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A King #Cobra. One of the most beautiful & venemous snake in the #world. It is also indicator of good forest habitat. Lives deep in #forest. @ParveenKaswan
China updates its 'Art of (Hybrid) War' @asiatimesonline
In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.
Unrestricted Warfare was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s Art of War.
At the time of original publication, with China still a long way from its current geopolitical and geo-economic clout, the book was conceived as laying out a defensive approach, far from the sensationalist “destroy America” added to the title for US publication in 2004.
Now the book is available in a new edition and Qiao Liang, as a retired general and director of the Council for Research on National Security, has resurfaced in a quite revealing interview originally published in the current edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Zijing (Bauhinia).
Dancing with wolves
The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of US manufacturing: “How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?”
An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: “Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That’s the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production.”
General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China’s cheap workforce: “Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China’s economic development.”
He acknowledges US military power even in times of epidemic and economic difficulties is always capable of “interfering directly or indirectly in the Taiwan straits question” and finding an excuse to “block and sanction China and exclude it from the West.” He adds that, “as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products.”
In consequence, he argues, it’s a “good thing” for China to engage in the cause of reunification, “but it’s always a bad thing if it’s done at the wrong time. We can only act at the right time. We cannot allow our generation to commit the sin of interrupting the process of the Chinese nation’s renaissance.”
General Qiao counsels, “Don’t think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty.”
To arrest movement toward Taiwan’s independence, “apart from war, other options must be taken into consideration. We can think about the means to act in the immense gray zone between war and peace, and we can even think about more particular means, like launching military operations that will not lead to war, but may involve a moderate use of force.”
In a graphic formulation, General Qiao thinks that, “if we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the US. We should have our own rhythm, and even try to break their rhythm, to minimize its influence. If American power is brandishing its stick, it’s because it has fallen into a trap.”
In a nutshell, for General Qiao, “China first of all must show proof of strategic determination to solve the Taiwan question, and then strategic patience. Of course, the premise is that we should develop and maintain our strategic force to solve the Taiwan question by force at any moment.”
Now compare General Qiao’s analysis with the by now obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.
The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial: “We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China’s national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China’s international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.”
An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including “investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China.”
So for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract US President Donald Trump’s “We could cut off the whole relationship” kind of assertions.
The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.
This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.
Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted.
Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.
“Containment” will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a “robust military cordon” from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with “highly survivable, precision-strike networks” along the Pacific Rim and “forward-based, rotational joint forces” to counteract the “renewed threat we face from great power competition.”
Davidson argues that, “without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant US interests.”
Watch People’s Congress
From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition’s hegemony over the whole planet.
Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a “you’re with us or against us” global war on terror imperative.
At the annual session of the National People’s Congress, starting this Friday, we will see how China will be dealing with its top priority: to reorganize domestically after the pandemic.
For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.
What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that’s not totally overlooked.
After all, President Xi Jinping made it clear earlier this week that a “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available,” won’t be subjected to Big Pharma logic, but “will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” The Global South is paying attention.
Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western “experts.” For instance, exports rose 3.5% in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7%. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.
Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the US, that’s plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that’s about to rekindle economic growth. The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.
Hybrid war? Bring it on.
This is the letter sent to @DrTedros @WHO It is self-explanatory! @realDonaldTrump
24-FEB-2020 :: @WHO is captured. And millions of lives will have been trifled with #COVID19 the Game is Up. #COVID19 #coronavirus #2019nCoV
TRUMP’S LETTER TO THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION
President Trump has written to the Director General of the World Health Organisation, with the conclusion of his administration’s review into the conduct of the WHO and its “failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak”.
The letter lays out a cogent timetable of missteps, cover ups, and demands changes, not least demonstrable independence from China. The letter ends by threatening permanent US secession from the organisation if changes are not made…
“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China. My Administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste.
That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
Punchy. Read the letter in full here:
Dear Dr. Tedros
On April 14, 2020, I suspended United States contributions to the World Health Organization pending an investigation by my Administration of the organization’s failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This review has confirmed many of the serious concerns I raised last month and identified others that the World Health Organization should have addressed, especially the World Health Organization’s alarming lack of independence from the People’s Republic of China.
