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Sectarianism goes viral

by Frank Schnittger Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 11:58:56 AM EST

Letter to the Editor

A Chara,

If I were charged with murder (and guilty as hell) I would hire your columnist, Newton Emerson, as my defence attorney. Based on his article "Sectarian split over school closures feels ominous", Opinion, 19 March, he would have even me believing in my innocence.

The whole point of the WHO (and now belatedly, the UK) expert advice is that the infection rate will increase exponentially until herd immunity is achieved unless there are radical interventions on the part of governments and peoples.

The further one is up that exponential curve, the more difficult it becomes to isolate and control the rate of infection. Exponentially more difficult. So days and even hours matter, and two weeks is an age.

There is , in any case, no evidence to support Newton's assertion that N. Ireland and the UK are two weeks behind Ireland in the course of this pandemic.

To try to cast those who sounded the alarm when they realised how serious this was all getting as engaging in sectarian politics is itself sectarian politics of the most crass kind almost equivalent to accusing Jews of alarmism and racism when they warned of Nazi atrocities.

Globally there could indeed be millions of casualties - and thousands in Ireland - before this is all over, and then those who delayed and procrastinated over essential measures will indeed be in the dock. Guilty as charged, I'm afraid.

... until herd immunity is achieved ...

I have written extensively about this callous approach. After Boris Johnson made the U-turn on the new report, it was Mark Rutte to follow suite and DENYING he ever thought of that approach. A€€holes, do the math!

The Conservative timeline of the pandemic was fully screwed up. So was it by Cheater-In-Chief Donald Trump. Three of a kind.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 12:30:43 PM EST
Yep, and thanks for all your work. How ironic that a once very progressive country is now stuck with Mark Rutte. At least Boris is within the traditions of a long line of Tory toffs. And America has always had its snake oil salesmen. They just didn't make them President...

Keep safe and well!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 01:33:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I look at the UK's measures, the more convinced I am that the policy is still to spread the virus through the population as quickly as possible.

Closing tube stations and rationing travel means that people who have to travel will be forced to cough all over each other on the remaining public transport systems.

Failing to test anyone - including health workers - means that gig economy workers can't be sure if they should stay at home.

Failing to test - never mind quarantine - travellers on incoming flights guarantees that infected tourists are free to spread the virus to everyone they meet.

Failing to shut the borders - likewise.

Keeping schools open for a week longer than needed gives the virus plenty of time to spread to parents, and to everyone they're in contact with.

And so on. Beyond a bit of "advice", it's very hard to find any evidence at all of the UK taking concrete steps to minimise exposure.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 02:22:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to dispute the vilification of Rutte. While I am not a huge fan of his economic policies, what Rutte said was wildly misrepresented in the Irish Times for one. While my Dutch is not perfect, I listened to his speech on the day and I was stunned at the reaction in the Irish press. It bore no relationship to the speech I heard. Rutte was calm measured and reassuring. Instead of this herd immunity canard, he said that there was three options, and that the Dutch approach was to maximally control it so that the hospitals could cope, and that eventually herd immunity would come (my understanding was this is exactly the flattening the curve.

Please read his speech. You can find impartial coverage in dutchnews.nl in English. https:/www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/03/mps-back-ministers-on-coronavirus-herd-immunity-is-not-the-aim -says-rutte

by piobar on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 12:39:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On Conservative Approach, Rutte Takes Cue from BoJo ... they could have been twins ... not for the first time! On foreign policy David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson as well as Mark Rutte are on the same page. Even in Jamuary, Rutte expressed his "love" for president Trump ... see my diaries.

On herd immunity, what Rutte proclaimed in his Address to the Nation on Monday, he backed off (even denied he said it) in Dutch parliament two days later.

