredible as some have argued” since she came forward in March.
“I have worked closely with many survivors of sexual assault. It isn’t unusual, in my experience, for survivors to exhibit behavior that seems unstable or erratic to others,” she wrote.
The Times opinion writer noted that Democrats have been champions of the #MeToo movement and “subject Ms. Reade’s allegations to a level of scrutiny not widely applied to accusers in similar circumstances,” such as Christine Blasey-Ford’s claims against Brett Kavanaugh.
“Conservatives… can see the plain gulf between how Democrats have approached sexual assault in politically advantageous cases versus Ms. Reade’s, and the evident hypocrisy threatens to discredit the entire enterprise,” Bruenig wrote. “Liberal thinkers and organizations have begun to realize this, and many have responded accordingly.”
AP – A New York City police officer who was caught on video Saturday pointing a stun gun at a man and violently taking him to the ground over an alleged social distancing violation has been stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.
Bystander video showed the plainclothes officer, who was not wearing a protective face mask, slapping 33-year-old Donni Wright in the face, punching him in the shoulder and dragging him to a sidewalk after leveling him in a crosswalk in Manhattan’s East Village.
“The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Sunday. He said earlier in the day that there will be a careful look into what happened.
Police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell said Wright “took a fighting stance against the officer” when he was ordered to disperse and was arrested on charges including assault on a police officer and resisting arrest.
The charges have been deferred pending further investigation, a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson said.
A message seeking comment was left with the police officers union.
Wright’s arrest and that of two other people minutes earlier on the same block across from a public housing complex raised new questions about the police department’s use of force, the role of officers in enforcing social distancing measures and inconsistency in how they’re applied.
The manner of Wright’s arrest appeared to echo that of 20-year-old Fitzroy Gayle, who was seen on bystander video pleading for help as several officers wrestled him into submission on a Brooklyn sidewalk in early March.
Jennvine Wong, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project, said footage of the arrests Saturday stood in sharp contrast to photos and video — including some tweeted out by the police department — showing officers in crowded city parks handing out face masks and gently reminding people to stay 6 feet apart.
“This certainly isn’t the first time and this isn’t even the first time in this pandemic that we’ve seen evidence of discriminatory policing by the NYPD,” Wong said.
Economy & Business
CNN – 373 employees and contract workers at Triumph Foods in Buchanan County, Missouri, have tested positive for coronavirus. All of them were asymptomatic, according to a press release from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The state of Missouri has reported 8,386 cases and 352 deaths statewide as of Sunday night, according to the Health Department Website.
Triumph, a pork processing plant, is located in St. Joseph, on the border of Missouri and Kansas.
It is just one of dozens of meat packing plants and food processing facilities across the country that have seen outbreaks of the virus, forcing shutdowns and sparking concerns of possible food shortages.
Ongoing testing at the plant
Testing at the plant has been ongoing since last week and results have been coming in over the past few days, the release from DHSS said.
As of April 30, at least 1,500 had been tested, a previous release said.
AMAZON VP Quits, Destroys Company for ‘Chickensh*t’ Firing of Whistleblowers in Scorched Earth Letter.
Mediaite – An Amazon engineer and vice president “quit in dismay” on Friday, and followed up with a scorched earth open letter accusing the global behemoth of firing whistleblowers who were raising concerns about unsafe working conditions.
In a letter titled “Bye, Amazon” posted to his personal blog, Tim Bray — who worked as a VP for Amazon Web Services — chronicled how employees who circulated a petition demanding coronavirus-related workplace protections were given the axe. In particular, Bray claimed two organizers were “fired on the spot” April 10 after sending out an email announcing a video call which had been set up for April 16 to discuss the workplace conditions.
“The justifications [from the company] were laughable; it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed for whistleblowing,” Bray wrote.
Bray listed six of the employees who were let go, and accused the company of racial and gender discrimination over their dismissals.