Based on this review, we now know the following:
The World Health Organization consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.
The World Health Organization failed to independently investigate credible reports that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts, even those that came from sources within Wuhan itself.
By no later than December 30, 2019, the World Health Organization office in Beijing knew that there was a “major public health” concern in Wuhan.
Between December 26 and December 30, China’s media highlighted evidence of a new virus emerging from Wuhan, based on patient data sent to multiple Chinese genomics companies.
Additionally, during this period, Dr. Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, told China’s health authorities that a new coronavirus was causing a novel disease that was, at the time, afflicting approximately 180 patients.
By the next day, Taiwanese authorities had communicated information to the World Health Organization indicating human-to-human transmission of a new virus.
Yet the World Health Organization chose not to share any of this critical information with the rest of the world, probably for political reasons.
The International Health Regulations require countries to report the risk of a health emergency within 24 hours.
But China did not inform the World Health Organization of Wuhan’s several cases of pneumonia, of unknown origin, until December 31, 2019, even though it likely had knowledge of these cases days or weeks earlier.
According to Dr. Zhang Yongzhen of the Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center, he told Chinese authorities on January 5, 2020, that he had sequenced the genome of the virus.
There was no publication of this information until six days later, on January 11, 2020, when Dr. Zhang self-posted it online.
The next day, Chinese authorities closed his lab for “rectification.”
As even the World Health Organization acknowledged, Dr. Zhang’s posting was a great act of “transparency.”
But the World Health Organization has been conspicuously silent both with respect to the closure of Dr. Zhang’s lab and his assertion that he had notified Chinese authorities of his breakthrough six days earlier.
The World Health Organization has repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading.
On January 14, 2020, the World Health Organization gratuitously reaffirmed China’s now-debunked claim that the coronavirus could not be transmitted between humans, stating: “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) identified in Wuhan, China.”
This assertion was in direct conflict with censored reports from Wuhan.
On January 21, 2020, President Xi Jinping of China reportedly pressured you not to declare the coronavirus outbreak an emergency. You gave in to this pressure the next day and told the world that the coronavirus did not pose a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Just over one week later, on January 30, 2020, overwhelming evidence to the contrary forced you to reverse course.
On January 28, 2020, after meeting with President Xi in Beijing, you praised the Chinese government for its “transparency” with respect to the coronavirus, announcing that China had set a “new standard for outbreak control” and “bought the world time.”
You did not mention that China had, by then, silenced or punished several doctors for speaking out about the virus and restricted Chinese institutions from publishing information about it.
Even after you belatedly declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, you failed to press China for the timely admittance of a World Health Organization team of international medical experts.
As a result, this critical team did not arrive in China until two weeks later, on February 16, 2020. And even then, the team was not allowed to visit Wuhan until the final days of their visit.
Remarkably, the World Health Organization was silent when China denied the two American members of the team access to Wuhan entirely.
You also strongly praised China’s strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China. I put the ban in place regardless of your wishes.
Your political gamesmanship on this issue was deadly, as other governments, relying on your comments, delayed imposing life-saving restrictions on travel to and from China.
Incredibly, on February 3, 2020, you reinforced your position, opining that because China was doing such a great job protecting the world from the virus, travel restrictions were “causing more harm than good.”
Yet by then the world knew that, before locking down Wuhan, Chinese authorities had allowed more than five million people to leave the city and that many of these people were bound for international destinations all over the world.
As of February 3, 2020, China was strongly pressuring countries to lift or forestall travel restrictions.
This pressure campaign was bolstered by your incorrect statements on that day telling the world that the spread of the virus outside of China was “minimal and slow” and that “the chances of getting this going to anywhere outside China [were] very low.”
On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that “COVID-19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza” and that unlike influenza this disease was not primarily driven by “people who are infected but not yet sick.”
China’s evidence, the World Health Organization told the world, “showed that only one percent of reported cases do not have symptoms, and most of those cases develop symptoms within two days.”
Many experts, however, citing data from Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere, vigorously questioned these assertions.
It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.
By the time you finally declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2020, it had killed more than 4,000 people and infected more than 100,000 people in at least 114 countries around the world.