Dutch embrace 'herd immunity' as dire death warning prompts UK to change course

My Dutch is perfect and Rutte is a smooth talker ... it's all PR. Damn, he even shops in the same supermarkt, an Albert Heijn which doesn't quite stock up in goods as well as competitor Jumbo. Rutte lives close by and I have run in to him on occasion. I even had a brief chat with him in the street where he lives ... he was flabbergasted ... I acted as if he  wasn't recognized as the Prime Minister. It truly frustrated him. 🤣

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 02:24:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Minister President Mark Rutte of The Netherlands will be remembered in history, quite like Dutch PM Colijn during the military build-up in Germany and the outbreak of World War II ...

My new diary with a brief summary of the politics and results ...

From Outbreak to a Global Pandemic

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 10:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 01:24:53 PM EST
Hijacking the term "herd immunity" is not helpful
by asdf on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 05:59:56 PM EST
Please explain your reasoning...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 08:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My understanding is that the term "herd immunity" normally and routinely is used to refer to situations where, by vaccination, enough of the population has (at least partial) immunity, so that the effective reproduction number is reduced to less than 1.

The key is in the words "by vaccination," because the term is generally used to promote immunity by vaccination. Reducing the reproduction number by that mechanism is desirable, and it is important to encourage people to get vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. So in the context of immunization programs, herd immunity is a good thing.

It is also the case that you can achieve herd immunity by letting people get sick and die, some of them. You also reduce the reproduction number by that method, but at a high social cost. So in the context of ruthless political manipulation, herd immunity is a bad thing.

In the case of the coronavirus, where there is no vaccine, the only way to manipulate the reproduction number is by social actions like social distancing and quarantines. One would hope that those actions are not along the lines of "let them get sick and die." I agree with that hope!

However, it seems to me that in using the words "herd immunity" to describe a cruel political strategy, one is using the words correctly in the technical sense but abusing them in the (potentially more important in the long term) overall sense.

It is not, I argue, a good idea to associate the idea of "bad" with "herd immunity," because doing so plays into the anti-vaxx strategy.

by asdf on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 04:10:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... plays into the anti-vaxx strategy.

That's a long shot.

I have been clear from the start about the difference and considered to talk about "herd immunity" as option was callous and murderous. Do the math, it's quite simple.

On the other hand, to speak of "herd immunity" implies an immunization program up to the minimum percentile it takes effect.

For anti-vaxxers to mention "herd immunity" is ... ehh, heresy.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 05:12:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Correct. Their approach is to spread lots of incorrect and misleading info about the whole topic. I'm suggesting not feeding their strategy.
by asdf on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 05:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How will that help 41 WHO.int vaccine candidates validate "field trials" claiming clinical or statistical "controls"? Take the case of DRC running at least 4 concurrently, for example. What did you learn?
DRAFT landscape of COVID-19candidate vaccines - 13 March 2020
by Cat on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 08:08:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand the anti-vaxers correctly, they're quite happy to benefit from the herd immunity achieved through the efforts (or illnesses) of others, they're just not prepared to contribute to it. The classic individualistic Libertarian position where they take the benefits of society for granted, but don't want to be bound by any societal norms or contribute to the work of others which make "their freedoms" possible.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 08:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most Grand Princess passengers in quarantine refused coronavirus tests --often at federal officials' urging

Good thing CDC isn't counting mil base "guests" or cruise passengers in its "estimates as a range" with limitations census of HERD IMMUNITY anyway.

by Cat on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 08:47:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Scientists have been sounding the alarm on coronavirus for months. Why did Britain fail to act?
. The author, Richard Horton, is a doctor and editor of The Lancet.
Something has gone badly wrong in the way the UK has handled Covid-19. I know Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance. I have the utmost respect for both. They have had the services of some of the most talented researchers in the world to draw on. But somehow there was a collective failure among politicians and perhaps even government experts to recognise the signals that Chinese and Italian scientists were sending. We had the opportunity and the time to learn from the experience of other countries. For reasons that are not entirely clear, the UK missed those signals. We missed those opportunities.

In due time, there must be a reckoning. I sat with the director general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in Geneva in February. He was in despair. Tedros had been criticised for not calling a public health emergency of international concern sooner. But when he did and when he asked for the modest sum of $675m to help the WHO combat the growing global pandemic his pleas were ignored.