“I’m sure it’s a coincidence that every one of them is a person of color, a woman, or both. Right?” Bray wrote.
Here Is Why The U.S. Economy Would Continue To Crash Even If All The Lockdowns Were Lifted Immediately
Michael Snyder – COVID-19 has created an enormous amount of fear, and that fear is doing far more damage to the economy than the actual virus is. In an environment of fear, financial institutions become a lot tighter with their money, and that inevitably causes economic activity to slow down. For example, just consider what happened in 2008. Mortgage lending standards suddenly became much more strict, and that greatly contributed to the horrific housing price crash which left millions upon millions of Americans underwater on their mortgages. Unfortunately, this coronavirus pandemic has created a wave of fear that is far greater than what we experienced during the last recession, and that has enormous implications for the months ahead.
Extremely loose lending standards helped create debt-fueled “booms” throughout our economy in recent years, but now lending standards are going in the complete opposite direction very rapidly.
For instance, Chase is now requiring a credit score of at least 700 for all new home loans, and they are one of the financial institutions that is now requiring a down payment of at least 20 percent…
A Chase spokesperson confirmed that starting April 14, new mortgage applicants will need a minimum credit score of 700 and a down payment of 20%. Refinancing applications for non-Chase mortgages will also need the same score. Chase didn’t disclose its previous lending standards but the average downpayment for first-time home buyers is around 6%, according to a 2018 survey from the National Association of Realtors.
If you own your home, would you have been approved for a mortgage under the new Chase standards?
And Chase is far from alone. In fact, most major mortgage lenders have now tightened up, and Redfin is estimating that about a quarter of all home buyers last year would not have qualified under the new standards.
So if you remove about a quarter of all buyers from the marketplace moving forward, what happens to the housing market?
Yes, there will be an implosion, and it will happen no matter whether coronavirus lockdowns are in effect or not.
And home equity loans are going to be hit even harder. As I discussed last week, Wells Fargo is no longer taking HELOC applications at all.
So now matter how good your credit is, you simply cannot get a home equity line of credit from Wells Fargo at this point.
This is what fear does.
Energy & Environment
Fox – Deadly hornets from Asia that measure up to 2 inches and can wipe out entire honeybee colonies within hours have been spotted for the first time in the U.S.
The so-called “murder hornets” – which also are blamed for killing 50 people a year in Japan – have been spotted in Washington state. According to The New York Times, they can rip through a hive and kill a bee every 14 seconds.
But researchers are describing an interesting defense being employed against the menacing hornet: the Japanese honeybee. Bees in Japan have been known to form a ball around the invader and vibrate to produce heat, which can essentially cook a hornet to death. The report said bees can survive in extreme temperatures and can kill a hornet in an hour.
The Times reported that European honeybee – which are common in the U.S. – try to sting the hornet, which proves futile due to their tough exoskeleton. A researcher told the paper that the Japanese honeybee learned to adapt through generations.
“Our honeybees, the predator has never been there before, so they have no defense,” Ruthie Danielsen, a beekeeper in Washington, told the Times.
Science & Technology
Newsmax – Love to cuddle up? It might bring a “mind meld,” too, new research shows.
People in close physical contact appear to have synchronized brain patterns, a revolutionary new MRI technique has revealed.
A functional MRI scan of two people cuddling under a blanket showed that their brains appeared to be falling into similar patterns of action and response, as they took turns gently tapping the other’s lips, a Finnish research team reports.
“In general terms, it shows how the brains of two individuals become ‘tuned in’ together during this kind of elementary human interaction,” said senior researcher Lauri Nummenmaa, head of the Human Emotion Systems laboratory at the University of Turku in Finland.
Research of this sort could be valuable in dealing with conditions where people have trouble with social interactions, he said.
“Such processes are disrupted in numerous conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, and understanding the elementary mechanisms of sociability will help us in understanding these conditions better,” Nummenmaa said.
It’s not surprising that the 10 couples in the study — either friends or romantic partners — appeared to have had synchronized brain responses, said Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami.