On April 11, 2020, several African Ambassadors wrote to the Chinese Foreign Ministry about the discriminatory treatment of Africans related to the pandemic in Guangzhou and other cities in China.
You were aware that Chinese authorities were carrying out a campaign of forced quarantines, evictions, and refusal of services against the nationals of these countries.
You have not commented on China’s racially discriminatory actions. You have, however, baselessly labeled as racist Taiwan’s well-founded complaints about your mishandling of this pandemic.
Throughout this crisis, the World Health Organization has been curiously insistent on praising China for its alleged “transparency.”
You have consistently joined in these tributes, notwithstanding that China has been anything but transparent.
In early January, for example, China ordered samples of the virus to be destroyed, depriving the world of critical information.
Even now, China continues to undermine the International Health Regulations by refusing to share accurate and timely data, viral samples and isolates, and by withholding vital information about the virus and its origins.
And, to this day, China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly and censoring its own experts.
The World Health Organization has failed to publicly call on China to allow for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, despite the recent endorsement for doing so by its own Emergency Committee.
The World Health Organization’s failure to do so has prompted World Health Organization member states to adopt the “COVID-19 Response” Resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly, which echoes the call by the United States and so many others for an impartial, independent, and comprehensive review of how the World Health Organization handled the crisis.
The resolution also calls for an investigation into the origins of the virus, which is necessary for the world to understand how best to counter the disease.
Perhaps worse than all these failings is that we know that the World Health Organization could have done so much better.
Just a few years ago, under the direction of a different Director-General, the World Health Organization showed the world how much it has to offer.
In 2003, in response to the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China, Director-General Harlem Brundtland boldly declared the World Health Organization’s first emergency travel advisory in 55 years, recommending against travel to and from the disease epicenter in southern China.
She also did not hesitate to criticize China for endangering global health by attempting to cover up the outbreak through its usual playbook of arresting whistleblowers and censoring media. Many lives could have been saved had you followed Dr. Brundtland’s example.
It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world.
The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.
My Administration has already started discussions with you on how to reform the organization. But action is needed quickly. We do not have time to waste.
That is why it is my duty, as President of the United States, to inform you that, if the World Health Organization does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days, I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding to the World Health Organization permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.
I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.
Vaccine experts say Moderna didn’t produce data critical to assessing Covid-19 vaccine via @statnews
Heavy hearts soared Monday with news that Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate — the frontrunner in the American market — seemed to be generating an immune response in Phase 1 trial subjects.
The company’s stock valuation also surged, hitting $29 billion, an astonishing feat for a company that currently sells zero products.
While Moderna blitzed the media, it revealed very little information — and most of what it did disclose were words, not data. That’s important:
If you ask scientists to read a journal article, they will scour data tables, not corporate statements. With science, numbers speak much louder than words.
This week’s Moderna readout came from the earliest of data from the NIAID-led Phase 1.
NIAID doesn’t hide its light under a bushel. The institute generally trumpets its findings, often offering director Anthony Fauci — who, fair enough, is pretty busy these days — or other senior personnel for interviews.
But NIAID did not put out a press release Monday and declined to provide comment on Moderna’s announcement.
The n = 8 thing
The company’s statement led with the fact that all 45 subjects (in this analysis) who received doses of 25 micrograms (two doses each), 100 micrograms (two doses each), or a 250 micrograms (one dose) developed binding antibodies.
“The convalescent sera levels are not being detailed in our data readout, but would be expected in a downstream full data exposition with NIH and its academic collaborators,” Colleen Hussey, the company’s senior manager for corporate communications, said in an email.
Durbin was struck by the wording of the company’s statement, pointing to this sentence: “The levels of neutralizing antibodies at day 43 were at or above levels generally seen in convalescent sera.”
“I thought: Generally? What does that mean?” Durbin said. Her question, for the time being, can’t be answered.
Rose said the company should disclose the information. “When a company like Moderna with such incredibly vast resources says they have generated SARS-2 neutralizing antibodies in a human trial, I would really like to see numbers from whatever assay they are using,” he said.
MODERNA’S CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER HAS DESCRIBED THE COMPANY’S PRODUCTS AS “HACKING THE SOFTWARE OF LIFE” AND PERMANENTLY ALTERING A PERSON’S GENETIC CODE.