If I might offer the good doctor an explanation: British Exceptionalism: We have the BEST DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS. We have nothing to learn from foreigners - Europeans or darkies. Sound familiar? It is the same mindset that underlies Brexit.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 09:00:57 PM EST
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 09:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You've got the wrong link.

Perhaps this is what you were looking for:

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 09:52:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that one, thank you.
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 07:05:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More likely they're being completely cynical about killing off the elderly to lower the UK's pension costs and NHS budget.

Of course it doesn't have to be either/or.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 09:25:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The response in Sweden has been slow, in particular when it comes to people returing after skiing in Italy late February. This week everything has been happening rapidly.

Following the debate - and to the credit of public service television they have invited researchers in the same field with different points of views for informed discussions - it appears that the relevant authority followed largely the modeling done in Britain which mandated control of the vulnerable, and otherwise letting the disaese run its course. There appears to have been economic modeling involved. And on one hand it is reasonable to include the wider society in models, but on the other economic models are to a large extent crap. So it would be interesting to actually read those models.

by fjallstrom on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 10:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Är coronakrisen det tredje världskriget? | Aftonbladet |

    Normalt vet regeringar och riksbankschefer vad som behöver göras i en kris för att få igång de ekonomiska hjulen. Den här gången verkar verktygslådan inte fungera.

    Världen är utsatt för ett enda stort experiment av aldrig tidigare skådat slag.

Normally, governments and governors know what needs to be done in a crisis to get the economic wheels started. This time, the toolbox doesn't seem to work.

The world is subject to a single large experiment of unprecedented kind.

Country after country shuts down its boundaries and closes within its shell. Large parts of the economic activity are paralyzed. Air travel has stagnated. Restaurants, bars and cafes close. The hotels are empty. School students are forced to stay at home. Although Sweden in that case, so far, is an exception.

Temporarily freezing large parts of the world in a state of isolation for an indefinite period to fight an invisible enemy has never happened before.

Globally, it can save the lives of tens of thousands of people, but it also risks a slashing of the wealth that the world has built up for many years. The world is forced into self-destructive behavior to avoid the corona virus.

U.S. Stock Exchanges represents wealth of 50% of all others across the globe. In absolute numbers, a lot of wealth has been "lost".

IMF: Piercing The Veil

New research reveals that multinational firms have invested $12 trillion globally in empty corporate shells, and citizens of some financially unstable and oil-producing countries hold a disproportionately large share of the $7 trillion personal wealth stashed in tax havens.

Although Swiss Leaks, the Panama Papers, and recent disclosures from the offshore industry have revealed some of the intricate ways multinational firms and wealthy individuals use tax havens to escape paying their fair share, the offshore financial world remains highly opaque.

Tax Dodgers' 'Phantom' Cash Makes Up 40% of Foreign Investment | Bloomberg |

Still waiting for "trickle-down" economic benefits ... 1973 - 1987 - 2000 - 2001 - 2008 - 2020 ... if lucky, I will witness another decade. Am not holding my breath - banks and corporations are first in line doing the hoarding of BIG Government welfare. Trillions of funding after two decades of military industrial spending fighting an invisible enemy rearing its ugly head multiple times. The enemy is not "over there"... it's amongst us. We can't even produce sufficient N95 face masks and critical ventilators for IC patients, saving lives. Looking towards China ... the world is shaking.

New York - London - Luxembourg - Tel Aviv - Moscow - Hong Kong.


'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 11:23:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
risks a slashing of the wealth that the world has built up for many years
But not a slashing of the debt?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 06:40:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good to hear from you, melo. Stay safe!
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 07:05:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Bernard, thanks, you too!
Strange days...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 28th, 2020 at 02:07:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Deaths from Covid-19 infections now exceed 10,000, with Italy now reporting more deaths than China. The USA and UK have been surging up the league table while Germany is maintaining a remarkably low mortality rate given the number of infections.  

I have sorted the table by deaths rather than cases because the number of cases found depends on the level of testing being carried out. The USA has only recently commenced widespread testing and the UK only tests where hospital admissions are required.