“There’s this intimacy that generates similar patterns of physiological and biochemical responses, and this is a good demonstration of that,” she said. “That’s been shown in everything from heart rates to brain waves, and other measures like cortisol levels.”
For example, prior studies have shown blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol differ in partners when they are working and not together much, but fall into synch on the weekends when they’re hanging out all day with each other, Field said.
“I expect that if they pursue these studies, they’re going to find very similar regions of the brain are being activated at similar times as these people are cuddling or wrapped around each other,” she said.
But Field added that the real value of this initial study lies in the fact that two human brains were scanned at the same time using a single MRI machine.
“This establishes you can take MRIs in two people at the same time,” Field said. “It shows the technology is possible.”
Mercola – Licorice was one of the first compounds researchers discovered was effective against the SARS virus in the lab; it has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Glycyrrhizin is one active compound in licorice with known antiviral activities found to be effective against hepatitis C and the influenza virus.
Licorice is a versatile herb as it also acts as an expectorant, improves digestive health, supports female hormonal imbalances and lends adrenal support.
Honeysuckle is another traditional herbal medicine with antiviral activity; phytonutrients and other properties help heal skin irritations, act as a nontoxic room freshener and may help you destress in the bath.
Steps you can take to reduce the potential you’ll be infected with a virus are to wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, clean your cell phone properly and protect your immune system
Mind Body Green – As a coppersmith who makes everything from fur-trade-era kettles to lids for old pans, flasks, cups, and skillets, I have had all kinds of intimate experiences with copper, both in the metal shop, in the oven, and over a stove. My favorite part is how quickly copper responds to temperature changes—especially tin-lined or unlined copper. Plus, serving up a meal in a pretty copper pot never hurts.
When I first started building copper pots and pans in the shop, I had a few pieces of my own–both modern and vintage–but now I have loads more. This is partly because I’m convinced copper collecting is addicting but also because of its antimicrobial properties. These properties might make copper the cookware of choice when it comes to COVID-19. Here’s what we know:
Copper, viruses, and bacteria are deeply linked.
Studies have shown that copper can have a significant role in killing bacteria once it touches a virus. While I wouldn’t recommend hugging copper pots for hours in order to sterilize the body, it won’t hurt to use any copper you own in your kitchen right now. No matter how old or oxidized, the copper pots in your kitchen can react with viruses and begin to kill them, so having such surfaces around food all day can help keep your kitchen antimicrobial. Plus, cooking with copper can be better for the environment, as you’ll need less heat to cook! Consider it killing two birds (or shall we say viruses?) with one metal stone.
That said, if you have copper pots and pans at home, you may take the time to give them a polish and put them to work. You can actually polish them with ketchup (yes, really!) if the copper hasn’t oxidized to a deep brown yet.
The Rev. Fred Lunsford, who was one of the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944, says he encountered God at his prayer garden two miles from his house in Marble, which he calls “Light House Mountain,” the Baptist Press reports.
It was two years ago that he told the Lord he was ready to go home, but the veteran preacher received at least one more mission.
“He said, ‘Not yet because I’ve got some unfinished business that I need you to take care of,'” he told the BP. “Celebrate 70 years in the ministry and get everybody you can to be praying for spiritual awakening. I want to send renewal. I want to send a new work among you.”
The Rev. Greg Mathis, a pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church, visited Lunsford, along with a few other pastors, on January 20 this year, which is when they said the spiritual awakening began.
“I don’t know how to explain to you what happened that day,” Mathis told the Christian news outlet. “I have never felt a manifestation of the Spirit of God like I did in that vehicle that day.”
They rallied 200 preachers to join on the mountain but amid the coronavirus pandemic, Lunsford will go to the mountain and people joining can register for “Praying on the Mountain” online event on May 5.
After they quickly surpassed their goal of 10,000, Lunsford asked for 100,000 believers to join him.