More and more frequently, government officials, political pundits and self-appointed “global health experts” like billionaire Bill Gates have been instructing the public that mass gatherings and any semblance of “normalcy” will not return until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus Covid-19 is created and subsequently distributed to the masses.
In recent weeks, it has quickly become apparent that the leading Covid-19 vaccine candidate is the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine being developed by Boston-based Moderna Inc.
Today, Moderna announced that its vaccine candidate, named mRNA-1273, “appeared to produce an immune response in eight people who received it.”
Moderna’s response is odd given that the “study” in question is focused on safety and “is actually not designed to measure effectiveness of the vaccine,” according to a report in TIME.
Notably, none of the study’s findings on vaccine safety were reported aside from claims it was “generally safe.”
It is also worth noting that this “safety-focused” study only began in March and thus, to date, represents only an examination of the vaccine’s effects in the very short term.
Major media outlets in multiple countries ran with the headlines trumpeting that Moderna’s Covid-19 “shows promising early results” and has presented “encouraging early signs” because of its purported ability to produce Covid-19 antibodies in humans.
In addition, these media reports failed to raise other simple yet necessary questions such as how a sample size of only eight people can translate into scientific findings of any real significance without further testing involving larger sample sizes.
They also failed to note that the study in question is not even finished as a U.S. government press release noted that the findings in question are merely “interim results.”
In addition, the study is being led by the U.S.’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), itself headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a key figure in the U.S. government’s coronavirus response.
Though it is unclear if these “encouraging early signs” will be replicated in future tests of larger samples that are actually designed to test the vaccine’s effectiveness, the news is surely welcome to Moderna, given that their past mRNA vaccines failed to produce hardly any immune response at all, explaining why the company has never brought an mRNA vaccine to market in its entire history as a company.
However, since at least last fall, Moderna has sought to resolve this issue by adding “nanoparticles” to its mRNA vaccine, a modification financed by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Moderna is a “strategic ally” of DARPA and has received millions from DARPA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation several years prior to the current coronavirus crisis.
DARPA’s plans for nanoparticles and nanotechnology and their potentially Orwellian applications were the subject of a recent The Last American Vagabond report.
Thanks to the “interim results” of this new study, Moderna is set to take the lead in the race to gain government approval for a Covid-19 vaccine.
Moderna had already pulled ahead of other Covid-19 vaccine candidates in recent weeks, being the first vaccine in the U.S. to go the human trials (after it was allowed to skip animal trials) and also enjoying strong support from the U.S. government.
For instance, Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine recently received fast-track approval from the Food and Drug administration (FDA) after receiving the “green light” to proceed to Phase 2 testing prior to the results of Phase 1 being published.
Moderna’s president, Dr. Stephen Hoge, recently said the company now expects to begin the final third phase of testing sometime this summer.
In addition to support from the FDA, Moderna has also received considerable U.S. government funding ($438 million) from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of HHS overseen by HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Robert Kadlec.
Moderna has also stated that it is directly collaborating with the U.S. government to bring its vaccine candidate to market.
Moderna’s considerable lead has also been the result of backing that it received in January from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which was founded in 2017 by the governments of Norway and India along with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine has also received additional millions from long-time Moderna backer Bill Gates.
Gates recently authored an article where he described Moderna’s mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 as the “most exciting” and discussed it at length.
Gates’ affinity for Moderna may owe to the fact that Moderna’s co-founder, MIT’s Robert Langer, is a Gates associate whose lab developed the Gates-funded “quantum dot ‘tattoo’” vaccine identification marker that is “visible using a special smartphone camera app and filter” and was described by Science Alert as “a low-risk tracking system.”
Another Langer-Gates partnership is a “birth control microchip” inserted to the body that releases contraceptives and can be turned on and off wirelessly.
MEET DR. ZAKS
With Moderna taking a firm lead relative to the other Covid-19 vaccine hopefuls, it is worth taking a closer look at the man who has overseen its development, Moderna’s current Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tal Zaks.
Zaks, an Israeli citizen who began his career at GlaxoSmithKline, oversees “preclinical development, clinical development and regulatory affairs” for Moderna and all of its subsidiaries.