Wiki has an excellent table (snap shot above) where you can click on each country to get a more detailed analysis of cases by country.

Case and mortality numbers are generally increasing by about 30% per day (implying a doubling every 3 days) but the overall global rate of increase is being reduced by the success of China and some Asian states in curtailing the pandemic.

The effects of school, pub and restaurant closures, social distancing, and remote working are not expected to become apparent until a week or so after their widespread introduction. Ireland had a 50% increase today - probably a consequence of a major ramping up of the number of tests being completed.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Mar 19th, 2020 at 11:50:14 PM EST
Efforts to enforce social distancing by the state are picking up steam in the USA. From the perspective of epidemic management, they may be effective at flattening the curve, as they say. The people who suggest it seem to be smart and knowledgeable, and they may be right. We will see.

That said, I have a dread in the bottom of my gut that these measures are going to turn into an electoral disaster in the USA where the issue was politicized from the start - regardless of the effect on the actual progress of the disease. If ANYONE gets sick and dies, then it's far too easy to say that everything was a waste of time, and that line of argument is going to be pretty damn convincing to overwhelming masses of voters who are sick of all this disease stuff and just want things to go back to normal.

In a way, the more effective they are at preventing absolute disaster, the worse the backlash is going to be. If people see dead bodies on the streets and have their entire family die, well, they will realize just how serious the situation actually was ... but a disaster minimized through draconian measures will just leave everyone convinced that it wasn't such a big deal in the first place.

It's a lose-lose that can only be survived, politically, by avoiding it in the first place, by having a political culture in which these sort of things are just not politicized, in which the warning of epidemic prevention experts are not dismissed and/or attacked as partisan sabotage, and in which people are routinely advised by everyone in any position of power and by the media to trust expert advice. That ship sailed thirty years ago, and now doom is inevitable.

by Zwackus on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 05:17:28 AM EST
Yep. US f*ck you I'm all right individualism is really going to clash with the public health ethic of social responsibility and cohesion. In one sense Trump was right: this is a Democrat disease - or at least one which requires social democratic solutions.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 12:58:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(a trend hashtag)

MD National Guard in Bal'more City waiting for assignment from the mayor who ostensibly is waiting for COVID19 test kits which would be administered off-premises by the two "anchor" hospital personnel, UMMS and Hopkins Medicine (awarded private police license by MD General Assembly last year); or would assume food distribution managed by schools and community group volunteers. Currently, 11 confirmed cases in Bal'more. In this respect, Mayor Young is ahead of the Obama US mil tri-state Ebola Marketing Campaign 2014.

As we all know, Bal'more is poised to emulate Italian patriotic spirit and solidarity in the face of adversity, minus spirit and solidarity of unions, a NHS, and balconies.

by Cat on Fri Mar 20th, 2020 at 11:53:11 PM EST
One of the repercussions should be for him to beg for their help, expertise, test kits, medical supplies, drugs, ventilators...

Brazil's leadership seems to be following Trump's lead.

by asdf on Sat Mar 21st, 2020 at 06:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An Unexpected COVID-19 Hotspot Emerges In The Colorado Rockies
And the confirmed cases have continued to climb -- so much so that Eagle County's numbers have grown to the "hotspot" conditions found in much larger U.S. cities. As of Friday, there were 61 confirmed cases of the disease there, according to the state -- nearly as many as Denver in a county of around 55,000.

While those numbers alone made Eagle County the heaviest-hit county in the state, the disease is likely much more widespread than the confirmed cases let on. Between a hundreds-deep backlog of test results and the typical gap between contracting the disease and showing symptoms, public health officials haven't been able to track the true extent of COVID-19 spread.

Ski resort effect? The Austrian town of Ishgl seems to have played a similar role on the European continent.

The Austrian ski town that spread coronavirus across the Continent

The lively après-ski scene that draws millions to the town every winter proved to be a perfect incubator for the coronavirus. Authorities believe that busloads of European visitors departed the village known as the "Ibiza of the Alps" (and not in a good way) in late February, leaving with more than the usual mountain tan and hangover.