In a 2017 TED Talk, two years after joining Moderna, Zaks spoke at length about how he views mRNA vaccines and their modality, including those he produces at Moderna.
In a speech entitled “The disease-eradicating potential of gene editing,” Zaks’ description of Moderna’s mRNA products as, making permanent edits to human genes, clashes with often touted claims that the genetic material in mRNA vaccines “degrade” over time and do not permanently alter human genetics like DNA vaccines.
Beginning his talk, Zaks states that Moderna and similar companies “are actually hacking the software of life and that it’s changing the way we think of and treat disease.”
He describes mRNA as “critical information that determines what a cell will actually do” and then states that, if one could “introduce a line of code or change a line of code” in a person’s genome, that has “profound implications for everything.”
He then falsely claims that Moderna’s products at the time were proven to “work in people” as the company, prior to Covid-19, was never able to convince the federal government to license its mRNA vaccines for human use due to their lack of effectiveness.
Zaks further described his view of well-known diseases like cancer as being caused by “screwed-up DNA” that can be “fixed” with Moderna mRNA vaccines, which he also refers to in the talk as “information therapy” given that he says Moderna’s vaccines work by altering the “operating systems” of human cells, i.e. their genetic code.
The summary of Zaks’ talk encapsulates his view as the following simple question: “If our cells are the hardware and our genetic material the operating system, what if we could change a few lines of code?” — seemingly suggesting that the permanent introduction of changes into the human genome is as simple as troubleshooting or programming a computer or phone application.
It also says that Zaks considers the future of “personalized medicine” to be “gene-editing vaccines tailored to each patient’s immune system.”
The Ted Talk recommended after viewing Zaks’ speech on the Ted Talk website notably broaches a key point that Zaks overlooks, namely that gene-editing can “change an entire species – forever.”
Zaks’ statements are noteworthy and concerning for several reasons, including the fact that DARPA — Moderna’s “strategic ally” — is also openly funding research aimed at “reprogramming genes” and “manipulat[ing] genes or control[ling] gene expression to combat viruses and help human bodies withstand infection” caused by Covid-19.
The DARPA-backed project would use a method that is known to cause severe genetic damage that has actually been shown to aggravate the conditions it was meant to cure.
With such permanent gene-altering technology on the fast-track to become the first Covid-19 vaccine widely available for use, it is deeply concerning that this experimental vaccine with potentially far-reaching consequences is being rammed through thanks to fervent support from both the U.S. government and controversial philanthropists that apparently have little interest in studies examining the mRNA vaccine’s long-term effects.
Given that the stage has already been set for mandatory vaccinations that will be “distributed” throughout the U.S. by the military, now is the time to vigorously raise awareness about the Moderna vaccine’s gravely under-reported ability to “hack the software of life” in ways that could harm public health.
@Qantas Says Airfares Could Jump Ninefold With Social Distancing - Bloomberg
Tourism, Travel & Transport
“Social distancing on an aircraft isn’t practical,” Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce said during a briefing with reporters Tuesday.
The airline won’t be keeping middle seats empty. If such a move was implemented, it could mean there would only be 22 people on a 128-seat aircraft, Joyce said.
“That means airfares are going to be eight to nine times more than they are today.”
Joyce said there haven’t been confirmed cases of Covid-19 being transmitted on Qantas flights.
The airline is currently only flying about 5% of its pre-crisis levels domestically and 1% of its international network, but the CEO said domestic travel should “significantly” resume from July.
Ian Hosegood, medical director at Qantas, said during Tuesday’s briefing that transmission of the virus on flights is “extremely low” as filters on aircraft are very effective and passengers face in one direction.
Qantas isn’t making it mandatory for passengers to wear face masks, but it is recommending they do so.
The airline is providing masks, sanitizers and wipes to customers, and limiting movement on planes.
Qantas is keeping its pilots, crew and planes ready for when demand returns and plans to offer “attractive” fares to help stimulate travel demand, Joyce said.
“We don’t think we will go back to 100% obviously in July but we have the capability to easily add 40-50% of the capacity that we had before Covid-19.”
10-MAY-2020 :: For example Tourism – I believe it is stopped out through Q4 2021
Children of Rwandan genocide fugitive Kabuga led police to Paris-area hideout @ReutersAfrica
Law & Politics
ARIS (Reuters) - French intelligence agents spied on the children of Rwanda’s most-wanted genocide fugitive to track him down to an apartment in a Paris suburb and end a 26-year-long manhunt, the head of the police unit who arrested Felicien Kabuga said.
The inquiry gathered pace in March after an intelligence sharing meeting between investigators from France, Britain, and Belgium, home to some of Kabuga’s children, as well as Europe’s Europol law enforcement agency and a team from a U.N. tribunal.
The coronavirus lockdown paralysing most of Europe meant many investigations were put on hold, allowing a focus on Kabuga’s file, said Eric Emeraux, head of the Gendarmerie’s Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity.
The dragnet subsequently closed in on one of the alleged chief financiers of the Rwandan genocide, suspected of bankrolling and arming the militias that slaughtered 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.
“We realised ... that trail from the children protecting their father converged on Asnieres-sur-Seine,” Emeraux told Reuters, referring to a Paris suburb. “We also discovered one of his children was renting an apartment there.”
Wiretaps were installed and the property placed under surveillance. Intelligence indicated there was good reason to believe that someone other than one of his offspring was residing in the apartment.
“We decided to open the door, without being entirely sure of who we would find inside,” Emeraux said. “I didn’t sleep the night before.”
The 84-year-old fugitive had been living in a third-floor flat on the Rue du Reverend Pere Christian Gilbert in Asnieres-sur-Seine, a well-off neighbourhood on the northern fringe of Paris.
Neighbours described a frail, elderly man who said little and before the lockdown would often stroll outside of his apartment. One resident in the same block said Kabuga might have lived there for four or five years.
Reuters has not been able to find any public comment made by Kabuga over the years about the charges.
French lawyer Emmanuel Altit said he will be part of the defense team. He did not respond to a subsequent request seeking comment from Kabuga.
Altit was a senior lawyer on the team which successfully secured former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in January 2019.
On Saturday, a squad of 16 elite officers, dressed in black and dubbed ‘Ninjas’ by Emeraux, forced Kabuga’s front door at 6 a.m.
“Kabuga didn’t put up any resistance,” Emeraux said. He was formally identified in a DNA test, matching against a sample taken when he was hospitalised in Germany in 2007, Emeraux added.
Kabuga’s arrest marked the end of a more than two-decade-long hunt that spanned Africa and Europe. Kabuga had 28 known aliases and was using a passport from an African country, Emeraux said.
Altit said Kabuga would be arraigned before a Paris court on Tuesday.
The court will set out the legal process before passing the case to investigative judges within eight days.
The judges will decide whether to hand Kabuga to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.
If Kabuga appeals against their ruling, the matter will go France’s Court of Cassation, which hears whether rulings conform with the law.
Kabuga’s ability to hide to evade an international manhunt for more than 20 years has raised questions over whether he had accomplices outside of his family.
“It is difficult to imagine he could have escaped into French territory without the help of accomplices,” said Patrick Baudoin of the International Federation for Human Rights.
The federation has supported survivors in the prosecution of other Rwandan genocide suspects living in France.
South Sudan’s Vice-President and Defence Minister test positive as coronavirus cases surge in the country @mailandguardian @geoffreyyork
Vice-President Riek Machar and his wife, Defence Minister Angelina Teny, along with a number of their staff and bodyguards and other members of the high-level task force, have contracted the illness, Mr. Machar said in a televised announcement Monday night.
He added that neither he nor his wife have any symptoms of COVID-19 and will self-isolate for two weeks.
Mr. Machar was deputy chairman of the task force, and Ms. Teny was also a member.
Mr. Machar did not identify the others on the task force who tested positive.
The government had already announced that the task force would be disbanded and replaced by another team.
The surge in South Sudan is an example of emerging hot spots around the world as the virus expands into more remote regions.
Millions of people in South Sudan have been forced from their homes by years of violence and civil war.
Two cases of the virus have now been reported in one of the vast, overcrowded United Nations camps for displaced people, causing huge concern among relief agencies.
The virus was slow to reach South Sudan, one of the last countries in Africa to report a case. As recently as April 27, the country had reported only five. But this week it confirmed a total of 347 cases and six deaths.