By the time Austrian officials realized the extent of the outbreak, the damage was done. Health authorities across Scandinavia have traced several hundred cases to Ischgl. On Tuesday, Norway said nearly 40 percent of the more than 1,400 infections in the country originated in Austria. National authorities believe hundreds of additional cases in both Austria and Germany are connected directly to Ischgl.

While Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has won high praise at home and abroad for his aggressive response to the coronavirus threat, critics say Vienna's sudden policy shift last week only occurred after it realized the situation in Tyrol had taken a dire turn. Despite early warnings from other countries about problems in Ischgl, Tyrolean officials resisted taking assertive action, fearing the negative impact on local business. The entire region's economy depends on tourism. Vienna didn't intervene.

In a few weeks, we'll find out about the effects of the thousands of people who stormed Florida beaches during Spring Break.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Mar 21st, 2020 at 08:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sat Mar 21st, 2020 at 08:07:44 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 02:38:04 PM EST
by Cat on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 07:30:02 PM EST
Chris Johns puts up an interesting proposal that the €15 Billion in the Apple tax appeal escrow account should be used to fund Ireland's Covid-19 counter measures.

Obviously Apple would have to agree to drop their appeal, something he suggests they might not be too averse to doing in the current emergency situation - especially given they may not see that money again for several years even if they win their Appeal against the Commission ruling that they had under paid taxes due.

Certainly there is no harm in the government asking. Apple hardly need the money, and the PR benefit of conceding such a large amount of cash for humanitarian purposes would be considerable. On the other hand, it is probably not a precedent they would like to set.

However attitudes to corporate tax avoidance have hardened very considerably in recent years and Apple could take the view that that cash is all but lost anyway. Time for an enlightened pragmatic view?

Trump will not be pleased as he has his own eyes on profits earned by US corporates abroad. But who cares what Trump thinks any more? Clare County Council have just refused him permission to build a sea wall at his golf resort in Doonbeg.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 07:54:48 PM EST
No 10 denies claim Dominic Cummings argued to 'let old people die'
Downing Street has rejected as "a highly defamatory fabrication" a claim that Boris Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, initially argued against strict measures to contain coronavirus in a view summarised as "if that means some pensioners die, too bad".

In an unusual on-the-record denunciation, a Downing Street spokesman said the claims about Cummings' viewpoint, made in a Sunday Times article, had not been put to No 10 in advance and contained "invented" quotes.

The report claimed that at one private event at the end of February, Cummings outlined then government's strategy at the time in a way that was summarised by some present as "herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad."

The allegations, which have been widely shared online, connect with wider criticisms that the government response to the virus was initially too weak, based on a notion that rather than limiting its spread, enough people could be allowed to contract it to give population-wide "herd immunity".

While the phrase "herd immunity" was used by government figures such as Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, No 10 has denied it was ever a tactic. However, the use of the phrase illustrated initial tensions within government over how to balance the economic impact of a full national lockdown against the potential number of deaths from the virus.

According to the Sunday Times report, the key moment came on 12 March when a group of government experts gathered to examine modelling of the spread of the virus carried out by academics at Imperial College London and elsewhere.

This predicted that if no action was taken more than half a million people would die, and that even some limited mitigation efforts would only halve this. The Sunday Times report said this changed the mind of Cummings, who before had been an adherent of the herd immunity idea.

After the 12 March meeting, Cummings changed his view and became one of the strongest advocates in government for tough restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, the Sunday Times said. It quoted one anonymous senior Conservative as saying: "He's gone from `herd immunity and let the old people die' to `let's shut down the country and the economy'."

I have no idea whether there is any substance to the No. 10 claim that some quotes were fabricated, but wouldn't it be ironic if the Johnson regime were to become victim to such journalistic tactics, given that BoJo virtually invented the genre.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 22nd, 2020 at 09:40:05 PM EST
by Cat on Mon Mar 23rd, 2020 at 05:38:50 PM EST

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