“We are now at a stage where cases are doubling every five days,” said a Facebook message by Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol, who heads the South Sudan task force.
The virus has been growing “exponentially,” she said, urging citizens to avoid conspiracy theories.
“Any misinformation on COVID-19 is as dangerous as the disease itself. This novel virus is real and it kills.”
After imposing a series of lockdown restrictions on the country in April, the government has faced criticism for its decision to relax the restrictions on May 8, even as the rise in the number of cases was accelerating.
It reduced the nightly curfew, allowed shops and motorcycle taxis to resume business with some limits and reopened its airports for domestic and international flights.
The South Sudan Doctors’ Union was among the groups that expressed concern about the relaxing of the rules.
Mr. Machar, a former rebel leader who joined the government this year under a peace agreement, was criticized on South Sudan’s social media Monday night for not wearing a mask during his televised speech to the nation, even though other people were in the room with him.
The pandemic task force reportedly recommended in a report this week that the government consider a law making it mandatory for everyone to wear masks.
Last week, the UN announced that two cases had been detected at a crowded camp for almost 30,000 displaced people in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
Humanitarian agencies have been deeply concerned that the virus could spread quickly through the world’s camps for refugees and internally displaced people, as the camps are often overcrowded, lack running water and soap, are unable to impose physical-distancing rules and are at higher risk because of malnutrition and infectious diseases.
Almost 200,000 people are sheltering in UN-run civilian protection camps that were established in South Sudan after the civil war erupted in late 2013.
The sharp increase in cases in South Sudan in recent weeks is “very worrying,” said Claudio Miglietta, head of the South Sudan mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
“What is even more concerning is that now COVID-19 has started spreading among the population of some of the largest and most congested displaced persons camps in the country,” he said in a statement last week.
Tens of thousands of people in these camps are “living in dire conditions with flimsy, small shelters where up to 12 family members live together and with poor access to water and soap,” he said.
“Maintaining physical distance and adequate hygiene levels in these settings is nearly impossible.”
James Reynolds, head of the delegation in South Sudan for the International Committee of the Red Cross, voiced the same concerns about the risks for people in the camps. “They live in quite cramped conditions,” he said in a statement last week.
“If you have got lots of people living in a single home without maybe running water inside, it’s very difficult for people to respect hand washing, social distancing, wearing a mask – all these things.”
Why Cape Town has 10 percent of Africa’s confirmed coronavirus cases @washingtonpost
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — This city at Africa’s southwestern-most tip stands out for a number of reasons — its extreme economic inequality and remarkable scenery among them — but burgeoning hot spots of coronavirus cases have distinguished it anew. The city accounts for 60 percent of cases in South Africa, 15 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 10 percent in Africa as a whole.
South African epidemiologists are looking to the city — with nearly 10,000 cases as of Monday — to provide insight into how the virus is spreading on a continent that has largely escaped the waves of death that Western Europe and the United States have seen.
The early answer, officials and experts say, is two-pronged. First, the city welcomed more tourists from hard-hit regions of the world than other spots in Africa did, meaning the coronavirus was widely seeded here early. Second, major hot spots emerged in two supermarkets and a pharmaceutical factory that supercharged the virus’s spread.
“This is really about a small number of so-called super-spreader events,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an infectious-disease expert and chair of the government’s coronavirus task force. “Too many people were going to the supermarkets, and they didn’t have the right procedures early enough. It just takes one person, and everything in there is contaminated — the baskets, the metal surfaces — just by breathing.”
Karim and others said Cape Town’s hot spots are likely forerunners of what will happen in the rest of the country, and even the continent, in coming weeks as lockdowns and other restrictions are relaxed.
South Africa began targeted testing in Cape Town on April 7, and since then, the number of positives as a proportion of tests has only gone up.
While the rest of the country, which is under strict lockdown, is seeing positive rates hover around 2 percent, Cape Town’s is regularly above 10 percent and spikes above 15 some days.
The country has more than 16,000 confirmed cases. At first, cases seemed to be clustered in Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa’s first- and third-largest cities.
At that point, cases were growing exponentially, but after a lockdown went into effect on March 27, growth slowed in those cities. Less than a month later, Cape Town had eclipsed them, and it has accounted for most of this month’s positives.
The working-class areas of Tygerberg, which is mostly mixed-race, and Khayelitsha, which has an almost entirely black population, have been hit hardest and make up the majority of Cape Town’s cases.
Some experts cautioned against jumping to conclusions based on that geography, given that testing is most aggressive in known hot spots, and say there may be areas where cases have been largely asymptomatic.
“The testing centers are very much linked to where the hot spots are,” said Marc Mendelson, who oversees the infectious-diseases division at the city’s Groote Schuur Hospital.
“If you’re screening for symptoms and testing in hot spots, you’re going to pick up more” positive cases.
The high caseload has led some leaders to question the government’s early approach, which allowed tourists from hard-hit countries to enter the city.
Flights continued through late March, and testing at the airport was largely limited to temperature checks, which don’t catch asymptomatic travelers.
“We had our temperature tests at the airport, but they weren’t picking up the virus,” said Alan Winde, the leader of Western Cape, the province that includes Cape Town.
Winde is in self-imposed quarantine after coming into contact with a TV cameraman who died last week of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Winde met virtually with about 80 epidemiologists, as he does every week, to parse the data.
Many in the group caution that beyond the existence of the hot spots, much is still unknown about how and where the virus spreads.
“I get asked every single day, why is this the epicenter?” Winde said. “We don’t have all the answers.”
South Africa has applied one of the most stringent approaches to containing the virus in Africa with a nationwide lockdown.
It sent tens of thousands of health-care workers into communities to screen and test, rather than wait for cases to show up at hospitals.
It even banned the sale of alcohol, which sends thousands to emergency wards every month, as a way to keep intensive care beds open. More than 250 people have died of covid-19 in South Africa.
Winde said current projections show as many as 80,000 symptomatic infections in Western Cape by late July.
“It has been building in the last couple of weeks,” Mendelson said. “People say, ‘Are you ready for it?’ The answer is, as best we can, but it is going to get ugly.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that by the end of May, the government will transition its lockdown to a tiered approach in which areas with hot spots will have more restrictions than those without.
The cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth are likely to remain at higher alert levels given current case trends.
A new concern, Winde said, is the growing backlog in testing in both government and private laboratories.
“We have a backlog of about 11,000 and Johannesburg has about 15,000 because all of a sudden our national health laboratories and the private sector are running at maximum,” he said.
“If we’re not testing sufficiently and not getting our answers back quickly enough — it’s taking anywhere between six and 10 days to get a result — then that is really useless.”
The lockdown, while credited with slowing the spread of the virus in the rest of the country, may have had the unintended effect of quickening it in Cape Town — evidence of the virus’s unpredictable nature, according to Karim.
The hot spots in Tygerberg and Khayelitsha were probably driven by the lockdown’s closure of spaza shops, akin to corner stores, that in turn drove many people to crowded supermarkets.
“That’s how this virus spreads, through hot spots. It’s not like HIV, which goes slowly from person to person. A contaminated environment leads to an outbreak, plain and simple,” Karim said. “It’s a matter of identifying them as rapidly as possible. Sometimes it’s too late — you only see the flames when it’s a full fire.”
it is estimated that as few as 1000 SARS-CoV2 viral particles are needed for an infection to take hold.
''viruses exhibit non-linear and exponential characteristics' #COVID19 #coronavirus #2019nCoV #COVID-19
Kenya Shilling versus The Dollar Live ForexPros 106.95
World Of Finance
Kenya Gets $1 Billion Financing From @WorldBank @economics @herbling
The World Bank will lend Kenya’s government $1 billion in budget support, its biggest financing package yet for the East African economy, according to Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani.
“The fact that World Bank does not provide budget support to countries with weak macro framework is a testimony of the confidence levels of the bank in our new policy reforms,” Yatani said on Twitter.
The lending comes on the heels of a $739 million International Monetary Fund loan announced earlier this month in emergency support. Kenya has confirmed 963 Covid-19 infections.
Kenya has plans to spend 53.7 billion shillings ($503 million) on a stimulus package to support businesses hit by the pandemic, which the Treasury says won’t affect its budget deficit.
The financing gap is seen narrowing to 7.3% of gross domestic product in 2020-21 from an estimated 8.2% in the year through June.